Archive for the ‘Conferences’ Category

RCID at International Writing Across the Curriculum 2008

November 9, 2008

RCID Students and Faculty attended the International Writing Across the Curriculum Conference, 2008, Austin, Texas (May 29-31).

Attendees: Dev Bose, Alison Butler, John Dinolfo, Jason Helms, Joshua Hilst, Keith Morton, Xiaoli Li, Barbara Ramirez, Donna Reiss, Art Young, Dan Wu.

Here is  a snapshot:


Here are other snapshots.


More Conference Reflections, July 2008

August 21, 2008

At the IPCC, I shared the analytical study I performed in Summer Taylor’s pedagogy course last fall. My study, conducted in one of John Dinolfo’s nursing writing courses, examined the effectiveness of the Blackboard discussion board as a heuristic genre for writing in the disciplines. Mine was one of many instructional approaches shared under the conference theme Capitalizing on the Knowledge Economy: Lessons from Our Neighbors.

Saul Carliner, associate professor of educational technology at Concordia University in Montreal (in the pic far left), and an author whose works we have reviewed in Sean William’s and Tharon Howard’s information design and technology courses, was the keynote speaker at the IEEE IPCC, July 13-16, 2008 at Concordia.

In his address, Saul spoke to the concerns of communications professionals about their unfolding roles in a knowledge-based economy. He suggested that we look for insight to fields outside of technical and professional communications such as human factors, instructional design (i.e. corporate training), software engineering, and translation services. One of the main lessons to be learned from these fields is to create opportunities for maximizing productivity and effectiveness while minimizing communications barriers. This is especially challenging, according to Saul, as we come to understand more about the wide net cast by transdisciplinary communications, and the myriad applications it affords us.

But there’s more: For I also attended, with Dev Bose, the Third International Conference on Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, hosted by Common Ground on July 22-25, 2008 at Monash University in Prato, Tuscany, Italy. This was the occasion for my first trip to Europe. (Shhhhhhh–participating in the conference was a bonus; spending days in and around the Italian countryside, with a 13 hour layover in Paris on the return flight, was the main attraction–but I know I can trust you to keep that secret.)

Aside from visiting Florence, Milan, and Venice (I heart the Eurorail!), some highlights of the conference included befriending two scholars from Malaysia, Wan and Norain, and learning about their culture and some of their academic priorities. In their sessions I learned about their uses of technology–how, for example, they are incorporating email (Norain) as a method for peer review in composition courses. I was even more intrigued by Wan’s involvement as an advocate for amending the Malaysian Domestic Violence Act. In fact, several of the European presenters emphasized, as did Wan, their dependence upon NGO’s (parallels to our charitable non-profits) to effect change outside of governmental hierarchies. Sadly, but also similarly, they referred to their disappointments in the ways these agencies often emulate the very governments they are meant to challenge and critique.

My presentation was titled “Barak Obama and the Politics of Technology” and addressed the rhetorical dimensions of new media and society. I focused on Obama’s extensive use of technologies to engage typically apolitical demographics–younger and minority voters, many of whom registered for the first time in order to be able to support Obama. His campaign’s enlistment of experts in the field: David Plouffe, Jon Carson, and Chris Hughes of Facebook for example, demonstrate his commitment to interactivity as part of his vision for a more progressive government, and as a paradigm for disseminating what Debra Atwater has called his “rhetoric of hope.” At the conclusion of the panel, I teamed up with Dev Bose to dialogue with our spirited audience, and that went very well. By any measure, we got as good as we gave!

~ Michelle Dacus Carr ~

Conference reflections: July 2008

August 20, 2008

I had the pleasure of representing RCID and Clemson University during two conferences this summer, one in the peaceful Tuscan countryside city of Prato and the other in the fast-paced urban hub of Helsinki (Helsingin). My presentations at these conferences represented the four letters of RCID; while Prato and Helsinki are two vastly different worlds, the international nature of both conferences was truly representative of McLuhan’s concept of the “global village.”

Information Design

Monash University Centre hosted the Third International Conference on Interdisciplinary Social Sciences. The goal of this annual conference is to examine the nature of disciplinary social sciences in light of interdisciplinary practices. My presentation, “Coping with Multimodal Environments: Conceptions of the Digital Marketplace,” fit perfectly into the practical and dynamic aim of the conference. I presented on the often-neglected affective aspect of information design, arguing that information designers need to keep the multimodal appeal of users in mind as they design products in the digital marketplace.

While my presentation helped to determine the functionality of information design, it was my collaboration with other RCID presenters that helped to make this panel a tour de force–including Michelle Dacus-Carr’s presentation on the social rhetoric of the Barack Obama campaign. In the extensive Q & A that followed, we were able to work together as a team to discuss the impact of information design on various products. My stay in nearby Florence (Firenze) was marked by visits to the Uffizi and Accademia d’Arte, and all I could think of after the conference was the way that information design is reflected in the elegance of these incredible museums.

Rhetorics and Communication

The journey from Italy to Finland consisted of a quick economy jet ride to Stockholm followed by a lumbering boat voyage across the chilly waves of the Baltic. Upon landing in the port at Helsinki and taking a tram to my hotel, blaring trumpets and a large crowd in Senate Square greeted me–well, not me, exactly, but rather the army troops that reenact the liberation of Finland on a given basis.

And with that, the 11th International Conference of the International Society for the Study of European Ideas (ISSEI), hosted by the University of Helsinki, was underway. The first day of the conference was tiring yet fascinating, with a 9:30am workshop (“Language and Power: Political Discourse, Identity, and Politics” followed by my 1:30pm workshop (“Technics, Technology, and the Post-Human”). I should briefly add that all conference attendees were invited to a reception at City Hall hosted by the mayor of Helsinki; at this elegant yet relaxed gala, I was able to personally engage with presenters from the first panel, including one political scientist at the Nicholas Copernicus University in Turin, Poland.

Given the highly current nature of technics, it made sense to argue the importance of postmodernist approaches to studies of the post-human during my presentation. This panel, as well as others, was enlightening in that I was able to interact with other researchers in an interactive workshop. Technics proved to be a vital part of the discussion that followed, as all of our presentations focused on answering the question, “what is the role of the post-human in contemporary, postmodern society?” Together, we pondered the work of Stiegler, Haraway, and Levinas–all names that have come up continuously in RCID colloquia and seminars.

The next morning greeted me with my second presentation, “Sophistic Impressions of the Hermaphrodite as Dissident Intellectual through Danilo Kis.” Noting that the topic of my second panel (Primvm Graivs Homo Mortalis: The Greek and Roman Invention of European Arts and Sciences) would deal with the contributions of the ancients, I had something in mind early last November as I began preparing for this workshop. This “something” would develop into my dissertation focus, which I presented at this workshop. The turnout was higher than expected, and I received many questions and compliments during the Q & A and the break. The day finished with a refreshing hike through the lakes and forests of nearby Nuuksio National Park.

Both conferences were huge successes. It is difficult to determine the highlights of each city, but the graceful strength of the Statue of David and the 13 onion domes of Uspenski Cathedral (the largest Byzantine church in Western Europe) are definitive touristic highlights. And of course the interdisciplinary nature of these international conferences was undeniably great (I presented at a conference in Ljubljana, Slovenia in March that was also helpful in terms of learning about world politics and rhetorics). It is my hope that opportunities like this are open to all of us in the RCID community

~ Dev Kumar Bose ~

Jason Helms @ Comic-Con, San Diego

August 6, 2008

Comics and academics make strange bedfellows, leading more often than not to the entanglements of retainers and pocket-protectors in the heat of passion. The Comic Arts Conference seems to blend theory and practice more effortlessly than any other popular culture conference. At PCA/ACA academics meet behind closed doors, far from the creators they study. CAC, on the other hand, meets in the belly of the beast, comic-con international, A.K.A. the San Diego Comic-Con, A.K.A. Comic-Con. It’s worth ruminating over that last nickname. With dozens of comic-cons nation (and world) wide—we even have our very own in Greenville—for one to be known simply as comic-con, it must stand out. It’s a bit like referring to four C’s as “the conference.” With over a hundred thousand attendees, massive media coverage, and various upcoming comics, video games, and films being unveiled and plugged, it’s well deserved its prestige. Hell, they did an episode of Entourage about it. ENTOURAGE!

Not only does CAC have the unmitigated gall to meet during such a bacchanalia fatigacia (that’s Latin for geek orgy), but they have integrated themselves so well that their panels are actually listed on the main schedule. There are some major advantages and disadvantages to opening an academic conference to the public. I believe I saw someone dressed up as an anime character at Douglas Wolk’s presentation.

On the other hand, some of the lower audience turn-outs were 50 people, high for a panel at any academic conference. Academia is so well connected to their source in the world of comics scholarship, that the industry even gives awards for best books on comics. Douglas Wolk won an Eisner this year. That’s like Christian Metz getting an Oscar.

Kevin Smith, Judd Apatow. Zack Snyder, and Frank Miller.

Kevin Smith, Judd Apatow, Zack Snyder, and Frank Miller

I was there wearing two hats. First off, I was an academic trying to network and find out whether or not my dissertation is really anything exciting for comics studies. This went very well. I generated a lot of excitement about making comics about comics and was able to meet a few colleagues who are interested in my work as well as two artists who are interested in partnering with academics to create such articles.

Pineapple Express and Zack and Miri Make a Porno.
Seth Rogan was there plugging two upcoming films: ~Pineapple Express~ and ~Zack and Miri Make a Porno~.

While the academic hat pays my bills, my other hat got me behind closed doors. In my spare time I write for RedFence, a magazine out of LA (The first issue printed a few hours ago! Go buy a copy!). Somehow they managed to get me a press pass and I used this new found ethos to get face to face interviews with two of my all time favorite creators, Steve Purcell (Sam and Max, most of the LucasArts games, Cars, etc.) and Rob Schrab (Scud the Disposable Assassin, The Sarah Silverman Show, that internet meme with the dungeons and dragons guys. You know the one, “I shoot lightning into the darkness” “Where’s the Mountain Dew?”). Not impressive enough for you? Fine, I’ll see my fan-boy wet dream and raise you an actual professional encounter as I was allowed into the press briefing for the Watchmen movie. I was able to ask Zack Snyder a question, joke with Dave Gibbons, and get creeped out by Jackie Earle Haley, the actorplaying Rorschach, sitting right next to me. Seriously, he’s going to be fantastic. Jackie’s greatest line was,“More so than my previous work, some scenes were disturbing and stuck with me. Sometimes Rorschach followed me home.”

Robert Kirkman (Walking Dead), Mike Mignola (Hellboy), Matt Fraction (Immortal Ironfist), and John Cassaday (Astonishing X-Men).

Robert Kirkman (Walking Dead), Mike Mignola (Hellboy), Matt Fraction (Immortal Ironfist), and John Cassaday (Astonishing X-Men).

All of this doesn’t even begin to touch upon the sensory overload that is comic-con. I had to constantly choose between being an academe, a journalist and a fan-boy. Do I go to a panel on Scott McCloud or a panel featuring Frank Miller (along with Kevin Smith, Judd Apatow, and Zack Snyder)? Hopefully some of the pictures will tell the story a bit better than my fame addled brain can muster right now. Soon to come: RedFence articles on Watchmen and the two interviews. For now, watch this clip of Mike Mignola’s discussion of translating a comic into a film and the effect that has had upon comics.

~ Jason Helms ~

StRange @ Popular Culture Association

April 12, 2008

Communication and Digital Culture VI:

~ ~ ~ We Are the Strange . . .

The object/s of post-criticism were M Dot Strange and the film We Are the Strange:

– Jason Helms, “iStr8ne: Electracy in We Are the Strange

– Keith Morton, “The People’s Aesthetic: The Use of 8-bit Graphics and Videogame Culture in M dot Strange’s We Are the Strange

– Joshua Abboud, “Digital Fairy Tales: Narrative Nostalgia and the Violence of Childhood Fantasies in We Are the Strange

Keith took on formal aspects, I looked at the narrative, and Jason took turns discussing portions of our papers that were similar in order to create a more fluid and integrated spoke about it in terms of electracy. We presentation. Clips played on the screen while we spoke and we referred to them when appropriate. For the most part our sections synced up well enough to mimic the integration of all three aspects in the film itself. It was fun to prepare and execute a presentation appropriate for the topic. ~ Josh Abboud

Conference Presentations, CCCC and ATTW

April 12, 2008

The RCID Students and Faculty made multiple presentations this April, ’08, at the College Composition and Communication Conference (CCCC) and the Association of Teachers of Technical Writing Conference (ATTW) in New Orleans. (Top Right: Keith Morton @ the St. Martin, Bedford Publisher’s party, New Orleans Aquarium. Bottom Right: Amanda Booher, Alicia Hatter, and Randy Nichols.)

Dev Bose, “Sophistic Influences on Marxist Rhetorics” (Research Network Forum)

Michelle Dacus Carr, “Rhetorics of the Silhouette in the Work of Kara Walker” (RNF)

Alicia Hatter, Randy Nichols, Wu Dan, and Tharon Howard composed a panel on “Creating A User-Experience Through an ‘Interpellation Research Instrument’ for Giving Websites.”

Cynthia Haynes, “Cities of Rendition: Interrogation on/of the Extrajudicial Edge”

Jason Helms, “Cold Fusion: From Orality to Electracy and Beyond” (RNF)

Jason Helms, “300: From Cool Comic to Cool Film”

Susan Hilligoss, “Multimodal Usability 101”

Josh Hilst, “Inventional Cinematics” (RNF)

Justin Hodgson, “Professional Rhetorics: Rethinking Communication and Composition”

Jan Holmevik, Cynthia Haynes, and Jason Helms, FSIG.22 Serious Games. Jason demonstrated his game based on J. Derrida’s article “Structure, Sign, and Play.”

Tharon Howard, “A Usability Study of Visual and Verbal Approaches to Writing Handbooks”

Tharon Howard, “RIBS: Four Criteria for Meeting the Affective Dimensions of Social Networks”

Steven Katz, “God as Ultimate Sophist: The Tension of Inscription and Absence in the Hebrew Bible”

Steven Katz, “A Meditation on ‘Usability’ ”

Xiaoli Li, “New perspectives on intercultural theories and pedagogical methods to connect global and local communities: A scenario-based approach to teaching international/intercultural professional communication” (Won the prize for longest title!)

Keith Morton, “Intercultural New Media and Pedagogy” (RNF)

Barbara Ramirez, “Archives in the Digital Age” (RNF)

Summer Smith Taylor, “Effects of Studio Space on Teaching and Learning of Writing”

Steve Thompson, “Recognizing Rhetoriconics: The Strategic Positing of Rhetorics for Iconic Media” (RNF)

Victor J. Vitanza, “Cities of the Living (‘Reversible Destinies’)”

Sean Williams, “The Ethics of Experience Design: Changing the Value
Propositions in Technical Communication”

Art Young, FSIGO9: Meeting of the International Network of Writing-Across-the-Curriculum Programs

~ vjv

PS: RCID Rocks!

1st Annual Carolina Rhetoric Conference

February 26, 2008

Bringing Clemson & USC together: 1st Annual Carolina Rhetoric Conference: In an attempt to create a space where doctoral students could meet, share work, get feedback, and improve papers and presentations for other conferences (ranging from CCCC to RSA to MLA and so on), the RCID students joined the USC Rhetoric & Composition students for a weekend conference: the 1st annual Carolina Rhetoric Conference (CRC).

The CRC, which was sponsored by the recently founded Rhetoric Society of America chapter at USC, took place on February 22 & 23, 2008. The conference opened on Friday with a brief reception and opening remarks by conference coordinator Paul G. Cook, and then was launched with the first session of the event, “Dynamic Connections: Bodies & Authority.” Two of the three speakers of this first session were RCID students. Amanda K. Booher gave her presentation, ” rcidcrc1.jpeg ‘I’m just Cherry’: The Role of Zombie Amputations and Machine Gun Legs in Reconceptualizing the Body.” Using examples of Oscar Pistorius denial to be allowed to participate in the Olympic games due to his prosthetic blades–making him both “disabled and super-abled”–and the character Cherry Darling, from the Tarantino & Rodriguez film Grindhouse, who “becomes who she was meant to be” once her boyfriend makes her an assault rifle/grenade launcher prosthetic leg, Amanda explored the relationships between bodies, prosthetics, and perception–particularly in relation to how technology (and the merging of human and machine) alters the way we conceive of (receive) bodies.

In the same panel, John Dinolfo delivered a talk titled, “Seeing Cells: Teaching the Visual and Verbal rcidcrc2.jpegRhetoric of Biology.” John’s discussion centered on the collaborative research between himself, Barbara Heifferon (former associate professor at Clemson, now Department Chair of English at the Rochester Institute of Technology), and Lesly Temesvari (Associate Professor of Biology, Clemson University). Their pilot study,* which was published in the Journal of Technical Writing and Communication last fall, explored the rhetorics involved in microscopy instruction and attempted to understand how students came to see, interpret, make sense of, and recognize cellular images (and imagery).

Following the opening session on Friday night, there was a presentation by rcidcrc3.jpegUSC faculty member John Muckelbauer, the Keynote Speaker for the event, and then a “kick-off party” hosted by USC student Eme Crawford. This sharing of “drinks” and “breaking of bread” worked exceptionally well at opening numerous conversations (scholar, professional, personal) and created an opportunity to get to know one another in an informal, yet dynamically engaging environment (much in the spirit of our own Society of the Third Sophistic meetings).

The next day, after a couple of sessions in the morning, many ventured to the Salty Nut (restaurant in 5 points, in Columbia) to “break bread” once again. We rcidcrc4.jpeghad conversations ranging from issues in Basic & Developmental writing, to the experiences of being a doctoral student, to the roles of identity, the problems of definitions, comics, films, food, travel, and so on. It was a delectable lunch with delightful conversation, and helped to further establish the connections and links being formed at the conference. Following lunch, we ventured back to Gambrell Hall for the last 2 sessions of the day: the first, “Composition Pedagogy: Visions & Revisions” featured two RCID students, Justin Hodgson and Sergio Figueiredo, and the second (and last session of the day), “Rhetorical Appropriations of Antiquity,” also featured two RCID students, Dev Bose and Jason Helms.

Justin’s presentation, “Blurring the Boundaries of Writing and Speaking: A Pilot Project,” explored a recent pilot project he put together at Clemson that integrally linksrcidcrc5.jpeg Business Writing and Public Speaking. By having the same students in both his courses, Justin is able to focus on “professional rhetorics” and preparing students for writing, speaking, and multimedia creating for a variety of rhetorical situations. His presentation looked at how rhetorics have become the “handmaiden of writing and speech” in the last century and a half, and how we need to resituate our focus on rhetorics, moving back to its place in the trivium, and attempt to “detonate” the great divide(s) that exist between writing and speaking (and English & Communication Studies)—and his pragmatic application of this is his pilot project.

In his presentation, “Developing a Writing Process Across Media,” Sergio Figueirdo talked about his explorations of the connections between poetry, free writing, andrcidcrc6.jpeg storyboarding. Detailing how he worked with students in Jason Helms writing course, Sergio discussed the process of using storyboards (and image design) as ways for helping students think through and engage ideas. He talked about how some students did literal translations of their poetic interpretations and how others worked more creatively with the material. Acknowledging some resistant areas he encountered, Sergio went on to briefly discuss the relationships he saw between the students reading of poetry and the role/function of storyboarding.

In the last session of the day, Dev Bose led things off with is talk, “Sophistic Influences on Marxist Rhetorics.” Working with three sophists (Protagoras, Democritus, and Gorgias), rcidcrc7.jpegDev attempted to explore the connections between their work and influence of Marxist rhetorics–specifically through a process of connecting them with the works and ideas of a few post-marxists. Dev’s examination traced faint lines between the role of community, the function of the polis, and the implications of logos in relation to these things, as well as the Marxist theories that would (could) evolve from them.

The last RCID student to present was Jason Helms, who delivered his presentation/paper, “300: From Cool Comic to Cool Film.” Jason ventured through the nuances of McLuhan’s distinctions of hot and cool media, and then began to problematize those distinctions as well as explore the relations of them to comics. Specifically, working with Frank Miller’s comic 300, and then looking at Zack Synder’s filmrcidcrc8.jpeg adaptation of that work, Jason discussed the intricacies of moving a cool media into a hot media, but doing so in an attempt to retain its “coolness” (in the McLuhan sense). The presentation also provided an illustration of the connections of Miller’s style (which is/was unique to the comic scene) and Synder’s adaptation, which focused specifically on recreating Miller’s style in a film medium, and how that connection to style played a role in creating this “cool” film.

Following the last session, and some brief closing remarks, the conference came to an end, and the RCID students began the journey back to Clemson University, many reflecting during the drive on how beneficial it was to give their presentations a practice run to a live (and questioning) audience. With the benefits being so self-evident, plans have already begun for the RCIDers to return the favor and host the CRC at Clemson University next year—including extending an invitation to our rhetorical brothers and sisters at N.C. State to join the fun, collegial, positive weekend of scholarship and friendship that is the Carolina Rhetoric Conference.

*Pilot study for Seeing Cells: Teaching the Visual and Verbal Rhetoric of Biology. Technical Writing and Communication, 37.4: 395-417.



I on Design or Me in Miami: Conferencing

January 20, 2008

View from the Hyatt South Beach Buildings

The advent of this new year took me to Miami for my first academic conference of the year: The Second International Conference on Design Principles & Practices from January 9-11. This international conference was a cross-disciplinary forum for researchers, teachers, and practitioners interested in and working with the nature of design and its future. Early Friday afternoon, I presented my paper entitled Information Design Finally Defined: The Art, Science, and Technology of Rhetorical Diligence in Media Discourse for Schematic Evidence of Cognitive Structures in Representational Display. Yes, it’s a mouthful, but this paper does successfully address the issues surrounding the multidisciplinary fields and disciplines that seek to take a definitive yet elusive hold on information design today.

The conference consisted of typical plenary sessions and seminars, but it also included talking circles and garden sessions, the latter of which, oddly enough, were not held in a garden. As is customary, I attended the seminars that most interested me. I highlight below why these particular sessions I found to be the most memorable events of this conference.

1. Immersion /Illusion: Space, Place & Complicity at the San Francisco Zoo by Camelia George of the Visual & Critical Studies Department & Design Department, California College of the Arts, California. This was just a fascinating approach to considering the power and decision-making behind the design of zoo facades, the company that creates them, and the venues that immerse visitors into the illusion that they enjoy without consideration of reality or environmental consequence.

2. Ethics of a Designer in a Global Economy: A Class on Contemporary Design Issues by Eric Benson, UCDA, AIGA, CAA, and John Jennings, Graphic Design, Illinois. An STS-related concept but the presenters didn’t seem to think that was its area of importance. Nice quality student work, not much to bring home but the presentation was clear and clean.

3. Creativity in Engineering: Entertainment Engineering & Design by Robert Wysocki of the Art Department and Daniel Cook of the Mechanical Engineering Department, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Nevada. The University of Nevada now is offering a degree in Entertainment Engineering and these two professors noted the practical issues that surrounded that decision, based largely on the multi-million dollar design sets for Cirque de Soleil and other interactive multimedia performance venues, and including the world-famous fountains at the Bellagio.

4. Hearing Type and Seeing Music: Multisensory Harmonies in Digital Communication by Soo C. Hostetler, Department of Art, University of Northern Iowa, Iowa. I am always intrigued by the poetic use of Macromedia (now Adobe) Flash software and have always been a fan of This session highlighted some of the instructor’s methodologies for having students work with audio and animated type to produce emotional responses.

5. Building the Maverick Student by Christine Gallagher, Graphic Design, Western Oregon University, Oregon, and Susie Nielsen, MA, USA. This was by far the most powerful session and several people made comment to that effect. These two professors have collaborated with a pedagogical style and exploratory approach to build learning environments that defy the norm. It was evident that all of us assigned the responsibility of helping others learn could improve with techniques learned fom these two women who made such memorable comments indicative of their classroom strategies as they “guide, point, and let the student lead,” they “pull out instead of pour in,” and most importantly, quoting one of their own sources of revelation, that “the thinking comes from the making.” The entire conference trip was truly worth this one presentation and — already a big fan and user of self-directed pedagogies — I have returned and already begun this semester using some of what I took away from this session.

While all of these sessions were uniquely rewarding, and some certainly provided great ideas to consider for my classrooms, the event that most contributed to my area of research in iconics was a garden session and large chunk of time afterwards spent talking with Mario Antonio Minichiello, Head of Department and Chair of Visual Communications at Birmingham City University BIAD in Great Britain. and with Daniel Cook and Robert Wysocki of the University of Nevada. We had a great ‘meeting of the minds’ chat on a patio at the Hyatt. It was evident that the four of us enjoyed our rapport with each other as we addressed contemporary media issues and our perspectives on them. I snapped a few photos as well at that time such as the first one shown above.

South Beach

Of course the trip to Miami was heightened in wonder because of my choice to stay in South Beach and ride the bus into downtown MIami for the conference at the University of MIama Conference Center attached to the Hyatt. I stayed in historic Espanola Way and during my free time enjoyed the incredible South Beach beaches and nightlife. On Thursday night, I brought four of my peers from downtown out to South Beach and we had dinner together, the most amazing tapas, and took in the rest of the sights. The Cuban coffee, the beautiful and sexy models who live and play there, and the gorgeous weather, water, and architecture all contributed to this experience, and I hope more of my colleagues focused on the information design component of our doctoral degree take advantage of the opportunity to present at this conference in the future, though it won’t be in Miami next time, but Berlin. Danke, und Willkommen!

Espanola Way Approaching Espanola Way

~ Steven John Thompson


The NCA Annual Conference, 2007

November 20, 2007

Chicago lived up to its title as “the Windy City” this November 15-18 for the National Communication Association Annual Conference. This year’s theme was “Communicating Worldviews: Faith-Intellect-Ethics.” RCID-ers Keith Morton, Alicyn Butler, and I attended and presented papers at the event. It was certainly a fun time of year to be in Chicago: The stores along Michigan Avenue’s “Miracle Mile” were all unveiling their holiday displays (indeed they are all rich texts for rhetorical analysis) and on Saturday night, the Chicago parade and lighting of the trees down Michigan Avenue added another glimpse of the upcoming holiday season.

keith2.jpgThe NCA Annual Conference boasted over 1200 sessions of quality papers and presentations covering rhetoric and culture, mass communication, pedagogy, and methodology, to name a few. Sessions focused on the communicative aspects of everything from political discourse to health promotion and the Biltmore Estate to Second Life.

On a personal note, this conference afforded me the opportunity to mac.jpegmeet and interact with the top scholars, leading researchers, and journal editors in the field of instructional communication, many of whom are listed among the references in my dissertation. Clemson University and the Rhetorics, Communication, and Information Design program were well-represented at the conference.

RCID Student Papers:
Alicyn Butler presented a paper entitled “Encouraging Eating Disorder Interventions: The Role of Symbolic Modeling and Verbal Persuasion on Self-Efficacy and Behavioral Intentions.”

J.A. McArthur presented a paper entitled “Engaging Information Design: Re-considering the User’s Experience.”

Keith Morton presented a paper entitled “Accommodation of People First Language” as part of the Disability Caucus.

RCID Faculty Papers & Presentations:
Andy Billings‘ paper “Conveying the Olympic Message: NBC Producer and Sportscaster Interviews Regarding the Role of Identity” was selected as a Top Four Competitive Paper by the NCA Mass Communication Division. Dr. Billings also presented two other papers entitled: “Producing the Olympic Games: A Theoretical Account of NBC Interviews on Storytelling and the Conveyance of Identity-Oriented Messages” and “Gendered Discourse in the Olympic Telecast: A Longitudinal Analysis.”

Bryan Denham presented two papers entitled: “Ordinal Response Measures in Health Communication Research: Logit and Probit Analyses as Alternatives to Ordinary Least Squares Regression” and “Headlining the Head-Butt: Zinedine Zidane/Marco Materazzi Portrayals in Prominent English, Irish, and Scottish Newspapers.”

Kate Hawkins presented at a short course entitled “Communicating Science: Making Connections and Exploring Collaborations” and as a roundtable participant in ” ‘My Freshman Year’ – Revisited: Student Culture, the Public University and American Culture.”


~ Mac McArthur

Meeting of the Minds in Madrid

October 5, 2007

Central Madrid Bus Terminal Hola! How could a 65-hour weekend in Madrid be worth 40+ hours of travel time? Well, gather some of the most influential academic minds in the behavioral sciences, place them in the charm and persuasion of a tiny Spanish village, then give me the ironic inconvenience of a ‘free’ night in London, and it totally comes out well worth the experience.

X Building XThe last weekend in September of 2007, about 80 scholars from around the world gathered at La Cristalera Conference Center of the University of Madrid at Miraflores de la Sierra for the first International Conference on Interdisciplinary Analyses of Aggression and Terrorism. The conference was co-sponsored by the Coloquios Internationales Sobre Conflicto Y Agresion (CICA) and the Society for Terrorism Research (STR). Madrid conference particulars and proceedings may be found here. This conference was a fantastic opportunity to learn what approach other scholars are taking on the subject of terrorism, and provided an excellent chance to get valuable feedback on my own research in the field.

We 3 While most of the interest shown in my analyses of media and terrorism has been in the social sciences, I can say that I was somewhat intrigued yet intimidated to have behavioral scientists show a serious interest. I can thank my colleague Amanda Booher (see the Scholars Gone Wild post further down the page) for alerting me to the conference call for papers, which rewarded me handsomely with this unique opportunity. The seminars and workshops at the conference were diverse, holding true to the call for interdisciplinary analyses on the scheduled topic. While most participants were psychologists and psychiatrists, there was a healthy assortment of participants from allied fields, from private and academic sectors, from as far away as Australia and Iran.

Conference RoomSessions that I attended included a symposium on Terror Management Theory and Terrorism, a session on Terrorism in Different Nations and Cultures, and a session on the Psychology of Terrorism, among others. My presentation was entitled, “Iraqonics: Positing Media Iconics and Semiotics as Weapons on Western Consciousness,” and was the last presentation on Saturday as part of the Politics and Terrorism Session. This presentation was derived from a paper by the same title that is part of a series of academics works where I look at the role of media and iconic media in history and terrorism. I am especially interested in that role as it applies to electronic and digital societies. At the heart of my work are scholarly theses by Marshall McLuhan, Erwin Panofsky, and Joseph Tuman. For the next stage of my dissertation research, I hope to be doing research at Princeton on Panofsky, who taught there.

Miraflores de la Sierra The conference was set in a curious facility on the outskirts of Miraflores de la Sierra, about 45 kilometers north of Madrid. I say curious because the conference center is maze-like, and at times peculiar with lowered ceilings and hidden hallways. Cozy bedrooms, heavily-tiled baths, and plenty of glass walls to the outside made this an eclectic adventure on the slightly rustic side, seeing that we were entrenched in the countryside against a majestic golden mountain backdrop.

Miraflores Town SquareA highlight of this time in Spain though was to be found in the town of Miraflores. A gorgeous little community with winding streets and a plethora of cafes, it shuts down for siesta from 2 to 6 in the afternoon, and then comes back to life with its many shops and restaurants, and, of course, my favorite find, a patisserie. I asked about rental costs in the area and one local senorita who spoke English said that a small two-bedroom unit goes for around 600 euros. She explained that Miraflores has a reputation as one of the most desirable communities in the country.

MirafloresI greatly enjoyed Miraflores and the conference, made several good friends in the process, and have hopes of collaborating down the road on related projects with those who showed interest in my research, and those whose research intrigued me as well. But I also made friends of a different kind when my plane from London to DC flew out on a Sunday afternoon only to dump its fuel and return to London after being in the air for only an hour and a half. On our return to Heathrow, we were told that our plane would be fixed first. Then we were told we would be moved to another plane but were not.

Finally, United decided that the hundreds of passengers on my flight would be put up at a nearby Radisson, where we spent the night. I didn’t mind that we were staying in London since it has been 12 years since my time in White City when I did an attachment with the BBC through the University of Manchester. However, back then I had the privilege of going out on the town and kicking around SOHO extensively. This time I was tired and limited in what I could do or where I could go because of our early morning departure.

Even so, it was nice to break up the weekend-in-Spain academic escapade with a fun night in a London hotel. After showering off the ordeal, I enjoyed the complimentary dinner which included curried chicken and broiled salmon, and spent the rest of the night talking to another stranded passenger in the hotel’s lounge, a Persian filmmaker whose family moved from Iran to Sweden when he was 10 years old. He is now 29, and was headed to Los Angeles and then Vegas to party with a close, male friend.

CafeMadrid made for a myriad of memories. Feedback on my research presentation, and personal growth from attending the seminars and workshops will be invaluable as I work to ensure that my dissertation research is relevant and timely. It has been a really special, rewarding year in the Rhetorics, Communication, and Information Design program here at Clemson, and the generosity of the program has been a critical determinant in being able to attend these types of events. The opportunity to participate scholastically at this level of academic achievement is a welcome treat, and I could not have done it without the overall support of the RCID program, which allows me the autonomy to design, develop, and pursue my research interests, and then provides financial incentive to allow for international study and conference participation.Senor y Senora I am fortunate that when opportunities like this one arise, I am highly encouraged to participate, and it isn’t just fluffy words but real action that helps make it all really happen. This was my fifth conference acceptance this year, and while I could not attend them all, the RCID program was still supportive of each and every attendance.

I have only been back home for a few days, but am ready to return to Europe and once again participate in the academic community there. It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it.

~ Steven John Thompson