• Julia Sonnevend

    Assistant Professor of Sociology and Communications


    Julia Sonnevend is Assistant Professor of Sociology and Communications at the New School for Social Research in New York. She has held fellowships at the Truman Institute for the Advancement of Peace at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, the Centre for Contemporary History in Potsdam, and the Yale Center for Cultural Sociology in New Haven. Her scholarship lies at the intersection of media studies, the sociology of culture, and international relations, and focuses on the “re-enchantment” of society, on the magical moments, qualities, technologies and artifacts of contemporary social life worldwide. Sonnevend’s work aims to show that we are far less rational in our political, social and mediated lives than we imagine ourselves to be. 

    Her first book, Stories Without Borders: The Berlin Wall and the Making of a Global Iconic Event (Oxford University Press, 2016), asks: how do particular news events become lasting global myths, while others fade into oblivion? Focusing on journalists covering the fall of the Berlin Wall and on subsequent retellings of the event (from Legoland reenactments to the installation of segments of the Berlin Wall in shopping malls), Sonnevend discusses how storytellers build up certain events so that people remember them for long periods of time. She also shows that the powerful myth of the fall of the Berlin Wall still shapes our debates about separation walls and fences, borders and refugees, most recently in the ongoing refugee crisis in Europe. While her first book focused on magical events in our international imagination, her next book hopes to consider a magical quality in human relations. It will analyze the importance of “charm” in international relations and everyday social life, with a particular interest in “charm offensives,” when political leaders achieve major goals in foreign affairs through their personal magnetism. 

    Please view her Research Matters profile for more information about Professor Sonnevend's work.

    Degrees Held:

    PhD in Communications, Columbia University, 2013

    LLM, Yale Law School, 2007 

    Recent Publications:


    Sonnevend, J. (2016). Stories Without Borders: The Berlin Wall and the Making of a Global Iconic Event. New York: Oxford University Press.

    Greenhow, C., Sonnevend J., & Agur, C. (Eds.). (2016). Education and Social Media: Toward a Digital Future. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.


    Special issues in peer-reviewed journals:

    Sonnevend, J. (Ed.) (forthcoming in 2017). 25th Anniversary of Media Events (special “crosscurrents” section in honor of Daniel Dayan’s and Elihu Katz’s Media Events: The Live Broadcasting of History). Media, Culture & Society.

    Bodker, H., & Sonnevend, J. (Eds.) (forthcoming in 2017). Special issue on “Shifting Temporalities of Journalism.” Journalism: Theory, Practice and Criticism


    Peer-reviewed journal articles

    Sonnevend, J. (online published August 2017). The lasting charm of Media EventsMedia, Culture & Society (essay in the crosscurrents section).

    Sonnevend, J. (online published February 2017). Interruptions of time: The coverage of the missing Malaysian plane MH370 and the concept of “events” in media research. Journalism: Theory, Practice and Criticism.

    Sonnevend, J. (2015). “Symbol of Hope for a World Without Walls”: The Fall of the Berlin Wall as a Global Iconic Event. Divinatio, 39-40, 223-233 (also translated into Bulgarian)

    Sonnevend, J. (2013). Counterrevolutionary icons: The representation of the 1956 ‘counterrevolution’ in the Hungarian communist press. Journalism Studies, 14(3), 336-354.


    Peer-reviewed bibliography:

    Sonnevend, J. (forthcoming in 2017). Media Events. In Moy, P. (Ed.) Oxford Bibliographies in Communication. New York: Oxford University Press.


    Book chapters:

    Sonnevend, J. (2016). Event. In Peters, B. (Ed.), Digital Keywords: A Vocabulary of Information Society and Culture (pp. 109-118). Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

    Balkin, J. M., & Sonnevend, J. (2016). The digital transformation of education. In Greenhow, C., Sonnevend J., & Agur, C. (Eds.), Education and social media: Toward a digital future (pp. 9-25). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

    Sonnevend, J. (2016). More hope! Ceremonial media events are still important in the 21st century. In Fox, A. (Ed.), Global Perspectives on Media Events in Contemporary Society (pp. 132-141). Hershey, PA: IGI Global.