The Berkeley Center for New Media offers a variety of fellowships for its doctoral and certificate students. The Summer Research fellowship is awarded annually to five candidates. In 2015, the BCNM also offered technology services and training awards, and in 2014, a Data Literacy fellowship.
Applications for Summer 2017 are now available! Fill in this online form with a one page description of your project and tentative research budget, and you could be selected to receive $500–$1,000 of summer funding! Applications are due Thursday, March 16, 2017.
My research project for the Summer 2016 will be to examine how black cosplayers make their performances of media characters (comic books, television, film, etc.) of all races widely visible on a range of Internet platforms, including Tumblr, YouTube, and blogs dedicated to fans of color (such as Black Girl Nerds). This project seeks to argue that black cosplayers value the Internet as a performance site in part because when they perform in physical spaces, they are either viewed as suspicious and dangerous, or they experience deliberate exclusion (as when cosplayers of color are left out of fan conventions’ official photographs).
To further examine this project, I will be participating in Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association (PCA/ACA) 2016 Spring Popular Culture Research Workshop. This PCA/ACA research workshop is taking place conjointly with the Department of Popular Culture, the Ray and Pat Browne Popular Culture Library, and the Music Library and Sound Recordings Archives at Bowling Green State University. This research workshop is intended to introduce scholars from around the country and abroad to the research and pedagogical treasures of these very special collections. In particular, the Ray and Pat Brown Popular Culture Library primary focus is popular fiction, popular entertainment (radio, television, film and the mass communication industry), and the graphic arts/advertising. Additionally, books and magazines, the collection includes a range of nontraditional materials including fanzines, webcomics, movie posters, postcards, greeting cards, digital trading cards, television episode scripts and many three-dimensional items (such as action figures, fast food toys, and games).
Engaging with this deep, rich, and unique collection will allow me to have direct access to a rich archive which will add another creative level of inquiry, while expanding my research on race and new media, comic book fandom culture and digital black culture, and their respective interdisciplinary relationship.
My BCNM summer fellowship is taking me to the Harvard Yenching Library in Cambridge, MA this June. The Yenching Library contains archival materials relating to the early history of manga, particularly the 1930s periodical Karikare (Caricature). Karikare was the publication of a short-lived manga group that evolved out of the repressed proletarian arts movement in Japan, and I’m very interested to read the magazine in order to gain a better understanding of the vexed politics of the period, particularly around manga and its role vis-à-vis the wartime Japanese state.
The classroom as a site of learning raises two questions about contemporary knowledge-production, both of which I plan to engage through my dissertation: on one hand, the classroom asks us to consider the way industry reorients education towards the ends of industry, (i.e., getting a job, professionalizing, relying on technical objects), or what French theorist, Bernard Stiegler, has referred to as “technoscience”; on the other—less dreary—hand, the classroom asks us to consider the conflation of technology and learning into “technology as learning”, a notion that complicates boundaries between human and digital technologies. In other words, if early AI thinkers, like Alan Turing, asked the question—can a machine function like a human brain?, then I am interested in the line of inquiry that asks: how do brains begin to resemble computers? how do computers construct modes of learning?
With the mass adoption of smartphones and GPS-enabled mobile applications across the Global North since 2007, there has been a proliferation of location-based services (LBS) focused on “solving” the city for upper-income digital natives, like Yelp, Foursquare, and Google Local/Zagat. In my dissertation research, I plan to study how digital location-based services benefit savvy residents, businesses, and landlords, amplify inequality and displacement from gentrifying neighborhoods, and fundamentally change the lived experience of urban space. These complex assemblages of user-generated and proprietary data, dependent on gamified and unpaid contributions, are increasingly being used to market urban property, as real estate sites like Trulia and Redfin integrate Yelp reviews and Walk Score® values on their listings pages.
Of course, contemporary LBS are part of a long line of informational technologies designed to make the city visible for consumption, from the window displays in Walter Benjamin’s infamous Parisian arcades to private city directories and Yellow Pages, what sociologist Sharon Zukin calls “the critical infrastructure” of urban amenities. Announcing the purchase of the Zagat Survey in 2011, Google’s Marissa Mayer called the company, founded in 1979 by New York lawyers Tim & Nina Zagat, “one of the earliest forms of UGC (user-generated content)—gathering restaurant recommendations from friends, computing and distributing ratings before the Internet.” This summer, I will use BCNM’s Summer Fellowship to conduct interviews and archival research on the Zagat Survey and other pre-digital city guides, from 19th-century Baedeker guidebooks to the Jim Crow-era “Green Guides” African-American motorists used to find accommodations, as a preliminary step in situating location-based services historically within a genealogy of urban informational systems.
How can non-hegemonic sectors tell a different story about negotiating colonialist conditions? To what extent can Puerto Rico’s younger generations have a critical role and voice in re-thinking contemporary colonialism and the question of self-determination from a scholarly perspective? In my dissertation, I aim to explore what Puerto Rico’s mainstream media do not sufficiently articulate or question: the island’s colonial status in the 21st century. I will investigate themes of contemporary colonialism and identity in stories of everyday life by analyzing discourse among authors of experimental literature and young people’s digital narratives. As part of the first stage of the project, this summer I will hold a pilot workshop on contemporary literature and digital story-telling offered to Puerto Rican youth. Collaborators include community-based organization Centro de Acción Urbana, Comunitaria y Empresarial (CAUCE) [Center for Urban, Community, and Entrepreneurship Action] at the University of Puerto Rico- Rio Piedras, as well as community leader Vladimir Pérez and writer Guillermo Rebollo- Gil. The participating youth will use new media tools and techniques for digital story-telling such as blogs, video, and podcasting to formulate their original narratives about everyday life in the island. Upon return to Berkeley, I will analyze their stories and explore how to design a methodology that combines literary criticism, new media studies and cultural agency.
Kiera Chase is a PhD Candidate in the Joint Doctoral Program–Special Education at the Graduate School of Education with a Designated Emphasis in New Media. Her dissertation develops and refines cognitive-science theoretical models that illuminate challenges and opportunities in children’s development of mathematical concepts. Her scholarship is theory driven yet practice oriented—the process of creating educational technology serves as a context to consider, apply, and modify existing pedagogical frameworks. Her projects are thus focused on authentic didactical problems. She operates in the disciplinary domain of Secondary Mathematics with an eye to offer accessible instructional activities to both formal and informal learners, teachers, and families. She is particularly interested in universal design so as to reach marginalized sectors of the population and not only mainstream clients. Over the summer, Kiera plans to collaborate with technology designers to develop a tablet application based on her educational-research dissertation project, Giant Steps for Algebra (GS4A). GS4A seeks to contribute to two fields of study: the theory of educational technology and pedagogical architectures for conceptual learning. She hopes to contribute synergistic solutions to effective ed-tech design aligned with core curriculum. GS4A evaluates a pedagogical innovation for mathematics learning, in which a curricular unit is parsed into level-based game flow. Students construct virtual models of algebra problems consisting of fictional narratives.
KC Forcier is a PhD candidate in Film and this summer plans to mine British and French telecom company archives as she explores the “videophone” through history. The idea of simultaneous visual communication – of a videophone – has long captured popular imagination. Over the twentieth century many attempts were made at introducing such a technology, and yet each iteration – from the earliest working models appearing in the 1930s to as late as the 1990s – was generally considered a commercial failure. A media archaeological approach to the history of this “failed” (and now, in the digital era, finally “successful”) technology will offer critical insight into the less-known backstory of a now ubiquitous mode of moving image culture. In pursuit of a transnational perspective on the history of the videophone, KC will undertake original archival research on the attempts made in France and England at developing and releasing a videophone. The proposed investigation into the various histories of the videophone will provide crucial insight into the relationship between telecommunications technology and moving image culture, which will have broad implications for research on issues of proximity, intimacy, and simultaneity in media.
Ms. Grace Gipson is a 2nd year doctoral student in the African American & African Diaspora Studies program with a designated emphasis in New Media at the University of California Berkeley. Grace’s area of research interests center on various representations of race and gender within black popular culture specifically in comic books, Afrofuturism and comic books, and performances of blackness. Her current research project includes offering a historical and cultural analysis of the visual aesthetics of Afrofuturism via the mediums of graphic novels and comic books, and their connection/linkage to the African Diasporic Imaginary. This summer, Grace will attend a two week intensive Black Europe summer Institute in Amsterdam, Netherlands. During the institute, she will engage in a project that interrogates the Black European experience and its engagement with comics, Afrofuturism, and social justice. She will question how social justice can be obtained through digital and print art from the Black European point of view, and how can we create spaces and platforms to (re)claim African diasporic narratives. At the conclusion of the institute, Grace will present her work at a concurrent comic book conference “Comics Interaction,” which aims to explore the possibilities of tensions of reading comics as a form of “world literature,” comics and translation, and comics as literature. She will also spend time in Lambiek, Europe’s first comic book shop. This shop has been hailed as a hallmark in the world of comics since its opening in 1968. Her overall aim is to obtain deepen the understanding of knowledge production and the aesthetical and sociological phenomenon of Afrofuturism and its relationship to comics as a medium to shine light on alternative (historical) narratives which challenge (pre)existing modes of perception.
Andrea Horbinski is a PhD candidate in History studying the origins and history of manga (Japanese comics) from approximately 1905-2012. She argues that manga is best understood as a form of sequential art which, while created in Japan in the early 20th century, was hugely influenced by cinema and comics from abroad as well as by indigenous artistic predecessors. While the few English-language histories of manga available begin in the late 1940s with the work of Tezuka Osamu, Andrea notes that the story of manga after World War II ignores its prewar roots, and this foreshortening has the unfortunate effect of occluding manga’s transnational origins. Andrea positions manga in its context among comics and bandes dessinées in order to evaluate local conditions in Japan more accurately, and to understand how different factors in each country produced different outcomes and developmental trajectories for each medium as part of the global history of modernity and comics. The summer research fellowship will support her archival research in the Kansai region of Japan at Kyoto International Manga Museum, the Tezuka Osamu Museum in Takarazuka, and the Osaka City Archives. She is hoping to study prewar manga magazines and the personal papers of Tezuka Osamu.
Nicholaus Gutierrez will attend the Digital Humanities Summer Institute at the University of Victoria. At DHSI, he will take a course called “Project Prototyping for Beginners with Ruby on Rails,” which is designed to introduce students to important basic skills involving web project development: HTML and CSS, the Ruby on Rails application development framework, and developer tools like Github and Heroku. This course will help Nick develop skills essential to his future research. As an interdisciplinary scholar in Rhetoric and BCNM, his aim is to provide a perspective on digital media that can bridge the gap between the technical side of Digital Humanities work and a theoretical understanding of digital objects as cultural objects. This involves writing programs to assist in research and pedagogy, but also thinking critically about code as a form of writing, how markup languages like HTML and CSS structure design, and the aesthetic and ideological influence this might have upon the people using the software. Nick hopes to put what he learns into practice immediately through service to the New Media Working Group and and his own scholarship. He is hoping to rethink the fundamental assumptions and practices in humanistic scholarly work by employing the digital modular, less linear modes of academic writing.
Kyle’s dissertation will explore the connections and dissonances between “deep” forms of reading, such as literary close reading, and “hyper” modes that privilege the frenetic consumption of bite-size, fragmentary texts (cf. Hayles, “Hyper and Deep Attention”). This summer Kyle will begin this project by carrying out a study of “quote culture” online, tracing the ways that quotations from theorists and philosophers circulate on Twitter and Pinterest. Who participates in this culture and why? What does philosophy look like when it becomes anchored not on deep but on hyper reading? What role do “quote bots” play in these practices? Kyle will try to answer these questions using methods of digital ethnography.
Naomi’s project “Black Power of Hip Hop Dance” researches dances innovated in California between 1965-1979, which are foundational to global hip hop/street dance culture today. She shows how early street dances were technological mediums that supported black people’s protest strategies. By remixing and recirculating mass media as subjugated knowledges, dances like Roboting and Popping have functioned as alternative literacies for black youth. This summer Naomi will launch a blog called WhoWeBe, with written accounts and video of interviews she has been conducting with street dancers since 2009. WhoWeBe is meant to be an accessible forum for communicating her research and circulating ideas in relationship with the street dance community. www.naomibragin.com
Laura is a 3rd year PhD student in the School of Information. Her work explores new possibilities for creative practice with technologies for digital fabrication. This summer she will be exploring ways in which physically enacting machine processes (i.e. performing the actions a machine would take by hand) can produce new constructions unlike those typically made with digital fabricators and provoke questioning about the relations between body, machine, computation, and materials.
Andrea’s New Media Summer 2014 Research Award will support archival research for her dissertation at the Fred Patten Collection at the University of California, Riverside, an archive containing the papers, collection, and ephemera of one of the key early figures in anime and manga fandom in the United States beginning in the late 1970s. This research will provide some of the materials necessary for the last two chapters of her dissertation, which focus on fan reception and production of manga in the postmodern era, first in Japan beginning in the 1970s and then abroad from the 1980s into the 2000s. Fan production quickly became a key component of the manga industry, and international linkages and collaboration have always been vital to the practice of manga and anime fandom—and eventually licensed production—abroad. By doing archival research in the United States prior to her departure to Japan for dissertation research in the next academic year, she will have a better idea of what to look for in Japanese fan archives of the same era.
Adam will build a digital humanities tool that examines texts at the level of syntax, asking questions about the deployment of figures of speech in and among works. Adam and his team have developed a prototype of the text reader that compares lexicons among texts found in Project Gutenberg’s archive. Over the summer, he will be adding functionality to the tool, so that it is not only able to analyze diction by comparisons of frequency and uniqueness, but also recognize rhetorical devices in sentences.
Over the past year the Berkeley Center for New Media has discovered that its graduate students are struggling to fund both the training and technology services they need to complete their research projects. This year, thanks to the craigslist Chair endowment, we were able to support five graduates with awards of $1,000 to help defray these costs. Congratulations! We’re excited to hear how their experiences advance their research goals.
Bonnie Ruberg is using her award to help fund her attendance at the Digital Humanities Summer Institute, where she will think critically about technological tools by training in coding and web development. At the 2014 meeting of the Modern Language Association, she found that the country’s top literary scholars were hungry for work that leveraged digital analysis. She hopes that her participation in DHSI will allow her to become a leading voice in these new methods through her various academic projects. Bonnie’s interdisciplinary dissertation, “Pixel Whipped: Pain, Pleasure, and Media,” bridges her background in the Arts & Humanities with her interest in media. She is an executive organizer of the Queerness and Games conference, a cross-industry event that explores LGBTQ issues and video games, and is a participant in the Net Difference Digital Humanities research collective that will author a volume entitled #Identity: Race, Gender, and Sexuality on Twitter.
Félix Treviño explores the manifestations of bodies and violence in literature. Part of his research project deals with the way literature uses New Media not just as a channel to build a narrative, but also as a medium to establish a critical discourse on how technology imposes specific behaviors on the “reader” and her formulation of what she understands as reality. As part of Félix’s journey to better understand the relationship between technology and literature, he will participate in the Digital Humanities Summer Institute and will enroll in courses that will assist him in textual analysis of electronic literature.
Lark Buckingham is the creator of Babump, a device posing as a business card holder that monitors heart rates. monitor that poses as a business card holder. Babump picks up signals from compatible heart monitors so that employers can track employee cardiovascular data in real time. It applies unique algorithms derived from big data to help employers gauge employee health and mood during meetings, with the aim of keeping employees focused on meeting their personal goals. Wellness plans that integrate wearable devices that communicate with Babump show marked gains in employee health and engagement, lower health insurance costs, and higher return on investment. Lark plans to use these funds to continue her training in coding to improve the Babump experience.
Naomi Bragin argues that hip-hop dance is an essential yet understudied technological medium that has supported collective protest strategies of black folk. Despite the popular belief that hip-hop dance is “non-technical,” technology continues to inspire the production, transmission and reception of these styles. Hip-hop dance revalues body-based ways of knowing, by transmitting sonic-kinetic speech-acts that require bodily participation. My project’s significance lies in the politics and ethics of participating in hip-hop culture, in a current context that continues to overlook and deny the lives of black people. Naomi will use the award to support the completion of her performance-ethnographic research and creation of a secure and accessible digital media archive of her project.
Rama Gottfried’s research explores musical composition as a transdisciplinary practice overlapping with spatial concerns in dance, theater, video, installation art, and stage design practices. As a context for this study, he is developing tools and techniques for fusing the perception of sound and spatial character across a variety of media. The results of the research will be a greater knowledge and experience in real-world transdisciplinary art practices, and in tangible form , a new work for performers, live video, and multichannels speakers system to be performed at the SF Exploratorium and possibly other venues.
The Berkeley Center for New Media is delighted to announce the 2013 Data Literacy Initiative Prize has been awarded to Helena Keeffe, Masters Certificate Candidate in Art Practice for her project entitled “Standard Deviation.”
The Data Literacy Initiative Prize was created to address the growing divide between the generation of large quantities of data and those with the tools to access and interpret this information. The prize aims to fund a Berkeley Center for New Media graduate student’s research project that inspires a new means of visualizing and understanding data. The $5,000 award is funded by the Craigslist endowment.
Helena Keeffe’s project “Standard Deviation” is a forum enabling artists to access resources and define personal standards related to the value of their labor. The project was conceived in response to growing tuition costs and the disparity between the debt amassed by arts students and their potential to earn a living within their field. Helena was inspired to collect cultural producers compensation data and present it in a form that makes easily visible the landscape of support (both monetary and intangible) for artists.
With the Berkeley Center for New Media Data Literacy Initiative Prize, Helena will develop an online data collection and presentation platform that will focus on compensation reports from artists in the Bay Area. While the website will focus on collecting local data initially, Helena plans to build a scalable framework that can be adapted and used by other arts communities. She has already convened a working group and advisory committee of Bay Area artists and arts professionals — including Eleanor Hanson Wise (designer and director of The Present Group), Working Artists for a Greater Economy (artist collective, NYC), and Jim Melchert (artist, former NEA Director of Visual Arts) — who will bring diverse perspectives and years of experience to the project. She plans to launch the website in April 2014.
We are thrilled to be supporting this worthwhile endeavor, and excited to share the product of Helena’s labor this April.
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