Congratulations are in order for Dr. Michael Serazio who recently published another piece of research. His article, titled, “The elementary forms of sports fandom: A Durheimian exploration of team myths, kinship, and totemic rituals” was published online on November 28th in the journal, International Association for Communication & Sport.
Using the behaviors of Philadelphia Phillies baseball fans, Dr. Serazio spent his time analyzing any myths, kinships and rituals that emerged from these fan behaviors. He chose to look at behaviors on display at public sporting events as well as through sports media during the time of the Phillies’ 2008 World Series victory.
This is not only a must read for sports fans, but for all Communication students due to the focus on behavior patterns, the media and interpersonal communication phenomena. The link to this article is as follows:
Enjoy! And congratulations again, Dr. Serazio.
Congratulations to three M.A. students who have been chosen to present research papers at the 2013 National Communication Association (NCA) Conference in Washington D.C. next month. Ryan Cassella will present his paper, “Living in TV’s digital age: Is the television producer the new starving artist?” Ryan draws inspiration from his current position as a producer at World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) and commented that he was happy to focus on a topic that reflects both his career and his personal interests. When asked about his thoughts on his research, he stated, “The digital era has brought some profound changes to the mass media industry and the individuals working within it are fully immersed in this ongoing revolution, whether they like it or not!”
Angela Rudas and Matthew Beasley will together present their research titled, ““The effects of diversity demographics on inclusiveness in the workplace.” This was originally a project started in Dr. Zhang’s Communication Research Methods course that both students chose to continue to work on due to a shared interest in diversity and communication. Rudas said, “Diversity is rapidly growing and increasingly prevalent within the U.S. workforce. However, minimal research has empirically investigated the specific attributes and practices for diversity and inclusion within organizations.” Beasley, who currently works in finance, stated, “It is evident that our world has been impacted by globalization. Due to globalization, our workplace has become more diverse, therefore employee diversity and inclusion has become critical to productivity and ultimately doing business.”
Dr. Michael Pagano, director of the M.A. in Communication program, said, “The faculty in the Department of Communication are extremely proud of our graduate students and recognize their very impressive research, critical thinking, and writing in our courses. It is however, even more gratifying when we see our national association further attest to our students’ accomplishments.” He added, “It is wonderful to see the fruits of our students’ hard work rewarded academically and scholarly, but also rewarded professionally as many of our students have earned promotions and new leadership roles based on their successful completion of our program.”
Congratulations again on these wonderful accomplishments, Matthew, Angela, and Ryan, and good luck in Washington!
Fairfield Media Career Nights To Hold A Presentation About The Value of Media Knowledge in the Real World
Fairfield University’s Communication, Journalism and newly named Film/Television and Media Arts programs will be hosting a fun and educational event for students. The Fairfield Media Career Nights will take place on Thursday, October 24th and will feature Fairfield U. alums currently working in media. In a presentation style event, our alums will share their stories of work after college, how they’ve gotten to their successful positions, and any advice they have for students. After the presentations, students will have a chance to chat with the guests to gain even more valuable insight.
The all-star lineup of alumni presenters includes Becky Krause, an associate producer at MTV Networks, Augusta Mellon, a publicist working for Buzzfeed.com, Stephanie Hill, a communications and digital specialist at GE Capital, Kristen Prestano, senior account executive and Kate Dillon, account supervisor at Prosek Partners, Ben Doody, the group managing editor for both The New Haven Register and Digital First Media, and Meghan Doody, who has worked on digital media for Brides Magazine and The Oprah Magazine.
Communication students should not miss out on such a relevant, informative event. As we learn more about the discipline of Communication, it is apparent just how important knowledge of new media is, not just for Communication-related positions, but for all careers. The Fairfield Media Career Nights presentation will take place in the first-floor meeting space of the Barone Campus Center and will begin at 7:30 pm.
Fairfield University now offers a unique program that allows students to gain valuable knowledge about potential careers in their given field. The Alumni Job Shadow Program, offered by the Career Planning Center, is designed to give Fairfield University students from all majors the option to observe real world work experience firsthand. Students apply online and if accepted, are paired with an alumni working in their field of interest and are able to shadow them during their work hours. Fairfield University students complete their job shadowing during their Winter break on January 6-10, 2014 or at a time that is mutually convenient for both the alumni and the student.
Junior and senior students from all majors are offered the option to participate and Communication students in particular have expressed an interest. Kimberly “Kimi” Kurata ‘14 spent her time in the program shadowing Aimee Hoffman, a ‘95 graduate currently working as a recruitment manager for Fox Filmed Entertainment in Los Angeles. During their pairing, Kimberly had the opportunity to spend the day on set of the TV show “The New Girl”, had lunch with executives with Fox Sports, and was able to receive advice about resumes and internship options. “The most significant lesson I learned in the importance of networking in the business world,” said Kurata. “When I’m looking for the right internship this summer or career choice after I graduate, it is all about who I know and who can help.”
Currently, Communication students also have the option of being matched with potential internships or jobs after graduation through the Stags4Hire program. Companies in the Fairfield/Greater New York area with Communication related positions include CBS Sports, American Red Cross, Indeed.com, Make-A-Wish CT, Legg Mason, Subway World Headquarters, and Prosek Partners, to name a few. Both options are offered under the Career Planning Center and are wonderful resources for students.
To apply for the Alumni Job Shadow program, please visit Fairfield.edu/jobshadowsignup. For more information, please e-mail email@example.com or call (203) 254-4081. The deadline is November 1, 2013.
The Department of Communication is happy to be looking for a new faculty colleague to join our collegial group of scholars in Fall 2014. Our undergraduate and graduate students will be able to meet with finalist candidates this Fall semester. If you’re interested in being on the student search team, please email Dr. David Gudelunas, Chair.
The Department of Communication in the College of Arts & Sciences at Fairfield University invites applications for an assistant professor (tenure-track) position to begin in September 2014. Fairfield University is a highly selective institution in the Jesuit tradition, consistently ranked in the top three comprehensive universities in the North by The U.S. News & World Report. We are located less than one hour from New York City on the scenic Connecticut shoreline. The Department of Communication has a broad emphasis in communication theory including but not limited to media studies, organizational communication, interpersonal/intercultural communication, and cultural/critical studies. We seek a teacher and a scholar that can contribute to one or more of our areas of emphasis and are particularly interested in scholars who can contribute to our interpersonal, relational and/or intercultural communication offerings. The Department will consider applicants from a wide variety of research backgrounds. Qualified candidates will have a Ph.D. in Communication at the time of appointment. The candidate should demonstrate a record of scholarly production, potential for a strong research program, and a strong potential for pedagogical success.
For full consideration, please upload a (1) a letter of application including a discussion of teaching philosophy and scholarly accomplishments; and (2) a curriculum vitae to https://www.axiommentor.com/fairfield/comm. Applicants selected for the next round will be asked to provide (3) one set of recent teaching evaluations and (4) three confidential letters of reference to the online system by October 7. There is no need to supply these materials for the initial round, however.
Letters of application and CVs arriving prior to September 20, 2013 will receive full consideration. Preliminary interviews are tentatively scheduled for late September. Candidates selected for campus interviews will be expected to supply graduate transcripts.
Fairfield University is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action employer, and applications from members of historically under-represented groups and veterans are especially encouraged. To learn more about the Department of Communication and Fairfield University, please visit www.fairfield.edu.
Michael Serazio, Ph.D., assistant professor of communication at Fairfield University, has been appointed deputy director of Open VISIONS Forum, Fairfield’s signature lecture series that annually features eminent opinion-makers, artists, authors, learned contributors to the humanities and sciences, and civic and political commentators. In this new role, Dr. Serazio will be assisting with main stage events of Fairfield University’s signature OVF lecture series, while also collaborating with faculty colleagues in facilitating effective special events. The successful pilot of last year’s Open VISIONS Forum “Espresso” allowed the series to expand into wider and deeper academic and community programs. Dr. Serazio’s expertise will enable these smaller, more flexibly designed lectures to gain larger audiences and visibility while continuing OVF’s efforts to promote the ‘life of the mind’ for multi-generational audiences.
“Dr. Serazio’s exceptional arsenal of intellectual and creative talents will contribute to OVF’s platform serving our students, faculty, and a growing community audience of lifelong learners,” said Philip Eliasoph, Ph.D., Founder, Moderator and Director of Open VISIONS Forum and Professor of Art History. “As the series grows in prestige, bringing leading international diplomats, opinion-makers, authors, artists, and humanitarians to campus, he is uniquely qualified to promote our expanding program.”
“I couldn’t be more thrilled to join the Open VISIONS Forum team,” says Dr. Serazio. “One of the most vital things a university can do is to keep the wider community engaged in the big social, cultural, and political questions of our time, and OVF has long performed that role skillfully by bringing scintillating speakers and eager audiences to our campus, and with Espresso, we hope to continue that tradition in dynamic ways.”
Dr. Serazio’s research, writing, and teaching interests include popular culture, advertising, politics, and new media. In his first book,Your Ad Here: The Cool Sell of Guerrilla Marketing (NYU Press, 2013), Dr. Serazio investigates the proliferation of brands into pop culture content, social patterns, and digital platforms book, amid a major transformation of the advertising and media industries, and establishes his role at the epicenter of a new breed of scholars deconstructing the stealth commercial measures of the 21st century. In his articles and timely postings in The Atlantic, The Nation, and Bloomberg View, appearances on NPR, as well as in academic journals, he both exposes and exploits the matrix of digital media with its subtle, sophisticated orchestration of our contemporary lives in ways both consumerist and political. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School for Communication, holds a B.A. in Communication from the University of San Francisco, and an M.S. in Journalism from Columbia University.
Soon after joining the Fairfield University faculty in fall 2010, Dr. Serazio demonstrated his keen interest in OVF and has twice been invited as a faculty respondent for on-stage dialogues with the series’ distinguished guests. “As one of our most productive junior faculty, he is on the cutting edge of a new generation of media critics, endowed with impeccable scholarly credentials but layered with a cool, nervy, critical engagement with the impersonal forces of corporate media and Big Data dehumanization,” said Dr. Eliasoph. “It takes a really intuitive sense of ‘connectivity’ to our current – sometimes wild, often confusing, always impactful – cultural landscape. He has his mind and spirit right on the pulse of our media environment – and we will all be enlightened with his presence.”
Dr. Serazio notes in a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed: “Guerrilla advertising is slowly disappearing from view even as it becomes more ubiquitous than ever. We’re seeing a new breed of ‘hidden persuaders’ optimized for 21-century media content, social patterns, and digital platforms. This is advertising that markets without selling and shows without telling. Consumers would do well to pay closer attention to what’s being hidden in plain sight.”
The OVF bar was set high from the start, with Philippe de Montebello, then Director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, as its inaugural speaker in September 1997. This season is just as suitably represented by a series that includes CBS News’ Steve Kroft (Sept. 16); actress America Ferrera of “Ugly Betty” fame in the Eighth Annual Students Forum (Oct. 7); Damien Echols and Lorri Davis in the Annual Jacoby-Lunin Humanitarian Lectureship (Nov. 18); The New York Times’ A.O. Scott (Jan. 27, 2014); Pulitzer Prize winner Isabel Wilkerson (Feb. 11); human rights activist Ronan Farrow (March 18); and Dr. Spencer Wells, Explorer-in-Residence at the National Geographic Society (April 10). Lectures take place in the Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts. For further information, call (203) 254-4010 or 1-877-278-7396, or visit www.quickcenter.com.
Last week, two Fairfield students had the honor of representing the Communication Department by attending the DePauw National Undergraduate Honors Conference for Communication and Theatre. The annual event is designed to encourage undergraduates and major Communication scholars to interact and share ideas.
Emily Andresen (2013) presented her paper, “To Tweet You Is To Know You: Investigating the Celebrity Parasocial Relationships on Twitter,” which she co-authored with Samantha Helm, Carolyn Schauber, and Georgia Tiftikidis.
Samantha Goodnow (2013) presented, “SES, Communication, and College Friendships.” The paper focused on the relationship between socioeconomic status and the formation and maintenance of college friendships and was co-authored with Kristen Dimmling, Danielle Manzella, and Ellen Padovano.
While noting that many of the papers at the conference shared some of the same format and writing techniques, Goodnow added, “The differences were in all of our original ideas, and it was really neat to see how a bunch of similar students from all over the country could have such different perspectives and insights and could develop such critical examinations through their papers.”
Congratulations to Emily and Samantha for attending and to Samantha, Carolyn, Georgia, Kristen, Danielle, and Ellen for their academic achievement!
Come get all your internship-related questions answered! The information session will be held on Monday, April 29 at 5 p.m. in DMH 348.
For more information, see the flier below:
The book, which focuses on how today’s guerilla marketing and advertising tactics give the illusion of freedom and participation while actually seeking to govern consumers’ actions on a deeper level, is the product of Serazio’s dissertation, which won the Gerald R. Miller Dissertation Award for best dissertation at the National Communication Association’s 2011 conference.
The research itself consisted of many interviews with advertising and marketing practitioners at all levels. “As for the most interesting thing I found in talking to them,” Serazio said, “– it’d probably have to be one of core themes of the book: That they don’t see their work as advertising; or, at least, they idealize it as something culturally larger than that.”
While admitting that the book is primarily written from an academic standpoint, Serazio added, “I’d like to believe that non-scholars who are interested in marketing, pop culture, and society would be interested as well.”
The bookstore is located at 1499 Post Road in Fairfield, and the event is free and open to the public.
Join us for a discussion about how to put your knowledge into practice after graduation. Five speakers, all graduates of Fairfield University, will be offering their insights and experience navigating the real world of communication careers.
The event will take place on Monday, March 25th at 7 p.m. in the Kelley Center. For more information, see the flyer below.
More good news for the department: Dr. Serazio and former Fairfield undergraduate Wanda Szarek (2011) received word last month that their article, “The art of producing consumers: A critical textual analysis of post-communist Polish advertising” was accepted for publication in the European Journal of Cultural Studies. Here’s the abstract:
“This article offers a critical textual analysis of hundreds of advertisements that appeared in Polish magazines at a pivotal historical juncture: following the collapse of communism and at the rise of a capitalist market economy in the early 1990s. It draws out from the visual and rhetorical data emblematic themes and sociocultural undercurrents concerning entrepreneurial opportunism and financial reassurance, status envy and post-rationing excess and interconnected solidarity with the West through brands and the English language itself. By studying the anxieties and aspirations represented in this symbolic material, we might better understand how new consumers were ideologically shepherded through a moment of profound political transition. The study represents a starting point for future investigation into how advertising produces its subjects in the aftermath of communism.”
Congratulations to Mike and Wanda!
A panel of practitioners and professionals will be discussing the blossoming field of digital marketing on Wednesday, February 13 at 6:30 in the Schine Auditorium at Sacred Heart University.
The event is intended to shed light on a field that has seen a lack of talent in the area and to “highlight the diversity of players, career paths and skill sets within the field. ”
For more information, click here.
To register online for the event, click here.
Wednesday, November 28 at 7:30 p.m. has been chosen as the new date/time of the faculty research presentations discussed in an earlier post. The venue has changed to the Dolan School of Business dining room.
Try to make it so you can have a better idea of what your professors spend their own time studying and how they approach the field of Communication!
To help with choosing classes, rather than waiting a week, here’s another adjunct professor profile. This time you’ll meet Dr. Luiz Duarte. He holds a BA in Journalism from the University of São Paulo, a MA in Telecommunication Managment from Michigan State University, and a Ph.D. in Mass Media also from MSU.
Communication is what got us from the caves to today. If you ever visit Epcot’s first ride on the giant ball you got a a good sense of how Communications technologies are so relevant to everything we are and do.
What has been your favorite course to teach?
I liked teaching about the history of communication technologies because there are so many interesting anecdotes to tell.
What’s the best course you’ve ever taken in or related to the field of Communication?
My great professor Thomas Muth from MSU used to provoke some animated discussions on Telecommunication policies and that was very interesting and useful for learning the multiple aspects of legislation, with winners and losers.
Do you have any interesting hobbies?
I am traveling throughout Latin America extensively these days for work and there is no time for much else.
The next adjunct Communication professor in our series is Julie Scher-Smith. She holds a degree in Economics from Emory University and a MBA in Finance from the University of Chicago. Along with that background, she has this to say about her experience teaching:
Teaching public speaking is a passion of mine. As a management consultant and manager of recruiting and training I realized that communication skills were paramount to being successful and being promoted. Analytical skills could get you answers but communicating them and attaining understanding and agreement required another skills set. Consultants often deliver presentations to share findings and to solicit new business; they lead team meetings and conduct informational interviews; yet they are seldom trained on the soft skills. So—- while working at Bricker & Assoc in Chicago, I got certified in public speaking so that I could then create my own course and train my colleagues (the other consultants). I have also taught adult education programs.
What has been your favorite course to teach?
CO101 is my favorite course to teach as every student is capable of being a success. It is not uncommon to have real anxiety about public speaking and this class is a wonderful means for overcoming that and attaining real skills that are leverageable in one’s personal and professional life. I like that although students might at first dread this course and enroll reluctantly to fulfill a requirement for the major, they soon come to enjoy class and embrace learning. I am a life-long learner and this class offers opportunities for growth and success for everyone.
Do you have any interesting hobbies?
Outside of the classroom… I enjoy yoga classes, and long beach walks. Last year I trained and became a cyclist to bike the Pan Mass Challenge (200 miles in 2 days) to raise money for cancer. I have two daughters who have recently gotten me to test my fear of heights numerous times at the new Adventure Park at the Discovery Museum (zip lines in the trees).
UPDATE: Due to the snow last night, this event was postponed. Keep checking back for the new date!
This Wednesday, November 7th, Drs. Ryan, Gudelunas, Zhang, and Pagano will be presenting their research to students to mark 25 years of Communication at Fairfield. They hope to create a dialogue between students and faculty and explain what each of them studies (and why). This is the first phase of a two-part series, with the next set being held in March and including Drs. Gil-Egui, Wills, Serazio, and Arendt.
The presentations for this week will be:
25 Years of Communication at Fairfield: A reflection – Dr. Ryan
Communication taboos: Media, culture, and sex – Dr. Gudelunas
Psychological reactance and verbal defensiveness in the workplace: The effects of perceived face threat and interactional justice in supervisor requests – Dr. Zhang
Getting interpersonal with simulation pedagogy: A collaborative approach – Dr. Pagano
The event will begin at 7 p.m. on Wednesday in the DiMenna-Nyselius Library Multimedia Room.
… And remember to vote tomorrow!
Hey Comm Majors-
Advising is upon us for the Spring 2013 semester. Everything you could ever possibly want to know about advising can be found on this page. Go on, click through and read BEFORE you email your advisor. Good luck with the registration process!
Chair, Department of Communication
This Saturday (October 13th), Fairfield will host the second annual Cancer Crusher Hoedown, a fun twist on the fundraiser for a great cause. The square-dance event is sponsored and organized by the Cancer Crusher Club, a campus club with over 100 members and a mission to “crush” pediatric cancer by building community through collective effort and turning the spotlight on a disease which affects the lives of children from infancy to the age of 25.
The founder of this club, and the main organizer of the event, is Amanda McKean, a Fairfield student in Communication and Leukemia survivor, who chose to come to Fairfield University because of the “tremendous student involvement” on campus. Putting her communication knowledge and organizing skills in action, McKean notes that, “It was a HUGE hit last year with over 130 people in attendance. We were able to raise over $5,000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society specifically towards their efforts having to do with pediatric cancer. We had a great group of volunteers who really helped to make the hoedown the success that it was.” She hopes to surpass last years figures on Saturday.
Tickets are now on sale at the info desk for $10 and will be on sale at the door the night of the fundraiser. The event is raising money this time around for the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. “This is where I was treated,” McKean says, “so it is a cause near and dear to my heart.”
The Hoedown will be held this Saturday, October 13th, from 8-10 PM in the Oak Room. And, for the freshmen, this will be counted as FYE service!
Steve Yavner is the next adjunct professor in Communication that we’ll be following. He received a BA in Psychology from Williams College and and a MSEd in Psychology from the University of Miami. Here’s more about his approach to the field:
I spent 25 years in broadcast journalism – hence my interest in communications. I started in production, moved to on-air news and sports, then moved to producing and management. I left commercial TV to go to the University of Miami, where I ran its TV station and taught in the Masters Program at the UM School of Communication. While there I earned my Masters in Psychology. I left there to come to NYU for a PhD, where my goal is to blend journalism, psychology, technology and education.
What has been your favorite course to teach?
I love teaching the Mass Media and Society class because it mirrors those interests. While journalism is only one piece of mass media, technology and psychology are woven through everything — as are education, entertainment, and connection. It’s really all about the transmission of information, and learning to think critically, process new information, and creatively express original thought… Media is a great tool for sharpening these skills, which are important for everyone, regardless of specific interest or major.
My experience allows me to bring a unique perspective to the class. For example, my class just read “Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu.” It was an essay about Ted Williams’ last game with the Red Sox written by John Updike in 1960. It may be the best piece of sports journalism ever written. It may not be journalism at all — it may be literature. But whatever it is, I doubt it’s on the syllabi of very many other Mass Media and Society classes! We spent a recent class talking about the latest Egypt/Libya crisis — ignited by one form of mass media (a YouTube video), the attempt to mediate the crisis through another form of mass media (Twitter), how it was covered by the mass media (TV networks), how the mass media reacted to the political spillover (Mitt Romney’s reaction), and the related issues of censorship, free speech, and hate messages (and Google’s blocking the video in several countries).
I will be teaching Mass Media and Society again next semester, along with American Media/American History. Last semester I taught Sports Broadcasting.
Chris D’Amico is an adjunct professor in Communication. He holds a BA in Communication from Albertus Magnus College and a MS in Communication Studies from the College of New Rochelle. Here’s a little more about him and his approach to the field in his own words:
We do it all the time! I recall my first “Effective Communication” course as an undergrad, the professor opens the class by saying “We can not not Communicate!” —Most of the students in the room looked at him as if he had three heads but from that moment on, it just clicked for me. We communicate all the time without even realizing it. I love the fact that we can communicate volumes without saying a single word!
What’s the most interesting thing to you about the field?
I love the diversity of the field. One can study a specific communication context or dig deeper and see how this affects “me” and the world I live in. It really can change a person’s attitudes and beliefs.
What has been your favorite course to teach?
My favorite course to teach is Gender and Communication. It is awesome to take a step back and really examine what men and women are all about. How women and men really do communicate differently! The similarities and differences are absolutely amazing to observe and study!
Another course I love to teach is CO 101: Argument & Advocacy. I remember that this class broke me out of my protective shell. I try to help those who may have a hard time speaking in front of others to overcome these obstacles and utilize what they are feeling and channel it and use it to their advantage.
What’s the best course you’ve ever taken in or related to the field of Communication?
Mass Media Law. It was the hardest class I ever enrolled in but it was worth it. The 1st Amendment is extremely powerful. Having the opportunity to examine past court cases, laws and the many ways it has impacted past and present day society is amazing.
Do you have any interesting hobbies?
I am a Canadian and U.S. coin collector. I am also a television game show fanatic. Current day shows are great but I love to watch older game shows such as “Match Game” or ” I’ve got a Secret.” Fun fact: the game show host of “Match Game,” Mr. Gene Rayburn and I have the same birthday!
Welcome back Communication majors! We hope everyone is having a great start to the semester. A few notes and changes as the semester gets underway that you may want to note:
Dr. Wills has admirably finished her term as departmental chair and Dr. Gudelunas is now chairing the department. Consequently, Dr. Gudelunas can now be found in DMH 227 and Dr. Wills in DMH 203. Stop by and say hello to either!
Faculty on Research Leave
This semester Dr. Searzio and Dr. Arendt are both are both on pre-tenure leave. They won’t be teaching this semester or available for regular advising/office hours. Wish them luck as they set the research world on fire with some exciting new scholarship. They’ll be back next semester, don’t panic. In the meantime if either is your advisor, please feel free to see Dr. Gudelunas or any other full-time member of the Department that can help you out.
New Internship email contact
Dr. Gudelunas is no longer coordinating the undergraduate internship program die to his chairing responsibilities. Dr. Serazio will be handling Fall internships (even while on leave), and Dr. Arendt Spring internships. We know this may be confusing (not really) but we have simplified the contact information. For any and all internship questions, just email firstname.lastname@example.org. The right person will get back to you! As a reminder, everything you could ever possibly want to know about internships can be found here.
Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @FairfieldComm and bookmark this blog for news and information that majors can use! Have a great semester!
This summer, Assistant Professor Mike Serazio made the journey to Durban, South Africa to take part in the IAMCR‘s annual conference. The conference, which this year carried the theme of “South-North Conversations,” focused on communication between those empowered by their economic, social, racial, or gender-defined conditions and those who find themselves marginalized by them, all against the backdrop of globalization.
“IAMCR annually gathers together some of the most diverse and international media scholars of any conference around,” Serazio said of the event. “Personally, I was delighted to network with a few new contacts who work in the areas of political economy and global consumer culture and have some exciting upcoming projects planned that I’ll be keeping tabs on. And Durban itself – and South Africa more broadly – is a rich, complex place for those who study and are fascinated by the intersection of culture and politics.”
He presented two papers that are summarized in the following abstracts, one of which he co-authored with a former Fairfield 2011 undergraduate, Wanda Szarek:
Crowd-Sourcing Consumer Governance:
Social Media Marketing and the Web 2.0 Populism of Viral Culture
This paper offers a production-of-culture exploration of the growth in social media marketing practices witnessed in the past decade. Through a textual analysis of hundreds of articles in the popular and trade press and in-depth interviews with 48 agency CEOs, creative directors, and brand managers, this study goes behind the scenes to examine the tactics and processes informing this approach to consumer governance – an approach that assumes networked interactivity, as opposed to mass broadcasting, as the organizing principle for contemporary media ecology. By highlighting a series of case studies drawn from viral and social media strategies, online self-publishing, consumer-generated video contests, and alternate-reality marketing scenarios, I identify a Foucauldian mode of power central to diverse crowd-sourced strategies: the effort to embed promotional messages in ostensibly amateur creative flows and voices so as to authenticate the collaborative, decentralized management ofconsumer subjects. I further emphasize the presumed persuasive capacity of these new media enthymemes that rely upon a continuum of open-to-closed media content as a way of understanding how brands oblige that engagement. The paper also represents an opportunity to update and adapt Marshall McLuhan’s taxonomy to reflect the advertising phenomena of our digital era (“the cool sell,” as I term it) and their capacity to conduct audiences through ambiguity, discovery, and engagement rather than that of the aggressively overt practices endemic to interruption marketing (“the hot sell”). Yet the free labor interpellated that underpins this move toward populist credibility and “brand democratization,” as some have hailed it, equally heralds a dematerialization of the creative industries and a flexible, contingent, if not precarious instability that defines a more heterarchical media world. In sum, the project contributes to anemerging school of research that seeks to critique both the marketing discourse and practices of “empowerment” and “participation” that function so commonly as buzzwords within the creative industries – and, more broadly, highlights how audience agency is increasingly co-opted by and coded into commercial structure.
The Art of Producing Consumers:
A Critical Textual Analysis of Post-Communist Polish Advertising
(co-authored with Wanda Szarek)
This paper offers a critical textual analysis of Polish advertising at a pivotal historical juncture: following the collapse of communism and at the rise of a capitalist market economy. With its rhetoric and imagery about goods and services, advertising simultaneously summons into being, through competing parables of social ideology, loaded assumptions and expectations about the consumer subjects it seeks to cultivate. By investigating the “secondary discourse” or “meta-narratives” that course throughout such textual material, we might better understand the larger cultural, political, and economic undercurrents of a given time and place.
Thus, by deconstructing hundreds of advertisements that appeared in Polish magazines in the late 1980s and early 1990s – an era of radical change – we argue that such commercial messages attempted to conjure a new sense of self for individuals living within an embryonic consumer society. These messages thrust new demands of status envy upon the Polish psyche – seeking to engineer self-consciousness, to cast judgments about social differentiation, and to nurture elitist exclusivity in contrast to the egalitarian and collectivist exhortations that would have marked communist propaganda. In a commercial act of strategic amnesia, that heritage of Soviet influence was elided behind a resolutely forward – and westward – looking entrepreneurial ethos, wherein English words tantalized with the cachet of triumph, power, and wealth. At this critical transition in Polish history in which widespread advertising was effectively being invented from scratch, these daydreams invoked – of techno-capitalist opportunity exploited, post-rationing luxury and excess indulged, and borderless horizons with Europe and the West (indeed, a new sphere of interconnected solidarity) – sought to interpellate the prospective consumer in a “valuable” position.
In this paper, we decode these ideological premises by looking at the “common sense” advertisers attempted to instill through their visual and rhetorical data – excavating the subject advertising minted within an emerging hegemonic model of neoliberal popular discourse. At that “end of history” moment, new ambitions, envies, and orientations were being inscribed upon these commercial subjects. By studying the aspirations and apprehensions represented in this symbolic material, we might better understand how new consumers were ideologically shepherded through a moment of profound political transition. This archival work represents a starting point for future investigations into how advertising “produces” its subjects in the aftermath of communism(s); moreover, it helps clarify the function of popular culture in post-socialist societies.
Congratulations to Mike and Wanda!
The Department congratulates Andreea Maier and Alina Cark, who recently received word that a paper they co-authored with Dr. Qin Zhang (“Self-Disclosure and Emotional Closeness in Intracultural Friendships: A Cross-Cultural Comparison Among U.S. Americans and Romanians”) has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Intercultural Communication Research! This research came out of course taught by Dr. Zhang, CO420 (“Communication Research Design and Methodologies”) and was also accepted for presentation at this year’s National Communication Association in Orlando, FL, in mid-November. The abstract for this research follows:
“This study investigates the cultural differences in self-disclosure and emotional closeness in intracultual friendships in U.S. and Romanian cultures. Results show that culture has a significant effect on the intent of self-disclosure and emotional closeness. First, Americans are found to disclose in a greater intent than Romanians to their friends, but the two cultures do not differ in other dimensions of self-disclosure. Second, Romanians are found to perceive a greater level of emotional closeness in intracultural friendships than Americans. Last, honesty/accuracy and intent of self-disclosure predict emotional closeness in Romania, but none of the dimensions of self-disclosure predicts emotional closeness in the U.S.”
Congratulations, Andreea, Alina, and Dr. Zhang!