FIMS Seminar SeriesThe FIMS Seminar Series features research presentations from faculty members and graduate students, covering recent advances and work in progress. Bring your lunch and learn about research at FIMS. These lectures take place on Wednesdays at noon in FIMS & Nursing Building 4070.
2018/19 lectures will be posted as they are announced.
Winter 2019 Semester Line-Up
A Value Theory of Creative Labour? The Disciplining of Performers by the Law and/of Value
Wednesday, January 16, 2019
12:00 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.
Presented by Matt Stahl.
Abstract: In his Making Capital from Culture (1992) Bill Ryan argued the artistic worker “represents a special case of concrete labour which is ultimately irreducible to abstract value” (44). Many contemporary scholars employ this view in their arguments about ensuring that creative work in the cultural industries is or remains “good” work (Hesmondhalgh and Baker 2011) or more “just” work (Banks 2017). But Ryan’s analysis depends on a transcendental, universalistic conception of labour, not an historical one, and an inherited one-sidedness limits the usefulness of contemporary cultural industries scholarship.
In this presentation, using Diane Elson’s influential 1979 interpretation of Marx’s value theory as a starting point, I examine a consequential 1853 lawsuit between two London opera producers over the exclusive right to the performance services of young Prussian diva. According to Elson, abstract labour “is not an ideological form, a product of our way of looking at things; but a product of the particular form of the determination of labour, of particular relations of production” (165). I argue that the decision in this case amounted to a consequential determination of labour, a momentous development of capitalist cultural industries as particular relations of production. From this perspective, Ryan’s critique and those his contemporary intellectual legatees appear hamstrung by metaphysical conceptions, inadequate to the critical tasks they set themselves. I advocate for an approach to creative labour that places law, history, and abstraction on an equal footing with concerns of class, gender, and race.
Contemplating Trump: A Form of Resistance?
Wednesday, March 6, 2019
12:00 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.
Presented by Ajit Pyati.
Abstract: Resistance to the many injustices and daily depredations of the Trump presidency is growing. However, many popular forms of resistance may actually replicate cycles of anger, destruction, and delusion, particularly in a context of media overload and saturation. This talk addresses this potential pitfall by focusing on a largely neglected form of resistance, one that is rooted in a contemplative perspective. Specifically, I draw on the work of Thomas Merton, as well as insights from yogic philosophy to understand how contemplation relates to social action in the age of Trump. I argue that a contemplative approach to resistance takes into account our own contributions to Trumpism and the shadow of American empire, while also offering a way to link inner change with potentially transformative forms of social change.
CANCELLED: Experiential Learning in Ontario, at Western, and for Media Studies
Will be rescheduled in the future.
Presented by Sandra Smeltzer.
Abstract: Ontario’s Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities is advocating an expansion of experiential learning (EL) in publicly funded post-secondary institutions. This form of ‘hands-on’ pedagogy includes, but is not limited to, internships, co-ops, and community engaged learning. As the Ministry is expected to tie institutional funding to such EL activities, university administrations are hurriedly embedding EL into their strategic missions and mandates.
In this presentation, I will provide an overview of recent shifts in provincial-level EL policy and describe Western’s soon-to-be released EL framework. I will then discuss issues specifically related to Media Studies-oriented EL. This discussion is informed by SSHRC-funded primary research in the form of semi-structured interviews conducted with faculty and students, combined with a Canada-wide survey administered to Media / Communication Studies programs.
Using Photographic Data to Understand How Men Seek Health Information
Wednesday, April 3, 2019
12:00 p.m. - 1:20 p.m.
Presented by Brad Hiebert and Alberth Sant'ana Costa Da Silva.
Abstract: Men are more likely to engage in unhealthy behaviors such as poor diet and excessive alcohol consumption, and are less likely to access healthcare services when compared to women. Such health behaviors are often related to masculinity norms that value men’s physical displays of toughness, stoicism, and avoiding discussions about sensitive issues like their health. Previous research has demonstrated the utility of using photographs to understand how men’s gender performances are related to their health behaviors. This presentation will explain how researcher- and participant-produced photographs aided in understanding how masculinity influenced the health information seeking behaviors of men in two distinct sociocultural contexts – Brazilian construction workers and rural Ontario farmers.
Fall 2018 Lectures:
From Slump Media to Trump Media
Wednesday, October 10, 2018
12:00 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.
Presented by James Compton
Abstract: This talk maps a theoretically-informed narrative history from slump media to Trump media. The global financial crisis of 2008 passed from a meltdown of finance capital to a generalized economic recession to an age of austerity. This was the immediate political/economic context in which the right-wing, nativist discourse of Donald Trump gained traction in the public sphere. News media were a crucial, constitutive but contradictory component of this conjuncture. In a provisional attempt to theorize, what I call Trump media, this paper draws on the critical legacy of the Birmingham Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies (BCCCS), and its analysis of news media as sites of hegemonic struggle and ideological interpellation operating within the determinate constraints of a capitalist political economy.
How librarians decide: Practice theory and the interplay of intrinsic and extrinsic evidence
Wednesday, November 14, 2018
12:00 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.
Presented by Kate Johnson, Asen Ivanov (University of Toronto), Samuel Cassady (Western Libraries).
Abstract: With the proliferation of ejournals made available to libraries, alongside unsustainable costs charged for them, librarians are faced with making more and more evidence-based decisions regarding what to acquire and what to discard or cancel. Understanding the context within which these decisions are made and the factors that influence decision-making may help in realizing a more efficient and fair collection development process. One way to explain librarian decision-making is through practice theory. This presentation will describe a project that uses practice theory to understand how librarians make decisions around journal cancellations in the context of the current business model where large commercial publishers have a virtual stranglehold over the scholarly communication system.
Wednesday, March 28, 2018
Abstract: Dreams are unusual conveyors of information. These experiences involve private patterns of thought and memory, but they also carry an important kind of social knowledge. My discussion will offer some ideas about how dream-life might be understood as a significant form of political thought and Sliwinski will share some work-in-progress from The Reverie Project, a collaborative venture undertaken with a community of migrants in Geneva.
Strategies That Sell: Revealing Deceptive and Misleading Practices in Digital Media
Wednesday, March 7, 2018
Victoria Rubin, Yimin Chen, Sarah Cornwell, Toluwase Asubiaro and Chris Brogly
Abstract: In this team-talk FIMS LiT.RL lab researchers will discuss manipulative components of digital news, from seemingly harmless to potentially misleading and intentionally deceptive. Five sets of questions drive their collaborative research and development:
- What makes clickbait recognizable? Do people agree on what it is?
- What do native ads rely on? Are they sufficiently labeled as sponsored content?
- Does satire ever misfire? How can an algorithm tell a satirical fake news?
- What are the characteristics of false news (on 2016-2017 U.S. politics)?
- How can automation help us to verify news? What is the role of critical media literacy in combatting the spread of misinformation and viral deception in digital media?
'Click here': Slacktivism, digital activism, and motivations for participation
Wednesday, January 17, 2018
Anabel Quan-Haase and Chandell Gosse
Abstract: Much debate has surrounded the value of online campaigns for social and political activism. On the one hand, networked publics provide alternative means of engaging, reaching out, and keeping activists involved. On the other hand, they are dismissed as 'slacktivism' and simple 'feel good' measures, geared toward short-term, low-risk forms of engagements with no long-lasting impact. We examine three research questions about social and political online campaigns (SPOCs) and build on the theory of networked publics: 1) What are the key motivations and factors influencing participation in SPOCs? 2) What influences non-participation in SPOCs? 3) Do SPOCs mobilize actions beyond the immediate campaign and create a spill-over effect? We conducted an online survey with a total number of 324 respondents. Using a Poisson regression in Stata V.14, we found that awareness and a desire for effecting change were overarching motivations across all SPOCs. Raising awareness was the top motive for participation across all campaigns (312 reports), followed by a desire to see change and being nominated. We also found that a third of participants are very engaged in SPOCS, while 38% did not participate in any form of digital activism whatsoever.
A "peculiar satisfaction": Library classifications, their subjects, and statecraft
Wednesday, November 22, 2017
Abstract: Reading library classifications as primary historical documents provides a critical lens through which to view the arrangements of subjects on library shelves. This talk will explore some of the ways in which libraries organize objects of study in relation to one another and in relation to projects of statecraft. It will present some of the terms and hierarchies that structure knowledge in systems such as the Library of Congress Classification and Thomas Jefferson’s book classification to consider processes by which epistemic violence becomes systemic. If we understand classifications and their applications to be ever-expanding sets of statements, we begin to see that classification systems frame ongoing narratives about race, sexuality, citizenship, and national identity. The lines of library shelves cross through time and space and institutions and categories, composing and providing the scaffolding that constitute and sustain power relations. Historical studies of classifications offer insights into the social and political functions of hidden infrastructures that organize knowledge in physical spaces like libraries, as well as digital spaces like search engines and social media.
Promotional Culture and the New Persona: How Advertising’s history relates to Contemporary (online) public identity and subjectivity
Wednesday, November 8, 2017
P. David Marshall, Professor & Personal Chair in New Media, Communication and Cultural Studies, Deakin University, Australia
Abstract: A defining feature of the contemporary moment is that we are in the midst of a tectonic-like shift about our notions of individual and collective identity. This transformation of identity is linked to the incorporation of a promotional ethos; but equally, the emerging online persona and its strategic daily labour in producing/sharing a public self that helps us move between this shifting collective and normatively-rising individual identity. This presentation presents our forthcoming book, Advertising and Promotional Culture: Case Histories (co-authored: Joanne Morreale, Palgrave Macmillan, 2018) as a way to identify one longer historical path for this emerging identity and subjectivity by linking it to these continuities and discontinuities of public identity formation. It concludes with how this work informs our reading of the contemporary persona and its “industrial agency”, “privlic” status, and “presentational culture” in our online promotion and attention-driven reconstruction of the world.
Showing Myself: Sharing Photographs on Social Media
Wednesday, October 11, 2017
Abstract: Photographs are among the most commonly shared material on social media. Even with activating security settings or limiting access to one’s profile, these shared photos are visible to a wide variety of people and very often reveal a great deal of information about a person’s life. This talk investigates the types of photographs social media users are most and least willing to post and share with their social networks as a way to understand subjective perspectives on privacy.
Collaboration Between Traditional and Orthodox Medical Pracitioners in Rural Communities of Nigeria
Wednesday, September 27, 2017
Abstract: Since 1976 when traditional medicine was incorporated into its program, the World Health Organization (WHO) has continued to emphasize the need for governments to engage different categories of health workers including traditional medical practitioners (TMPs) in primary health care programs. These are expected to be suitably trained, socially and technically to work as a health team and to respond to the expressed health needs of the community. While this is yet to be officially done by the Federal Government of Nigeria, this research presents findings on the collaboration between TMPs and orthodox medical practitioners in selected rural communities in South-West Nigeria and the perceived implication of such collaboration on transmission of traditional medical knowledge. Findings are presented based on self-reports by the TMPs.
April 5, 2017
Abstract: Steven Johnson, in The Ghost Walk, celebrates the work of John Snow in tracing the origins of the cholera outbreak in London in 1854, arguing that Snow practiced methods of information visualization and data analysis that now occupy a central place in today's information environment. This presentation will contrast Snow's insights with the insights of Charles Dickens in Bleak House, published 2 years before the outbreak. Dickens, like Snow, was deeply concerned with issues of public health, water quality and sanitation; furthermore, Bleak House also deals with data and information issues that have since become prominent, including predictive analytics and face recognition. But Dickens's conclusions, unlike the conclusions Johnson draws from Snow, are more complex, and offer a cautionary annotation to current big data narratives.
The Theory and Practice of Kinetic Publishing
March 8, 2017
Abstract: In the past decade, although scholarly publishing diversified to offer multiple forms of knowledge dissemination, most publishing remains unchanged, with the most influential venues taking the form of traditional journals: groups of articles bound in periodic, space restricted, issues. Scholarly publishing in the digital age is often a transformation of physical forms and norms into digital media: an easy and familiar solution that fails to adapt to the realities of the new medium. As a remedy, we propose Kinetic Publishing, a new model of scholarly thought, discussion, and dissemination.
Understanding Sociotechnical Transformation: The Story of HathiTrust
February 8, 2017
Abstract: This research explores the ways values, power, and politics shape and are shaped by digital infrastructure development through an in-depth study of HathiTrust’s “dark history,” the period of years leading up to its public launch. This research identifies and traces the emerging and iterative ways that values were surfaced and negotiated, decision-making approaches were strategically modified, and relationships were strengthened, reconfigured, and sometimes abandoning through the process of generating a viable, robust and sustainable collaborative digital infrastructure. Through this history, we gain deeper understandings and appreciations of the various and sometimes surprising ways that values, power, and politics are implicated in digital infrastructure development. Shedding light on this history enables us to better contextualize and understand the affordances, limitations, and challenges of the HathiTrust we know today, better envision its range of possible futures, and develop richer appreciations for digital infrastructure development more broadly.
Energizing librarians and library users through critical disability theory
November 9, 2016
Abstract: Accessibility is increasingly a topic of focus in the LIS community. However, LIS research on accessibility remains limited in scope, which has practical implications for inclusion in a valuable community resource. This paper discusses research approaches to accessibility, as well as how critical disability theory can contribute to this field. As community institutions with a central mandate of providing information services to all citizens, libraries are especially suited to engaging with these theories in practice.
Information access and the purge of homosexuals from the Canadian federal civil service during the Cold War
October 12, 2016
Abstract: In 1960, in the middle of a stellar career, David Moffat Johnson disappeared from the ranks of Foreign Service Officers in the Department of External Affairs. He was just one of hundreds of victims of the RCMP campaign to remove homosexuals from the federal civil service during the Cold War. This presentation reports on efforts to learn about his departure from External Affairs and the efficacy of the Access to Information Act in gaining access to relevant government documents.
April 6, 2016
Scott A. MacDonald
Abstract: The 2014 “Blurred Lines” case was a major blow the music industry. What precedents could this set? How does this effect other composers or musicians? How does the ruling affect jazz musicians or contemporary musicians who utilize improvisation? How does the audience’s perception of what they heard affect alleged “musical thievery”? Jazz improvisation, like creating a new chemical compound or drug, creates something new from an existing tune or base formula. Following the judgement of the court could both be construed as copyright infringement?
"Every single one is my favourite” (Theo, 4 years): Children’s Experiences and Perceptions of E-Book Reading
March 23, 2016
Lynne McKechnie and Kathleen Schreurs
Abstract: Children are tech savvy: they watch videos, play games, and read e-books. This is not surprising as there are over 70 billion apps available for download and a substantial number of those are made for children. Many studies have examined children reading ebooks, but most are from the point of view of adults. Our study, supported by an OCLC/ALISE Library & Information Science Research Grant, explores what children themselves think about e-books. The findings will be shared in this presentation along with implications and advice for parents, librarians and others who work with children.
Fifteen Billion and Counting: Cigarettes, Canadian Courts, and Historical Evidence
March 9, 2016
Abstract: The presentation will discuss the role of historical evidence in recent and ongoing court cases involving Canadian tobacco companies, including the Blais-Letourneau case in Quebec, which recently awarded $15 billion to class-action plaintiffs suing tobacco makers for nicotine addiction and lung cancer. The presentation will discuss how historical opinion polls, cigarette advertising, print and broadcast media stories, and industry documents have factored in these trials.
Almost against information ethics, with lessons from Caputo’s obligation and Foucault’s ethics of freedom
March 2, 2016
Abstract: John Caputo’s deconstructionist “ethics without ethics” replaces ethics with obligation. He champions a poetics of obligation rather than a philosophy of ethics. His work in Against ethics: contributions to a poetics of obligation with constant reference to deconstruction and in “Against principles: a sketch of an ethics without an ethics” have productive intersections with our contemporary mediascape, information ethics, and with Foucault’s turn to ethics in his late period, especially in connection to his conception of an ethics of freedom. The aim of the presentation is to generate meaningful questions for thinking about the fate of the force of obligation in contemporary media and information culture.
Use of Implicature in Provision of Information Services in Dementia Care
Abstract: The theory of implicature, formulated by the philosopher Paul Grice, has been used in health care settings to understand the implications behind what people say. This presentation will offer initial thoughts on the application of the theory of implicature to the provision of information services in dementia care: by using the theory to extract patterns of implication in the communications of individuals with dementia, and linking those patterns to the syndetic practices of information organization, we might be able to enhance and prolong meaningful communication between caregivers and individuals with dementia, and provide better means of keeping both individuals with dementia and their caregivers with the necessary information supports.
Using time as a critical lens to examine information literacy as a key skill for the Knowledge Economy
December 2, 2015
Abstract: Using time as a lens affords new ways of understanding information literacy (IL) as a political agenda and a situated practice in the neoliberal university. To date, however, with a few notable exceptions, LIS researchers have largely ignored the concept of time in relation to information literacy. In this presentation, I will explore some of the ways that time can be used to undertake a critical examination of information literacy theory and practice.
In the Shadows of the Upload: Filipino Commercial Content Moderators and the Globalized Digital Media Production Chain
November 18, 2015
Sarah Roberts and Andrew Dicks
Abstract: Commercial content moderation is a globalized, around the clock set of practices in which workers view and adjudicate massive amount of(Roberts, 2014), offering a comparative extension of that work into the Philippines, a high-tech mecca in a previously colonized country where, much like call center tasks, content flows in and flows out, destined for American markets (Mirchandani, 2012; Poster, 2007). This paper represents preliminary results from the first empirical academic study of CCM workers living and working in the Philippines, now the(D. Lee, 2015). Based on in-depth qualitative interviews conducted with CCM workers from the business parks of Manila, this research unveils a complex and often paradoxical role occupied by CCM workers. While CCM work can offer, on the one hand, a much more elevated socioeconomic status than would be possible in other sectors, it comes with risks to workers whose long-term effects remain unknown.
Implications of Open Access for librarians
October 14, 2015
Paul St. Pierre
Abstract: If Open Access scholarly publishing becomes ubiquitous, major intermediary roles of librarians - journal selection, acquisitions, and subscription management - could be eliminated. This talk will look at alternative ways in which librarians might participate in scholarly communication processes in order to maintain, or even enhance, our status within the academy.
Contemplative Pedagogy and its Relevance for FIMS
November 4, 2015
Abstract: Contemplative pedagogy is a small but growing movement within higher education. At the heart of a contemplative and integrative approach is a focus on the whole person, which addresses the mind, heart, and spirit of students. Contemplative approaches place students in the center of their learning so they can better connect their inner worlds to the outer world. Mindfulness and meditative practices form a core part of contemplative education, helping students cultivate present-minded and non-judgmental awareness. This talk explores how contemplative techniques can be applied to learning at FIMS, through both discussion and hands-on practices.
The Online Vaccination Debate - Understanding Anti and Pro Vaccination Advocacy Groups Exposure on the Web
October 7, 2015
Anton Ninkov and Liwen Vaughan
Abstract: Vaccinations are an achievement in public health. The introduction of vaccines in our society has contributed to the decline in morbidity and mortality from vaccine-preventable diseases as well as having been ranked as one of the top ten achievements of public health in the 20th century (CDC, 1999). However, in spite of the overwhelming scientific evidence that is available supporting this conclusion, there is an alarming presence of information on the Internet that suggest the practice of vaccination is harmful and advocate for vaccination choice. This study examines webometric data describing the various vaccination advocacy groups’ web presence as well as a content analysis of a sample of the in-links to these various groups’ domains.
Know what I mean? Reflections on valuing the social relations of knowledge producers
September 9, 2015
Abstract: The global drive toward digitization as the apogee of human communication presents knowledge workers with a fundamental conundrum. In a time where our work is ever more required, desired and consumed, why are we, our expertise and the meanings within our crafts so devalued?
In this seminar I will draw on my experiences as a contingent union member-organizer during three pivotal moments of socio-economic-technological restructuring: The 2005 CBC lockout of CMG union members, the 2008-09 strike of CUPE 3903 contingent teaching staff at York University, and CMG and CWA union recruitment of freelancers across North America from 2010. Through stories I will illustrate commonalities across sectors, identify trends and articulate strategies for critical analysis and praxis.
March 4, 2015
Sharon Sliwinski and Grant Campbell
Abstract: Our understanding of dementia in Canada and elsewhere suffers from the results of being "hidden," as well as the effects of dementia on a patient's ability to use words in self-expression. In this presentation, Dr. Sharon Sliwinski discusses with Dr. Grant Campbell her research on what she calls "our passionate engagement with pictures," and the possibility that such engagement might lead us into a greater commitment to connect with those with dementia and to address with compassion the urgent problems raised by dementia.
Evidence-based healthcare and arts-based research: Richer perspectives for adolescent health
December 3, 2014
Abstract: This talk describes the positioning of arts-based knowledge generation in relationship to evidence-based healthcare (EBHC), as applies to the field of adolescent health. Through a discussion of current literature, I describe the attributes of EBHC, as well as the complementing ways that arts-based health research can expand and enrich epidemiological, scientific models.
Library as "Third Place" in the History of the Rwandan Genocide
November 5, 2014
Abstract: Groups active in building Rwanda’s first public library identify the 1994 Rwandan genocide as motive for viewing libraries as third place or public sphere. This paper investigates the integrity of that claim. If correct, then access to libraries might have counter-acted antecedents to the genocide. Though libraries alone cannot prevent genocides, many Rwandans believe that libraries—and the citizen-building processes they represent and offer—are indicators of a nation’s health. This idea opens new avenues for research in historical genocides as well as possible concrete steps that can be taken for the prevention of genocide and the reconciliation that follows.
Beyond traditional publishing models: An examination of the relationships between authors, readers, and publishers
October 22, 2014
Abstract: The genealogy of 50 Shades of Grey is traced. Using Darnton's (1982) model of the communications circuit as a base, we map out an altered communications for works originating as fanfiction and self-published materials.
Music and Dementia: a Conversation
November 26, 2014
Norma Coates and Grant Campbell
Abstract: Cognitive neuroscientists, together with health care specialists, are becoming increasingly aware of the effects of music on patients suffering from dementia. But anecdotal evidence suggests that musical associations are embedded in a variety of social, cultural and contextual factors. This conversation explores how an understanding of the history of popular music can be brought to bear on understanding the potentially beneficial effects of music on persons with dementia.