mediations presents
Dr. ALAN LIU (University of California, Santa Barbara)
March 31st & April 1st

March 31st Public Lecture
"The Big Bang of Digital Reading"
4:30pm, Kresge Building room K203
All welcome

Abstract: How has online reading reconfigured the media, materiality, sensory experience, sociality, cognition, formal experience, and value of reading? Should we think of the current rapid development of online reading as one ‘big bang’ dominated by neoliberal paradigms that steer all transactions between private citizens and the public sphere into economically ‘privatised’ containment structures such as aggregator databases, technological protocols, intellectual property laws, and dominant organizational forms? Alan Liu surveys the many changes in literacy represented by online reading and concludes by speculating briefly on the need for a digital humanities that can exert a “lightweight,” “agile” critical force to steer its specific institution of higher education in the digital age.

April 1st Workshop
"Against the Cultural Singularity: Drafts For a Critical Digital Humanities — A Workshop."
10am, SSC 9420 (Dean’s Boardroom)
Registration required

As a follow-up to the previous day’s talk, Dr. Liu will present snippets from a book in early progress tentatively titled “Against the Cultural Singularity: The Goal of the Digital Humanities” for discussion, criticism, suggestions, etc. in a smaller group setting.

Space in the seminar is limited. To register, please e-mail

Alan Liu is Professor in the English Department at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and an affiliated faculty member of UCSB’s Media Arts & Technology graduate program. Previously, he was on the faculty of Yale University’s English Department and British Studies Program.

He began his research in the field of British romantic literature and art. His first book, Wordsworth: The Sense of History (Stanford Univ. Press, 1989), explored the relation between the imaginative experiences of literature and history. In a series of theoretical essays in the 1990s, he explored cultural criticism, the “new historicism,” and postmodernism in contemporary literary studies. In 1994, when he started his Voice of the Shuttle Web site for humanities research, he began to study information culture as a way to close the circuit between the literary or historical imagination and the technological imagination. In 2004, he published his “The Laws of Cool: Knowledge Work and the Culture of Information” (Univ. of Chicago Press). In 2008, he also published from Univ. of Chicago Press his “Local Transcendence: Essays on Postmodern Historicism and the Database”

Liu is currently working on a series of philosophical and practical essays on media histories, the digital humanities, and their impact on the institutions and practices of the humanities. These will converge in two books, tentatively titled Media, History and Digital, Humanities.


Please join us for mediations 3.3:

Friday November 29th, 2013 at 2:30 in NCB 293

Jennifer Robinson presents:
Service: The Synergy between the Servers and the Served

Respondents: Yimin Chen and Zac Bronson

Purpose – This paper examines how ideas about what service is and should be have changed in the public library setting and speculates on the impact of these ideas on public libraries as organizations, as well as their staff and users.

Design/methodology/approach - The paper presents themes derived from a qualitative analysis of the professional literature focussed on the topic of service from 1980 to present. An operational concept is developed from an authoritative reference source as a framework to discuss the critical criteria of service (identified as the server, the served, and the purpose and context of interaction.) Thematic analysis places the operational concept of service into 4 thematic areas: Technology, Equity, Accountability, and Vision. Each theme is deconstructed to define its constitutive elements and describe how the components interact to reveal discourses.

Findings –A working definition of service entails librarians helping patrons through resources in hopes of meeting aspirational goals while adhering to an institutional qualitative/quantitative system of measurement integrated with a professional philosophy. Contested elements of service include: the disputed aim of service as a humanist principle, the derogated server as a professional exercising judgment, and the dissolved served as a collective interest. These aspects develop in the public library field as the commercial reconstruction of value (action - service) which redefines the role of the human intermediary (actor – librarian) and the locus of impact is the relationship between the user (actor - patron) and institution (interaction – political economy of the library).

Originality/value –A comprehensive review of the dense literature articulates coherent structures and patterns to help practitioners understand and re-imagine the service model.


Join us for the first mediations workshop of the year!

Gabe Elias presents: Manufacturing Legitimacy: A Critical Theory of Election News

To what degree does instrumental reason influence election news coverage? Using Habermas’s understanding of system/life-world as a heuristic, I map the rationalization process of political communication. This illuminates the institutional logics at play in the field of politics and the field of journalism, and the way the social dynamics between them enable the framing of political life as a strategic game. This understanding is then contextualized within an analysis of the media frames that informed the Canadian federal election of 2011. I find that news coverage does tend to focus on political strategy; but this is not wholly at the expense of issue coverage, rather news frequently represents issues as strategic resources deployed by party leaders to create political advantage within public opinion. Ultimately, this thesis provides a critique of the formal organization of electoral politics around the imperatives of news production.

Respondents will be John Mayiga and Robert Babe.

Date: Friday, October 4th, 2013
Time: 2:30 pm
Place: Middlesex College Room 6


mediations is a graduate student-run workshop series that offers the FIMS community an opportunity to share ongoing research or works-in-progress with student and faculty colleagues. These sessions seek to establish a space in which members of the FIMS and UWO community at large may come together in an intellectually stimulating and productive exchange of ideas.

After our second highly successful season in 2012-2013, we are welcoming proposals or expressions of interest for our 2013-14 workshop series from members of the FIMS community – students and faculty alike – on any work that engages with the rich, diverse, and loosely defined discipline of “Media Studies.”

Sub-fields or approaches might include: Media and Cultural theory, Political Economy, Technology/Technoculture, Media History, New Media, Journalism Studies, Library and Information Science, Popular Culture, Media Aesthetics, to name a few. We welcome both theoretically- and empirically-based studies, as well as practice-based engagements with media.


Each two-hour session consists of one 30-40 minute presentation followed by two respondents (5-10 minutes each). The remainder of each session is devoted to questions and discussion with the general audience.

If you are interested in presenting, please send us an abstract of 200-300 words (and a list of preferred or suggested respondents) to:  There are six available slots (3 each in Fall/Winter semester).

Also, please do not hesitate to contact us with any general questions or comments.


Join us for mediations 2.6. kane x. faucher presents: artificial publics: astroturfing the web.  Atle Mikkola Kjøsen and Jessica Thom will respond.

Abstract:  Although the construction of fake crowds and artificial publics for purposes of promotion and advocacy has a long history, the automated structure, audience reach, and rapid cycle mechanisms on the web allow for more widespread “persona management” and effective black propaganda with the use of automated methods of message dissemination where the source is concealed or masked. Improvements in the software domain of persona management has increased the covert deceptive power of corporations, governments, and special interest groups that make use of these services to disseminate mass-message on online fora, review sites, blogs, and other forms of social media as a front operation for influence campaigns.