Live at the 4C’s

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Yesterday’s road trip to CCCC in Atlanta was a bit of an adventure, but we eventually got here! It’ very exciting to be at this conference – the place is abuzz with scholars from across the country.

The only panel I had time to catch yesterday was one of the last panels of the day by two of CRDM’s very own, Matt Morain and Jason Kalin, both third years in our program. They each presented on preliminary research for their dissertation topics. Matt studies rhetoric and Internet culture, and yesterday talked about the kairos of Internet memes. Kairos, very generally, refers to the opportune moment for speech. He gave his usually energetic and informative talk, discussing in particular the biggest meme of the month, Rebecca Black’s Youtube video “Friday.” His research asks questions about how we can assess the kairos of Internet culture and how exigence can be co-constructed by both creators of memes and the audience receiving memes. His research also has implications for research methodology, exploring how we can know what’s worth studying and what memes will disappear into the abyss of the web. His work is definitely worth watching – for an upbeat presentation with smart questions some people are afraid to ask. 

Jason’s research focuses on rhetoric and public memory, specifically with respect to how digital and social media are changing the way we consider the issue. He’s asking – how does public memory circulate online? How do digital networks come into play? How has public memory become living and archival through social media? For this presentation, he spoke in particular about the Flickr group “Looking into the Past,” a photography group that superimposes images of old landmarks/places into a picture of how the location looks currently. Kalin argues this creates a new modality of memory, in which the past and present appear simultaneously, layered and seamless at once: it’s “then in now.” It creates a public for memory. He calls this “hauntography,” a play on hauntology, which is a play on ontology. Hauntology is re-photography, with spirit in the photography where the memories live. His dissertation work has implications for the forgotten canon of rhetoric, memory, and how we should be considering it anew with the rise of digital and social media.

Next up: Friday’s session blogging! I am so excited about the featured session that I attended and it has so many people buzzing with excitement. They were truly breaking the boundaries – stay tuned!

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