MEA @ ECA

Media Ecology-Related Papers and Sessions at the 110th Annual ECA Convention

Providence, Rhode Island
Wednesday, April 10–Sunday, April 14, 2019

Thursday, April 11

  • 10:30–11:45 AM, Bristol-3rd Level, Joel Scott Ward (Geneva College), “Our Ecology and the Future of Digital Architecture: Medias Structuring of Aesthetic Sensibility”

    • Presented During: Corporate Sensations: The Dynamics of Situation, Decision, and Anticipation
    • Description: This paper explores digital architecture and media ecology to understand how medias structure aesthetic sensibility.
  • 4:30–5:45 PM, Blackstone-3rd Level, “Top Papers in Media Ecology: Being Human in the Age of the Digital” (MEA Sponsored Session)

    • Chair: Roxanne O’Connell, Roger Williams University
    • Respondent: Michael Plugh, Manhattan College
    • Presentations
      • Ryan P. McCullough, West Liberty University, “Crisis Communication and Technology: A Media Ecology Perspective” (Top Paper)
      • Jeffrey S. Bogaczyk, Duquesne University, “Ellul’s Creative Metaphoric Responses to Technique: Craftsman, Mutant, Student”
      • Matthew S. Lindia, Georgetown University, “Push Notifications & the End of Information Hierarchies” (Student Paper)

Friday, April 12

  • 9:00–10:15 AM, Waterplace II-2nd Level, Brian Gilchrist, Mount St. Mary’s University, “Technology Mediating Dasein and Seyn: Martin Heiddeger’s Black Notebooks as Media Ecology and Philosophy of Communication”

    • Presented During: Top Papers in Philosophy of Communication
    • Description: This interpretive paper examines how Martin Heidegger contributes to media ecology and philosophy of communication through the Black Notebooks II-XV. First, I juxtapose the goals of media ecology with the objectives of philosophy of communication to find areas of common ground between both areas of study. Second, I frame the Black Notebooks as media that Heidegger used to record his dialogues with Seyn. Third, I analyze how the Black Notebooks provide Heidegger’s insights about the relationship between technology and philosophy. I argue that Heidegger positions philosophical systems as expressions of technology, which he rejects in favor of denken (thinking). For Heidegger, any philosophical system is problematic because each system rests on presuppositions that guide the philosopher’s thinking. Denken offers the best hope of contact by Seyn, which can then allow the poet and thinker to raise as many questions about existence as they wish.
  • 12:00–1:15 PM, Blackstone-3rd Level, ”Perspectives on Building and Dwelling: Opening the City”

    • This roundtable discussion gathers experts in media ecology, urban communication, and the philosophy of communication ethics to discuss the 2018 book publication of Building and Dwelling: Ethics for the City, by renowned urban planner and theorist Richard Sennett. The roundtable will discuss major arguments of the book, questions it poses for living in together, and the implications of its arguments for understanding ethics in a moment of complexity and conflict.
    • Chair: Erik Garrett, Duquesne University
    • Expert(s)
      • Gary Gumpert, Urban Communication Foundation
      • Michael Plugh, Manhattan College
      • Susan Drucker, Hofstra University
      • Lewis Freeman, Fordham University
      • Erik Garrett, Duquesne University
      • Austin D Hestdalen, Duquesne University
  • 3:00–4:15 PM, Waterplace II-2nd Level, Michael Plugh, Manhattan College, “Teaching as a Humanizing Activity: A Media Ecology Pedagogy”

    • Presented During: Media Communication Paper Session
    • Description: Media ecology is a complex field of study, requiring years of concentration across a variety of academic disciplines. It’s no simple matter to teach media ecology, and so an ongoing discourse about media ecological pedagogy spans nearly a half century. This paper emphasizes a course of teaching prescribed by the late Neil Postman, continuing a tradition that begins with his co-authored book Teaching as a Subversive Activity and that continues in the later publication of Teaching as a Conserving Activity. Postman’s work introduces the thermostatic view of education, a means by which teachers can prepare students for both stagnating as well as rapidly changing cultural environments. Education, according to this view, aims to help learners recognize the complexity of their media environments and make the necessary adjustments to direct culture in a morally sound direction. Teaching as a Humanizing Activity offers a related view of education, emphasizing, not only philosophical and historical aspects of media ecology as a field, but practical methods by which learners can increase their awareness of concepts like abstraction and extension. The paper addresses questions such as, “What makes us human,” “Where does our humanity lie in our technologically mediated lifeworld,” and “How can we establish and maintain a sense of said humanity through the study of media ecology?”
  • 3:00–4:15 PM, Waterplace II-2nd Level, Basak Guven, Duquesne University, “The Necessity of an Unlettered Messenger to Receive and Recite ‘the Message’” (Debut Paper) (Student Paper)

    • Presented During: Media Communication Paper Session
    • Description: The Prophet of Islam was born in the Arabian city Mecca in 570 AD. He was a member of one of Mecca’s prominent families and was considered a trustworthy merchant who did trade between the Indian Ocean and Mediterranean Sea. At the age of 40, Muhammad’s prophetic initiation occurs when the Archangel Gabriel brought him the first message from God that said, “Read!” Muhammad, perplexed, replied, he could not as he did not know how to read or write. Prophet Muhammad’s illiteracy has been a confusing issue when the very first message of God is considered, as well as being illiterate has a negative connotation or impression in the modern world. On the other hand, there is no controversy over Prophet Muhammad’s being illiterate: In Quran, he is identified as “al-nabi al-ummi” (Q.7:157) that translates as “the unlettered Prophet.” Studies in literature that analyze this condition of the Prophet mainly focus on the etymological and historical meanings of the word ‘al-ummi’. However, one cannot stop thinking that there should be a deeper reason of the Prophet’s being defined as ‘unlettered’ since knowledge, education, and literacy are regarded as important values in Islam. In addition, Prophet Muhammad made sure that every verse was written by scribes after they were verbally revealed by God through Archangel, and the Quran was compiled by Prophet’s companions soon after his death. Prophet Muhammad was almost the only illiterate person among this close circle of companions and none of his caliphs (successors) were illiterate. From a media ecological perspective this issue should be analyzed in terms of the effects of orality and literacy on human consciousness. Media ecologists define ‘writing’ as a technology and argue that the invention of writing or the alphabet altered human’s cognitive abilities. Thus, it can be argued that the Prophet, “Messenger of God,” needed to be untouched by literacy while Islam necessitated scripture to be constituted as a world religion. This paper will attempt to understand the condition of the Prophet’s being “unlettered” through the lens of the media ecology discipline.
  • 4:30–5:15 PM, Narragansett A-Ground Level, Business Meeting: Media Ecology

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     Roxanne O’Connell is the MEA’s liaison to the ECA. Please contact her with any questions you might have: roconnell@rwu.edu.

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