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Media studies is topic of yearlong lecture series

Media Contact

Rebecca Valli

The new field of media studies will be explored in a series of lectures beginning Oct. 6 that focus on emerging research, particularly by younger scholars in the field. The yearlong series, which is free and open to the public, will present a range of approaches to the field from the perspectives of cultural studies, media archaeology and digital humanities.

“The approach to this series is totally unique to Cornell,” says Tom McEnaney, assistant professor of comparative literature and co-organizer of the series. “Not only will it showcase the most transformative thinkers in media studies – from specialists in information theory to disability studies and media archaeology – but it brings that scholarship together with cutting-edge research in critical computational humanities. We hope the intersection of these conversations will really point the way forward in these fields.”

Added Jeremy Braddock, associate professor of English and co-organizer of the series: “People from all across Cornell – scholars in the humanities, social sciences and information sciences, as well as artists, musicians and librarians – actively investigate media. We hope this series will both support existing relationships and spark new ones across the university.”

The series arose from a working group convened last spring of faculty members who meet regularly to share their work and discuss curriculum development related to media studies. Members of the group – including faculty members from the Colleges of Arts and Sciences; Computing and Information Science; Architecture, Art and Planning; and Agriculture and Life Sciences – nominated the speakers.

The series includes the following talks, all at 4:30 p.m. in the Guerlac Room, A.D. White House:

Oct. 6: Orit Halpern (Concordia University), author of “Beautiful Data,” will be the first speaker in the series, talking on “The Smart Mandate: Ubiquitous Computing, Design and Resilience.”

“Her work, which has provided a history of ‘big data,’ shows how studies of information and technology are of increasing interest to scholars of media,” says Braddock.

Nov. 3: Sarah Sharma (University of Toronto) will take a culturalist and ethnographic approach in her talk, “Exits / Vectors / Gigs: Techno-Feminism for the ‘Sharing Economy.’” She’s the author of “In the Meantime: Temporality and Cultural Politics.”

Nov. 18: “The Data of Cultural Inequality,” computational approaches to the digital humanities, will be presented by Andrew Piper (McGill University), whose work on the origins of mass print, “Dreaming in Books,” won the prestigious MLA First Book Prize.

Feb. 23: In “Sliding Scales of Interpretation,” William “Ted” Underwood, Ph.D. ’97 (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign) will speak about narrative history at different time scales and the relationship between close reading and big computational perspectives.

March 9: In “Cultural Accessibility: Disability, Digital Media, and Participation,” Elizabeth Ellcessor (Indiana University) will discuss the role of media in disability, taking the perspective of cultural studies, an approach that marks a distinctive tradition within media studies.

March 15: Patrick Keilty (University of Toronto) will give the Central New York Humanities Corridor Digital Humanities Lecture, “Strategic Desire.”

April 27: A leading media archaeologist, Jussi Parikka (University of Southampton, U.K.) will offer a non-Western perspective on media studies in his talk, “Speculative Design Baghdad 800 – Istanbul 2048: A Media Archaeology of Ingenious Devices,” based in part on an exhibition he was involved with in Istanbul on speculative design in the Middle East.

Series sponsors include the College of Arts and Sciences, the Society for the Humanities, and the Central New York Humanities Corridor.

Linda B. Glaser is a staff writer for the College of Arts and Sciences.