Past Events:

March 9, 2016, 12-1:30 pm

Jesse Baldwin-Philippi

Using Technology, Building Democracy: Digital Campaigning and the Construction of Citizenship

Fordham Law School, 150 W. 62nd, Room 3-01

Digital political campaigning surrounds us, yet little is understood about the how the use of these technologies reflects and contributes to new understandings of political participation and citizenship in the digital age. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork in a federal level election, interviews with communications and digital media consultants, and textual analysis of campaign materials, Baldwin-Philippi’s work traces the emergence and solidification of digital campaign strategies since Obama’s groundbreaking 2008 campaign, and investigates their implications for what it means to be a citizen in a digital world.

Sponsored by Fordham Digital Humanities

Communication & Media Studies
New Media & Digital Design
The McGannon Center

March 10, 2016, 3-4pm

Larisa Kingston Mann

Exilic cultural spaces: How public housing and state neglect in England allowed pirate radio to flourish—and why it matters

Fordham Law School, 150 W. 62nd, Room 3-06

In England, illegal, unlicensed radio broadcasting has especially served the needs of communities excluded or looked down on by dominant culture and often neglected by British state-run radio’s mission – including immigrants, ethnic minorities, working-class and Black communities, and youth. Pirate radio’s existence at the borders of legality (or beyond) has also allowed cultural practices to flourish that were not welcome in dominant or official media, including DJ culture that involves unlicensed musical reuse as a fundamental creative practice. At the same time, the music fostered by these broadcasts has been extremely influential in popular music, and pirate radio persists to this day in British cities despite the availability of web radio broadcasting. These stations’ main history is in public housing projects whose geography, architecture, and social context all served to protect and foster a vibrant and expressive culture. It’s possible that exclusion and illegality, especially when combined with specific aspects of public infrastructure, can help foster communities’ culture on their own terms. Taking this seriously requires that we also question the extent to which digital radio is as capable of meeting community needs, or whether it will be a paradoxically more hostile environment for musics of marginalized people.

Co-Sponsored by the Urban Law Center

April 18, 2016, 11:30 – 1pm

Liz Losh

Digital Universalism and the Posthuman University: Experiments in Scale and Access in Higher Education

Walsh Library 432, O’Hare Special Collections Room

Fordham College Rose Hill, 441 E. Fordham Road, Bronx, NY

2012 was declared to be “the year of the MOOC” by no less than the New York Times, but stories of failure abounded about Massive Open Online Courses in the years that followed. This talk argues that MOOCs themselves might have been remarkably uniform as vehicles for content delivery, but they spurred a valuable diversity of pedagogical reactions among faculty to their particular format for free large-scale distance learning. Public debate and discussion about MOOCs has spurred a variety of innovative pedagogical experiments in higher education: SPOCs (Small Personalized Online Courses), DOCCs (Distributed Open Collaborative Courses), POOCs (Public Open Online Courses), and many other new variants of online teaching.  By attending to the messy, material, embodied, affective, labor-intensive, and situated character of digital learning, this talk posits some possible best practices for faculty, students, and administrators.

Co-Sponsored by the Fordham Digital Humanities Initiative


Past Events

April 21, 2015

Dr. Serena Bassi, University of Cardiff
McGannon Visiting Scholar

Bringing the Message to LGBTQ Youth Around the World? Online Activism, Translation and Cultural Work

The McGannon Center is pleased to present visiting scholar Serena Bassi, Leverhulme Early Career Postdoctoral Fellow, School of Modern Languages, University of Cardiff, Wales, as part of our Technology & Society Lecture Series. Dr. Bassi will discuss the Italian translation of Dan Savage’s “It gets better” campaign and the negotiation of sexual identities and political struggles between the United States and Italy.


This paper examines the functioning of the personal narratives that survivors of homophobic bullying construct when sharing their experiences on online platforms. The very articulation of a personal story of oppression and liberation so as to fit a prescribed format will be closed in on and interrogated as a form of feminized cultural work.

I will focus on the Italian version of the “It Gets Better” YouTube campaign, which was initially devised in response to a spate of LGBT teen suicides in the United States. Like the English language original, the Italian version “Le cose cambiano” (Things Change, 2012) invites users to upload personal stories that promote the anti-homophobic message of the campaign. Commentators on the U.S. version agree that the stories follow one particular script: determined to “make it better,” an adult LGBT individual overcomes the hardships of their teenage years and lives a happy “out” adult life. Since the goal of the campaign is to wage something of a national war on homophobia, it is hardly surprising that such a narrative is evoked; the story of redemption and self-entrepreneurship underwriting these narratives has been described as quintessentially American.

As the “It Gets Better” website explains, “the Project is developing resources and effecting change in ways that are tailored to local language, culture and need.” However, what this framing works to conceal is that the tailoring of an English-language, U.S.-based project to other languages and to non-Anglophone cultures entails a work of translation. This work is performed invisibly by the individual users who upload their content onto the platform. This paper seeks to widen our idea of translating on online platforms beyond linguistic translation, by shoring up the asymmetrical nature of transnational exchange and by providing tools to look critically at the making of narratives of oppression and liberation on social media.