December 7, 2022

Whalen, Blevins, and Skallerup Bessette Present at Computers and Writing Conference

Whalen

Whalen

Blevins

Blevins

Skallerup Bessette

Zach Whalen, Associate Professor of English; Brenta Blevins, Assistant Professor of English; and Lee Skallerup Bessette, Instructional Technology Specialist, recently gave presentations that constituted a panel at the 2018 Computers and Writing Conference, held at George Mason University.

The session was titled “Locating Digital Writing Space,” and the presenters talked about the origins of the Console Living Room project, using Augmented Reality with students to expand and complicate their sense of that space, and the ethos of Domain of One’s Own as digital writing space.

Davis Publishes Book and Article

Janine S. Davis, assistant professor in the College of Education, has published a text titled Building a Professional Teaching Identity on Social Media: A Digital Constellation of Selves. The text was initiated during her work on the Digital Scholars Institute in 2014-15 and was completed during her Jepson fellowship year in 2015-16. The text features a foreword by Martha Burtis, director of the Digital Knowledge Center. Also in the text are mentions of the Domain of One’s Own project and citations from both an interview with Jeffrey McClurken, professor of History & American Studies and Special Assistant to the Provost for Teaching, Technology, and Innovation, and work by Zach Whalen, associate professor of English.

Davis also published an article with a colleague, Victoria Fantozzi, in the journal Mentoring and Tutoring. The article, “What Do Student Teachers Want in Mentor Teachers?: Desired, Expected, Possible, and Emerging Roles” will be published in the fall, but an online version is available at http://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/XcegWJ89ZPz8W6TnWrjR/full

Foss and Whalen Co-edit Essay Collection

Professor of English Chris Foss and Associate Professor of English Zach Whalen (together with Jonathan W. Gray, Associate Professor of English at John Jay College/City University of New York) have published a book of essays titled Disability in Comic Books and Graphic Narratives. The book appears as part of Palgrave Macmillan’s Literary Disability Series (series editors David Bolt, Elizabeth J. Donaldson, and Julia Miele Rodas).

This book invites readers to consider both canonical and alternative graphic representations of disability. Some chapters focus on comic superheroes, from lesser-known protagonists like Cyborg and Helen Killer to classics such as Batgirl and Batman; many more explore the amazing range of graphic narratives revolving around disability, covering famous names such as Alison Bechdel and Chris Ware, as well as less familiar artists such as Keiko Tobe and Georgia Webber. The volume also offers a broad spectrum of represented disabilities: amputation, autism, blindness, deafness, depression, Huntington’s, multiple sclerosis, obsessive-compulsive disorder, speech impairment, and spinal injury. A number of the essays collected here show how comics continue to implicate themselves in the objectification and marginalization of persons with disabilities, perpetuating stale stereotypes and stigmas. At the same time, others stress how this medium simultaneously offers unique potential for transforming our understanding of disability in truly profound ways.

Foss Speaks to Columbia University Seminars

On October 16, Professor of English Chris Foss was a featured speaker at the joint meeting of the Columbia University Seminar on Disability, Culture, and Society and the Columbia University Seminar on Narrative, Health, and Social Justice in New York. Along with fellow co-editor Jonathan W. Gray, he talked about their essay collection Disability in Comic Books and Graphic Narratives, forthcoming in February as one of the first volumes of Palgrave’s new Literary Disability series.

Image (by Georgia Webber) from cover of _Disability in Comic Books and Graphic Narratives_

They also each offered detailed presentations on their individual chapter contributions to the book. As Foss explained, his chapter, “Reading in Pictures: Re-visioning Autism and Literature through the Medium of Manga,” considers the prospect that manga texts provide a more material means through which to communicate the lived experience of autism, perhaps even encourage a more properly “autistic” reading experience. Exploring how the more conceptual and less linear qualities of Keiko Tobe’s multi-volume series With the Light: Raising an Autistic Child (together with the multimodal reading experience they foster) speak to numerous aspects of autistic embodiment, the chapter effects an open-ended critical articulation of autism and manga (in dialogue with both autistic writers and sequential art scholars) characterized by a mapping around of space from which to consider multiple possibilities.

Sorely missed was third co-editor and lead author of the book’s Introduction, Associate Professor of English Zach Whalen, who was unable to attend because he coincidentally had to be in New York that same day for the meeting of the Modern Language Association’s Committee for Information Technology.

UMW Converges Time and Technology in 80’s Exhibit

The University of Mary Washington is converging time and technology with its interactive “Console Living Room” exhibit, a collection of 1980’s technology on display through May 2015. Featuring more than 100 video games, movies and technologies, the exhibit is arranged within a 1980’s living room set-up. Located on the fourth floor of the Information and Technology Convergence Center (ITCC), the interactive exhibit is a space for all visitors to play with the games. Click to view slideshow. The exhibit illustrates the evolution of technology. Today most people play games on mobile phones or high end, specialized devices, but it wasn’t always that way. In the 1970’s and early 1980’s, video games were flourishing in the public spaces of video arcades, but the mass production of home media consoles led to gaming as a home family activity. “The consoles in this exhibit are a piece of our shared digital history,” said Jim Groom, executive director of teaching and learning technologies. “They’re a pre-cursor to the technology we take for granted now.” Situated in the ITCC, the site highlights the history and evolution of technology by contrasting original video games and movies on vinyl with the building’s state-of-the-art structure. “This building, the Convergence Center, is about converging information technology for the future,” said Zach Whalen, associate professor of English. “But historically, new media converged within the technological ecosystems of living rooms everywhere.” According to Groom, there is a story in the technology that is no longer around today. “A lot of this is forgotten technology,” said Groom. “Take, for example, RCA’s Selecta-A-Vision videodiscs.” He points to a bunch of over-sized vinyl video platters against the paneled walls that resemble floppy discs. “That failed format captures a bizarre hybrid of analog and digital that represents a transitional moment in consumer technology in the 80s.” The exhibit’s collection includes well-known video games like Space Invaders, Pitfall and the original Super Mario Brothers. Among the video collection are movies both on VHS and videodisc, such as the copy of Footloose vinyl videodiscs from 1984. Other institutions also have created exhibits featuring older technologies including the University of Colorado Boulder, which has a media archeology lab. For Whalen, the ability to interact with the exhibit was key to the design. “Accessibility was a key factor in designing the exhibit,” said Whalen. “We want students to be able to play the games and appreciate how far technology has come.” For more information about the exhibit or donations to the collection, visit http://www.consolelivingroom.net/. Join the conversation on Twitter with #UMWConsole.

Call for 1980s Furniture: The Console Living Room Exhibit

playing_atari_2600-e1389555711895

Image Credit: “Home Gaming Archive Puts Classics at Your Fingertips”

After Spring Break, the Digital Studies program will be creating an interactive installation on the 4th Floor of the Information Technology & Convergence Center. The installation will feature a replica of a living room circa 1985. We would like to ask if anyone would be willing to loan or donate furniture, art, accessories, etc., from that era. For example, if you have any books, magazines, catalogs, posters, audio visual equipment (including personal computers), and furniture (lazy boys, couches, tables, etc.) they would be very useful. In particular, if anyone has a working, oversized TV set with a cathode ray tube—that would be greatly appreciated. Any and all contributions would be welcome. If you can help, please contact Jim Groom (jgroom@umw.edu) or Zach Whalen (zwhalen@umw.edu).

Wired Article Highlights DTLT’s Known Pilot

WiredLogoAn article in yesterday’s Wired about the open source blogging application Known mentioned the pilot work being done in UMW’s Division of Teaching and Learning Technologies. Known provides a space where students can manage and publish their posts for various social media sites through their own application, controlling the archival copy of their work. It rethinks the users relationship to ownership of their data across sites like Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, SoundCloud, etc. Right now, Jim Groom’s Digital Storytelling course and Zach Whalen’s Introduction to Digital Studies are exploring this application.

One of the points made in the Wired article, that reinforces some of the possibilities of the Domain of One’s Own project, is that the campus can quickly and easily pilot new, cutting edge applications that are defining what many refer to as the Indie Web Movement.

Whalen Presents at MLA Conference

Zach WhalenZach Whalen, Assistant Professor of English, participated in three events at the recent Modern Language Association conference in Chicago. On Friday, Jan. 10, he was part of a reading of electronic literature, where he and colleagues read from twitter bots in a “Bot Choral.” On Saturday, Jan. 11, he was a panelist on the roundtable discussion “Electronic Literature after Flash.” His remarks were titled “Lexia to Perplexia (2000-2013)” and addressed the obsolescence of a key piece of second-generation electronic literature. Finally, on Sunday, Jan. 12, he presented the paper “Ebooks, Typography, and Twitter Art” in the session “Lit Misbehavin.” This paper addressed the poetics of twitter bots.

What is that Mary Washemon Thing We’ve all been Hearing about? (Fredericksburg.Com)

English Faculty Present at MLA Conference

Gary Richards

Gary Richards

Two professors and one recent alumnus of the Department of English, Linguistics, and Communication presented at the Modern Language Association Conference that met Jan. 3 through 6 in Boston, Mass. Assistant Professor Zach Whalen presented the paper “OCR (Optical Character Recognition) and the Vestigial Aesthetics of Machine Vision” on the panel Reading the Invisible and Unwanted in Old and New Media. Associate Professor Gary Richards presented the paper “Tennessee Williams and the Burden of Southern Sexuality Studies” on the panel The South and Sexuality. Alumnus Tyler Babbie, ’08, presented the paper “Another Term: Richard Aldington and Imagism(e)” on the panel From Imagism to “Amygism” to Vorticism.

Zach Whalen

Zach Whalen