The Relative Nature of “Fake News”: Woodrow Wilson's Fearmongering and the Battle for “Truth”

by eea | Monday, March 25, 2019 - 12:00 PM

“Fake news” has become an all-too-familiar phrase since Donald Trump introduced it into the vernacular during his bid for the presidency in 2015-16. Yet the term has a long history, mostly under the name “propaganda.” Today the term is generally defined as lies and misinformation meant to benefit its purveyors. I operated under this same assumption when I began the research for my book Age of Fear: Othering and American Identity during World War I . Depictions of Germans as rampaging beasts, broadsides warning of the Kaiser’s spies peering around every corner, and Woodrow Wilson’s own promise that dissidents would be met “with a firm hand of stern repression” at first appeared to me as cynical, Machiavellian means of manipulating a largely isolationist American populace to act in ways contrary to their will and interests.

Although there is a grain of truth in this, what I discovered is that this assessment actually explains very little about propaganda and why it often appears to work. By considering propaganda at face value, as at least the genuine thoughts and feelings of its creators, one can better understand its nature and intent. In the case of the United States...Read More

Ospreys: The Revival of a Global Raptor

by eea | Friday, March 22, 2019 - 12:00 PM

Why a book on Ospreys ? It’s a question I get asked by casual friends, those who don’t know me well. My closer friends rarely ask the question. They know how thoroughly this magnificent bird of prey captures imaginations, how its arrival back each April from tropical wintering grounds helps us to banish winter and welcome spring, how a nest full of young Ospreys in August defines the overflowing bounty of summer. But there is more to Ospreys, much more, and in particular a surprising history that includes involvement with human cultures around the globe.

Part of the fascination of this fish-eating hawk is the reach of the species. From the forests of Hokkaido, Japan, to semi-desert islands off southern Australia; from Cuban mangrove swamps to Scottish forests; and from Oregon rivers to Canadian lakes, we find a species equally at home along a vast array of different rivers, lakes, and seacoasts. Many of these populations saw significant setbacks at the same time that US Ospreys did, and earlier. Although the threats that knocked ospreys back differed in each region--mostly guns and traps in Europe and loss of nesting habitat in other parts of the globe--the recoveries came...Read More

Anthropocene Fictions Examined

by bjs | Wednesday, March 20, 2019 - 10:00 AM

While not approved by official geological organizations, the term anthropocene has grown in use to describe the current geological age. Proponents of the term use it to mark the time period where humans have had a significant impact on Earth's geology and ecosystems.

MFS Modern Fiction Studies Assistant Editor Robert Marzec put the journal's focus on the Anthropocene in the Winter 2018 issue titled " Anthropocene Fictions ." A collection of fives essays joined his comprehensive introduction about the epoch.

Marzec, a professor of environmental and postcolonial studies in the Department of English at Purdue University, joined us for a discussion about climate change and how it connects with modern fiction.

Audio titled Robert Marzec, MFS Modern Fiction Studies

While not approved by official geological organizations, the term anthropocene has grown in use to describe the current geological age. Proponents of the term use it to mark the time period where humans have had a significant impact on Earth's geology and ecosystems.

MFS Modern Fiction Studies Assistant Editor Robert Marzec put the journal's focus on the Anthropocene in the Winter 2018 issue titled " Anthropocene Fictions ." A...Read More

It's Alive!: The state of Frankenscholarship

by bjs | Monday, March 18, 2019 - 11:00 AM

To help celebrate the bicentennial of Mary Shelley's novel Frankenstein in 2018, Literature and Medicine published a themed issue on "Chemistry, Disability, and Frankenstein ." The issue featured 11 essays covering a wide swath of subjects related to the famous work. With a growing field of " Frankenscholarship ," emanating from the anniversary, guest editors Allison B. Kavey and Lester D. Friedman found a unique connection between the essays published in the issue. Kavey joined us for a Q&A about the issue and the future of Frankenstein studies.

You talk about the intensity of Shelley scholarship in recent years. How gratifying was it to find new ways to examine her work?

I think Les and I were very excited to see two new and interesting avenues of scholarship develop in this collection. We did not anticipate such consistency in the approaches our authors took, but we really were impressed to see the history of disability material form a strong group and the history of chemistry form the other. Both approaches develop existing scholarship in their respective sub-fields and also contribute to how...Read More

Computing and New Media

by bjs | Thursday, March 14, 2019 - 10:00 AM

Last year, Technology and Culture published a special issue titled " Shift CTRL: New Directions in the History of Computing ." With seven essays covering the development of computing over time and specific issues relating to China, Chile and Taiwan, the issue provides a wide overview of topics which impact the everyday lives of millions. Thomas S. Mullaney , an associate professor of Chinese history at Stanford University, served as guest editor of the issue and also contibuted one essay, He has agreed to share his introduction to the issue here.

We are living in a golden age for the study of information and language technologies in the modern period, and perhaps even more so for the study of computing and new media. Sustained by enduring engagements with Book History, Actor-Network-Theory, the Social Construction of Technology (SCOT) program, and Science, Technology, and Society (STS)—but also rejuvenated by concerns with cultural techniques, material semiotics, the aesthetics of bureaucracy, paperwork studies, media archaeology, neo-cybernetics, software studies, platform studies, and more—scholars have grappled with subject matter as diverse as the origins of the card catalog, the MP3 file format, French revolution-era...Read More