The Peter Lyman Graduate Fellowship in new media, established in the memory of esteemed UC Berkeley Professor Peter Lyman, provides a stipend to a UC Berkeley Ph.D. candidate to support the writing of his or her Ph.D. dissertation on a topic related to new media. The fellowship is supported by donations from Professor Barrie Thorne, Sage Publications and many individual friends and faculty.
Applications for summer 2017 are now open. Applications for summer 2017 will be due February 1, 2017. To apply, please fill in this form.
Ritwik Banerji’s project — “An Astromusicological Study of the Maxineans” — focuses on the creation of a range of interactive virtual worlds and characters built for musicians to navigate through or play with by manipulating the timbre of their instrument or voice in real time. Deploying a game-like approach to musical composition and pedagogy, this project creates tasks for musicians to train them to control specific features of their sound. For example, a given module may as a player to control the spectral centroid of their playing in order to navigate a virtual 3D landscape (possibly while also dodging obstacles!) Or, a player may be asked to control the tone-to-noise ratio of their playing in order to communicate with a virtual musical creature whose every move responds to the sonic details of the human player.
Far beyond simply expanding the concept of a “musical videogame”, this project creates a means for composers, pedagogues, anthropologists, and theorists of music to examine the interrelationships of timbre, motion, space, architecture, cognition, and perception. First and foremost, the project addresses the longstanding issue in contemporary music of how one should notate timbre such that performers will understand what to do with the same intersubjective coherence of Western staff notation. This is achieved very simply through a game-like means: one knows whether the wrong sonority has been produced because one “falls” off of a narrow plank or “bumps” into a wall in a virtual space.
Renée Pastel’s dissertation project focuses on how media representations of the “War on Terror” reflect the fragmented nature of contemporary visual culture. Through a broad consideration of the circulation and differentiation of images among media forms (film, television, online video), Renée will theorize how images create a meaningful chronicle of the continuing conflicts for the homefront. Ultimately, this dissertation will argue that what is new in media representations of the “War on Terror” is a question of scale and perspective: there is an absolute ocean of images and media purporting to give insight into the war, many of which present themselves as self-contained narratives. The fragmentation of how the “War on Terror” is viewed, and the way in which it is both overrepresented to and sidelined or ignored by the public, raises questions about the nature of how current events are understood. There is a concerted effort to package views and memories of conflict removed from context for easy consumption by the public, an immediate memory-making without much (if any) separation in time for reflection. These curated images for contemporary cultural memory are more easily digestible and put out of mind. This is further complicated by the dialectic created between the too close and too distant images being made—too close and too distant both visually and emotionally. The idealized balanced view remains an irresolvable and undefined problem, disguised by the overwhelming array of images available and the easily distracted and distracting nature of current visual culture.
By focusing her discussion on the narrative figures that arise in the spread, circulation, and mobility of the variety of images available, and examining the repetitions and divergences in the portrayal of those figures across different media forms, Renée will examine the effects of images targeting niche audiences, and how those audiences gain different understandings of events from images centered on the same figures (journalist, soldier, family, veteran). The repetition of stories told about each figure across media forms speaks to the struggle the US public is having to reconcile the prevailing US narrative as hero of the world with the messy, expanding “War on Terror.” The Lyman Fellowship will enable Renée to conduct interviews regarding creator claims of neutrality despite their politically charged subject matter and international views on media impact.
Jenni Higgs’ dissertation project provides the first scholarly examination of digital talk—or what she refers to as the interactive written communication that occurs in networked online spaces—as a learning resource in and across urban, suburban, rural, private, and public K-12 classrooms nationwide. A well-established body of research shows that discussion practices in classroom settings can support student learning. With the increasing popularity of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in K-12 spaces, classroom discussion has expanded into digital settings, but the relation between learning and digital talk is less clear. On one hand, digitally mediated communication in classrooms fosters critical thinking, collaboration, and new spaces for productive dialogue. Yet, teachers struggle to use ICTs in ways that support student interaction and learning.
Drawing on sociocultural learning theories and social science perspectives on information technology, Jenni’s study uses mixed methods to examine classroom uses of Subtext, a popular e-reader that supports discussion “inside” e-texts, as a case to reveal issues related to digital talk. It aims to shed light on (a) discourse features of classroom digital talk, (b) the social and cultural contexts that mediate it, (c) online and offline practices that influence it, and (d) relationships between types of digital talk and types of learning. The study integrates multiple levels of analysis, including computational text analysis, survey data, and design-based research. Data include digital discussion archives from approximately 5,700 Subtext-using K-12 classrooms, surveys of 458 teacher-users, and systematically collected records from design experiments with two teachers who worked with Jenni to design and implement instructional practices aimed at encouraging authentic student talk across face-to-face and digital learning contexts. The approaches represented by the different stages of the study contribute data that, combined, will enable Jenni to understand broad trends in digital talk form and function across U.S. classrooms as well as “on the ground” student and teacher practices that can inform uses of digital talk in support of consequential learning. The Lyman Fellowship will support analysis of Subtext national data archives and teacher-user survey data.
Exploring points of connection and dissonance between digital and print literacies, Kyle Booten’s dissertation project examines the circulation of textual quotations on social networks. Quotation practices form a major part of current activity on these sites; on Twitter, quote-centric accounts (and “quote bots”) can have upwards of a million followers, and both Tumblr and Pinterest have designed their interfaces to facilitate the generating and sharing of quotations. The words of Kierkegaard, bell hooks, Paulo Freire, and a panoply of other significant thinkers circulate in these economies of #truth, #wisdom, and #inspiration. Is this yet another form of digital distraction, or does it represent the democratization of philosophical discourse?
Over the past year, Kyle has analyzed a large dataset of quotations from Twitter (n≈2,000,000) using methods drawn from corpus linguistics and natural language processing. This summer, Kyle will conduct a virtual ethnography in order to examine key aspects of contemporary quotation practices, including the rhetorical (Why do people go through the trouble of painstakingly retyping, sharing, and even illustrating words that are not, so to speak, theirs? What are their goals?), the sociological (Who are the main actors in online economies of quotations?), and the semiotic (What makes a “good” quotation? How deeply can one understand utterances that are so thoroughly deracinated from their original contexts?). The Lyman fellowship will fund extensive survey and interview work along with additional computational analysis of quotations and the networks of actors who circulate them.
As scholars such as Katherine Hayles and Bernard Stiegler have argued, digital media throw into crisis those traditional modes of education that are founded on print-based literacies and modes of attention. In online quotation culture, the regime of the book is still alive, though shattered into a sea of sharable fragments. The analysis of digital quotations and quotation practices complements Kyle’s work as an educator, through which uses the classroom as a space for understanding and participating in online quotation culture while cultivating hybrid practices that combine aspects of traditional and digital literacies.
“Classical Music in the Chinese Global City: New Performing Arts Centers and the Formation of a Cosmopolitan Public”
Tiffany Ng’s research project – “Classical Music in the Chinese Global City: New Performing Arts Centers and the Formation of a Cosmopolitan Public” – challenges the Western-centric axiom that classical music is dying through a global perspective. Since the 1990s, China has outpaced all other countries in opening performing arts centers, investing billions of dollars in futuristic “grand theaters” that incorporate new media technologies and differing drastically from the cultural centers of Europe. Classical music has claimed a central role in China’s ongoing construction of a cosmopolitan public, and Tiffany explores how the West’s canonical musical past has become the East’s future by focusing on the technologies transforming China’s classical music concerts on an individual and institutional level.
Tiffany investigates four changing areas of institutional and audience uses of technology and technological metaphors. First, she studies the concert as policed spaces. Ushers wield laser pointers to stop countless audience members photographing and recording performances on their mobile phones, enforcing the West’s behavioral norms of active listening and preventing piracy. Second, she examines how young only-children, accompanied by their mothers, form a major part of audiences, as they are trained towards a global citizenship and offered cultural capital. Third, she considers the role of Poly Group, the state-owned corporation formerly owned by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). teasing apart the organization’s military-industrial-cultural complex. Finally, Tiffany locates the origins of expectations and behaviors specific to Chinese audiences within the intersection of architecture and new media, analyzing the effect of of over-amplification and screen culture in these halls.
Tiffany’s research aims to challenge the notion of East and West, the classic and the new, in twenty-first-century transnational cultural flows.
The Lyman Fellowship will support Tiffany’s endeavours by assisting her in her initial phase of research. Tiffany plans to travel to Shanghai and Guangzhou in China during the fall concert season to interview audience members, concert hall employees, and scalpers. She additionally seeks to design an open database of her qualitative research data so that visitors can contribute information and media objects, such as photographs, recordings, opinions, and memories.
T. Geronimo Johnson, Ph.D. Candidate in Language, Literacy and Culture Division, Graduate School of Education, D.E. in New Media
“New Media Literacy, Aesthetic Education, and Ambiguity in the Age of Irony”
How do various users of digital media understand irony in new media? Much has been written about new media and participatory culture, but little has been written about interpreting and evaluating new media in the age of irony, an era defined by complex hermetic constructions lacking the meta-discursive features traditionally relied upon to decode elaborately constructed social criticism. In this moment, both popular and alternative media demand evermore tolerance for ambiguity, challenging conventional positionalities and notions of stable texts. Students who actively adopt technologies create projects of increasing nuance and complexity. Consequently, instructors must develop strategies for assessing/interpreting these projects without resorting to traditional rubrics that constrain students by demanding that new technology reify old mindsets, and hence, shutting down activist, alternative, and otherwise critical frameworks.
This research will focus on users’ interpretations of two new media projects in two distinct genres to which students are routinely exposed: commercial websites and game trailers.
This research is significant because a comprehensive examination of the ways and means through which various users perceive, interpret, negotiate, narrate and make meaning of irony in new media will go a long way toward helping educators understand how to best utilize and embrace the invigorating field of new media studies without unintentionally constraining students’ critical imaginative and creative practices. There is talk of technology and democracy, of social justice and participatory media, of social networks and flattened hierarchies, but for the classroom to become a site for authentic critical and creative engagement, the new language of new media demands new pedagogy, and an increased sensitivity to the complexity of new media events, most notably those defined by irony.
The Lyman Fellowship significantly enriches this endeavor in a number of ways. It funds further opportunities to investigate the questions raised in the project. Additional research is now possible in locations where technology is not as pervasive as it is in the Bay Area. Lastly, it establishes the possibility of a web-based assessment.
Katherine Chandler, Ph.D. Candidate in Rhetoric, D.E. in New Media
“Unmanned Aerial Systems: The United States’ Techno-Political Entanglements in the Post-Cold War”
Jen Schradie, Ph.D. Candidate in Sociology, D.E. in New Media
“Class (and Ideology) Confronts Online Activism: Digital Democracy or Disenfranchisement?”
Christo Sims, Ph.D. Candidate, UC Berkeley School of Information
“Youth Practices with New Media and the Production of Social Difference”
Janaki Srinivasan, Ph.D. Candidate, UC Berkeley School of Information
“The Political Life of Information: Information and Development in India”
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