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The Summer Institute in the Arts & Humanities

Overview - 2008 Summer Institute

Media and the Senses

Seventh Annual Summer Institute in the Arts and Humanities
An Intensive Introduction to Scholarly Research for Undergraduates

June 23 – August 22, 2008

It’s no secret. We live in a media saturated society. We use cell phones to speak to each other; we turn on the television for instant entertainment; we use the Internet to post our thoughts, feelings, and images; and we surround ourselves in cocoons of recorded music. Despite the widespread prevalence of media, however, students rarely get the opportunity to study, in an intensive fashion, the ways that media influence who they are and how they relate to their environment. The Seventh Annual Summer Institute is designed to help students understand the ways that media shape culture by offering a sustained study on the relationship between media and the senses. We intend to use the term “sense” in two ways: as an inquiry into how students “sense” or perceive media and as an inquiry into how individuals make “sense” or create meaning with media. Importantly, concentrating on media and the senses reminds us that individuals relate to their environments through their senses. This, then, allows researchers to ask in what ways do media technologies present the world to people? Paying attention to the senses also invites us to think about the various ways that different media engage the senses. How, for instance, is music perceived differently than two-dimensional art? What are the meaningful effects of those differences?

During the first four weeks of the Summer Institute students will work together in small and large groups in a studio setting. There they will read and discuss key writings on media criticism, the history and philosophy of technology, the role of design in interaction, and philosophies of the body; they will view, listen, and engage visual, sonic, literary, and installation art projects; they will evaluate the role of specific media practices in art and design; and they will gain hands on experience in building media projects. During the last four weeks students will work in small groups on either collaborative or individual projects that explore in greater depth the role of sensation in media. Students will then present their projects at a special symposium at the end of the eight-week Summer Institute. Also, a possibility of exhibiting in-progress work at the School of Art Jacob Lawrence Gallery exists for all students in the Summer Institute during the first week of August. (Details forthcoming.)

Program Background

The theme, “media and the senses,” addresses a major research focus for scholars in the arts and humanities and provides students with tangible and important academic benefits. All four members of the Summer Institute teaching team actively research aspects of media and the senses. Carrie Bodle is a visual and sound artist whose work explores the transformations of site facilitated by sound and image. Axel Roesler, Assistant Professor for Action Design in the Program of Design, works on the role of design in facilitating human interactions with the various forms of media. Jentery Sayers, Graduate Student in English, is interested in the intersection of sound reproduction, technologies, and literature. And Phillip Thurtle, Assistant Professor in Comparative History of Ideas, History, and Adjunct in Anthropology, has published work investigating the intersection of information processing, genetics, digital media, and embodiment.

Students enrolled in the Summer Institute can expect to achieve the following objectives:

  • Learn to transition their everyday engagements with and skills in technology into scholarly research projects in the arts and humanities.
  • Identify and execute rigorous research projects in the digital arts and humanities, including the analysis and composition of media.
  • Examine the complex issues related to intellectual property/rights managements and media and consider how those issues function in their own research.
  • Pursue modes of creative thinking and imagination that carry scholarly potential in the arts and humanities, particularly through projects that stress the role of the senses in the production, circulation, and use of media.
  • Explore the theoretical and practical intersections of media and embodiment, art and science, and technology and culture.
  • Present research in the digital arts and humanities in an academic forum.