Monthly Archives: April 2011

CRDM’s second annual research symposium: Environments, Risks, and Digital Media: Communicating, Governing, and Managing Risks in a Mediated World

“The unique moment—being here now, talking throughout the day—is not digital.”

–G. Thomas Goodnight, NCSU Rolf Buchdahl Memorial Lecture, April 15th, 2011

CRDM hosted its second annual research symposium on April 15th and 16th, with keynote talks on Friday from both established and emergent scholars: Graham Murdock, G. Thomas Goodnight, Blake Scott, and Matthew Nisbet. The two-day “discourse party” (Kinsella, 2011) proved to be a concentrated complex of conversation about the ways we construct control and chaos in the digital/global age.

Murdock (dressed in a pleasant combination of three different greens) and Goodnight bookended Friday with talks that focused on the contested field (risk) and its rhetorical milieu (digital media), respectively. Murdock proposed risk as a narrative that is replacing progress in a time when progress is “exhausted.” He went on to describe several material variables (connectivity, interactivity, and mobility) that allow the digital media frame risk and influence public perception. Our own Jeremy Packer, in his response, added “informationalizability” to the list of important digital affordances—the ability of the digital to immediately add to the pool of data that name, locates, and fixes risky populations. Packer also noted that the word “obfuscation” was easier to type than it was to say.

2nd-year Chris Cummings, doing his best to avoid obfuscating anything.

Blake Scott and Matthew Nisbet, the other two keynote speakers, spoke about media’s role in specific risk communication events. Scott addressed the “riskiness of rhetoric” around the global pharmaceutical market and how India specifically dealt with the Western framing of its generic drug trade. Nisbet discussed the scientific community’s much-vexed struggle to communicate to the public about climate change. His talk included his own audience effect study, given on the National Mall.

Other Friday speakers included Dr. Carolyn Miller, who invoked Aristotle and asked what trust means in terms of risk communication, and David Berube, who talked about spin and strategies of risk attenuation on the web.

Saturday’s topic were more various, and included analysis of emails from “Climategate” (Marlia Banning of Texas A&M), recreation and park system management’s use of risk communication (Jordan Smith, NCSU) media effects on health-related decision making during pregnancy (Kelly Albada and Brandi Moyer, NCSU), “risky” sound and control of the soundscape (Seth Mulliken, NCSU), and a revision of existing frameworks for studying the social amplification of risk (Chris Cummings, NCSU).  After lunch, a session devoted entirely to the nuclear question and recent events at Fukushima included Andrew Binder (NCSU), Tatsuo Nakajima (Duke), Tudor Ionescu (Stuttgart), and Ashley Kelly & Meagan Kittle-Autry (NCSU). Our own Bill Kinsella, Elizabeth Dickinson (Salem College), and visiting NCSU professor Pat Arneson ended the day.

Dr. Kelly Albada delivering on risk and pregnancy.

This reporter thinks that the highlights of the symposium were the intellectually risky situations it engendered and managed, itself.  Foremost in my mind:

  • Carolyn Miller being “not quite convinced” by Blake Scott that “tactical” was so different from “intentional” in a discussion of affect as what Scott called a “precognitive intensity” (well-put, I think).
  • Graham Murdock calling Chris Cummings’ use of the SARF framework to task because of its lack of attention to the visual.
  • Matthew Nisbet calling for semantic scruples in Marlia Banning’s treatment of the Climategate papers. Particularly problematic terms: “neoliberal” (as all of the interested parties are arguably influenced by neoliberal ideologies), and the idea that the emails in question were “stolen” or “hacked.”

It should also be noted that after constant critical attention to the ways in which risk is “made” by media as a dominant frame, narrative, or mechanism of control, we were all happy to play our part as subjects when tornadoes touched down in Raleigh and the news media told us to go underground. Risk may be rhetorically constructed, but on that day, DE-struction was material and real. Our good wishes go to those nearby who weren’t as lucky as we were.

Thanks to all faculty on the planning committee who organized the conference, and to CRDMers Fernanda Duarte, Nathan Hulsey (with Shari Oliver), Ashley Kelly, and Seth Mulliken, who (with Robert Bell) coordinated video and audio recording of all presentations.

~Kate Maddalena (@KateMadd)

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Let the Pandemorainium Begin! Matt Morain, ABD

Gotta Get Down to the Bus Stop

When asked about the importance of internet phenomenon, Morain said, "Im pretty sure thats what engineers had in mind when they were building the internet in the first place, right?"

After waking up this morning, going downstairs, having a bowl of cereal, catching a back seat to campus, and getting down with some fun fun fun fun Q&A, Matt Morain successfully passed his preliminary exams. Directly upon hearing the contagiously good news, Matt hopped aboard the meme bus to sing an impromptu celebratory karaoke jam with his best friends, Rick Atsley and Atoine Dodson. Destination: Dissertation.

Matt’s committee includes Carolyn Miller (chair), Adriana de Souza e Silva, Jason Swarts, and Ken Zagacki. His reading areas focused on digital rhetoric, rhetorical criticism, and network cultures and technologies. His dissertation will examine the rhetorics of internet culture, specifically the rhetorical circulation of internet phenomenon, investigating timely topics such as, the agency of virality, the development of memetic genres, and the occurrences of kairos. He will do so by asking such confounding questions as, “Why is Sad Keanu sad?” and “Where did Marketing Client Bear get his MBA?” and “Will Paula Deen ever run out of butter?”

Matt’s dissertation is tentatively titled, “Forever Alone, or What Happens When You Write a Dissertation about Internet Memes.” Oh no, wait, it’s actually, “Vitality and Virality of Internet Animalism from lolcats to Keyboard Cat: The Feline Constitutive Rhetoric of the Interwebz.” But really, it’s titled, “Rhetoric, Internet Culture, and the Serious Implications of Trivial Content.” Yes, seriously. And knowing Matt, he’s probably eager to change it to, “. . . Trivial Pursuits.”

Asked about #WINNING his exams, Matt said, “The big boss at the end was killer, but with #tigerblood in my veins and Courage Wolf by my side, I could do no wrong.” Of his dissertation Matt has pledged to never gonna give it up and never gonna let it down. Given this sort of commitment from Matt, we all gotta get down to the bus stop, gotta catch the meme bus . . . .

When not giving insightful interviews about internet culture or writing hilarious posts for this blog (for which we all thank him dearly), Matt is sharing the newest memes and updating his online portfolio.

Congratulations, Matt!

~Jason (with brief consultation by Kati)

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The Sounds of C’s: Kati’s 2011 Playlist of Auditory Highlights

[Our second CCCC recap comes from 3rd-year Kati Fargo, who specializes in auditory rhetoric and sound in composition studies (hence the theme)]

  1. Discussion of annotated playlists as genres available in the classroom (W6 all-day workshop) “Sound Teaching: Bringing Music and Audio into the Composition Classroom.”
  2. Craig Saper’s unbelievable audio, sampled, performative work on “Epcot” on the panel entitled “Florida.”
  3. Steph Ceraso’s Remix composition project in the “Sound Teaching” workshop
  4. Making an audio-essay on noise using an incredibly loud barking dog sample and scream music with Geoff Sirc and Spencer Schaffner
  5. Rebecca Black’s “Friday” –while not an auditory highlight, thanks to Matt Morain, this song has been seared into my brain. Literally.
  6. Halbritter and Lindquist’s audio-visual methodology of patience
  7. Karaoke @ Metro Cafe
  8. McGraw-Hill Rock n’ Roll dance party
  9. Chris Anson’s We are 113! Ignite– bringing memory, delivery, (and humor) together in this highly oral form
  10. Dawn singing my alarm clock ring tone back to me in order to convince me that she had turned it off and I should wake up.

Of course there were also innumerable highlights that were not necessarily focused on the auditory experience. NC State students and faculty represented well across the chart. If you want to know more about DSP ask Dawn and David, Oulipian writing ask Kevin, re-photography ask Jason Kalin, and C’s the Day (the game) ask Wendi. If you want to know more about internet culture and memes do NOT ask Matt; you will never be able to stop humming “Friday.” But seriously, a huge shout out to all who presented and/or attended! 🙂

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CCCC Recap: “We are 113!”

A featured session at C’s on Friday was a curiously titled one: “We are 113!” The program abstract indicated, “The purpose of this panel is to embrace the call of cluster 113 by breaking traditional boundaries.” Submitted to the #113 category, newly created this year by Malea Powell to encourage outside-the-box thinking, this panel wowed the crowd and might just be the best panel of the conference. They presented in Ignite format: 10 speakers, 5 minutes each, 20 slides per person. Rapid fire delivery. Boundary-breaking topics. Speaker detailed parts of their personal life to connect to how they have transcended boundaries and not conformed to traditional rules of the discipline.

Shelley Rodrigo opened the panel with an introduction to the concept: Rhetoric & composition, as a field, has rules. We are placed into categories based on our research interests, administrative duties, and aspirations. But we need to break these rules and transcend boundaries to be truly successful. We should embrace collaboration, or as she and Susan Miller-Cochran call it, being partners in academic crime. We are more than we study, and it is time we embrace blurring boundaries. This panel – We are 113! – is a call to do so.

Next up: Paul Kei Matsuda, who discussed how his scholarship in second language studies and writing has transcended boundaries and created new boundaries, the field of second language writing. The field also encompasses/considers many others: technical writing, global professional writing, rhetoric, basic writing, and writing program administration. His takeaway: at this point, we have enthusiasm and experience with the field, but now we need expertise that can truly transcend boundaries. And that we are 113!

Cynthia Selfe held the crowd captive with her discussion of identity and how we relate to each other. She says we can only know ourselves through relating to others, and that discourse is a central way in which we do so. We need to be open to transcending boundaries to relate to people in news ways and new people in new ways. By doing so, we are 113!

Greg Glau, known for his work in basic writing, brought in his previous work in sales to talk about how teachers are really in the business of selling, and that teachers make good salespeople. We sell our students how much our class is going to benefit their studies and life. His work traces across all three public universities in Arizona, and he has now come full circle with both his sales and teaching work, saying that he is now in the business of helping his teachers learn how to sell what they are teaching. We need to transcend the boundary of teaching and see it in new ways. If we do this, we are 113!

Jay Dolmage presented a science fiction of sorts, asking us to imagine what the 4Cs would look like in 2020. He began by offering several possible – yet scary – scenarios: at the Palin Presidential Conference Center in Alaska, on a cruise ship in Hawaii, the SS CCCC, hosted by Pearson-MacMillan-Bedford-Cengage-McGraw-Hill-et al. publishing company, with a conference so large and disparate that many could neither afford to go nor get accepted. A place for the select few. These scary scenarios contrast with what Dolmage says we can do instead: have an inclusive, increasingly affordable, and infinitely accessible conference for all involved. As our discipline grows, we have the opportunity to make this a truly great professional conference by emphasizing access. We can do this by putting more and more content online, choosing affordable locations for the conference, and encouraging more contact and interaction, not less. His vision for CCCC 2020 is one that we can achieve – and we can all be 113!

Kathy Yancey followed with a discussion of her path to rhet/comp scholarship. As a young girl, she wanted to be an actress, then an architect, and went to school and became a teacher. She reckons that if she had attended school at another time, she would have studied weather, fascinated by use of patterns and the unpredictability of it. Instead, she’s now in the business of big ideas and always trying to come up with the next great one. This has led to many projects over the years, too many for her presentation or me to list here, but most recently the Center for Everyday Writing, a new initiative at Florida State. By tackling academic projects and thinking of big ideas, we are 113!

CRDM’s very own Chris Anson brought down the house by telling the narrative of his childhood, a mix of identities: a nature and animal lover, a writer, a wannabe veterinarian, an English child living in France and then the United States. His identity broke boundaries and he struggled to transcend them in school, resisting his American teachers’ desire for conformity to American spelling. In moments of brilliant openness and hilarity, he showed us how we all have mixed identity that transcends boundaries – that we are all 113.

Lamiyah Bahrainwala also told a narrative of the experiences that led her to study at Michigan State University. Born in India, she migrated to Dubai as a child, going to an all-girl’s private Catholic school until she went to the American University in the Middle East. It was there that some of her friends, whose L1 was Arabic, but who wrote predominantly in English, created a new language in order to reconcile their desire to write in Arabic but having to conform to English coding/writing online. Fascinated by the language, she now studies it at MSU, asking questions about how people are reclaiming their language while also contesting boundaries. They are 113!

Finally, Kati Fargo and Kevin Brock, both of  our program, introduced how their work and CRDM contests boundaries every day. Interdisciplinary in nature, CRDM brings together communication and rhetoric scholarship while asking questions through the lens of digital media and technology. We are fostering collaboration across topics and fields. Kati and Kevin are writing program administrators, grant writers, graduate students, teachers, and friends. Our program blurs and transcends boundaries. WE ARE 113!

The panel ended with smart questions exploring how we can apply 113 to our work. The panelists are making a call for us to break, blur, transcend, and collaborate across boundaries to improve their field and make our scholarship even better. The panelists report struggling with the concept of first, unsure of how exactly to break boundaries and call for change in their short talks. But their message was clear: we are 113!

~ Meagan
Note: This post was adapted from an original entry in my blog, “Meg’s Road to PhD.”

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Sailing the Seven, er, Four C’s

Hold me closer, tiny banner.

This week, 16 CRDM students are presenting their research in Atlanta at 4C’s, known in its long form as the Conference on College Composition and Communication. We’ll be featuring several a recap post once it’s all said and done, but in the meantime you can download a schedule of our speakers and events — NC State at CCCC 2011.

You can follow conference tweets with the #cccc2011, #cccc11, and #4c11 hashtags (none of the C’s include “conformity”).

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It’s Spring, So CRDMers Are Headed Back to the Pubs

Time again for a publications update. You might have seen our first post back in October; this recurring feature is meant to highlight the kinds of research we do here in the program and the types of journals that fit our diverse research interests. It’s also an excuse to make the same pun 3-4 times a year and recycle the same pub sign over and over again. Hooray recycling!

Pub(lications) Sign

Happy hour special: 2-for-1 citation index!

Student names are listed below in bold and in full to make this list more search-friendly (citation style guide prescriptivists be damned!). When possible, I included a link to the journal or website in which the article appears, though I realize that everyone won’t have access to the same institutional subscriptions.

de Souza e Silva, A. and Sutko, Daniel M. (2011). Theorizing locative technologies through philosophies of the virtual. Communication Theory, 21 (1): 23-42. [link]

de Souza e Silva, A. and Frith, Jordan. (2010). Locational privacy in public spaces: Media discourses on location-aware mobile technologies. Communication, Culture, and Critique, 3 (4): 503-525. [link]

de Souza e Silva, A. and Frith, Jordan. (2010). A critical analysis of locative social mobile networks: Merging communication, location and urban spaces. Mobilities, 5 (4): 485-505 [link]

Frith, Jordan, Morain, Matt, Cummings, Chris. and Berube, D. (2011). Reviews of the books: The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr and You Are Not a Gadget: A Manifesto by Jaron Lanier. Journal of Communication, 61 (1). [link]

Gallagher, V. J., Martin, Kelly N., and Ma, M. (2011) Visual wellbeing: Intersection of rhetorical theory and design. Design Issues, 27 (2): 25-39.

Gallagher, V. J. and Martin, Kelly N. (2010). Book review of Lester C. Olson, Cara A. Finnegan and Diane S. Hope, eds. Visual Rhetoric: A Reader in Communication and American Culture (2008). Southern Communication Journal, 75 (5): 547-551. [link]

Gruber, David; Jack, J., Keranen, L., McKenzie, J. M., and Morris, M. B. (2011). Rhetoric and the Neurosciences: Engagement and Exploration. Poroi, 7 (1). [link]

Wiley, S.B.C., Sutko, Daniel M., and Becerra, T.M. (2011). Assembling social space. The Communication Review, 13 (4): 340-372. [link]

Zuckerman, E., Roberts, H., McGrady, Ryan., York, J., & Palfrey, J. (2010). Distributed denial of service attacks against independent media and human rights sites. The Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University. [link]

The above list only includes published articles and doesn’t include submitted, accepted, or forthcoming; check back for the next update sometime in late summer/early fall.


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2nd Annual CRDM Research Symposium: Environments, Risks, and Digital Media

Following the smashing success of last year’s inaugural CRDM Research Symposium–“Materializing Communication and Rhetoric”–comes the announcement and CFP for this year’s offering to take place April 15-16 at NCSU. Organized by Dr. Bill Kinsella, who was recently featured as the News & Observer’s “Tar Heel of the Week,” the symposium will showcase research on digital media and its relationship to risk communication, with special attention to the environment.

Titled “Environments, Risks, and Digital Media: Communicating, Governing, and Managing Risks in a Mediated World,” the Symposium’s featured speakers include:

  • G. Thomas Goodnight, U. of Southern California
  • Graham Murdock, Loughborough University
  • Matthew Nisbet, American University
  • Tarla Rai Peterson, Texas A&M University
  • Blake Scott, University of Central Florida

Check out the Symposium website to learn more, download the symposium poster as a .pdf, or read the CFP below:


Recent events—the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the earthquake and tsunami in Japan and the subsequent nuclear failures—illustrate how environments and human action entangle in a complex and risky formation. The overarching problem of global climate change, operating on a very different time scale, challenges society’s ability to comprehend and address the risks emerging from its own activity. These and other examples raise a multitude of questions regarding the relationships among environments, risks, and digital media. How do public discourses constitute risks, and how might digital media change those constitutive processes? How do publics, governments, and communities respond to risks, and how do digital media enable and constrain those responses?

This two-day research symposium will advance research and debate on a timely but underdeveloped problematic: the role of digital media in constituting, discursively constructing, managing, governing, communicating, and responding to risks. As conceptualized by sociologist Ulrich Beck, contemporary “risk society” is constituted by “modernization risks” that emerge as consequences of technological development and are managed increasingly through technological means. In this context, digital media are points of articulation or sites of emergence for discursively constituted risks. Some of these risks, such as threats to individual privacy in an era of increased surveillance, acts of terrorism facilitated by communication tools, and electronic bullying and harassment, are generally viewed as direct consequences of new media technologies. In these cases new media are seen both as sources of problems and as potential sources of solutions. In other cases, such as well-known environmental, health, and safety risks, new media provide potential tools for evaluation, democratic deliberation, and public awareness and response.

The CRDM Research Symposium convenes presenters and participants from a wide range of disciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches spanning rhetorical, critical/cultural, and social science approaches to communication. We invite participation from CRDM faculty and graduate students; from other departments and programs across NC State University; and from corporate, governmental, and academic institutions throughout the Research Triangle (e.g., the US Environmental Protection Agency, pharmaceutical companies, digital media and information management companies, and Triangle universities) and at the national and international levels.

Call for Proposals

Proposals are requested for 15-20-minute presentations addressing of the symposium topic within the tracks suggested above or on other related themes. To submit a proposal, send a 250-word abstract by April 4 to William Kinsella (see below). The featured speakers listed above will present longer talks and one or more keynote addresses. Conference registration will be free of charge and open to presenters and non-presenters.

To submit a proposal, email your abstract by April 4 to:
William Kinsella, Associate Professor, Department of Communication
Director, Interdisciplinary Program in Science, Technology and Society
North Carolina State University

Hope to see you there!

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