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Dissertations In the Mist

Anni Albers, Design for a Rug, 1925
Anni Albers, Design for a Rug, 1925

Back in November, I wrote this:

For the past five or six years I’ve been on various iterations of the same committee — one charged with rethinking the PhD. Our more specific charge has been to investigate what doctoral-level training should mean at an institution that regards design, artistic production, and media-making as intellectual pursuits — research-based, informed by theory, and potentially theoretically generative. While we were having our discussions, lots of other professional organizations and institutions were having similar conversations about “praxis-based” PhDs, and some schools (like Carnegie Mellon) even put such programs into place. Of course Australia and the UK (and schools in a few other places) have been doing this sort of thing for years.

Last year [ed: that is, 2013], the Provost charged me with filtering those years’ worth of experience and dialogue (including, most recently, with the wonderful Lisa Grocott, Clive Dilnot, Simone Douglas, and Joseph Heathcott) into the creation of an official formatted-in-accordance-with-state-requirements proposal for a new PhD program. I worked for a couple months with an external research organization to flesh out our committees’ “environmental scans” of the various design-, arts-, and praxis-oriented doctoral programs around the world, then set to work on the proposal. There are quite a few parts of that document — including all the stuff about budgets and faculty workload, etc. — that I’m not qualified to complete. I’ve done what I can, so now I wait for the “operationalizers” to help me workshop these ideas and address the nuts and bolts. I’m not sure when, or if, that’ll happen.

“But because I dedicated a good part of the past several years of my life to this project,” I wrote, “I kind of want some of these ideas to see the light of day.” So I posted some excerpts from the proposal. And as I very recently fielded yet another inquiry from a potential applicant from abroad regarding the status of the proposed program, and as it’s become increasingly clear to me that that status is “permanent holding pattern,” if not downright D.O.A., I figured, what the hell: why not just post the whole damn proposal. So, here’s what I got (bracketing out the long “market need” discussion at the end and all the financial and personnel issues I’m not qualified to address):

Design/Media Praxis PhD

What defines and distinguishes this program are: 1) its orientations toward praxis, that is, the integration of theory and practice in the active creation of new artifacts, processes, and understandings; and 2) its embrace of a wide variety of research methods, creative approaches, and means of dissemination.

  • At its core is the conviction that various forms of practice – including but not limited to designing, media-making, curating, art, performance, and writing – can generate new knowledge and understanding of the world, and therefore can constitute fully legitimate pathways of scholarship.
  • Forms of acting, making, and practice outside the traditional limits of doctoral research require inquiry as much as do the classic academic disciplines. This is acutely the case in the arena of complex problem-solving/possibility-seeking – of central importance in The New School’s mission – where creative, transdisciplinary practices are well suited to exploring solutions through the production of new artifacts, processes, and understandings.
  • The advanced reflection made possible through this mode of doctoral study allows the exploration of knowledgethrough creative practice, without forsaking scholarly rigor.

Students enrolled in the program would propose and pursue a project germane to any of the fields of study represented at the graduate level at The New School, subject to approval by their advisors and programs/departments.

  • All projects would be hybrid, incorporating both writing and some form of practice or action-research. The form of such projects could range from a designed object or system to a documentary film to a written dissertation with supporting media, depending upon the student’s objectives and the project’s demands.
  • The form of the dissertation in turn informs, and is informed by, the choice of methods, which might range from traditional qualitative methods to iterative and performative approaches to experimental design research.
  • The program emphasizes the careful selection of multimodal methods and means of dissemination, and the applicability of students’ experiences to fields and professions that may extend beyond, but are in meaningful partnership with, the academy.
  • The dissertation project can be designed to prepare the student to practice not only as an academic, but also professionally as an informed high-level actor in the increasingly complex spheres of action that will emerge over the next decades.

The relation of the Praxis PhD to the traditional PhD

  • Students wishing to complete traditional dissertations in the social sciences or in urban policy may pursue a PhD through one of our existing programs in the New School for Social Research and the Milano School of International Affairs, Management, and Urban Policy. The Praxis program will serve students interested in transdisciplinary projects that employ methods, and make use of modes of presentation and dissemination, that are not typically employed in traditional doctoral programs.
  • The Praxis PhD program will emphasize the process of scholarship. As part of working collaboratively, faculty will address methodologies of collaboration and team-management. Participants will consider socialization within and between various fields and professions, as well as the range of knowledge/s and practices desirable in a collaborative community. Students will of course cultivate particular areas of expertise and skill, but will also develop proficiency in various methods of inquiry, forms of production, and modes of dissemination.
  • The Praxis PhD will emulate the commitment of traditional doctoral training to doing work of breadth and depth with a small group of advisors and peers. However, unlike the traditional doctorate, which tends to frame the dissertation as its primary end-goal, the Praxis PhD program will regard the dissertation also as an exploration of the intellectual skills and competencies we want student to develop through their education. The dissertation, and the research process, will allow students to demonstrate both the expertise and understanding gained in a particular field, and the knowledge gained about what it means to be a scholar-practitioner working in a collaborative, interdisciplinary environment…..

109_lambert1-600x781

Curriculum

The process of scholarship will be an emphasis of the program. As part of working collaboratively, we’ll address processes of group-building and methodologies of collaboration and team-management. We’ll consider how we socialize within and between various fields and professions. We will also consider the range of knowledge/s and practices we’d want a collaborative community to have. Students will of course cultivate particular areas of expertise and skill — they will enter the program with Masters degrees, which certify that they’ve cultivated a solid foundation in a particular area of specialization, and they’ll further develop that knowledge through elective cognate courses — but will also develop literacy in various research methods and modes of publicizing or disseminating their work.

There has been much debate over the length of time and the cost that U.S. students invest in completing PhDs. We aim to decrease time-to-degree without sacrificing rigor, by offering more flexible scheduling options, including minimal residency requirements and instructional formats that aren’t constrained by the traditional 15-week course.

The Praxis PhD program will consist of 30 credits, distributed across three years of coursework and supervision. Students are required to be registered full-time, and in residence in New York City, for the first year of study. Years two and three can be completed remotely, but students must return to New York twice each year, for two two-week workshop/conference/exhibitions. The distribution of courses is as follows:

Year One / Semester One

  • Core Studio I (required 3-credit praxis studio): A team of faculty will guide students through a case study requiring interdisciplinary investigation and engagement. In this semester, students will focus on problem definition, design research, and methodology. In the process, students will learn about collaboration strategies, including how to build international partnerships; project and team management, how to “do interdisciplinarity,” etc.
  • Methodologies and Epistemologies (required 3-credit seminar/workshop): This seminar examines how epistemologies and methodologies are mutually informed; offers an overview of methods represented within the humanities, social sciences, design, and fine arts field; and helps students develop strategies for choosing among methods – and particularly choosing from among the methods courses available at The New School – as appropriate for their own dissertation projects, and in other applications and contexts. We will also examine how the myriad media and design modalities – from documentary and data visualization to field recordings and various approaches to prototyping – can function as research tools and techniques. In addition, during this course students will begin to develop their Literature Reviews / Environmental Scans, and their Portfolios/Process Journals (about which more below), which they will maintain throughout their enrollment in the PhD program, and which will be an integral part of the submitted dissertation project.
  • Praxis Symposium (required 3-credit symposium): Each week students will meet with two faculty from across The New School, paired to highlight their common concerns and disparate approaches, or with representatives from various faculty research clusters, labs, or centers, who model the type of interdisciplinary, collaborative work that Praxis students are preparing to do. Faculty will discuss practical and ethical issues germane to their practice, lead students through close readings of texts that are central to their work, and lead workshops on methods that are likewise integral to their practice.
  • Elective: In consultation with an advisor, students can choose from among all graduate courses at The New School. Elective credits might be used to develop a cognate area or to cultivate new design or production skills.

Year One / Semester Two

  • Core Studio II (required 3-credit praxis studio/workshop): A continuation of Core Studio I. In this semester, students and faculty will employ the methods they’ve chosen in Semester I, evaluate the results, and iterate. They’ll also examine the variety of means through which students can disseminate their work – e.g., traditional or experimental publication, video documentaries, interactive platforms, curated exhibitions, designed artifacts and systems. In the process, students also explore how they can continue to uphold rigorous academic standards, including citation and peer review, in these diverse modalities.
  • Three Electives: In consultation with an advisor, students can choose from among all graduate courses at The New School. Elective credits might be used to develop a cognate area or to cultivate new design or production skills.

Years Two/Three

  • Students must enroll in six credits (at no cost?) of Internship, Applied Fieldwork, and/or Research Methods(about which more below). If the Internship/Applied Fieldwork involves intensive research that allows for the development of a strong set of research methods, students need not enroll in separate Research Methods courses. These determinations are to be made on a case-by-case basis in consultation with the student’s advisors.
  • Students are welcome to audit additional Elective courses to further develop their cognates or cultivate their design and production skills. If they remain in New York, they can choose from among all graduate courses offered at The New School or from any local consortium institution. If they are working remotely, students can take a graduate course at a local institution. Or they can design an independent study with a New School advisor.
  • Each semester students must participate in online Professionalization Workshops (about which more below; no credit)

Non-Course Requirements

  • Students entering the program with limited design and/or production experience must participate in a self-directed summer tutorial(?). (How will we level the playing field for students who enter the program with different skill sets? Should this be a concern — or should we simply allow students to learn from one another in the first-year courses, and to fill in their individual gaps via Elective coursework?)
  • During the second semester of their second year, students must submit an approved Literature Review / Mediagraphy / Environmental Scan.
  • During the second semester of their third year(?), students enroll in Dissertation Proposal Supervision (no credit) with their dissertation supervisors. They defend this proposal publicly during the summer Praxis PhD Conference/Exhibition.
  • Each semester beyond successful defense of the dissertation proposal, students must enroll in Dissertation Supervision (no credit) with their dissertation supervisor. The faculty member and student determine how frequently they will meet, either in-person or virtually. The student is also responsible for maintaining his/herProcess Journal, about which more below.
  • Each Fall, students must participate in the annual two-week Praxis PhD Workshop (should this have credits attached to it?), on-site in New York.
  • Each Spring/Summer, students must participate in the annual two-week Praxis PhD Conference/Exhibition(should this have credits attached to it?): Here students demonstrate their annual progress and receive feedback from their student colleagues, all Praxis PhD faculty, and a group of external critics, designers, scholars, and other professionals.

Internships / Applied Fieldwork

Students are required to complete at least three credits’, but no more than six credits’, worth of internship(s) or applied fieldwork. The program faculty and External Partnerships Administrator (EPA) will cultivate relationships with various New York-based design and media production companies, cultural institutions, not-for-profits, development organizations, etc. — all potentially eventual employers of graduates of the PhD program — and identify opportunities where our students’ particular areas of expertise and skill sets could be put to good use in addressing real-world problems. Students are also welcome to cultivate their own external partnerships and propose their own internships.

Students must submit, and have approved by both their advisor and the EPA, an extensive proposal, developed in consultation with the external organization, that offers (1) a description of the specific project(s) the students will undertake in partnership with the external organization; (2) a list of the student’s responsibilities and expected time commitment; and (3) a discussion of the cognate knowledge, research methods, design and/or production skills, and modes of dissemination the student will likely cultivate through completion of the internship. Each student’s advisor and the program’s EPA will ensure that the nature of the work is appropriate for doctoral-level students, and that it will support the student’s course of study. If the proposal is approved, external organizations must sign a contract agreeing to the nature and extent of work the intern will undertake.

Students may also propose to undertake self-directed (but faculty advisor-supervised) Applied Fieldwork, potentially involving partnerships with multiple organizations. For instance, a student might choose to investigate the design of urban interfaces for the new Hudson Yards development project in Manhattan; his or her work might involve liaising between various government agencies, design and technology firms, and the city’s data managers. Again, students are required to submit an extensive Applied Fieldwork proposal, which must be approved by the student’s advisor and the program’s EPA.

Research Methods

Students will be able to choose from a variety of variable-credit methodology courses represented within the humanities, social sciences, design, and fine arts fields – ranging from qualitative methods to iterative and performative approaches to experimental design research – based on the nature of their dissertation projects. The New School already offers a suite of such one-, two- and three-credit graduate methods courses, some dedicated to a particular method – interviewing or content analysis, for example – and others dedicated to the integration of a variety of methods for a particular application – e.g., participatory design research, or data gathering and analysis. Praxis PhD students are welcome to take these courses, provided they are offered for graduate credit. The PhD faculty will also develop new courses based on student interest and need; many will be offered online and/or during intensive summer or intersession periods. In addition, a core requirement for the Praxis PhD will be a methodology seminar, to be taken in students’ first semester, that discusses how methodologies and epistemologies are mutually informed, offers an overview of the various methods options available, and addresses strategies for choosing and mixing methods as appropriate for students’ individual projects.

Professionalization Workshops (need a better name!)

While students are working remotely throughout years two and three, the program will host monthly online workshops on various aspects of professionalization – e.g., team-building, grant-seeking, event planning, software for project management, job-seeking. The workshops will allow for asynchronous discussion and occasional synchronous presentations with Q&A.

Dissertation

There is, of course, much in traditional doctoral education that is worth retaining – particularly, the commitment to doing work of breadth and depth with a small group of advisors and peers. However, unlike the traditional doctoral program, which tends to frame the dissertation as its primary end-goal, our Praxis PhD program will regard the dissertation also as an exploration of the intellectual skills and competencies we want student to develop through their doctoral education. The dissertation, and the process leading up to it, will allow students to demonstrate both theexpertise and understanding they’ve gained in a particular field or practice, as well as the knowledge they’ve gained about what it means to be a scholar-practitioner, particularly one working in a collaborative, interdisciplinary environment.

To this end, the dissertation must be accompanied by an online Process Journal in which students reflect on and analyze their work process – their choice of methods and modes of representation, their integration of lenses from myriad disciplinary fields and practices, how collaboration and professional work have informed their project – throughout the dissertation development process, and after the dissertation has been successfully defended. Students are encouraged to explore various forms of writing and modes of presentation in this journal.

All dissertations will be hybrid, incorporating both writing and some form of practice or action-research. This work represents, in the words of Clive Dilnot, a “critical reflection on, and analytical translation of, enacted practice into knowledge.” The form of such projects could range from a designed object or system to a documentary film to a written dissertation with supporting media, depending upon the student’s objectives and the project’s demands. The dissertation project can be designed to prepare the student to practice not only as an academic, but also professionally as an informed high-level actor in the increasingly complex spheres of action that will emerge over the next decades. Thus, students are encouraged to partner wit external organizations – design firms, cultural organizations, etc. – in the design and evaluation of their dissertation projects.

Dissertations are intended to address significant real-world or practice-based problems, rather than focus on the students’ own self-defined design and/or creative work. As education journalist Andrew McGettigan writes in regard to the art practice PhD, “a frame has to be constructed that places the practice in relation to a significant problem and thereby escapes the solipsism that might result by beginning from one’s own work…. Research that advances knowledge goes beyond a personal exploration and requires a clear sense of how what is being pursued will be of significance to a broader community of academics and practitioners.”

During the annual Praxis PhD Workshop, in the Fall semester, students in the second year will participate in aDissertation Proposal Lab. They must submit a dissertation proposal by the end of the following semester, and thatproposal will be defended – in front of the dissertation committee and two or three external reviewers – within the two-week period of the annual Praxis PhD Conference/Exhibition. For the third – and, if necessary, fourth – year, students will enroll in Dissertation every fall, during the annual Praxis PhD Workshop and Conference/Exhibition. Students will also present their work-in-progress each spring at the Praxis PhD Conference/Exhibition, where they will receive feedback from their committee and a panel of invited guests.

Agnes Martin, The Islands
Agnes Martin, The Islands

Students

Students will be recruited from all Masters-level fields – MFA, MA, MS, MPA, etc., programs. We see great value in bringing together students from diverse disciplinary backgrounds, each fostering different methodologies and epistemologies. We see great value in geographic, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds, too, and will make every effort to recruit students from historically underrepresented groups. (need to specify how)

Our program’s flexible scheduling also makes the pursuit of a PhD more feasible for a wider population. U.S.-based PhDs typically require a minimum of six years, with significant year-round residency requirements, while programs in other parts of the world typically require no more than four years, and commonly make use of intensives and other flexible scheduling models. Shortening time-to-degree, and adopting a schedule that isn’t locked into the 15-week semester, would distinguish us from our US-based competition – and would allow us to better accommodate students who need to, or choose to, maintain a full-time job, or who have family obligations or other responsibilities to attend to while they’re completing the program.

The first incoming class will include five students, and each year thereafter five(?) more students will be admitted.

Students will be required to enroll full-time and be in residence for the first full year of study. For each of the two or three subsequent years (depending upon individual students’ rate of progress on his/her dissertation project), students must (1) register for supervision credits with their dissertation advisors, with whom they must schedule a one-hour on-site or online meeting at least once per month; (2) participate in monthly online workshops on topics ranging from their dissertation work, to professional development, to the planning of student events; and (3) be in residence in New York twice each year, for two two-week workshop/conference/exhibitions. The regular contact with faculty advisors, monthly workshops, and semi-annual in-person meetings will help to foster strong advising relationships, ensure students’ continual progress, cultivate a supportive student-faculty community, and thereby promote retention and timely completion of the degree.

Thirty total credits, pursued over the course of three or four years, will be required for completion of the program. Students with no design or media production background will be required to dedicate a greater proportion of their elective credits to design and production courses.

Evaluation

The Praxis PhD program will host a public conference and exhibition every summer, for which student attendance is mandatory. External guests – noted academics, critics, designers, media-makers, artists, and leaders from a variety of cultural, civic, and business organizations – will be invited to take part and to provide feedback on students’ work.

We have integrated external partners – potential hosts of student internships, potential grantors of student research, potential employers of our graduates – into the process this which this program was developed. These same partners and others will be invited to participate in our annual conferences and workshops, to provide feedback on student work; and if they should happen to offer internships or employment to any of our graduates, we will check on their workplace achievement and solicit feedback on how we might better prepare our graduates for eventual employment.

We will also diligently track and publicize our students’ achievements and employment and cultivate a robust alumni and mentoring network.

Faculty will be subject to annual reviews and periodic promotion and tenure reviews, during which their work will be evaluated by external peers.

Then I went on to talk about institutional need, regional competition, etc….

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The Chimerical Praxis PhD

Josef Albers, Homage to the Square, 1949
Josef Albers, Homage to the Square, 1949

For the past five or six years I’ve been on various iterations of the same committee — one charged with rethinking the PhD. Our more specific charge has been to investigate what doctoral-level training should mean at an institution that regards design, artistic production, and media-making as intellectual pursuits — research-based, informed by theory, and potentially theoretically generative. While we were having our discussions, lots of other professional organizations and institutions were having similar conversations about “praxis-based” PhDs, and some schools (like Carnegie Mellon) even put such programs into place. Of course Australia and the UK (and schools in a few other places) have been doing this sort of thing for years.

Last year, the Provost charged me with filtering those years’ worth of experience and dialogue (including, most recently, with the wonderful Lisa Grocott, Clive Dilnot, Simone Douglas, and Joseph Heathcott) into the creation of an official formatted-in-accordance-with-state-requirements proposal for a new PhD program. I worked for a couple months with an external research organization to flesh out our committees’ “environmental scans” of the various design-, arts-, and praxis-oriented doctoral programs around the world, then set to work on the proposal. There are quite a few parts of that document — including all the stuff about budgets and faculty workload, etc. — that I’m not qualified to complete. I’ve done what I can, so now I wait for the “operationalizers” to help me workshop these ideas and address the nuts and bolts. I’m not sure when, or if, that’ll happen. But because I dedicated a good part of the past several years of my life to this project, I kind of want some of these ideas to see the light of day. So, here are a few excerpts from the proposal:

Design/Media Praxis PhD

What defines and distinguishes this program are: 1) its orientations toward praxis, that is, the integration of theory and practice in the active creation of new artifacts, processes, and understandings; and 2) its embrace of a wide variety of research methods, creative approaches, and means of dissemination.

  • At its core is the conviction that various forms of practice – including but not limited to designing, media-making, curating, art, performance, and writing – can generate new knowledge and understanding of the world, and therefore can constitute fully legitimate pathways of scholarship.
  • Forms of acting, making, and practice outside the traditional limits of doctoral research require inquiry as much as do the classic academic disciplines. This is acutely the case in the arena of complex problem-solving/possibility-seeking – of central importance in The New School’s mission – where creative, transdisciplinary practices are well suited to exploring solutions through the production of new artifacts, processes, and understandings.
  • The advanced reflection made possible through this mode of doctoral study allows the exploration of knowledge through creative practice, without forsaking scholarly rigor.

Students enrolled in the program would propose and pursue a project germane to any of the fields of study represented at the graduate level at The New School, subject to approval by their advisors and programs/departments.

  • All projects would be hybrid, incorporating both writing and some form of practice or action-research. The form of such projects could range from a designed object or system to a documentary film to a written dissertation with supporting media, depending upon the student’s objectives and the project’s demands.
  • The form of the dissertation in turn informs, and is informed by, the choice of methods, which might range from traditional qualitative methods to iterative and performative approaches to experimental design research.
  • The program emphasizes the careful selection of multimodal methods and means of dissemination, and the applicability of students’ experiences to fields and professions that may extend beyond, but are in meaningful partnership with, the academy.
  • The dissertation project can be designed to prepare the student to practice not only as an academic, but also professionally as an informed high-level actor in the increasingly complex spheres of action that will emerge over the next decades.

The relation of the Praxis PhD to the traditional PhD

  • Students wishing to complete traditional dissertations in the social sciences or in urban policy may pursue a PhD through one of our existing programs in the New School for Social Research and the Milano School of International Affairs, Management, and Urban Policy. The Praxis program will serve students interested in transdisciplinary projects that employ methods, and make use of modes of presentation and dissemination, that are not typically employed in traditional doctoral programs.
  • The Praxis PhD program will emphasize the process of scholarship. As part of working collaboratively, faculty will address methodologies of collaboration and team-management. Participants will consider socialization within and between various fields and professions, as well as the range of knowledge/s and practices desirable in a collaborative community. Students will of course cultivate particular areas of expertise and skill, but will also develop proficiency in various methods of inquiry, forms of production, and modes of dissemination.
  • The Praxis PhD will emulate the commitment of traditional doctoral training to doing work of breadth and depth with a small group of advisors and peers. However, unlike the traditional doctorate, which tends to frame the dissertation as its primary end-goal, the Praxis PhD program will regard the dissertation also as an exploration of the intellectual skills and competencies we want student to develop through their education. The dissertation, and the research process, will allow students to demonstrate both the expertise and understanding gained in a particular field, and the knowledge gained about what it means to be a scholar-practitioner working in a collaborative, interdisciplinary environment…..

109_lambert1-600x781

Curriculum

The process of scholarship will be an emphasis of the program. As part of working collaboratively, we’ll address processes of group-building and methodologies of collaboration and team-management. We’ll consider how we socialize within and between various fields and professions. We will also consider the range of knowledge/s and practices we’d want a collaborative community to have. Students will of course cultivate particular areas of expertise and skill — they will enter the program with Masters degrees, which certify that they’ve cultivated a solid foundation in a particular area of specialization, and they’ll further develop that knowledge through elective cognate courses — but will also develop literacy in various research methods and modes of publicizing or disseminating their work.

There has been much debate over the length of time and the cost that U.S. students invest in completing PhDs. We aim to decrease time-to-degree without sacrificing rigor, by offering more flexible scheduling options, including minimal residency requirements and instructional formats that aren’t constrained by the traditional 15-week course.

The Praxis PhD program will consist of 30 credits, distributed across three years of coursework and supervision. Students are required to be registered full-time, and in residence in New York City, for the first year of study. Years two and three can be completed remotely, but students must return to New York twice each year, for two two-week workshop/conference/exhibitions. The distribution of courses is as follows:

Year One / Semester One

  • Core Studio I (required 3-credit praxis studio): A team of faculty will guide students through a case study requiring interdisciplinary investigation and engagement. In this semester, students will focus on problem definition, design research, and methodology. In the process, students will learn about collaboration strategies, including how to build international partnerships; project and team management, how to “do interdisciplinarity,” etc.
  • Methodologies and Epistemologies (required 3-credit seminar/workshop): This seminar examines how epistemologies and methodologies are mutually informed; offers an overview of methods represented within the humanities, social sciences, design, and fine arts field; and helps students develop strategies for choosing among methods – and particularly choosing from among the methods courses available at The New School – as appropriate for their own dissertation projects, and in other applications and contexts. We will also examine how the myriad media and design modalities – from documentary and data visualization to field recordings and various approaches to prototyping – can function as research tools and techniques. In addition, during this course students will begin to develop their Literature Reviews / Environmental Scans, and their Portfolios/Process Journals (about which more below), which they will maintain throughout their enrollment in the PhD program, and which will be an integral part of the submitted dissertation project.
  • Praxis Symposium (required 3-credit symposium): Each week students will meet with two faculty from across The New School, paired to highlight their common concerns and disparate approaches, or with representatives from various faculty research clusters, labs, or centers, who model the type of interdisciplinary, collaborative work that Praxis students are preparing to do. Faculty will discuss practical and ethical issues germane to their practice, lead students through close readings of texts that are central to their work, and lead workshops on methods that are likewise integral to their practice.
  • Elective: In consultation with an advisor, students can choose from among all graduate courses at The New School. Elective credits might be used to develop a cognate area or to cultivate new design or production skills.

Year One / Semester Two

  • Core Studio II (required 3-credit praxis studio/workshop): A continuation of Core Studio I. In this semester, students and faculty will employ the methods they’ve chosen in Semester I, evaluate the results, and iterate. They’ll also examine the variety of means through which students can disseminate their work – e.g., traditional or experimental publication, video documentaries, interactive platforms, curated exhibitions, designed artifacts and systems. In the process, students also explore how they can continue to uphold rigorous academic standards, including citation and peer review, in these diverse modalities.
  • Three Electives: In consultation with an advisor, students can choose from among all graduate courses at The New School. Elective credits might be used to develop a cognate area or to cultivate new design or production skills.

Years Two/Three

  • Students must enroll in six credits (at no cost?) of Internship, Applied Fieldwork, and/or Research Methods (about which more below). If the Internship/Applied Fieldwork involves intensive research that allows for the development of a strong set of research methods, students need not enroll in separate Research Methods courses. These determinations are to be made on a case-by-case basis in consultation with the student’s advisors.
  • Students are welcome to audit additional Elective courses to further develop their cognates or cultivate their design and production skills. If they remain in New York, they can choose from among all graduate courses offered at The New School or from any local consortium institution. If they are working remotely, students can take a graduate course at a local institution. Or they can design an independent study with a New School advisor.
  • Each semester students must participate in online Professionalization Workshops (about which more below; no credit)

Non-Course Requirements

  • Students entering the program with limited design and/or production experience must participate in a self-directed summer tutorial(?). (How will we level the playing field for students who enter the program with different skill sets? Should this be a concern — or should we simply allow students to learn from one another in the first-year courses, and to fill in their individual gaps via Elective coursework?)
  • During the second semester of their second year, students must submit an approved Literature Review / Mediagraphy / Environmental Scan.
  • During the second semester of their third year(?), students enroll in Dissertation Proposal Supervision (no credit) with their dissertation supervisors. They defend this proposal publicly during the summer Praxis PhD Conference/Exhibition.
  • Each semester beyond successful defense of the dissertation proposal, students must enroll in Dissertation Supervision (no credit) with their dissertation supervisor. The faculty member and student determine how frequently they will meet, either in-person or virtually. The student is also responsible for maintaining his/her Process Journal, about which more below.
  • Each Fall, students must participate in the annual two-week Praxis PhD Workshop (should this have credits attached to it?), on-site in New York.
  • Each Spring/Summer, students must participate in the annual two-week Praxis PhD Conference/Exhibition (should this have credits attached to it?): Here students demonstrate their annual progress and receive feedback from their student colleagues, all Praxis PhD faculty, and a group of external critics, designers, scholars, and other professionals.

Internships / Applied Fieldwork

Students are required to complete at least three credits’, but no more than six credits’, worth of internship(s) or applied fieldwork. The program faculty and External Partnerships Administrator (EPA) will cultivate relationships with various New York-based design and media production companies, cultural institutions, not-for-profits, development organizations, etc. — all potentially eventual employers of graduates of the PhD program — and identify opportunities where our students’ particular areas of expertise and skill sets could be put to good use in addressing real-world problems. Students are also welcome to cultivate their own external partnerships and propose their own internships.

Students must submit, and have approved by both their advisor and the EPA, an extensive proposal, developed in consultation with the external organization, that offers (1) a description of the specific project(s) the students will undertake in partnership with the external organization; (2) a list of the student’s responsibilities and expected time commitment; and (3) a discussion of the cognate knowledge, research methods, design and/or production skills, and modes of dissemination the student will likely cultivate through completion of the internship. Each student’s advisor and the program’s EPA will ensure that the nature of the work is appropriate for doctoral-level students, and that it will support the student’s course of study. If the proposal is approved, external organizations must sign a contract agreeing to the nature and extent of work the intern will undertake.

Students may also propose to undertake self-directed (but faculty advisor-supervised) Applied Fieldwork, potentially involving partnerships with multiple organizations. For instance, a student might choose to investigate the design of urban interfaces for the new Hudson Yards development project in Manhattan; his or her work might involve liaising between various government agencies, design and technology firms, and the city’s data managers. Again, students are required to submit an extensive Applied Fieldwork proposal, which must be approved by the student’s advisor and the program’s EPA.

Research Methods

Students will be able to choose from a variety of variable-credit methodology courses represented within the humanities, social sciences, design, and fine arts fields – ranging from qualitative methods to iterative and performative approaches to experimental design research – based on the nature of their dissertation projects. The New School already offers a suite of such one-, two- and three-credit graduate methods courses, some dedicated to a particular method – interviewing or content analysis, for example – and others dedicated to the integration of a variety of methods for a particular application – e.g., participatory design research, or data gathering and analysis. Praxis PhD students are welcome to take these courses, provided they are offered for graduate credit. The PhD faculty will also develop new courses based on student interest and need; many will be offered online and/or during intensive summer or intersession periods. In addition, a core requirement for the Praxis PhD will be a methodology seminar, to be taken in students’ first semester, that discusses how methodologies and epistemologies are mutually informed, offers an overview of the various methods options available, and addresses strategies for choosing and mixing methods as appropriate for students’ individual projects.

Professionalization Workshops (need a better name!)

While students are working remotely throughout years two and three, the program will host monthly online workshops on various aspects of professionalization – e.g., team-building, grant-seeking, event planning, software for project management, job-seeking. The workshops will allow for asynchronous discussion and occasional synchronous presentations with Q&A.

Dissertation

There is, of course, much in traditional doctoral education that is worth retaining – particularly, the commitment to doing work of breadth and depth with a small group of advisors and peers. However, unlike the traditional doctoral program, which tends to frame the dissertation as its primary end-goal, our Praxis PhD program will regard the dissertation also as an exploration of the intellectual skills and competencies we want student to develop through their doctoral education. The dissertation, and the process leading up to it, will allow students to demonstrate both the expertise and understanding they’ve gained in a particular field or practice, as well as the knowledge they’ve gained about what it means to be a scholar-practitioner, particularly one working in a collaborative, interdisciplinary environment.

To this end, the dissertation must be accompanied by an online Process Journal in which students reflect on and analyze their work process – their choice of methods and modes of representation, their integration of lenses from myriad disciplinary fields and practices, how collaboration and professional work have informed their project – throughout the dissertation development process, and after the dissertation has been successfully defended. Students are encouraged to explore various forms of writing and modes of presentation in this journal.

All dissertations will be hybrid, incorporating both writing and some form of practice or action-research. This work represents, in the words of Clive Dilnot, a “critical reflection on, and analytical translation of, enacted practice into knowledge.” The form of such projects could range from a designed object or system to a documentary film to a written dissertation with supporting media, depending upon the student’s objectives and the project’s demands. The dissertation project can be designed to prepare the student to practice not only as an academic, but also professionally as an informed high-level actor in the increasingly complex spheres of action that will emerge over the next decades. Thus, students are encouraged to partner wit external organizations – design firms, cultural organizations, etc. – in the design and evaluation of their dissertation projects.

Dissertations are intended to address significant real-world or practice-based problems, rather than focus on the students’ own self-defined design and/or creative work. As education journalist Andrew McGettigan writes in regard to the art practice PhD, “a frame has to be constructed that places the practice in relation to a significant problem and thereby escapes the solipsism that might result by beginning from one’s own work…. Research that advances knowledge goes beyond a personal exploration and requires a clear sense of how what is being pursued will be of significance to a broader community of academics and practitioners.”

During the annual Praxis PhD Workshop, in the Fall semester, students in the second year will participate in a Dissertation Proposal Lab. They must submit a dissertation proposal by the end of the following semester, and that proposal will be defended – in front of the dissertation committee and two or three external reviewers – within the two-week period of the annual Praxis PhD Conference/Exhibition. For the third – and, if necessary, fourth – year, students will enroll in Dissertation every fall, during the annual Praxis PhD Workshop and Conference/Exhibition. Students will also present their work-in-progress each spring at the Praxis PhD Conference/Exhibition, where they will receive feedback from their committee and a panel of invited guests.

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Understanding Media Studies Monday Night Lecture Series

Understanding_MediaOne of my fall courses is our MA program’s “Understanding Media Studies” lecture course, which I’ve taught three times before, when it was conceived as an “intro to grad studies” course. The class has been reorganized for this year, with some of the practical content extracted and repositioned in an intensive pre-semester Orientation, some of the study-skills- and professionalization-oriented content transformed into a set of online guides (which I created over the summer); and the Monday night meetings reconceived as a series of guest lectures and panel discussions with alums and advanced current students. Here’s my new course description:

Understanding Media Studies is a required course for all first-semester Media Studies MA students. It consists of a week-long orientation prior to the start of the semester, and a weekly seminar series that runs over the course of the semester. The orientation week introduces MA students to the Media Studies Faculty and Staff, to The New School’s facilities and resources, and to the fundamentals of procedural literacy and building a digital portfolio for your media studies career. The School of Media Studies Monday Night Lecture Series functions not only as a communal orientation experience for the first-semester UMS cohort, but also as an intellectual and creative “hub” for the entire School. We welcome several guest presenters from the academy, industry, and a variety of creative fields that represent the breadth of what Media Studies is and can be. We also welcome several New School Media Studies alumni and advanced current students, who speak with us about issues regarding professionalization and socialization within the field. UMS students are organized into small groups that are responsible for researching the various guests and preparing questions to kick off the Q&A period following each lecture; and for creating a recap and response post that is published on the School of Media Studies’ on-line magazine. The course is offered in a hybrid on-site/on-line format to accommodate all first-semester students.

And here’s our line-up for the semester:

AUGUST 25: Semester Plan + Student Involvement

SEPTEMBER 1: No Class: Labor Day

SEPTEMBER 8: Orientation to Research Resources + Visits w/ Representatives from the Libraries and University Learning Center

SEPTEMBER 15: Mary Flanagan, Artist, Writer, Game Designer + Sherman Fairchild Distinguished Professor in Digital Humanities @ Dartmouth College: “Changing the World Through Values at Play

All games express and embody human values, providing a compelling arena in which we play out beliefs and ideas. “Big ideas” such as justice, equity, honesty, and cooperation—as well as other kinds of ideas, including violence, exploitation, and greed—may emerge in games whether designers intend them or not. In this talk, Mary Flanagan presents Values at Play, a theoretical and practical framework for identifying socially recognized moral and political values in digital games. After developing a theoretical foundation for this approach, Flanagan will provide detailed examinations of selected games, demonstrating the many ways in which values are embedded in them. Flanagan will also discuss the Values at Play heuristic, a systematic approach for incorporating values into the game design process. Can better games enable a robust self and society?

Mary Flanagan has achieved international acclaim for novel interdisciplinary work that weaves a studio art practice into humanities scholarship and scientific inquiry. Not content to work solely in the gallery space, she invades commercial game design, pop culture, and academia with provocative ideas about authorship, politics, and aesthetics. Her artwork ranges from game based systems to computer viruses, embodied interfaces to interactive poems. These works are exhibited internationally at galleries including the Tate Britain, the Telfair Museum, and ZKM Germany. Flanagan’s hybrid practice was recently showcased in The Atlantic,and her engagement as a “public intellectual” pushed her to publish recent pieces in USA TodayThe Huffington PostThe San Francisco ChronicleInside Higher Education, and more. Flanagan has served on the faculty of the Salzburg Global Seminar & the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy Academic Consortium on Games for Impact. She holds the honorary title at Dartmouth College of the Sherman Fairchild Distinguished Professor in Digital Humanities.  Her most recent book, co-authored with Helen Nissenbaum, is Values at Play in Digital Games (2014) with MIT Press.

SEPTEMBER 22: Discussion of Methods + Creative Methods Panel

  • Deepthi Welaratna, Media Studies ‘10; Social Systems Designer; Founder of Thicket: A Laboratory for Creative Problem Solvers
  • Ben Mendelsohn, Media Studies ‘11; Ph.D. Student in Media, Culture and Communication at NYU
  • Laura Scherling, Media Studies ‘14; Doctoral Student @ Teachers College, Columbia University; Designer, The New School
  • Brian Bulfer, Doctoral Student @ Teachers College, Columbia University
  • Adrian Hopkins, Media Studies ‘11; Director of Strategy @ Bureau Blank

SEPTEMBER 29: Student/Alumni Panel re: “Publicizing Your Work”

  • Participants TBA

OCTOBER 6: Caitlin Burns, Transmedia Producer: “Lessons from the Story Business

We’re no longer working in the Film Industry, the TV Industry or the Video Game Industry, the world of entertainment has comailnverged and there is one clear through line: story. As a Transmedia Producer, Caitlin Burns has spent a decade producing intellectual properties whose stories flow across platforms. Each experience type faces unique challenges to production and together thrilling new opportunities emerge as technology and creativity combine. These are some lessons for projects large and small drawn from Studio Projects and Console Games, Digital Experiences and Live Theatre. There have never been more opportunities to reach audiences with narrative work… What does a success story look like?

Caitlin Burns is a Transmedia Producer and Content Strategist based in New York City.  She is an elected member of the Producer’s Guild of America’s New Media Council Board of Delegates and is a Co-Chair of the PGA Women’s Impact Network. Her work includes narrative and multiplatform strategies for notables such as: Pirates of the Caribbean,Fairies, and Tron Legacy for Disney, James Cameron’s Avatar for 20th Century Fox, Halo for Microsoft, Happiness Factory for The Coca-Cola Company, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for Nickelodeon and Transformers for Hasbro. She has also worked with Sony, Showtime, Pepperidge Farm, Scholastic, Tribeca New Media Fund, FEMSA, Wieden+Kennedy, Reebok and Stratasys. Her independent production, McCarren Park, launched at the Tribeca Film Institute Interactive Day and screened at the New York Film Festival: Convergence.

OCTOBER 13: Susa Pop, Managing Director, Public Art Lab, Berlin: “Urban Screens as Community Platforms

Susa Pop is an urban media curator and producer based in Berlin. In 2003 she founded Public Art Lab (PAL) as a network of experts from the fields of urban planning, new media arts and IT. Susa Pop is interested in creative city-making through urban media art projects that catalyze communication processes in the public space. She initiated most of the PAL projects like the Connecting Cities Network (2012-16), Media Facades Festivals Berlin 2008 and Europe 2010, Mobile Studios (2006) and Mobile Museums (2004). She also speaks worldwide at conferences and workshops and is a lecturer at several universities like University of Potsdam and Leuphana University /  Institute of Urban and Cultural Area Research. In 2012 Susa Pop co-edited and published the book Urban Media Cultures.

OCTOBER 20: Mary Wareham and Jody Williams, with Peter Asaro: “Media Advocacy for Humanitarian Disarmament: From Landmines to Killer Robots

Chaired by Dr. Peter Asaro, this panel discussion by Nobel Peace Laureate Ms. Jody Williams and Mary Wareham of Human Rights Watch will look at the evolving nature of media outreach and advocacy for humanitarian disarmament. Williams and Wareham have collaborated together over the past twenty years on initiatives to ban antipersonnel landmines and cluster munitions. They are co-founders of the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots (www.stopkillerrobots.org), a global coalition of non-governmental organizations that is seeking a preemptive ban on weapons that would select and attack targets without meaningful human control. The panelists will consider how media has reacted to and covered the challenges posed by autonomous weapons and call for a ban as well as the similarities and differences to media outreach and advocacy for campaigning against landmines and cluster munitions. They will discuss how the Internet and social media have changed the landscape, and also how new media has changed the campaign’s approaches to mainstream media and journalists.

Jody Williams, Nobel Peace Laureate

@JodyWilliams97@NobelWomen @StopRapeCmpgn

The Nobel Women’s Initiative is a co-founder of the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots and Jody Williams serves as a spokesperson for the global coalition.

In 1997, Jody Williams became the tenth woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for her role as the founding coordinator (1991-1998) of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), co-recipient of the Peace Prize. Jody served as a chief strategist and spokesperson for the campaign in the crucial “Ottawa Process” period that saw an unprecedented diplomatic effort involving governments as well as NGOs, UN agencies, and the International Committee of the Red Cross work to adopt the Mine Ban Treaty in record time.

Williams established the Nobel Women’s Initiative in 2006 together with five of her sister Nobel Peace laureates to work for a democratic world free of violence against women and all of humanity. In 2012, the Nobel Women’s Initiative and other NGOs formed the International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict.

Mary Wareham, Human Rights Watch arms division advocacy director

@marywareham @hrw @bankillerrobots

Human Rights Watch is a co-founder of the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots and Mary Wareham serves as the coalition’s global coordinator.

Mary Wareham is advocacy director of the Arms Division, where she leads Human Rights Watch’s advocacy against particularly problematic weapons that pose a significant threat to civilians. She was centrally involved in the efforts to secure the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions and 1997 Mine Ban Treaty. On behalf of Human Rights Watch, Wareham was responsible for helping to establish and coordinate the Landmine Monitor research initiative by the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, which verifies compliance and implementation of the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty.

Wareham directed and produced an award-winning feature-length documentary film on landmines entitled “Disarm” (2006). She worked as a researcher for the New Zealand parliament from 1995 to 1996 after receiving bachelor’s and master’s degrees in political science from Victoria University of Wellington.

OCTOBER 27: Benjamen Walker, Host, Public Radio Exchange’s Theory of Everything: “A Resounding Theory of Everything”

Benjamen Walker has made radio for NPR, WNYC, WFMU, and the BBC. Currently he produces and hosts The Theory of Everything, part of the Radiotopia network from the public radio exchange.

NOVEMBER 3: Jill Godmilow, Independent Filmmaker, Emeritus Faculty @ University of Notre Dame: “Staying Out of the Torture Room: The Post-Realist Documentary

Since 1966 Jill Godmilow has been producing and directing non-fiction and narrative films including the Academy Award nominated Antonia: A Portrait Of The Woman (1974); Far from Poland, (1984) the post-realist documentary feature about the rise of the Polish Solidarity movement; Waiting for the Moon (1987), a feminist/modernist fictional feature about the lives of the literary couple Alice B. Toklas and Gertrude Stein (1st prize, Sundance Film Festival); Roy Cohn/Jack Smith (1995), a cinematic translation of a theater piece by performance artist Ron Vawter; What Farocki Taught, a replica and interrogation of a short film by German filmmaker Harun Farocki about the production of Napalm B during the Vietnam war, and most recently, a 6 hour, DVD archive, Lear ’87 Archive (Condensed) about the work of the renown New York City theatrical collective, Mabou Mines, at work  on a fully gender-reversed production of Shakespeare’s “King Lear”. Among others, she has received fellowships from the Guggenheim and Rockefeller foundations. In 2003, Antonia: A Portrait of The Woman was added to the prestigious National Film Registry at the Library of Congress.

NOVEMBER 10: Andrew Uroskie, Associate Professor of Modern Art History and Criticism, SUNY Stony Brook: Selma Last Year (1966): Site-Specificity and the Origins of Expanded Cinema”

This talk will consider “Selma Last Year,” a largely forgotten multimedia installation that took place during the Winter of 1966 as part of the New York Film Festival’s fleeting interest in Expanded Cinema. A collaboration between the street theater producer Ken Dewey, Magnum photojournalist Bruce Davidson, and Minimalist composer Terry Riley, this groundbreaking media installation juxtaposed large scale projected images, an immersive audio collage, small scale photographic prints, 16mm documentary film, and a delayed video feedback loop to create a series of intentionally disjunctive environments. During the Festival’s Expanded Cinema Symposium, Annette Michelson would explicitly dismiss Dewey’s work as a “revival of the old dream of synesthesia”— insisting upon a Modernist conception of medium-specificity as the only legitimate grounds for aesthetic radicalism. While the success of the “Structural Film” in the years immediately following might be taken as evidence for Michelson’s position, I contend that Dewey’s prescient concern for what would come to be known as “site-specificity” would prove the more enduring model for critical media aesthetics in the decades to come.

Andrew V. Uroskie is Associate Professor of Modern & Contemporary Art, and Director of the Doctoral Program in Modern Art History, Criticism and Theory at Stony Brook University in New York. Broadly speaking, his work explores how durational media have helped to reframe traditional models of aesthetic production, exhibition, spectatorship, and objecthood. He has published in numerous journals and anthologies in the US, England, Italy, Spain, and Brazil, both in English and in translation. His first book, “Between the Black Box and the White Cube: Expanded Cinema and Postwar Art,” was recently published by the University of Chicago Press.

NOVEMBER 17: Student/Alumni Panel “Career Trajectories,” co-sponsored by Career Success Link

  • Participants TBA 

NOVEMBER 24: No Class — Thanksgiving Week

DECEMBER 1 (World AIDS Day): Anne Balsamo, Dean, School of Media Studies: “Digital Experiences for the AIDS Memorial Quilt”

Blurb to come

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How to Be a Happier, Stronger, More Excellent Grad Student

Lief Parson
Lief Parsons

This fall I’m teaching our introduction to graduate studies lecture course. Again. This time around it’s been reconceived as the School of Media Studies’ featured lecture series. I’ve confirmed several great speakers, and I’ll be posting the lineup soon.

All the invaluable-but-oft-resented “professionalization” material — the how to read/write/develop methodology-like-a-grad-student, all the “being a good academic/professional citizen” tips — has been extracted and transformed into web resources. By me. This is what I’ve been up to for the past several weeks. Well, this and tennis lessons — which I’m totally rocking, by the way.

Some of these resources have been (dramatically) adapted from material I created for previous classes. Other material is brand new. I’m hoping it’s all of potential interest and use to grad students — my own and others’; here, there, and everywhere; past, present, and future (I’ve gone too far…).

We’ll be posting these on a wiki on our school’s website and allowing others to amend. But what follows are the “ur-texts.”

I’ve got guides for:

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Rights Clearances: A Method to the Mind-Numbing Madness

197px-Copyright.svg [Warning: This may very well be my most boring post of all time. But I think it covers some fairly useful material.]

[Edit 6/18: To further bore you to tears, I’ve added some new material re: fees and budgets. In a helpful Twitter exchange, which I’ll post below, my lovely colleague Alexandra Lange reminded me of these critical financial concerns.]

For each of the past five or six years I’ve been fortunate to have a research assistant — a Masters student I have every intention of enlisting to help me collect research resources and prepare material for publication; to serve as a sounding board for my syllabi and lesson plans; to help with maintaining my various websites; etc. When it comes time to delegate, however, I’ve tended to be overly cautious: I’m concerned that all the scanning and note-taking and image-formatting will be too boring and un-educational, so I end up doing all the drudge-work myself — and giving my RAs too little to do. Then I invariably find myself scanning books in the office on a Saturday afternoon — or spending long nights collating permission forms and reformatting image files to send off to my publisher — and thinking to myself: it this really the best use of my time?

So, after years and years of this “fear of delegating non-‘enlightening’ tasks,” I finally decided to ask my RA — a highly motivated, intelligent, organized, and capable young woman — to help me handle image rights clearances for a little book I’m publishing later this year. Nearly everything I’ve ever published has included images — 80 or so in my first book (I obtained permission for over 100), between two and six for most of my articles and chapters — and I’ve always handled all the copyright clearances myself. Selecting the images can be fun, but managing the bureaucracy isn’t exactly the most stimulating of tasks (ok, fine — it sucks).

That said, being introduced to the whole process can, potentially, be educational — and perhaps even interesting — for someone who’s new to the world of publishing, academic or otherwise. Plus, it easily disabuses us of the notion that “information wants to be free” — and reminds us that cultural producers do deserve credit (and remuneration, in some form) for their work.

I aimed to entrust my RA with as much responsibility as possible, so she felt empowered to make decisions and sensed my faith in her abilities. But I also wanted to set up a structure for her work — so she knew how to organize her correspondence and anticipate questions. Coincidentally, as I was preparing a little “primer” for her, two academic friends mentioned to me that they, as doctoral students, were asked to handle rights clearances for their advisors’ books. Both said they were given a list of images and copies of their advisors’ manuscripts — and put to work. That’s it. No further instruction. They were embarrassed to ask their advisors for direction — they assumed that this was a practice they should be familiar with, and they were reluctant to admit their ignorance — so they consulted with fellow students and rooted around for any advice they could piece together.

Sure, finding your own way has pedagogical and “character-building” value. But I see no harm in sharing what I’ve learned, from my own experience in managing rights clearances for my own work for the past decade-and-a-half.

So here’s what I did: First, I requested from my publisher more info about the types of images for which they require rights clearances (e.g., some don’t require permissions for ephemera or maps — but my book makes use of lots of maps-as-art and argues that maps are authored, rhetorical media, so I’m getting clearances for maps, too) and a template of your press’s “rights clearance” letter, which you’ll need to customize with info re: your publication’s tentative title, format, anticipated publication date and press run, etc. And if you have a budget for usage fees — perhaps provided by a grant, through your own research funds, or via an advance from your publisher (ha!!) — you need to figure out what that is, and get a sense of how you want to distribute those inevitably insufficient funds (Because of the contemporary and “bloggy” nature of my current project, I’m aiming to use mostly CreativeCommons-licensed and public domain images — so my primary means of “budgeting” involves eliminating nearly all images that require significant payment).

I sent the press’s permissions guidelines and template rights letter, along with the following note (with a few edits, to correct for ambiguities we discovered after our initial round of correspondence), to my RA:

Hi, Fantastic Research Assistant!

[inquiries about her own work, niceties, smalltalk, smalltalk]…  I’d really appreciate your help with securing image rights clearances for the roughly 45 images I’d like to use in a short book — XX — I’m publishing with X Press this fall=l.

I’ve attached the manuscript. Inserted throughout you’ll find yellow-highlighted lines indicating what images I’d like to use, and where I’d like for them to be placed within the text. I’ve included links to the images online — and, in some cases, links to the articles or blog posts in which I found those images.

We have to get clearance for all copyrighted images, and notify all Creative Commons license-holders (or holders of other forms of more liberal licensing) that we’d like to use their work. I’ve included instructions below. We can talk more when we meet!

Thanks so much for your help! Shannon

X

So, here’s what I need you to do:

  1. Create a spreadsheet listing all the images in the order in which they’re listed in the manuscript
  2. Create a row listing the “Sources” for each image — i.e., what book, article, blog post, etc. it appeared in — in other words, where we found it (online, in most cases). Include URLs where applicable.
  3. Create a row on the spreadsheet for “Rights Holders + Contact Info.” You’ll need to do some investigation to find out who holds the rights to each image. Sometimes the rights holders will be listed in the image’s caption. Sometimes the photos are by the authors of the article or blog post; you’ll need to ID those folks and find their contact info. Sometimes you’ll have to do some deeper investigation.
  4. Create a row on the spreadsheet called “Permission Granted.” Here, you’ll make a checkmark if/when the rights holders contact you to say that they’ve approved our use of their images.
  5. Create a row on the spreadsheet for “Preferred Citation.” Here’s you’ll note how the rights holder wants to be credited (e.g., “Photo courtesy Mr. X” or “Copyright Ms. X, 2013.”)  They’ll indicate their preferred citation on the clearance form they’ll return to you. More about this later.
  6. [Added 6/18] Create a row on the spreadsheet for “Fees.” We’re asking rights holders to grant us permission to use their material either free of charge or for a “nominal fee,” since this is a non-profit endeavor (see ArtStor’s “Images for Academic Publishing” program). Please note “no fee” if applicable.
    …..However, some organizations, institutions, and individuals (e.g., various archives, libraries, and museums; professional photographers, artists, and designers, etc.) might require (as per guidelines on their websites) or request a fee. Please alert me if a fee is required or requested, and note the amount on the spreadsheet. I might be able to negotiate. Regardless, we’ll need to let the rights holders know that we’ll reassess the budget once we have a final list of all the images we’d like to use in the publication — and if we do ultimately decide that we’d like to use their image(s), and that we can pay the fee, we’ll be in touch at a later date to process payment. (More about money crap below.)
  7. Create a row on the spreadsheet for “Possible Substitute Images.” We can return to this after we’ve made our initial rounds of contacts. You won’t have to fill in this field for each image — only those that we can’t use, for whatever reason. Perhaps we simply can’t pay the fee they’re requesting, or maybe we can’t track down the rights holders. In these cases, I’d be appreciative if you could please do some online image research to find a good substitute image for which the rights holder’s identity is more clear. Try Google Images, Flickr, Instagram, etc. Best of all, you might find an image that’s in the public domain or liberally licensed via CreativeCommons. On the spreadsheet, note the links for these replacement images and relevant contact info for the rights holders. If it’s a public domain image, note the preferred citation, as well as the creator and his/her contact info.
  8. Now, you’ll need to contact each of the rights holders. Send them an email with an introductory text (I’ll paste it below), and attach (1) the Image Permissions letter and (2) a copy of the images we’d like to reproduce. You’ll need to “customize” this letter with the date, addressee, and a description of the image — and send it as a PDF. In some cases, we might be asking to use more than one image from the same rights holder; this is why it’s a good idea to list all the images on a spreadsheet first, so you can see if there’s any duplication — and then you can simply write the individual once with multiple images listed in the same email.
  9. As they respond, note their responses — yes/no, date of response, preferred citation, fees — on the spreadsheet.
  10. Please forward any correspondence that requires my attention — e.g., requests for payment, questions re: how the image will be used in the book.
  11. Please create a folder for each rights holder in which you save: (1) pdfs of all email correspondence with them, (2) a copy of their signed, returned Image Permissions form, and (3) a copy/copies of the high-res image(s).
  12. Follow up with folks who haven’t responded after a week or so. You could even try calling, using my office phone.
  13. If some folks never respond, I’ll try to reach out to them. If they still don’t respond, if they ask for an insane fee, or if they give us a flat-out ‘no,’ I’ll ask for your help in searching for replacement images.

X

And here’s the text you can use in the email you send to everyone:

Dear X,

I’m writing on behalf of Shannon Mattern, an Associate Professor at The New School in New York. Shannon — whose work you can find on her website, wordsinspace.net — is publishing a short book with X Press this fall; you’ll find a short description of the project below. She’d like to reproduce in this book some material to which you hold the rights. We originally found this/these images here: [list URLs for online sources]. You can find copies of those images attached.

I’ve attached a letter that describes in greater detail the nature of the project, and the terms of the agreement. Please note that X is an academic press, and that Shannon will likely not profit from the publication; for this reason, we ask that you please consider granting us permission to use your work at no cost or for a nominal fee.

If you do agree to these terms, please sign the attached letter (noting, on the second page, your preferred citation and, if applicable, where this work was first published), and return it to me. Please also send a high-resolution copy of the image. We prefer 4” x 5” 300 dpi tiff files, but we can make do with slightly lower resolution.

Please respond directly to me. If you have any questions for Shannon, please let me know, and I’ll forward your queries to her.

The final selection of images will ultimately be determined by the length of the book, the preferences of the press’s designers, etc. — but we do hope to be able to include your work in the publication. Thank you very much for your time and consideration!

Your Name

X

[Include one-paragraph synopsis of the projec]
 

X

Quite a few rights-holders wrote back wanting to know more about the specific context in which their work will be reproduced — in other words, what arguments will my images be supporting?, or what will you be using my photographs to say? — so I invited my RA to attempt to briefly summarize the main discussion topics in the section of the text in which the copyright-holder’s image(s) would be placed. If she didn’t feel comfortable doing this, I offered to do it.

[6/18] Also, a Twitter exchange with architectural historian/critic Alexandra Lange reminded me of the financial implications of rights clearances. For previous projects, I have on occasion paid upwards of $300 per image — for archival images, or for the work of highly regarded professional photographers. Art and architectural historians and critics in particular face exorbitant fees — in some cases, so exorbitant that their projects ultimately prove to be cost prohibitive. Or, in other cases — as with this art history text book — the project proceeds, but in compromised form, without the images.

Mary Finer, Project Strategist at ArtStor (and a fabulous former student of mine!) chimed in to remind us that ArtStor offers some of its images for use, free of charge, in academic publications.

My RA and I are still in the midst of this process — but once she’s collected all her responses, she’ll share with me (1) her spreadsheet documenting the process; (2) copies of all her correspondence (including, especially, the signed permission forms) with each rights holder; and (3) high-res copies of all the images we’ll reproduce in the article.

And that’s that. God, I just bored myself to sleep.

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Advisee Accolades II

Illustration by Sophia Foster-Dimino
Illustration by Sophia Foster-Dimino 

Every year I have the privilege of celebrating my advisees’ tremendous accomplishments. Last year I reported on several former thesis advisees’ academic, professional, and creative endeavors. This year, I’m happy to say that three of my former thesis advisees are moving on to top-notch doctoral programs:

Last year Rory Solomon, my six-time RA and TA, wrote a wonderful thesis on “the stack” — the network stack, the application stack, etc. — as a central metaphor in computing history; he’s presented that work widely at conferences, and published part of it in a great piece in Amodern. He won last year’s Academic Achievement Award in the School of Media Studies at The New School, and this year he’s been accepted, with full funding, into the doctoral program in Media, Culture and Communication at NYU. Yay, Rory!

Last year Yeong Ran Kim, my fantastic RA for my research in Korea, completed an extraordinarily thoughtful and poetic thesis on sound, ethnography, place, and performance. Ran had been collaborating with Patricia Clough, from the CUNY Grad Center, and a number of other graduate students to produce Ecstatic Corona, a multimedia performance exploring politics and memory in Corona, Queens — and this work functioned as a “case study” for Ran’s thesis. She just completed an MA in Performance Studies at NYU, and this fall she’s starting a fully-funded PhD in Theater Arts and Performance Studies at Brown. Yay, Ran!

And this spring Laura Scherling, a skilled graphic designer, completed a superb hybrid thesis — a beautifully designed booklet meant for public distribution, and an online archive — exploring the use of mapmaking in community urban visioning and rejuvenation activities in Detroit, where she did extensive fieldwork and was involved in numerous community organizations. She’s also employed maps in her own work as director of local activist group GREENSPACENYC. Laura’s thesis won this year’s Distinguished Thesis Award, and she’s has been accepted, with full funding, into the doctoral program in Art and Art Education at Columbia University. Yay, Laura!

And I met up this week with a thesis advisee from looong ago — Penny Duff. Penny wrote a wonderful thesis about the potential for sound arts to create community and cultivate sense of place, and she was selected to be our commencement speaker. I gave our program’s commencement address that year, and I had the honor of introducing Penny as she describes herself: a “southern lady, aspiring dandy, animal lover, and audio freak.” So true. Penny went on to do another masters in Arts Admin & Policy at SAIC and to organize awesome sound projects around Chicago. Now she’s the Chicago program director for Theaster Gates’s Rebuild Foundation, which means that she gets to work at/in/with the Dorchester Projects every day! I’m so impressed — and, I must say, a little bit jealous!

It’s been a privilege to work with — and learn from — all these amazing people. I’m proud to call all of them friends.

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Workshop: Working with WordPress

0001_PointForm_letterpress_business_card_back_tonal_ink

On February 18 I’ll be leading a faculty workshop, hosted by the “Democratizing the Archives” working group (of which I’m a part) and funded by a Civic Engagement Grant, on “Working with WordPress.” As our call for participants indicated, “This workshop will explore how we can use WordPress, the highly customizable open-source blogging platform and content management system, to support our research, practice, and teaching. We’ll examine WordPress sites used as portfolios for individual scholars/practitioners, as hubs for collaborative research and design projects, and as “nerve centers” for classes — and we’ll work through the steps of setting up a WordPress site and making basic design decisions.”

We did a little survey of our audience and discovered that most of them — or, depending who’s reading this, most of you — are new to CMS’s and blogging, so I’ve pitched my presentation at a beginner-to-intermediate-beginnger level. I also want to encourage faculty to make use of their TAs and the TechShops (free, individualized tutoring sessions) offered by the Provost’s office. Remember, too, that TNS has access to Lynda.com, which offers software and professional development tutorials.

I’m posting my workshop agenda and notes here — in part to keep myself on track, but primarily to serve as a reference for the workshop attendees and whoever else might find this useful.

Why a class blog? Why use a course management system?

Benefits for course instructors

  1. Everything in one place — class logistical info, syllabus, readings, supplemental resources, etc (note: you can save copyrighted material behind a password-protected firewall, or password-protect pages with sensitive info)
  2. Ability to share timely information, course announcements, etc.
  3. Potential to open up the classroom beyond the classroom walls — which not only fosters (global) engagement with your course, but also creates incentives for your students to share their best work
  4. With BuddyPress: options for public or private groups, online discussion forums

Benefits for students

  1. One-stop shop for course content
  2. Access to timely updates
  3. Platform for (low stakes) multimodal engagement with course material + opportunity to develop a voice
  4. Potential Uses: reading responses; reflective exercises; resource-shares; project proposals; methodology statements; “process blogs”; event reviews; portfolios for individual students; class-wide final project showcase
  5. [Optional] Local engagement with their work, and potential for global audience

Which platform? WordPress, Edublogs, Tumblr, Github, etc.?

  • Edublogs: education-focused WordPress hosting; teacher controls security settings; wikis, forums, quizzes, etc.; access to support with institutional subscription (We’ll have a representative from New School Online present to talk about TNS’s potential partnership with EduBlogs.)
  • Tumblr: great for “scrapbooking” quotations, photos, video, etc.; lots of themes, but not easily customizable; poor platform for commenting; your content survives at the mercy of Yahoo!
  • GitHub: repository for open-source code, supports version control
  • WordPress: my choice — and our focus for this workshop. Why? It’s more than a blogging platform; it’s an entire content-management system. It supports rich content and formatted posts enhanced with multimedia. It’s relatively easy to use. Plus, it’s open-source, which means that it’s more politically kosher than some of the other options, and there’s a built-in community committed to its sustainability.

WORDPRESS.COM OR WORDPRESS.ORG?

via wpmudev
via wpmudev 

chop-700x505

Setting up / installing WP

PUBLIC OR PRIVATE? CLASS BLOG OR INDIVIDUAL STUDENT BLOGS?

vis-private

  • You can change your security settings for wordpress.com, and on wordpress.org, you can make individual posts public, password-protected, or private; or install a plug-in to make the entire site private.
  • Do you want one class or project “home” blog, a “central clearing house” with multiple subscribers — or do you want a “hub” blog featuring info of common interest, over which you likely have sole editorial control, and which links out to contributors’ individual blogs (as with Warwick’s class, above)?

Themes

Themes2

Which theme?

Responsive-Websites-on-Devices

  • Standard (free) or Premium? Check out WP’s own Theme Showcase and the offerings from many of the commercial theme “studios.” Also, try Googling “best [free] wordpress themes 2014”; you’ll find lots of sites that highlight and describe interesting new designs.
  • Do you need a theme that’s optimized for text-heavy or image-heavy content? What look-and-feel reflects the character of your class, your group — or you?
  • You’ll find themes in the Dashboard under “Appearance” ==> “Themes”
  • I recommend trying out a few themes to see how they look and feel once populated with content, an to ensure that they’re sufficiently “responsive” across different devices — e.g., laptop, ipad, phone, etc. Create a couple sample pages and posts — you could even use lorem ipsum text and “dummy” media — and test your top-choice designs on various devices.
  • Why I like grid themes: You can see multiple posts in one glance, which allows you to gauge the extent of recent activity on the site. The grid also minimizes the implicit hierarchy built into the linear “scroll down” mode of presentation. Plus, it visually conveys action, dynamism, and organization — the latter proving particularly appealing to us OCD-afflicted folks 🙂

Customization, Widgets and Plugins?

via Jane Friedman
via Jane Friedman 
  • You can customize your menus, headers, footers, sidebars, colors, CSS style, etc. You can even add a static front page — a nice “landing page” that greets your visitors before they dig into the heavy content. Plus, some themes allow for theme-specific alterations. You’ll find these customization options in the “Appearance” section of the Dashboard.
  • Widgets (which you’ll also find in the Dashboard under “Appearance” ==> “Widgets”) allow you to add “chunks” of content and new functionality to your site. You can add RSS readers, text blocks, lists of your post “Categories,” lists of recent posts and/or comments, your Creative Commons license, etc.
  • Plug-Ins extend the functionality of your site. You can add spam filters, event calendars, photo galleries and zoom viewers, multimedia players, back-up automators, broken-link detectors, SEO optimizers, etc. BuddyPress adds a lot of social networking functionality — e.g., user profiles, groups, etc.
    • I added the Time.ly event calendar to my Fall 2013 Archives/Libraries class, for example. You might also find a calendar useful in chronicling your research group or design collective’s presentations or events.
via kristarella.com
via kristarella.com 
  • What information about your class is (relatively) static — e.g., the course description, semester schedule, assignments, etc. — and what is timely and/or emergent? Pages are static and not time-dependent; posts are time- and name-stamped and appear in reverse-chronological order. See this.
  • What deserves to have a permanent, easily locatable place on the page, and what could easily be searched for, our filtered through?
  • For my Archives, Libraries + Databases class, the pages include: (1) an “About” page, which features the course codes, location, and description; (2) a “Schedule + Readings” page, where I list our agenda for each class and embed links to pdfs of all the readings (which I save behind a password-protected firewall); and (2b) nested under the “Schedule” page, a page with “Supplemental Resources”; (3) a “Requirements and Assignments” page; and (3b) nested under that page, a “Policies and Procedures” page, with my plagiarism, assignment submission, and deadlines policies; and (4) a “Resources” page, with sub-pages dedicated to relevant “Artists” and “Sites” and our event calendar.
  • For my own website, I’ve dedicated pages to Publications, Presentations, Projects, Teaching, my c.v. (this page links to a pdf), Links (this page links out to my Pinboard bookmarks), and my Zotero Library (which links out to my online bibliography).

categories

Categories?

  • Categories offer a “top-level” way to sort through “emergent” content. They’re kind of like tags in that they allow for filtering — but while tags tend to be user-generated, categories rely on more of a “controlled vocabulary”; they reflect the macro-scale “conceptual architecture” of your site.
  • If, say, your students are posting reading responses, or listing relevant extracurricular events, throughout the semester, you’ll probably want, at some point (particularly at grading time), to filter all the reading response or event-related posts, provided students categorized them appropriately when posting. It’s thus important to have your categories set at the beginning of the semester — or at the outset of your project — so students and collaborators know how to categorize their different posts. This is not to say that your categories can’t evolve as time goes on; it just takes a little time to re-categorize old posts.
  • My Urban Media Archaeology class used the following categories: “Class Announcements,” “Event + Exhibitions,” “In the News,” “Map Critiques,” “Opportunities,” “Process Blogs,” and “Project Proposals.” My Emergent Infrastructures research group has classified our posts into “Courses,” “Events,” and “Publications and Productions.” And on my own site, I’ve organized my posts into the following: “Conference + Lecture Recap,” “Exhibition + Site Recap,” “Publication Previews + News,” “Reading + Listening Recap,” “Research,” “Talks,” “Teaching,” and “Tenure.” This categorization system took shape as I used WP for the first year; once I settled on a structure, I reviewed and recategorized all my old posts.

Users?

  • Theoretically, anyone can comment on a blog (you can determine whether or not they have to offer contact info; or you can turn off comments altogether) — but in order to post any content, users must be subscribed. There are different user roles: Admin, Editor, Author, Contributor, and Subscriber. For a collaborative peer blog, I make everyone an Admin, so we all can share responsibility in maintaining the site, managing users, adding content behind the firewall, etc. For a class blog, I make all the students an “Author,” which grants them authority to publish and manage their own, and only their own, posts.
  • I also encourage students to choose usernames that do not give away their identities, so as to (kinda) avoid FERPA violations.
  • Something to consider: If you teach a particular class regularly, do you create a new blog for each semester, or do you maintain a single, continuous course blog that “accumulates” users year after year? I choose to create a new website for each class, whereas Sam Ishii Gonzales maintains a single Immanent Terrain blog, and has each semester’s new students add to the posts of their predecessors.

Other Examples

Personal Portfolios

Collaborative Projects

Class Sites

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Advisee Accolades: I’m Honored to Know These People

Totally irrelevant image from the  National Geographic Photo Archive
Totally irrelevant image from the National Geographic Photo Archive 

Lots of my current and recent-past Masters thesis advisees (I teach only MA students) are doing some pretty amazing things. I’m just so happy for them, I want to share their news:

James D. Graham, a thesis advisee from 2008 who won our program’s first Distinguished Thesis Award, is a doctoral student in architecture at Columbia, and he’s published a fantastic article — which started out as a footnote in his Masters thesis — on Friedrich Kiesler and Rossum’s Universal Robots in the Winter 2013 issue of Grey Room. I’m sure this is only one of innumerable fantastic projects he’s engaged in.

Ben Mendelsohn, a thesis advisee who graduated in 2010 — also with a Distinguished Thesis Award for his “Buried, Bundled and Behind Closed Doors,” a widely celebrated video on Manhattan’s internet infrastructure — is a LeBoff Fellow and PhD student in the Department of Media, Culture and Communication at NYU. He and his partner, Alex Chohlas-Wood, have also been doing some fabulous work with the Dredge Research Collaborative, which examines the technicalities and political-economic, social, and geologic impacts of, well, dredging (see his video for DredgeFest here).

Tanya Toft, an advisee and research assistant who graduated in 2011 (and who wrote a wonderful thesis for another Masters program she was completing simultaneously, in Denmark), is a Ph.D. Fellow in the Department of Arts and Cultural Studies at the University of Copenhagen, and this past summer she was a resident at both CuratorLab in Stockholm and the Node Center for Curatorial Studies in Berlin. And just last week, here in New York, she hosted the first leg of Nordic Outbreak, a six-city global exhibition of Nordic moving image arts that she co-curated.

Alex Campolo, a thesis advisee who graduated in 2012 — again with the Distinguished Thesis Award for his beautiful and brilliant study of how the stock ticker influenced formal economic theory and temporality — is currently working as a researcher at the Harmony Institute. But he’s been weighing several offers from a whole bunch of awesome PhD programs, and he’s recently accepted a generous and prestigious fellowship. I can say more about this later. [Update: Starting in Fall 2013 Alex will be a LeBoff Fellow and PhD student in the Department of Media Culture and Communication at NYU, where he will take part in inter-institutional research with the Intel Science and Technology Center for Social Computing. Yay!]

Ran Kim is finishing an extraordinarily thoughtful and poetic thesis on sound, ethnography, place, and performance. Ran has been collaborating with Patricia Clough, from the CUNY Grad Center, and a number of other graduate students to produce Ecstatic Corona, a multimedia performance exploring politics and memory in Corona, Queens — and this work has come to function, essentially, as a “case study” for Ran’s thesis. She’s an accomplished filmmaker, sound-mixer, and photographer; she took all the lovely photos (and served as translator) during our trip to Paju Bookcity in Korea this past summer. Her work was published in my article on Places — and I posted a few more photos here. Ran will be starting an MA in Performance Studies at NYU in the fall.

And Rory Solomon is finishing up a truly stellar thesis that “performs” a media archaeology of “the stack” — the network stack, the application stack, etc. For the past four+ years Rory’s been the incredible tech lead on the Urban Research Toolkit, an open-source mapping tool we’ve been using in our Urban Media Archaeology class. He’s also been working as Tech Lead at Bank Street College of Education, faculty at Parsons, and collaborator on a number of art projects. He recently presented his work at SCMS, has an article coming out this summer in Amodern, and was invited to take part in a Networks research collective at Duke!

That’s a whole lot of rad (did anybody else watch this film, like, a thousand times growing up?).

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Figure/Ground Asked Me About Academic Careers, Teaching, and Other Stuff

I was interviewed by Figure/Ground Communication, a great grad-student-run website featuring media studies-related academic resources, including interviews with scholars in media and related fields. It’s a particularly useful resource for graduate students who are considering pursuing PhDs and/or work in the academy or, more generally, in education. My New School colleagues Peter Haratonik and Simon Critchley were also interviewed, as were my pal Jussi Parikka, lots of OOO-ers, and a bunch of of other folks I greatly admire (e.g., Ann Blair, Elisabeth Eisenstein, etc.).

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Ticker Tape + Temporality

Congratulations to Alex Campolo, one of my thesis advisees, who’s won one of our school’s Distinguished Thesis Awards! His project, “Tape, Theory, and the Market: An Archaeology of the Stock Ticker,” is a fantastic analysis of how the stock ticker embodied and gave shape to particular economic models and notions of temporality that, in some ways, prefaced our contemporary “Big Data” culture. Here’s Alex’s abstract:

This paper takes a media-archaeological approach to the stock ticker that contextualizes its invention within larger systems of market exchange. With an eye toward historical discontinuity, I describe the medium’s process of abstraction and standardization of prices, and argue that the adoption of the stock ticker fundamentally altered older, interactional conceptions of markets. By creating a dynamic of temporal continuity, the ticker brought into existence new mental and social models of finance. I trace the influence of the material medium on formal economic theory, notably theories of efficient markets. I also use archival works to historicize and offer a speculative genealogy for recently developed analytical categories in the sociology of finance, most notably postsocial market relationships. Finally, I map these developments on a historical case study, the San Francisco earthquake of 1906. This final step explores how price information is constructed and circulated among other historical discourses.

Congratulations, too, to both Hethre Contant and Courtney Krantz — both former students — who also earned Distinguished Thesis Awards for “Radio Epiphanies of The Weimar Republic” (written thesis) and “Fragments of an Unabridged Fabrica” (production thesis), respectively.

I’m also happy to say that one of my former thesis advisees, Ben Mendelsohn, who won last year’s Distinguished Thesis Award, has been awarded the LeBoff Fellowship to start his doctoral studies at NYU’s Department of Media, Culture and Communication!

Congrats to everyone!