Announcing the 2013 Peter Lyman Fellow, T. Geronimo Johnson

19 Mar, 2013

Announcing the 2013 Peter Lyman Fellow, T. Geronimo Johnson

The Peter Lyman Graduate Fellowship in New Media, established in the memory of esteemed UC Berkeley Professor Peter Lyman, provides a summer stipend to a UC Berkeley PhD candidate to support the writing of his or her PhD dissertation on a topic related to New Media. Established with gifts from friends, faculty, Prof. Barrie Thorne, and Sage Publications.

BCNM is delighted to announce that this year’s Peter Lyman Fellow is T. Geronimo Johnson, Ph.D. Candidate in Language, Literacy and Culture Division, Graduate School of Education, D.E. in New Media

Research Abstract: “New Media Literacy, Aesthetic Education, and Ambiguity in the Age of Irony”

How do various users of digital media understand irony in new media? Much has been written about new media and participatory culture, but little has been written about interpreting and evaluating new media in the age of irony, an era defined by complex hermetic constructions lacking the meta-discursive features traditionally relied upon to decode elaborately constructed social criticism. In this moment, both popular and alternative media demand evermore tolerance for ambiguity, challenging conventional positionalities and notions of stable texts. Students who actively adopt technologies create projects of increasing nuance and complexity. Consequently, instructors must develop strategies for assessing/interpreting these projects without resorting to traditional rubrics that constrain students by demanding that new technology reify old mindsets, and hence, shutting down activist, alternative, and otherwise critical frameworks.

This research will focus on users’ interpretations of two new media projects in two distinct genres to which students are routinely exposed: commercial websites and game trailers.

This research is significant because a comprehensive examination of the ways and means through which various users perceive, interpret, negotiate, narrate and make meaning of irony in new media will go a long way toward helping educators understand how to best utilize and embrace the invigorating field of new media studies without unintentionally constraining students’ critical imaginative and creative practices. There is talk of technology and democracy, of social justice and participatory media, of social networks and flattened hierarchies, but for the classroom to become a site for authentic critical and creative engagement, the new language of new media demands new pedagogy, and an increased sensitivity to the complexity of new media events, most notably those defined by irony.

The Lyman Fellowship significantly enriches this endeavor in a number of ways. It funds further opportunities to investigate the questions raised in the project. Additional research is now possible in locations where technology is not as pervasive as it is in the Bay Area. Lastly, it establishes the possibility of a web-based assessment.