Each year, the Common Ground conference gives graduate students the opportunity to showcase their completed and ongoing research. It also affords them opportunity to network socially with other graduate students and academics from inside and outside The Media School.
We named this conference Common Ground because it emphasizes the rich benefits derived from studying media from varied disciplines. Although we are from a plurality of approaches, we occupy a “common ground,” that is, the study of media in all its forms and contexts. Annually, we bring together graduate students from different fields to present research on media.
March 29, 2019Franklin Hall
Opening reception Franklin Hall commons
Keynote: Associate professor Joan Hawkins Franklin Hall commons
Mediating Sight, Hearing and Touch (Room 214)
Haptic media studies have brought the sense of touch to the forefront of media discourses. As touch becomes more prominent in scholarly engagements with the sensorium and in the experiential histories of media objects, there is a need for haptic studies to engage with discourses of the skin.
To make this skin-centered turn, I focus on “In an effort to be held,” an installation by Kellie Romany. This work was presented at Out Of Easy Reach, a gallery show that focused on Black and Latinx women who specialize in abstract art. The installation features 100 paint-filled clay vessels, which fit in the palm of one’s hand, and four archival gloves. As per Romany’s instructions, users are allowed to touch the vessels, so long as they wear the gloves provided. Through the mediation of the glove, Romany encourages us to consider the act of holding and the relationships between the user’s skin, the archival gloves and the skin of the art object. Skin takes precedence in Romany’s work, as noted in her continued engagement with Von Luschan’s color scale (used until the 1950s to define an individual’s race). Through Romany’s work, I argue that skin needs to be foregrounded in haptic discourses. By bringing skin studies closer to haptic media studies, I engage with the relationship between an individual’s skin and the gallery institution, I trouble the essentializing property of grasping and holding, and I further complicate the problems of reciprocity when considering touch and the skin of others.
Sean Purcell is a doctoral student in The Media School. He earned an MFA in film and television production from Loyola Marymount University, making experimental documentaries that engage with notions of the grotesque, the body and the cinematic apparatus. His wildly erratic studies focus on haptics, installation art, pre-cinematic media, jigsaw puzzles and human anatomy.
It is no shocking claim to either the lay person or the researcher that the complexity of a message would impact how that message is processed and remembered by the audience. The challenge, of course, is not only finding a useful and parsimonious way (or ways) to express message complexity, but one that functions across multiple mediums. The proposed studies begin a new offshoot of a multi-decade-long line of research that considers message complexity in terms of the human cognitive system as opposed to just the message itself (e.g., Lang, Gao, Potter, Lee, Park & Bailey, 2013). This line of research has focused primarily on how structural changes – such as a cut from one camera to another or the onset of a sound effect – can impact message complexity. The studies proposed here are designed to extend this research by creating indexes for musical complexity defined by human cognition capacities instead of a traditional music theory-driven analysis.
These studies propose splitting music into discrete and continuous features, instead of structural and formal features used elsewhere, as there is no clear delineation between structure and form in music. Discrete musical features are elemental components of music that are, from a cognitive standpoint, distinct unto themselves and are effectively instantaneous.
Discrete musical features include note onsets, pitch intervals between notes, onsets of “wrong” notes and more. This presentation will outline the state of the literature, as well as lay out theoretical underpinnings of discrete and continuous musical features.
Joshua Sites is a doctoral candidate in The Media School. He studies the psychological impacts of popular music production techniques and automatic attention to features in media messages. Joshua is a member of both the Institute for Communication Research (The Media School) and the Music and Mind Lab (Jacobs School of Music).
In this presentation, I will share data from my dissertation project. Grounded in critical media literacy studies, this research focuses on the extent to which college students critically read and write about films. I will talk about 1) how and why students selected their own (maximum five minutes) videos, 2) examples of students’ responses to tasks in class group activities and on Canvas discussion, and 3) the content of students’ final essays with an emphasis on film techniques. In class and online, the students analyzed videos using two types of analysis.
Rhetorical analysis required them to unpack the discourses, arguments, messages and assumptions that the videos conveyed. Cinematographic analysis entailed identifying the various tools and techniques such as lighting, color, music, character, dialogue, etc., that the producers used to support their arguments. The project was guided by the following questions:
How do international students in a college composition course analyze self-selected social issues YouTube videos?
How robust are the analysis?
Data sources included audio and video recordings of class group discussions, online discussion posts and students’ film analysis essays. Multimodal analysis and content analysis were used as data analytical methods to analyze the verbal, non-verbal and written language students used in responding to the tasks. I will share the preliminary results of the research by focusing in this session on four students’ responses who worked as one group in all tasks.
Zawan Al Bulushi is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Literacy, Culture and Language Education in the School of Education. She teaches a college composition course in the Department of English. Her research interests include critical reading and writing, discourse analysis and multimodal analysis.
Misinformation & Credibility in the Fake News Era (Room 212)
A 2005 article, “Deadly Immunity,” raised the issue that vaccines were associated with a higher risk for autism and other neurological disorders among children, which was later debunked and retracted. This study examines whether the release of this publicized vaccine misinformation is associated with parents’ hesitation on kids’ vaccination completion and how parents’ educational levels moderates this association. The current retrospective multi-year, cross-sectional study used data from the 2002-08 National Immunization Survey.
Results show that parents were less likely to complete the 4:3:1 up-to-date vaccination plan (OR=0.94, p<0.01) after the release of the vaccine misinformation. Those who had more than 12 years of school (OR=0.91, p<0.05) or a college degree (OR=0.91, p<0.001) had lower odds of completing the 4:3:1 vaccination plan after 2005. Findings indicated that the association between the release of the autism-vaccine misinformation and the decline of kids’ vaccination completion differ according to the parent’s educational levels. This study offers another piece of empirical evidence showing the dynamics between vaccination misinformation and vaccine hesitance as suggested by some conceptual models of vaccine hesitance. The paper ended with discussion and directions for future studies.
Keywords: vaccine misinformation, vaccine hesitance, health misinformation, knowledge gap
Xia Zheng is a doctoral candidate in The Media School. He is interested in emotion dynamics and message effectiveness.
Responding to calls to take a more active role in communicating their research findings, scientists are taking to online platforms to engage in science communication or to publicize their research findings. In this study, we aim to gain a fine-grained understanding of the influence of particular pieces of information on the web. To do this, we chose Twitter as a platform, because there are many well-documented communities of scientists who regularly use Twitter for research-related networking and communication. However, in such a crowded arena that is flooded with information and disinformation, it has become more important than ever for scientists to present their findings in a manner that appears credible, especially considering the common misunderstandings of the scientific process and the public controversy surrounding scientific topics such as climate change. After an initial exploratory comparison of the credibility of science information on Twitter, we conducted an experiment with Amazon Mechanical Turk in which we showed participants images of identical tweets, but with modified characteristics (presence of an image, text sentiment, number of likes/retweets, etc.). We had participants rate the credibility of these tweets. We found that that although information about scientific findings presented on Twitter were generally found less credible than the same information on other platforms, there is evidence that the inclusion of recognizable or trusted formats, such as images of the paper abstract and the use of the paper title, may influence credibility on Twitter.
Keywords: science communication, credibility, social media, Twitter
Clara Boothby is a second-year doctoral student in informatics at IU Bloomington studying science publication and the uses and history of non-peer reviewed academic publications. Having studied 19th-century English literature, she is interested in how the historical structures of communication influence current formats and avenues of publication.
Dakota Murray is a third-year doctoral student in informatics at IU Bloomington who uses tools from computer and data science to study the social dimensions of science. She aims to understand inequalities and limitations in the scientific process, and explore ways of creating more fair and effective science policy.
Social bots, defined as computer algorithms that automatically produce content and interact with human users on social media, became a recent addition to misinformation hazards that are fueled by new internet communication technologies. Applying the theory of the third-person effects (TPE), this study used a two by two mixed-design, web-based experiment to study how bots recognition tasks with different levels of difficulty of discerning social bots and bots in political and non-political contexts will lead people to presume stronger influence of bots on others. The results showed that people spent more time on discerning, had lower level of agreement and assumed larger influences on others after political bots recognition tasks than non-political bots ones. However, the order of the tasks and people’s as well as the Twitter profiles’ perceived partisanships made the effects more nuanced. The theoretical implication for TPE and practical implications for bots interventions are discussed.
Harry Yan is a doctoral student dual majoring in media arts and sciences at The Media School and complex networks and systems at the School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering. His research interests focus on how media affect social dynamics and public opinion formation. Using empirical and computational methods, his ongoing investigations span across various topics including attitude changes toward minorities, digital inequality, audience networks, human-bots interaction and online misinformation spreading. He earned his M.A. in media studies at S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, Syracuse University, and a dual B.A. degree from Nankai University, Tianjin, PRC and University of Macau.
11:10 a.m.-12:10 p.m.
Media Polarization, Partisanship and Politics (Room 212)
Viewers of the modern political landscape struggle to reconcile traditional political positions with the conspiracy-laden far-right movements that have recently dominated headlines. The rapid radicalization that occurs within these groups is often attributed to the advent of digital new media. Social networking sites like YouTube and 4chan can quickly become echo chambers for radical political opinion and encourage the spread of fake news and viral deception. As such far-right movements become more prevalent and more radical, it has become vital to understand how fake news, defined by Kathleen Hall Jamieson as separate from “viral deception,” is being constructed to lure moderate conservatives into ever more radical stances on key issues. This paper examines one such video titled “Gun Owners ALERT!”, a fake news segment hosted by far-right pundit and infamous conspiracy theorist Alex Jones. Using a combination of cognitive psychological techniques and close reading, this paper examines how the creators of this video and others like it maintain a facade of moderate conservatism while subtly nudging viewers toward ever more radical political positions. This is done through a series of carefully constructed rhetorical techniques and the impersonation of real news sources.
Keywords: YouTube, new media, cognitive psychology, Kathleen Hall Jamieson, alt-right, Alex Jones, conspiracy theory
Meaghan Murphy is a graduate student in the Department of Comparative Literature at IU Bloomington. A student of classics and new media, her current research project is a comparative look at the construction of ancient and modern conspiracy in the works of Tacitus and Alex Jones.
This project tests two competing hypotheses relating to the relationship between motivational negative bias and political/moral attitudes. One hypothesis contends that social order morality and conservatism are derived from people’s trait negative bias (e.g., the essentialism hypothesis). Another hypothesis argues that negative bias should modulate individuals’ political attitudes so as to be congruent with the attitudes held by the majority of people in the individual’s proximal social context (e.g., the dynamical coordination hypothesis). Two studies using subjects recruited from a liberal-leaning social context were conducted. Study 1 finds that negative bias is correlated with social justice morality which then predicts liberalism, not conservatism. Using physiological measures, study 2 finds that conservatives show more heart rate declaration when viewing negative arousing non-political public announcements compared with other groups, which is indicative of lower negative bias for the conservatives in the sample. Results do not support the essentialism hypothesis which presupposes a one-to-one relationship between negative bias and conservatism. Instead, the two studies offered preliminary support for the dynamical coordination theory of morality. Additionally, a dynamic system theory-inspired re-analysis is conducted to better interpret the data.
Xia Zheng is a doctoral candidate in The Media School. He is interested in emotion dynamics and message effectiveness.
The few methodological shortcomings characterizing previous research on selective and cross-cutting exposure (e.g., focusing on the impact of a few experimental factors and providing a limited range of choice alternatives) amount to an incomplete description of news choice behavior. This study proposes an alternative to address these shortcomings in testing partisan news selection in the current media environment. A conjoint experiment (N = 746), which simulates a popular mobile news platform (iOS news app), showed that while partisans preferred selecting news from pro-attitudinal sources, they also selected news from counter-attitudinal sources at least once in five times (20 percent). The tendency to engage in selective exposure was slightly stronger among strong partisans. Our findings indicate that the concerns over partisan selective exposure may not be an issue of “selection” but more of “access” to news sources with different political views. The implications for future research are discussed.
Minchul Kim is a doctoral candidate in The Media School. His research interests include political communication and public opinion.
Yanqin Lu is an assistant professor in the School of Media and Communication at Bowling Green State University. His research interests include political communication, digital communication and media effects.
Quantifying Social Media Ecosystems (Room 214)
We now live in the age of selfies. Since beauty standards vary between cultures, an interesting question emerges: Do people from different cultures take selfies differently? This study compared women’s selfies on Twitter and China’s Weibo. Twitter is blocked in China, so users on this platform are predominately non-Chinese. On the other hand, about 99 percent of Weibo users are Chinese. This offers an opportunity to study whether and how Chinese women’s selfies differ from selfies by women from other cultures. Public posts between December 2017 and January 2019 with the hashtag “#selfie” were collected. These include all Weibo posts and 10 percent of tweets during the specified time period. Through random sampling, and after screening selected selfies, 520 selfies on Weibo and 457 selfies on Twitter were left. Two coders (both male, one Chinese and the other one white American) coded these selfies. Good intercoder reliability was reached. Results showed that compared to women selfies on Twitter, selfies on Weibo have higher face visibility, lower body-ism and lower amount of clothing, and are more likely to employ selfie sticks and make cute expressions, and have higher degree of makeup and photo editing. This study found that selfies on Weibo differ from those on Twitter. As selfies are a form of selective self-presentation, different selfies mean that female Weibo users (predominantly Chinese) and female Twitter users (mostly non-Chinese) have different beauty standards. This finding also has practical implications for Western businesses targeting Chinese women.
Keywords: selfie, beauty standards, cultural difference, China
Hongtao Hao, from China, is a first-year master's student at The Media School. Broadly, he is interested in interpersonal interactions and self-presentation in computer-mediated communication. Recently, he is interested in selfie editing: who edit their selfies, why and what effects does selfie-editing have?
In contemporary U.S. culture, celebrities compete for attention and publicize their work using social media tools. Twitter is a popular platform that celebrities use to post a variety of content; however, little is known about the potency of these different types of content to draw audience attention and participation. In this paper, we outline a scheme for classifying content created by celebrity users on Twitter and analyze the audience engagement to these diverse types of tweets. We find that different types of content produce different levels of audience engagement and that a celebrity’s everyday usage of Twitter (selfies, photos of travels, humor, etc.) produces the most engagement, followed by self-endorsement and commentary about society. But we also find that these patterns vary between celebrities, and audiences are not identical in their response to the content. We likewise determine that there is some other source of unexplained variation, likely resulting from Twitter’s recommendation algorithms or external media coverage. As part of our study, we propose a unique coding scheme which enhances the effectiveness of inter-coder reliability, reducing the time to code.
Sanchari Das is a doctoral student in the School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering at IU Bloomington. A security track researcher, his work includes studies in usable privacy and security, user experience, social media research and human-computer interaction. He has presented his work at several conferences, such as BlackHat, Financial Cryptography, HAISA and SM&S. He earned dual master’s degrees from Jadavpur University, Kolkata, India, and IU Bloomington. He received his bachelor's degree in computer applications from The Heritage Academy, Kolkata, India, and was a gold medalist in his batch.
A growing body of health communication scholarship has explored the way that individuals communicate about mental health issues, including depression, online, and further work has begun to identify the utility of social media platforms for social support provision. This study contributes to this growing body of research by identifying social support emergence in comments submitted to depression-related Imgur posts, providing naturalistic insight into supportive communication within a popular contemporary platform. Additionally, the use of non-bona fide linguistic features (e.g., humor, sarcasm and irony) is documented for comparison with supportive elements. Through a content analysis of 1,530 comments submitted to Imgur posts about depression, findings suggest that Imgur discourse is supportive – including the emergence of reassuring, informational and empathic support types – and also humorous and lighthearted. Moreover, results indicate a negative correlation between non-bona fide features and support, suggesting that humor, sarcasm and irony play a separate, but perhaps related, role to social support. Overall, these findings have important implications for health professionals and scholars interested in the use of social media for coping with mental health issues, as support-seeking in this context may prove advantageous for individuals suffering from depression.
Keywords: depression, social support, humor, social media, comments, social science
Brent J. Hale is a doctoral candidate in The Media School. His research interests include audiovisual framing, interlocutory and psychological responses to social media content through commenting, and the ramifications of commenting for political and health communication.
Good and Evil in Modern Storytelling (Room 216)
The archetypical protector and psycho-killer number among the many tropes at play in horror media. As with film, they permeate horror video games. Even though the medium allows for user agency to varying degrees, these tropes are heavily reinforced and rarely modifiable. This is very much the case of the 2015 horror video game “Until Dawn.” The gender roles within the game are heavily delineated and in line with that divide; the role of protector falls squarely in the realm of the masculine initially. As the story unfolds, there is an inevitable shifting of the protector category along the lines of mental health. The game's narrative eventually strips several male characters of their protector status through mental or physical trauma, leading to the conclusion that mental illness is a weakness unbecoming a masculine protector. The paper unpacks this definition of "masculinity" through a thorough intersectional analysis of the game content to not only discern the definition of "mental illness" within the game but also the associations and representations made of mental illness as it relates to hegemonic masculinity. In a society where mental illness is so frequently stigmatized and toxic masculinity problematizes showing weakness as a male, it is important to consider and recognize the impact of this particular intersection in our media, especially considering the growing population of gamers consuming this content.
Rebecca Waldie is a doctoral student in the Communications Department at Concordia University in Montréal, Canada. Her current research engages with the representation and stigmatization of mental illness in video games. Rebecca’s research focuses on the representation of masculinity in video games: the impact of gender, race and mental illness as forms of marginalization that feminize or weaken characters. In her past research, Rebecca explored the ways in which players relate to avatars and the sexualization of characters in video games.
In a 2013 article for the feminist blog XOJane, author Jamie Nesbitt Golden delineated the rape of one of “Scandal’s” perpetual antagonists, Mellie, as a plot device used to bring humanity and sympathy to the character. Expanding off of Golden’s article, I will present a content analysis that examines how rape is utilized as a storytelling mechanism across a broad distribution of television shows. This analysis reveals that rape is often employed to evoke sympathy for a previously unlikeable character, to retroactively justify the currently unlikeable nature of a character, or both. It is no coincidence that the vast majority of characters who endure these assaults are always female. I resolve that the gender-driven use of this trope only serves to reinscribe sexual violence as an act that de-feminizines the female victim, as a weapon that is targeted at certain "types" of women who are in some way asking for it and as a lesson that teaches us to conflate a victim with the event of her attack.
I argue that these depictions of sexual violence on television expose a larger societal dialogue regarding sexual assault victims as un-feminine, permanently and irreparably traumatized, and more deserving of our sympathy than of our direct help and support. I then move to challenge these rhetorics. Finally, as part of my larger research and activism, I propose new ways of speaking about and with victims/survivors.
Keywords: sexual violence, television, gender, race, intersectionality
Shadia Siliman currently serves as the diversity intern at IUB’s Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning, and is a doctoral candidate in gender studies at IU Bloomington. Her dissertation investigates sexual violence and consent through the lens of a Queer of Color Critique, with an emphasis on Women of Color feminism and intersectionality.
The model of intuitive morality and exemplars (MIME; Tamborini, 2011) leverages the intuitionist perspective of moral psychology and attempts to explain and predict both short- and long-term effects of media use on content selection, appraisal, identification and production. Previous research has successfully manipulated players’ temporary moral salience using dialogue text, influencing in-game player decisions (Tamborini et al., 2018). This effect of salience change was demonstrated across the five foundations defined by moral foundations theory (MFT; Haidt & Joseph, 2007) — but MIME researchers have yet to test how other game design elements, beyond text-based dialogue, come together to create a morally salient experience. Furthermore, there has yet to be any experimental distinction between the valence of foundation salience; two games might both cue salience of the same foundation, but for morally opposing reasons. Following Tamborini et al. (2018), the present study seeks to target one of the specific moral foundations most relevant across video games, care/harm, to 1) validate previous research about environmental salience cues, using commercial games during a pilot study in which participants will play various “walking simulators” (story-based games with little action) to demonstrate a change in care/harm salience following play; then, with the two games that each represent care or harm the most, run a between-subjects experiment in which 2) salience is primed in one of two valence-based directions during a short gameplay session, where players’ temporary salience changes are measured using an MF-AMP test and behavioral change is measured using a post-game helping task.
This research is part of a working dissertation proposal.
Keywords: communication, social science, media psychology, morality, moral psychology, moral foundations theory, moral intuition, cognitive science, video games, game design, play, MIME, narrative, priming, implicit emotions
Ken Rosenberg is a doctoral candidate in The Media School, with a focus in media psychology. He is interested in the ways that people make moral judgments and how media consumption, particularly video game play, shapes our behavior and attitudes toward morally salient issues around politics, religion and society.
Media objects by Media School graduate students and coffee break (Room 310)
Starlite Gazing is an experimental and historical visual exploration of the Starlite Drive-in Theatre, located just south of Bloomington off Old State Road 37. Combining experimental editing, archival drive-in footage and home movie aesthetics, I invoke the history and joy of the drive-in experience. Shot on Super 8mm and scanned in 2k, I embraced the film format’s delightful irregularities and sought to emphasize and connect them to moviegoing history. This is the first short film in a larger regional project to visually and experimentally explore unique moviegoing sites in Indiana.
Keywords: Starlite Drive-in Theatre, Bloomington, Indiana, Super 8mm, experimental
Caleb Allison is a first-year doctoral student who researches media industries and technologies and their intersections with taste politics. His creative interests focus on horror, cinema history and experimental short films combining digital and film formats.
This animated short film is a story of self-discovery, where a lifeless doll is set to motion by Laya (translated as tempo/rhythm), that is inherent in everything that we perceive in this universe. The doll was designed by taking inspiration from the traditional Indian bobble head dolls called Thanjavur Bommai. Dance movements were influenced by Indian classical dance style — Bharathanatyam and Hindustani music (Raag Yaman). Students from the game design program at The Media School worked on creating this artistic piece from August 2017 to July 2018. This animated short film is a tribute to our appreciation of computer graphics art and creative technologies.
Keywords: cultural artifacts, performance studies, computer graphics, creative practices
Nandhini Giri is a second-year doctoral student in The Media School. Her research/creative interests focus on the design and aesthetic perception of computer-generated artifacts.
“No Wires (A Comedy of Justice)” has the protagonist grappling with a mediated postmodernist reality, where there’s little distinction between fact and fiction. Human relationships are rationalized into familiar storytelling conventions, and a context-free nostalgia permeates everything. This song also serves as a 21st-century update to Peter Gabriel’s “And Through the Wire” off the album commonly referred to as "Melt" (1980).
Keywords: music, song, postmodernism
Joshua Sites is a doctoral candidate in The Media School. He studies the psychological impacts of popular music production techniques and automatic attention to features in media messages. Joshua is a member of both the Institute for Communication Research (The Media School) and the Music and Mind Lab (Jacobs School of Music).
Media Factories of Race and Gender (Room 214)
American Holocaust movies tend to have one peculiar feature in common: sex. Indeed, much of the scholarship on Holocaust films in the United States has to do with this fact while simultaneously failing to acknowledge it. This scholarship frequently investigates — or, as is more often the case, argues against — the presence of sexuality within a particular film without addressing this same sexuality’s pervasive presence in the genre as a whole. This project highlights the consistent sexual content of American Holocaust films and asserts that this sexuality plays a key role in the characterization of Nazis on-screen. This Nazi sexuality, though sometimes violent, is also often oriented toward improper objects,or improper ends and nearly never carries reproductive potential. This project utilizes the Queer Theory work of Lee Edelman to explain the process through which sexuality is mobilized to convey Nazi evil. In Edelman’s work, homosexuality is thought of as a danger to heterosexuality — because homosexuals do not reproduce, their sex is not redeemed through the potential of progeny. As Edelman asserts, this reproductive potential translates the “unregenerate vulgate of fucking into the infinitely tonier, indeed sacramental, Latin of procreation[.]” (Edelman, No Future, 40) In the same manner, American films mark Nazis through their participation in non-normative sexuality — sexuality which brings about death, not life — and, in so doing, these films communicate Nazi villainy through Nazi “fucking” rather than genocidal violence.
Keywords: queer theory, sexuality studies, Holocaust, Judaism, Jewish studies, popular culture, film, pornography, porn studies, psychoanalysis, religion, religious studies, film studies
Jakob Breunig is a doctoral student in the departments of Religious Studies and Jewish Studies. His research interests include: American Judaism, religion and sexuality, and religion in popular culture. Jakob’s dissertation research considers the ways in which American Holocaust film might be better understood by thinking in terms of religion.
Current events of the past two years have shown that toxic white masculinity and male sexual entitlement are incredibly prevalent and continue to have devastating consequences. The “manosphere” of the internet, or the loose collection of online men’s rights groups, is one place scholars debate the presence of this toxic hegemonic masculinity. My research looks at current scholarly understandings of the manosphere and their dissident opinions on how masculinity is constructed within the manosphere. I add to their analyses, using a historical framework of how hegemonic masculinity has developed to its current form in order to better understand its contemporary manifestations. To do this, I utilize scholarly understandings of the creation of a national (white, male) collective within the United States and within white fraternities in the United States. These examples serve as an illustration of toxic white masculinity to compare to the manosphere’s masculinity. I argue that while there are aspects of the manosphere that seem counter to hegemonic masculinity, overall, the manosphere copies rhetorical tactics that toxic white masculinity has used since its inception. Solidifying the connection between hegemonic masculinity and the manosphere proves vital to understanding its current and potential effects on people impacted by the patriarchy.
Keywords: social media, 4chan, hegemonic masculinity, masculinity studies, intersectionality, white supremacy
Kate Shindle is a first-year doctoral student in the gender studies program. Their work primarily focuses on the ways that science shapes the ways that we understand gender, sexuality, race and ability.
The 1974 American International Pictures (AIP) Black horror film, “Abby” (William Gridler), was withdrawn from theatres within a few months of its release after Warner Bros. filed a lawsuit against AIP for copyright infringement upon its film, “The Exorcist” (1973, William Friedkin). Although both films have stories about demonic possession, this essay looks deeper into two related issues concerning both films in an attempt to answer two significant questions: 1) Why did Black audiences respond so enthusiastically to “The Exorcist” during a time when Black representation in film was gaining great prominence? And 2) What is it that constitutes horror within the film “Abby” that makes it thematically different than “The Exorcist”? As I theorize upon the horror film itself to determine its constituent elements, I attempt also to give agency back to Black spectators whose collective cultural backgrounds provide a means through which White films (films with a majority White cast) can be regarded differently than their authors intended. The avenging gaze of the Black audience is a retributive gaze that mocks the taking-itself-too-seriously tendentiousness of a White film. “Abby,” as a Black horror film, uses the demonic possession narrative as a template to trace the new anxieties of Black female liberation that confronted Black communities at that time. This essay is part of a larger project to reclaim and re-evaluate a body of Black films that have been disparaged and at times dismissed as “blaxploitation.”
Keywords: blaxploitation, avenging gaze, return of the repressed, the white devil theory, demonic possession
André Seewood is the author of “SCREENWRITING INTO FILM: Forgotten Methods & New Possibilities” (2006) and “SLAVE CINEMA: The Crisis of the African-American in Film” second edition (2011). He is currently pursuing his doctorate in cinema and media studies in The Media School.
Some voters were attracted to Donald Trump’s statements about the supposed threat of undocumented immigrants, stating, “They're bringing crime. They're rapists …,” and misogynistic statements, stating, “I just start kissing them. … Just kiss … And when you’re a star, they let you do it ...” Yet, months after the U.S. presidential election in 2016 (and during it), fan fiction writers re-imagined the hyper-masculine, domineering Donald Trump. One user wrote, “Trump looked at Putin, his icy eyes softening. ‘You saved my life. … You would do that for me?’ Vlad smiled sadly. ‘I hacked those emails for you.’” In another tale where Trump subverts democracy, one user wrote, “Donald whirled around just as Paul Ryan stabbed a ceremonial sword through Trump’s gut. … Trump laughed, coughing up blood. ‘Et tu, Ryan?’” I examine the political anti-fandom of Donald Trump by examining real person fiction and real person slash as expressions of political activism. In my analysis, I focus mostly on slash stories involving Donald Trump, which questioned Trump’s masculinity by using perceived homosexual practices to criticize him and demonstrating the heteroflexibility of white heteronormativity and masculinity, and stories that criticized his viewpoints, which writers used to confess their fears about Trump, encouraging their readers to become more politically active. Overall, I argue that the works of political anti-fans combines reactionary and progressive satire to forge a mode of participatory democracy based on the magnetism of Trump’s negativity, which helps legitimize reactionary modes of political expression through re-appropriation of progressive symbols for negative political discursive effect.
Keywords: race, gender, politics, fandom, real person fiction, real person slash
Joseph Roskos is a second-year doctoral student who studies race, visual culture, advertising and augmented reality. He is interested in the production and reconfiguration of social relations on the basis of technology and body politics within contemporary American society.
Mediated Sexuality (Room 212)
To date, there has never been a large-scale analysis of the gay, lesbian or bisexual categories in mainstream pornography. This study will include the analysis of more than 1,500 pornographic video scenes taken from Pornhub.com in 2014, including 480 gay scenes, 280 lesbian scenes and 100 bisexual scenes. LGB categories will be compared to the 460 videos categorized as heterosexual. The following sexual activity will be compared between categories: kissing, cunnilingus, fellatio, coitus and anal sex. Condom use and aggression between partners will also be examined. The goal of this study is to examine systematic differences in the depiction of sexual activity between LGB pornography and pornography categorized as heterosexual.
Niki Fritz is a Wisconsin native and graduate from the UW-Madison School of Journalism. She is currently a doctoral student in The Media School focusing on mass communication effects and sexual health communication. Her research focuses on sexual socialization through the media, specifically examining sexual objectification, sexual agency and sexual behaviors. Her research thus far has investigated objectification in video games, mainstream pornography and feminist pornography. Niki's current work investigates how mass media impacts sexual consent attitudes and how college campuses can help increases college students' sexual consent behaviors.
The nature and effects of sexually explicit material (also referred to as pornography) on viewers’ sexual perceptions, attitudes and behaviors have been studied for decades. One focus of previous studies is the sexual objectification of women in pornographic content and the effects of such content. Dehumanization is the center of objectification. When women are objectified, they are treated less like human beings. Recent research suggests that there are two forms of dehumanization: the animalistic dehumanization and the mechanistic dehumanization. The current survey is trying to explore the relationship between young men's pornography exposure, two dimensions of dehumanization of women and their sexually aggressive thoughts and behaviors against women. The preliminary data analysis found that porn exposure is positively associated with both animalistic and mechanistic dehumanization of women. Animalistic dehumanization is then associated with both aggressive thoughts and behaviors, while mechanistic dehumanization is only associated with aggressive thoughts against women.
Yanyan Zhou is a doctoral candidate in The Media School. Her research focuses on sex in the media. Recently, she is specifically interested in viewers’ cognitive process in online pornography consumption.
Tuo Liu is a master’s student in the Institute of Media Research, Chemnitz University of Technology, Germany. He is interested in media psychology. Specifically, his research focuses on LGBT content in mass and social media, cross-cultural psychology and emotional communication.
Harry Yan is a doctoral student dual majoring in media arts and sciences at The Media School and complex networks and systems at the School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering. His research interests focus on how media affect social dynamics and public opinion formation.
An oft-quoted number from the Broadway musical “Avenue Q” declares: “The Internet Is For Porn,” but neither a purely determinist nor constructivist approach encapsulates the role of human sexuality in the development of such technologies. Rather, the history of sex and tech demonstrates how these tools are co-constructed alongside cultural influences, both social and regulatory. Key examples of technologies not explicitly designed to meet sexual needs (e.g., the printing press, postal network, social media) illustrate how these tools are simultaneously driven by sexuality norms and vice versa. This research highlights landmark cases in the history of erotica and technology (e.g., “I Modi,” “Fanny Hill” and the printing press) to explore embedded norms of access and authority, while looking forward to the industry’s future (e.g., VR and AR pornography) to assert how this co-construction continues today.
Ellen M. Kaufman is a first-year doctoral student in informatics with a minor in sexuality studies from the Kinsey Institute. She received her Master of Arts in communication, culture, and technology from Georgetown University, where her research focused on emerging "sex robot" technology and artificial intelligence. She continues to explore the many intersections of technology and sexuality, and her current work centers on how intimate relationships develop between humans and their artificial or virtual partners.
Savita Bhabi is a name that conjures up mixed reactions in India — most haven’t heard of her, the urban middle class adores her and the rural middle class consume her — privately. She is India’s first animated porn strip. The comic strip first started in 2008, and within a span of six months had more than 30,000 registered users. The comic strip appears in English and a number of Indian languages, and very little is known about the creators of the website. The illustrators use their screen names, and the site was initially registered to the Indian Porn Empire.
The journey of Savita Bhabhi — who has been sketched as the quintessential erotic fantasy: boxom, flat-stomach, sari-wearing, next-door Bhabhi — has been fraught with the sort of troubles and tribulations in real life that she faces in her animated world. In a country that is squeamish about sex and bans porn sites, it is interesting to follow Savita Bhabhi’s story to understand what makes her a fascinating figure placing her within the larger context of animated cartoons in India and how it follows the trajectory of sexualized animated series like the hentai.
What does a figure like Savita Bhabhi indicate for Indian pornography — the consumption and creation of which is considered illegal in India, yet was embraced by the urban and middle-class India? What did it mean for pornography that a sophisticated animation (although still very mild in comparison to hentai) can be consumed in multiple Indian languages? It is also interesting that the creators would choose to call her “Bhabhi” — a word that means “sister-in-law” in Hindi and is used for both familial relations as well as for "young neighbor"/"friend’s wife" in North India.
Pragya Paramita Ghosh is a second-year doctoral student in The Media School, and her research interests are pornography, horror, ruins and ruinophilia, public space, decolonization, post-colonial studies and cultural studies.
Discussion: Your dissertation in an elevator ride Room 310
Closing ceremony and awards Room 310
Post-conference party The Video Saloon 221 N. Walnut St.
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