Today marked the penultimate day of Wiley-Blackwell’s first Virtual Conference. As I am sure you will all agree, thus far, each day has contained many gems, and today has been no different. Eileen Joy’s (Southern Illinois University Edwardsville) keynote lecture: ‘Reading Beowulf in the Ruins of Grozny: Pre/modern, Post/human, and the Question of Being‐Together’ looks at the aftermath of the Russian bombing of Chechnya through the lens of Beowulf.
The two final papers of the conference were provided by P. Grady Dixon (Mississippi State University) & Adam J Kalkstein (United States Military Academy) and Nicole Mathieu (CNRS, University of Paris). Their papers respectively entitled: ‘Climate–Suicide Relationships: A Research Problem in Need of Geographic Methods and Cross‐Disciplinary Perspectives’ and ‘Constructing an interdisciplinary concept of sustainable urban milieu’ have looked at indisciplinarity from a geographical and environmental perspective. The final publishing workshop was ‘How to Survive the Review Process’ by Greg Maney (Hofstra University).
Although, the conference is due to end tomorrow it is not too late to register and take advantage of the book discount and free journal access. Each of the papers and podcasts will remain on the website, and it is hoped that you will keep the comments coming in.
By Paula Bowles
Day eight of the conference was once again marked by some excellent contributions. The first paper ‘Cultural Sociology and Other Disciplines: Interdisciplinarity in the Cultural Sciences’ by Diane Crane (University of Pennsylvania) suggests that for many scholars ‘disciplinary isolation is the norm.’ However, Crane proposes that by utilising what she describes as ‘free‐floating paradigms’ such barriers can be removed.
The second paper of the day by Christine Mallinson, (University of Maryland) entitled ‘Sociolinguistics and Sociology: Current Directions, Future Partnerships’ also takes sociology and interdisciplinarity as its main themes. Mallinson’s paper concludes with practical advice as to how best to achieve research partnerships.
Together with these exciting papers, Catherine Sanderson (Amherst College) offered advice in her publishing workshop: ‘The Joys and Sorrows of Writing an Undergraduate Textbook.’ There was also an opportunity to spend time in the Second Life cocktail bar with the Compass Team.
Discourse surrounding feminism, feminist theory, and even Women and Gender Studies departments has grown increasingly skeptical. Questioning the need for feminism in this “post-feminist” world and citing the high attendance of women in universities, American society seems fixated on closing the door on calls for social justice based on gender. Two recent new stories however, highlight the decisive need for a reinvigorated gender-based movement. Gains in college attendance and females entering into all sectors of employment have overshadowed the continued pay gap (equal pay for equal work?), discrimination relating to maternity leave, and the clear lack of women in executive and leadership positions. In this dangerous ideology, if a woman can’t make it, its her own fault. Perhaps most disturbing is the story of a 15 year old girl gang raped in the alley behind her high school on Homecoming night for 2 1/2 hours. Rape and sexual abuse of girls and women, date rape,and domestic violence have not decreased but rather been steadily increasing. Is this what it means to live in a post-feminist world? We must renew our efforts at social justice, not simply for women but for all marginalized groups, this is the unfinished task of feminism.
NY Times “The Mismeasure of Woman”
CNN “Police: As many as 20 present at gang rape outside school dance”
The seventh day of the conference has continued with the key themes of ‘breaking down boundaries’ and interdisciplinarity. Roy Baumeister (Florida State University) began the day with his keynote lecture entitled ‘Human Nature and Culture: What is the Human Mind Designed for?’ By utilising the concepts of evolutionary and cultural psychology, Buameister is able to explore the intrinsic significance culture holds for humanity.
Two other papers were also presented today. ‘Text as It Happens: Literary Geography’ by Sheila Hones (University of Tokyo) and Stefan Müller’s (University of Duisburg‐Essen) ‘Equal Representation of Time and Space: Arno Peters’ Universal History.’ These contributions have utilised a wide and diverse range of disciplines including history, cartography, geography and literature. Finally, Devonya Havis’ publishing workshop entitled ‘Teaching with Compass’ offers some interesting ideas as to how best implement technology within the classroom.
Who determines what “news” is? Can we define news as “that which gets talked about,” as Katz and Lazarsfeld wrote about in Personal Influence in 1955? Or are there more strict criteria that are (or should be) observed in the modern media environment? Last year, I wrote about “Martin Eisenstadt,” a fake member of a fake think tank who managed to convince the mainstream media that Sarah Palin did not know that Africa was a continent, and not a country. Although this amusing lie was discovered, and the news organizations responsible (like the LA Times and MSNBC) admitted they had been “had,” Sarah Palin’s campaign for Vice President spent a lot of time and energy trying to disavow the accusations.
News hoaxing was again in the media this month with the now-infamous “balloon boy” hoax, wherein the major cable news networks covered a story that turned out to be a mere publicity stunt. They even cut to the chase of the balloon in the air in lieu of covering the President speaking in New Orleans. The need for constant “breaking news” and the need to fill air time make it even more likely that media-savvy publicity hounds and hoaxsters will use these things to their advantage. In fact, one of the main reasons law enforcement and the public became suspicious that the balloon stunt was a hoax in the first place was because the father, Richard Heene, called the news media before the police to report that his son was missing, and presumed sailing through the air.
The major mistake that these people made was their hoax involved the use of government and police resources, and interrupted commercial aviation traffic at the nearby airport. Additionally, public opinion was turned against them due to the fact that they compelled their child to lie to further the deception. However, if this was not the case, it may have been regarded as a highly
successful use of news reporting practices for their own gain. We can expect to see more of this. People will learn from the Heenes’ mistakes, and continue to use media routines like breaking news to their advantage.
“Rumor” by Pascal Froissart
Welcome to the second week of the Wiley-Blackwell Virtual Conference. The first day back has started with a keynote speech from Peter Ludlow (Northwestern University) entitled ‘Virtual Communities, Virtual Cultures, Virtual Governance.’ Conference delegates also had the opportunity to meet Peter at the Second Life Cocktail Bar.
There were two other papers on Monday’s session Adam Brown’s (Deakin University): ‘Beyond ‘Good’ and ‘Evil’: Breaking Down Binary Oppositions in Holocaust Representations of ‘Privileged’ Jews’ and ‘A Hybrid Model of Moral Panics: Synthesizing the Theory and Practice of Moral Panic Research’ presented by Brian V. Klocke (State University of New York, Plattsburgh) & Glenn Muschert (Miami University). In addition Wiley-Blackwell’s Vanessa Lafaye held a publishing workshop entitled ‘The Secret to Online Publishing Success.’
As you can see, this week promises to be as exciting and innovative as the previous one. All of the papers and workshops from last week are still available to download from the conference site, and both the ‘battle of the bands’ and the opportunity to contribute a ‘winning comment’ remain.
In recent months, proposals for “fat taxes” have gained growing popularity amongst certain academic and political circles. Proponents for such measures suggest that such policies would help lower America’s obesity rate and/or help fund a public healthcare plan. A series of articles from Slate.com invoke (in part) a seemingly Foucauldian lens in examining this trend.
The first week of the conference has come to an end, and the final day has included two exciting papers, as well as a publishing workshop. The first paper entitled ‘Full Disclosure of the “Raw Data” of Research on Humans: Citizens’ Rights, Product Manufacturer’s Obligations and the Quality of the Scientific Database’ was presented by Dennis Mazur (Oregon Health and Sciences University). In his lecture, Mazur highlights the difficult and contentious issues involved in human testing, particularly the tensions between participants and drug manufacturers.
The second paper also takes an interdisciplinary approach to medical matters. Eileen Smith‐Cavros (Nova Southeastern University) lecture entitled ‘Fertility and Inequality Across Borders: Assisted Reproductive Technology and Globalization’ looks at the emotive issue of assisted reproduction. By surveying existing literature, Smith Cavros is able to look in detail at some of the many issues which impact upon reproduction.
Together with these two papers, Duane Wegener’s (Purdue University) publishing workshop: ‘Top 10 mistakes New Scholars Make When Trying to Get Published’ marked the end of the first week.
Enjoy the weekend and we look forward to seeing you next week.
Confirmed Cases of H1N1
President Barack Obama announced a national emergency supposedly in response to increasing H1N1 cases in the United States. According to a statement by President Obama: “The 2009 H1N1 pandemic continues to evolve. The rates of illness continue to rise rapidly within many communities across the nation, and the potential exists for the pandemic to overburden healthcare resources in some localities.”
Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Dr. Thomas Frieden stated that millions have been infected with H1N1 in the United States, more than 20,000 have been hospitalized, and more than 1,000 have died. Dr. Frieden explained although 11.3 million H1N1 vaccines have been disseminated in the United States, healthcare providers have experienced vaccine shortages because of manufacturing delays.
For the past few weeks the British media and public have hotly been debating the rights and wrongs of allowing the controversial British National Party [BNP] leader to appear on the BBC’s ‘flagship’ politics programme Question Time. Despite attempts to halt Nick Griffin’s appearance, the programme finally aired on Thursday 22 October 2009, with record viewing figures of 8 million.
Since the broadcast, media analysis has been at fever pitch in an attempt to make sense of the reality. Against the backdrop of debates over freedom of speech and right wing rhetoric, as well as accusations of Holocaust denial and racism, Griffin has announced he will be making a complaint over his treatment by the programme.
In essence, Griffin insists that the format of the programme was changed in order to focus purely on his party’s policies on immigration and race, leaving him facing little more than a ‘lynch mob.’ Although, many commentators have suggested that his appearance has irrevocably tarnished the limited credibility of the BNP, others have argued that he should never have been allowed to appear in the first place. Interestingly, the BNP insist that their membership has increased since Griffin’s appearance. Needless to say the debate will run for some considerable time, dragging the issue of freedom of speech once more into the spotlight.
Tanya Golash-Boza on A Confluence of Interests in Immigration Enforcement: How Politicians, the Media, and Corporations Profit from Immigration Policies Destined to Fail
Amir Saeed on Media, Racism and Islamophobia: The Representation of Islam and Muslims in the Media