Sunday, October 4, 2009

October Colloquia at MIT's Comparative Media Studies

Communications Forum: Race, Politics, and American Media
Juan Williams in conversation with Phillip Thompson and David Thorburn
The election of an African-American president in November 2008 has been hailed as a transforming event. But has Obama's ascension transformed anything? Many people’s answer to that question changed this summer when a famous Harvard professor was arrested at his home in Cambridge. Are the harsh realities of race and class in the U.S. clearer now or murkier, following the media tsunami of Gatesgate? And has this polarizing event given greater visibility to racial minorities in the media's coverage of politics? How are race issues and racial politics covered in our national media, and what are the implications of the demise of major city newspapers for the coverage of race and politics?
Juan Williams of NPR and Fox News will discuss these and related questions in a candid conversation with Phillip Thompson, associate professor of urban politics in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at MIT, and David Thorburn, Professor of Literature and Director of the MIT Communications Forum. This forum is the first of two this term in our ongoing civic media series, a collaboration of the Communications Forum and the Media Lab’s Center for Future Civic Media.
Political Remix Video: A Participatory Post-Modern Critique of Popular Culture

Elisa Kreisinger
Remixers are on the front lines of the battle between new media technologies and impeding copyright laws that threaten to obstruct the public discursive space for critiquing popular culture. These spaces are abundant with meticulously crafted and articulate video remixes that deconstruct social myths, challenge dominant media messages and form powerful arguments reflecting the participatory nature of both pop and remix cultures. We’ll deconstruct these videos, honor the history of female fan vidders and the influences of African-American hip-hop cultures and debate the remix's ability to effect actual change.
Elisa Kreisinger is a video remix artist, hacktivst and writer. She co-edits the blog,, teaches new media to Cambridge teens and is currently working on her first screenplay.

10.22.09 | 5-7 PM | 4-231

Transatlantic Acousmatics
John Picker
In 1897, the year The Invisible Man was published, Marconi filed his patent and established the first station for wireless telegraphy, what would become radio. H.G. Wells's novel reads as if it were an instruction manual for the uses and abuses of the nascent radio voice. Picker will begin to argue that, in conjunction with the racist basis of much fin-de-siecle anxiety, the acousmatic status of Wells's protagonist allows for a conspicuous if incoherent racial performance. This performance tests the limits of Wells's sympathetic imagination even as it further amplifies the voice of Griffin, the Invisible Man. Picker begins with Wells's story and goes on to show how, when one attends to questions of voice and sound technologies in several different media, the racial and ethnic dimensions that become audible forge invisible connections among modes of art that we have been taught to keep distinct. Tracing a transatlantic route from fiction to radio and sound film back to fiction, this approach offers a new way to characterize a crucial period of change from the late Victorian to the modern world.
John Picker is Visiting Associate Professor of Literature at MIT, where he arrived this fall after several years as Associate Professor of English at Harvard. He is the author of Victorian Soundscapes and has ongoing interests in sound studies, media history, and the literature and culture of the Victorian era. His many articles and book chapters include, most recently, an essay on "Yankee Doodle" and "The Star-Spangled Banner" in A New Literary History of America, edited by Greil Marcus and Werner Sollors and out this September from Harvard University Press.
Cinematic Games
Richard Rouse
Many people talk about "cinematic" games, but what does this really mean? Over their century of existence, films have been using a range of techniques to create specific emotional responses in their audience. Instead of simply using more cut-scenes, better script writers, or making more heavily scripted game experiences, game designers can look to film techniques as an inspiration for new techniques that accentuate what games do well. This lecture will present film clips from a number of classic movies, analyze how they work from a cinematic standpoint, and then suggest ways these techniques can be used in gameplay to create even more stimulating experiences for gamers, including examples from games that have successfully bridged the gap.
Richard Rouse III is a game designer and writer, best known for The Suffering horror games and his bookGame Design: Theory & Practice. He is currently the Lead Single Player Designer on the story-driven FPS Homefront at Kaos Studios in New York City.

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