College of Staten Island Professor of Media Culture Valerie Tevere was recently quoted in “The Plot to Put Conceptual Art on ‘Melrose Place.’ Yes, Really” in The New York Times. In the article by William Grimes, Tevere notes her involvement in the beginnings of the “Melrose Place” idea, an art pitch started by conceptual artist Mel Chin. Tevere was one of Chin’s students at the California Institute of the Arts.
With Election Day just around the corner, Professor Richard Flanagan from the Department of Political Science and Global Affairs, Associate Professor Lee Papa of the Department of English, and Assistant Professor Reece Peck from Media Culture will address issues facing U.S. voters and put today’s political landscape into a longer historical perspective.
The Symposium, presented by the Division of Humanities and Social Sciences, will feature the panel of three faculty members on Tuesday, September 27 from 2:30pm to 4:00pm in the Center for the Arts Williamson Theatre discussing the major issues facing U.S. voters and assessing the current state of presidential politics.
“Never before have voters disliked the presidential nominees so intensely. How did this happen? Is it a problem? These are some of the questions the panel will tangle with,” noted Professor Flanagan, adding that there are also unique elements of this campaign season, including the full use of social media like Twitter and Facebook, the decline in paid advertising as a campaign tool and strategy, and the unique role of cable news as a conveyor of information to the segment of voting public that pays close attention to elections.
“An angry, populist message from the left and right dominates the campaign season, no doubt a continued hangover from the Great Recession of 2008-2009 and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq,” Professor Flanagan said.
To balance the discussion, Professor Papa will discuss the role of social media in the campaign as well as his own experiences as a prominent political blogger; drawing from his research on the Fox News Channel, Professor Peck will talk about how social identity politics drive the rhythm of presidential politics in the modern age; and finally, Professor Flanagan will discuss how the shadow of Richard Nixon has fallen across candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump in the final days of the campaign.
Approximately 94,700,000 American households receive the Fox News Channel on their big, small, and tiny screens. However, few of these residents can claim to be experts on the dominating cable news network. Enter Dr. Reece Peck, College of Staten Island (CSI) Professor, author, and “Fox-ologist.”
Dr. Peck, a Communications Professor in the Department of Media Culture, has been studying the rise of the widely popular and purportedly biased cable news channel for nearly a decade. His book The Power of Political Style: Fox News, Conservative Populism and Tabloid Journalism (Cambridge University Press) is slated for publication in 2017.
Dr. Peck asks the question, “What is it that makes the Fox News brand so distinct, compelling, and polarizing?” to which he answers, it’s all about the network’s style, taste, and class. Fox News was one of the first conservative outlets, he elaborates, “to make the populist political tropes of the conservative movement intelligible within popular news formats and tabloid entertainment culture.”
Dr. Peck was recently contacted and interviewed by WNBC after sexual harassment claims forced Fox News Chief Roger Ailes to submit his resignation. In the interview, Dr. Peck, a Brooklyn resident, briefly discussed Fox News and put the circumstances in a historical context.
“When you study something for many years, there are these moments when people are looking for answers. It’s nice when your research can shed light on an issue of popular interest,” said Dr. Peck, who began investigating Fox News during his doctoral studies at the University of California, San Diego.
“Surprisingly, there has been relatively little academic work done on Fox News,” noted Dr. Peck, who is originally from Utah. “For me, Fox News was a compelling objective of analysis since it has done so much to change American politics and journalism… Not only does Fox’s conservative brand of populism make for clever marketing and dramatic entertainment, it stands as one the most sophisticated and culturally astute forms of political communication in the national media today.”
Department of Media Culture chair Dr. David Gerstner commented, “We are so pleased to have Reece as a member of our faculty. His research and teaching bring an important voice to the study of contemporary media in the United States. And given the political landscape in which we live, his work is timely and important.”
Dr. Peck will also be speaking at CSI’s Dean Symposium about the current presidential election alongside other CSI faculty on September 27. He has been a faculty member at CSI since 2013 and “truly enjoys teaching the students here, particularly the first-generation students,” as he is one himself.
Although the scorching days of summer lead many to swimming pools, beaches, and lounge chairs, Professor Michael Mandiberg has no time for leisure or summer vacations. With awards under his belt and exhibitions in his sights, the College of Staten Island (CSI) professor and interdisciplinary artist is as multidimensional as his projects.
Mandiberg is the recent recipient of a Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) fellowship award and was also accepted to a residency at The MacDowell Colony in New Hampshire. In addition to these prestigious honors, the Brooklyn resident is finishing up several large projects and also beginning some new ones.
The Art + Technology Lab at LACMA is a substantial financial award that will help support Mandiberg for a one-year research leave as he embarks on a new project recreating the Charlie Chaplin film Modern Times using digital labor sourced from Amazon’s Mechanical Turk marketplace. Mandiberg’s 21st-Century version of the 1936 film will remix it to speak to contemporary digital labor.
To devote time and concentration to his complex creations, Mandiberg will reside at The MacDowell Colony, the oldest artist residence in the country, during the summer months.
Working in a subcategory of new media art, Mandiberg uses a wide range of tools and technology, sometimes utilizing software and sometimes even building the software to craft his digital projects.
“My work spans a broad range of creative research methodologies,” he noted, adding that the creative process behind these mammoth projects takes “quite a bit of time.”
In addition to the new project, Mandiberg is currently completing two major works: Print Wikipedia and FDIC Insured.
Print Wikipedia is a massive undertaking in which Mandiberg wrote software that transforms the entirety of the Wikipedia database into thousands of book-format volumes.
“I started editing Wikipedia in 2009, and once I started editing, I thought ‘This corpus is amazing. And so big. What can I do with it?’”
FDIC Insured began at the height of the Great Recession in 2009 when large numbers of banks were failing regularly. To represent the scope of the systemic failure, Mandiberg archived the logos of 527 of these banks and burned them on covers of books about investment, business management, or financial planning.
“I started thinking about the way in which these logos disappear,” Mandiberg says. “As soon as the bank fails, the Website is erased, and the logo goes quickly thereafter. Logos, as we know them, are a post-Second World War phenomenon in which the corporate entity is able to signify timelessness, stability, and trust. Think about the Chase [bank] logo: it is like an immovable boulder, but it is also a safe, and a jewel. It literally and symbolically manifests permanence.”
Mandiberg aims to preserve the logos in a book and online archive due to be published this summer ahead of the show this autumn at 40 Rector Street in Manhattan, organized by Art In Buildings. A portion of the series was first shown at the Pacific Northwest College of Art’s Feldman Gallery in Portland, OR, Mandiberg’s hometown, in 2010.
Although the artist, technologist, and scholar has much on his interdisciplinary plate, he looks forward to returning to CSI after his research leave to teach his Design and Digital Media courses. His CSI students have become, in fact, a part of his work as about five students have steadily assisted him on these projects for several years.
As Mandiberg said, “I do my best to synthesize research and teaching.”
In recognition of their distinguished work in higher education and beyond, Dr. Ava Chin and Dr. Ying Zhu have both received 2016-2017 Fulbright Awards.
Dr. Chin, Associate Professor in the Department of English at the College of Staten Island (CSI), will travel to China to lecture on American journalism, focusing on food and popular culture. “I plan to base my advanced magazine writing and food journalism courses on those that I have perfected at CSI,” said Chin, adding that the other purpose of the trip will be to work on her next book project, a memoir about her family roots in China. The experienced mentor also looks forward to working with young writers in China.
Chin won the Provost Research Award, which supported her while she was conducting research as well as applying for fellowships like the Fulbright.
“Under a Fulbright to China, I look forward to bringing my many years of experience in commercial print and digital journalism to a Chinese university, where I could be useful in helping with curriculum development, as well as offering a variety of journalism courses that have been successful to American and East Asian students in New York and Los Angeles. I’m also eager to share my insights on how technology has positively and negatively affected commercial media outlets in the U.S., for better or worse,” Chin commented, adding that she will be traveling to China with her husband and her four-year-old daughter.
Dr. Chin, a Queens native, is the author of the award-winning Eating Wildly: Foraging for Life, Love, and the Perfect Meal and the former Urban Forager columnist for TheNew York Times (2009-2013). She has written for the Los Angeles Times Sunday Magazine, Saveur, Marie Claire, TheVillage Voice, and SPIN. A New York Institute for Humanities fellow at New York University, she is an Associate Professor of creative nonfiction and journalism. The Huffington Post named her one of “9 Contemporary Authors You Should Be Reading.”
Chin also represents CUNY mentors in several CUNY advertisements appearing in CUNY Matters and on New York City subways.
Dr. Zhu, who has been awarded a Fulbright Senior Research Fellowship, will be conducting research in China, primarily based in the Shanghai Film Academy, which is affiliated with the Shanghai University, a long-term partner of CSI. Dr. Zhu’s award project is a book called China, Soft Power, and The Great Narrator: A History of China’s Engagement with Hollywood. The work, to be published by The New Press, examines two periods during which Hollywood dominated the Chinese market: one during China’s Republican era and one since 1994 when Hollywood reentered the Chinese market after decades of absence. Dr. Zhu will trace Hollywood’s historical engagement with Chinese audiences, the film industry, and state regulatory agencies while simultaneously sketching out the evolution of Chinese cinema from its infancy under the shadow of imports to its current global economic and cultural ambition.
“Treating Sino-Hollywood engagement as a case of political, cultural, and economic rivalry and cooptation, the project examines how economic interest intersects with political posturing and cultural propagation,” Dr. Zhu explained. He considers the Shanghai Film Academy, which is headed by the world-renowned Chinese filmmaker Chen Kaige (Farewell My Concubine, 1993) a perfect institution for her to work on this historical book project.
Dr. Zhu, a Cinema Studies Professor in the Department of Media Culture at the College of Staten Island-CUNY, has published eight books, including Two Billion Eyes: The Story of China Central Televisionand Chinese Cinema during the Era of Reform: The Ingenuity of the System. A leading scholar on Chinese cinema and media studies, her writings have appeared in major academic journals, books, and publications such as The Atlantic, Foreign Policy, the Los Angeles Times,The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal. Her works have been translated into Chinese, Dutch, French, Italian, and Spanish.
Zhu is a recipient of a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship (2006) and an American Council of Learned Societies Fellowship (2008). Her 2003 research monograph, Chinese Cinema during the Era of Reform: The Ingenuity of the System, is considered by critics as a groundbreaking book that initiated the study of Chinese cinema within the framework of political economy. Her 2008 research monograph, Television in Post-Reform China: Serial Drama, Confucian Leadership and the Global Television Market, together with two book volumes in which her work featured prominently—TV China (2009) and TV Drama in China (2008)—pioneered the subfield of Chinese TV drama studies.
Dr. Zhu’s daughter, Frances Hisgen, will also travel to China during the Fulbright tenure. Frances will join Maliya Obama to be part of the Harvard Class of 2021 upon return from China.
The Fulbright Program aims to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries, and it is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government.
“We hope that your Fulbright experience will be highly rewarding professionally and personally, and that you will share the knowledge you gain with many others throughout your life,” commented Laura Skandera Trombley, Chair of the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board.
“As a Fulbright grantee, you will join the ranks of distinguished participants in the Program,” noted Trombley, adding that Fulbright alumni have become heads of state, judges, ambassadors, cabinet ministers, CEOs, and university presidents, as well as leading journalists, artists, scientists, and teachers. They include 54 Nobel Laureates, 82 Pulitzer Prize winners, 29 MacArthur Fellows, 16 Presidential Medal of Freedom recipients, and thousands of leaders across the private, public, and non-profit sectors. Since its beginnings in 1946, more than 360,000 “Fulbrighters” have participated in the program.
When Robert Weber ’16 considered entering the College of Staten Island’s 60th Anniversary Logo Contest, he knew he wanted to create something original and beautiful.
His hours and weeks of hard work paid off when his art was selected as the winner of the contest. The Communications major with a minor in Design and Digital Media, who has been working for several years as a freelance graphic designer, noted that his inspiration “started with the idea that the logo ought to not be the typical ‘Collegiate’ style.”
“It is too often that you see designs produced by colleges that look the same. I didn’t want the design to be stereotypical of a college production,” said Weber, who holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Management from St. John’s University and has also studied Information Security and Forensics for two years at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT).
To celebrate the College’s Diamond Anniversary, the Office of Communications and Marketing, Division of Institutional Advancement and External Affairs, hosted the competition to provide the opportunity for a currently enrolled CSI student to become part of the CSI legacy by designing the College’s 60th Anniversary Logo.
Weber’s winning logo entry will be used online, in print, on merchandise, and to create stickers that can be placed on books, letterhead, and envelopes. It will also become part of the prize-winning portfolio of the successful entrant. In addition, he will receive $500.
Weber, who will graduate Magna Cum Laude this spring with a 3.8 GPA and Honors, was proud to be chosen out of the four finalists.
“I wanted to give back to CSI as my time here came to a close… I feel accomplished to have been able to leave behind a positive mark on the College of Staten Island,” said Weber, a Great Kills resident who graduated from Susan Wagner High School. He has offered his design services at no cost to many small businesses in New York as he believes that “giving back to those who help our local economy is very important.”
The young artist’s design process began with sketching out ideas that included the required text in varying sizes and framing each sketch with a diamond. He drew his color inspiration from the colors and composition of the CSI logo.
Using Adobe Illustrator, he began his work, and after about a week of browsing through dozens of fonts, colors, sizes, and constant repositioning, “I had my final revision of this flat and elegant design that aligns with the identity of the College of Staten Island while expressing a sense of modernism.”
This summer, Weber will be interning at CNET, a subsidiary of CBS in New York.
Jennifer Pierce ’16 wasn’t sure that she wanted to attend the College of Staten Island. After graduating from Port Richmond High School, the New Springville resident considered going away to school. Now 21 and a senior at CSI, graduating this spring with a dual degree, Pierce says she doesn’t regret a thing.
“I really wanted to go away and only chose CSI because it was more affordable. I don’t regret that decision at all! CSI is great, everyone is nice and helpful, and the professors are so smart,” said Pierce, who will graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Communications: Media Studies, a Bachelor of Arts in English: Writing, and a Minor in Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies.
Carrying an impressive 3.889 GPA, it should come as no surprise that the Verrazano School student was accepted to three law schools with full tuition scholarships: Cardozo, Seton Hall, and Temple University. She was also accepted and awarded a partial scholarship to George Washington University.
Pierce found her experience at The Verrazano School to be a great support network. The Verrazano Extracurricular Learning Activities (VELAs), according to Pierce, were particularly helpful.
“These events were eye opening and provided me with great information on graduate schools. I also got to meet a lot of people, which is nice as CSI is mostly a commuter campus,” said Pierce. Verrazano students participate in VELAs that enrich their undergraduate experience through academic, social, and cultural learning opportunities outside the classroom. VELAs feature a wide range of topics including career preparation, study abroad, international issues, and community service.
The budding poet is also grateful to Dr. Cate Marvin, who helped her find her voice in the world of poetry. Pierce has even submitted a portfolio of poetry for her thesis and hopes to submit her work to magazines. The busy law student-to-be also attends weekly poetry meetings with friends from CSI.