A Successful Data/Media/Digital Graduate Symposium!

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A Successful Data/Media/Digital Graduate Symposium!

By: Hayley Brazier and Heidi Kaufman

Last Friday, April 5, a group of graduate students, faculty, and members of our community came together for the first Data/Media/Digital Graduate Symposium. The symposium showcased research projects developed by twelve UO graduate students whose work covered an impressive range of data, digital, and media methodologies and subjects.  The event was such a success that we couldn’t miss this opportunity to share it here on the blog.

Friday’s symposium was co-hosted by DH@UO, the New Media and Culture Certificate, and the School of Journalism and Communication. It was held in Knight Library’s new DREAM Lab, which is a collaborative space for students and professors working on digital projects.

The symposium’s call for proposals drew masters and PhD students from nine different departments including Music, English, the School of Journalism and Communication, History, Sociology, Linguistics, German, Theatre Arts, and Art History. Despite the range of disciplines and topics, the presentations still fit seamlessly into three panels: Experience and Interface; New Media Identities/Subjectivities; and Digital Curation, Exhibition, and Sharing.

The first session, “Experience and Interface,” included presentations from David Daniels (Music), Ellen Gillooly-Kress (Theatre Arts), Emily Lawhead (Art History), and Michelle Alexander (Sociology) and was chaired by Professor Bish Sen of the School of Journalism and Communication. All four of the presenters explored various spaces and digital tools, which included art installations, the theatre, playing World of Warcraft and Dungeons and Dragons, and computer vision software that allows the user to make musical sounds with their facial expressions. Each presenter engaged with questions about how media tools and technologies shape human encounters both with one another and with those tools. At the same time, they raised important considerations about the intersection of art and music with media and technology.

Four graduate students sit behind a long table discussing the panel
(Left to Right) Panel One’s David Daniels, Emily Lawhead, Ellen Gillooly-Kress, and Michelle Alexander (picture by Heidi Kaufman)

After a group lunch at Falling Sky, Leslie Selcer (English), Joscha Klueppel (German), Blaine Pennock (Sociology), and Patrick Jones (Media Studies, SOJC) coalesced around the second panel, New Media Identities and Subjectivities. This second panel debated the complexities of online authorship, performance, and reception (or how they are interpreted by others online and in social media). After the presentations, Professor Colin Koopman and the panelists led a discussion on the topic of online identity and questions of authenticity. While platforms like YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram seem to create a stark divide between our authentic selves and our online identities, many of the panelists argued that this line is actually more blurred than we may realize.

A group fo student sit in a large room listening to a panel speak at the front
The third panel discusses digital curation. Photograph by Hayley Brazier.

The third panel—Digital Curation, Exhibition, and Sharing—was the last of the day and included presentations by Caela Fenton (English), Josh Fitzgerald (History), Jonathan Wright (Linguistics), and Ally Baker (English). All of the presenters in this panel have been developing online projects to showcase their research and graduate student work. Panel chair Professor Heidi Kaufman facilitated a discussion between the panelists and the audience  focused on the politics of online archives and collections. Panelists addressed questions about the possibilities and limits of design and content: What materials should be made available online? How does copyright prohibit the sharing of certain text or images? Why is curation so important to a successful scholarly project?

It was clear at the end of the symposium that a growing field of UO graduate students are using data, media, and digital studies to advance questions raised by their research.These fields have been growing in academic culture, and the Symposium created an opportunity to assess future directions and shared areas of interest among our graduate students. Based on this year’s success, we hope the Data/Media/Digital Graduate Symposium will continue.

This year’s symposium was made possible by a generous support from the Barbara and Carlisle Moore Funds, Department of English, New Media and Cultural Certificate, Oregon Humanities Center, School of Journalism and Communication, and UO Libraries. And a special thanks to Franny Gaede for all of her help in preparing for the symposium!

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