Visual Content Analysis  on Social Media

Visual Content Analysis on Social Media

Doctoral Spring school - Call for applications

The Scuola Normale Superiore (Florence, Italy) and the Europa-Universität Flensburg (Germany) invite applications from doctoral students for the 2022 Ph.D. Spring School on Visual Content Analysis on Social Media. The spring school will be held in Palazzone di Cortona, one of the colleges of Scuola Normale Superiore, in the small town of Cortona in the South of Tuscany, Italy. The school will take place from the 28th of March until the 3rd of April 2022. The spring school is funded by the Volkswagen Foundation Grant ‘Corona Crisis and Beyond – Perspectives for Science, Scholarship and Society’.
The fight for online attention is increasingly won by using visuals in the form of images, memes or videos. Younger internet users increasingly flock to visual-based platforms such as Instagram and TikTok. This is not surprising: images are understandable to a larger audience and can surpass language barriers. Despite this importance, images are still often overlooked in studies by social scientists. This spring school focuses on the role of political value conflicts on social media (specifically during the COVID-19 pandemic), and how visuals help in creating and shaping these conflicts. The school aims to address how methods of visual analysis can be applied to study political conflicts and online mobilization.
The spring school consists of five days of lectures and two days of practical sessions, that introduce students to a range of methods to analyze visuals (images, gifs and videos), from qualitative interpretive to systematic quantitative image approaches.

Programme of the Spring School

The Spring School consists of five days with sessions on carrying out visual analysis in the morning and in the afternoon lectures by prominent scholars in the field of image analysis. The students will have a theoretical session and a methodological session every day, followed by a lab in which they apply the methods that they learn. Additionally, two separate days are spent to coding the content and writing a small country report. With their coding, students will contribute to the outcome of the ValCon project, which funds the spring school. Students will also get feedback from experts in the field of image analysis about their own research projects.

Invited lecturers

Keynote speaker: Professor Giselinde Kuipers (KU Leuven) 

  • Dr. Katja Freistein (Duisburg University)
  • Professor Alice Mattoni (Università di Bologna)
  • Professor Christina Neumayer (University of Copenhagen)
  • Dr. Tommaso Trillò (Hebrew University of Jerusalem)

Application procedure

The Spring School is open to 12 Ph.D. researchers with an interest in visual analysis and the study of political conflicts on social media. Applicants should submit a curriculum vitae and a short cover letter (no more than 1 page) outlining how their research focus fits with the topic of the Spring School and how participation in the school would benefit their research. Candidates are expected to have country expertise and language knowledge of at least one EU country, which they will focus on during the practical sessions. Candidates should therefore explicitly mention their knowledge of country cases and language skills in their CV. These materials should be submitted as one PDF by sending an email to before the 1st of December 2021.

Enrollment fees, accomodation and location

The Spring School is fully funded by the Volkswagen Foundation. There are no enrollment fees. Travel (up to a certain reimbursement level outside of Europe), accommodation, lunch and coffee breaks are covered by the Spring School. Participants will be accommodated in single rooms in the college of Palazzone di Cortona, in the small town of Cortona in the South of Tuscany, Italy, in easy reach by train from Florence or Rome. Classes will take place in the same location.


Participants are expected to complete the mandatory readings and actively participate in the morning lectures and method sessions. They are required to spend the lab sessions analyzing visual data. During the final days of the spring school, participants have the time to finish a small country report, which has to be submitted in order to receive the certificate of participation.

Spring School organizers

  • Professor Monika Eigmüller (Europa-Universität Flensburg)
  • Professor Hans-Joerg Trenz (Scuola Normale Superiore)
  • Nadine Hesse (Europa-Universität Flensburg)
  • Ofra Klein (Scuola Normale Superiore)
  • Dr. Giuliana Sorci (Scuola Normale Superiore)
  • Dr. Stefan Wallaschek (Europa-Universität Flensburg)


For applications and any additional queries, please contact the Spring School organisers at: