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.