Dr. Ira Plein


Ira Plein is teaching at the University of Trier since summer 2019. Her academic interest focuses on the history of visual media, on the history of public relations/propaganda and on visual media analysis.

After training as a photographer (HWK Trier), media designer (print/online, IHK Cologne) and subsequent work experience, she studied art history and media studies at the University of Trier. Her thesis in art history (Magistra Artium, M.A., 2013) deals with the politically motivated works of the Berlin artist Alice Lex-Nerlinger around 1930.

From 2014 to 2019, Ira Plein was a research assistant at the University of Luxembourg. Here she worked on the project FAMOSO: Fabricating Modern Societies. Industries of Reform as Educational Responses to Societal Challenges (ca. 1880-1930), funded by the Luxembourg Fonds national de la Recherche, under the supervision of Karin Priem, and completed her interdisciplinary doctoral studies (history and art history). Her dissertation was supervised by the University of Luxembourg and the University of Trier within the framework of a bi-national joint supervision (cotutelle du thèse). Thesis: "Propaganda for steel and nation. Images and counter-images to economic and social progress in Luxembourg media of the interwar period" (printed book forthcoming). Main supervisors: Prof. Dr. Karin Priem (Luxembourg Centre for Contemporary and Digital History, C2DH) and Prof. Dr. Dr. Andreas Tacke (Art History, University of Trier).

In 2016, Ira Plein was a guest researcher at the Seminar for Cultural Anthropology of Textiles at TU Dortmund University with Prof. Dr. Gudrun König.

Research focus

History of visual media, history of PR/propaganda, photography and non-fiction film, cross-media (visual) discourses, industrial representations, visual media of the labour movement, (world) exhibitions, historical image analysis/iconology.


Introductory courses in the BA programm „Media and Communication Studies“, lectures and seminars on historical (visual) media, photography and the history of public relations/propaganda, visual media analysis.


Plein, I. (2021). Beautiful Luxembourg, Steel Works, and a Swimming Pool: The Corporate Film Colume¬ta and the Formation of a Corporate, and National, Image. In V. Hediger, F. Hoof & Y. Zimmermann (Hrsg.), Films That Work Harder: The Global Circulations of Industrial Cinema, Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press. (forthcoming)

Plein, I. (2021). Benchmarking Luxembourg Steel: Animated Statistics and the Spectacle of Rationalization in the Corporate Film Une grande industrie dans un petit pays (1930). In D. Ziegler & M. Rasch (Hrsg.), Stahl im Film: Ein Medium der (Unternehmens-)Kommunika¬tion im europäischen Vergleich, Münster: Aschendorff-Verlag. (forthcoming)

Plein, I. (2019). Machines, Masses, and Metaphors. The Visual Making of Industrial Work(ers) in Interwar Luxembourg. In: K. Priem & F. Herman (Hrsg.), Fabricating Modern Societies: Education, Body, and Mind in the Age of Steel (S. 35-57). Leiden: Brill.

Plein, I. (2016). „Der tägliche Weg zur Schicht“. Aspekte zur proletarischen Kunst Albert Kaisers in der Zwischenkriegszeit. In F. Krier et al. (Hrsg), 100 Joer fräi Gewerkschaften 1916–2016 (S. 83-97). Esch-sur-Alzette: OGBL.

Herman, F. & Plein, I. (2016). Envisioning the Industrial Present. Pathways of Cultural Learning in Luxembourg (1880s–1920s), Paedagogica Historica, 53(3), 268–284.

Plein, I. & Tacke, A. (2014). Das Künstlerporträt – Von alten und neuen Herausforderungen / Artist Portraits – Challeng¬es Old and New. In T. Elsen & C. Trepesch (Hrsg.), Edward Steichen. Portraits d’artistes – Die Künstlerporträts (S. 8-13). Berlin und München: Deutscher Kunstverlag.

Plein, I. (2013). Alice Lex-Nerlinger (1893 - 1975) – Motive und Bildsprache im Dienste des Klassenkampfes 1928 – 1933. Magisterarbeit, Online-Veröffentlichung bei heiDOK, Heidelberger Doku¬mentenserver der Universitätsbibliothek Heidelberg: doi.org/10.11588/art¬dok.00002242.