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Publics, Platforms, and Environmental Media
  • Friday, April 15, 2016 - 4:00pm to 6:30pm
  • Saturday, April 16, 2016 - 10:00am to 5:30pm

Kislak Center
Van Pelt-Dietrich Library
University of Pennsylvania

In what ways can we think of media as circulatory systems? Circulation could be an important modality to conceptualize media as digital devices condition us to experience media as environment, minerals and metals in “nature” get embedded in media objects, and environmental effects of storing digital data become part of topical conversations. Media help circulate information, gossip, and entertainment, and are key to formation of networks, assemblages, and publics. The conference thinks through concepts that empirically engage with distribution systems, speculative algorithms, and affective platforms, which create new affordances for producers and consumers of media. As media objects proliferate and their intermedial relations emerge, the material properties of the environmental milieu come to matter: media scholars get called upon to re-theorize interfaces and platforms when considering wet media as opposed to dry media. Circulation also stresses interactions between human and non-human actors and this conference spotlights empirical and philosophical debates around materialism, media ecology, and media archaeology.




Friday, April 15

4-4:15pm | Opening Remarks | Rahul Mukherjee (University of Pennsylvania), Conference Organizer

4:15-5:30pm | Opening Keynote | Introduced by Lisa Mitchell (University of Pennsylvania)
Ravi Sundaram (SARAI, CSDS) | Post-Public Media ecologies: Circulation in Command?

5:30-6:30pm | Reception

Saturday, April 16

10-10:30am | Breakfast

10:30-11:30am | PUBLICS | Moderator: Guobin Yang (University of Pennsylvania)
Paula Chakravartty (New York University) | Infrastructures of Empire: Publics and Perpetual War
Adeline Koh (Stockton University) | All The Feels: Whiteness and The Circulation of Affect in Digital Public Discourses

11:30am-12:30pm | PLATFORMS | Moderator: Karen Beckman (University of Pennsylvania)
Marc Steinberg (Concordia University) | Mobile Ecosystems and Business Platforms
Jinying Li (University of Pittsburg) | Platform, Property and Ownership: The Rise of IP Cinema in China

12:30-2pm | Lunch

2-3:30pm | ELEMENTAL/ENVIROMENTAL MEDIA | Moderator: Timothy Corrigan (University of Pennsylvania)
Melody Jue (UC, Santa Barbara) | "Mother Earth, Her Whales": Towards an anti-normative theory of elemental media
Nicole Starosielski (New York University)| Thermocultures
Mel Hogan (Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago) | The New Farmers: Big Tech’s Greening of its Data Centers

3:30-4pm | Coffee Break

4-5:15pm | Closing Keynote | Introduced by Bethany Wiggin (University of Pennsylvania)
Stacy Alaimo (University of Texas, Arlington) | Composition as Circulation: Abyssal Media and Marine Ecology

5:15-5:30pm | Closing Remarks | Peter Decherney (University of Pennsylvania)



Speaker Bios:

Stacy Alaimo is Professor of English, Distinguished Teaching Professor, and Director of the Environmental and Sustainability Studies Minor at the University of Texas at Arlington. Her publications include Undomesticated Ground: Recasting Nature as Feminist Space (2000); Bodily Natures: Science, Environment, and the Material Self (2010), which won the Association for the Study of Literature and Environment book award for ecocriticism; and Exposed: Environmental Politics and Pleasures in Posthuman Times (U of Minnesota, forthcoming 2016). She co-edited Material Feminisms (2008) with Susan J. Hekman, and is currently editing the volume on Matter  as part of Macmillan Interdisciplinary Handbooks’s series on Gender. She has more than forty scholarly articles and chapters published and forthcoming on such topics as sustainability, gender and climate change, queer animals, the anthropocene feminisms, marine science studies, the blue humanities, material ecocriticism, and new materialist theory. She is currently writing Blue Ecologies: Science, Aesthetics, and the Creatures of the Abyss. Dr. Alaimo has served on the MLA Division of Literature and Science and the inaugural committee of the MLA forum for the Ecocriticism and the Environmental Humanities.


Ravi Sundaram is a Professor at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS), Delhi. In 2000 he founded the well-known Sarai programme at the CSDS along with Ravi Vasudevan and the Raqs Media Collective. Since then, Sarai grew to become one of India’s best known experimental and critical research sites on media, spanning local and global sites. Sundaram is the author of Pirate Modernity: Media Urbanism in Delhi (Routledge, London 2009), and No Limits: Media Studies from India (Delhi, Oxford University Press, 2013) Sundaram has co-edited the Sarai Reader series, The Public Domain (2001), The Cities of Everyday Life(2002), Shaping Technologies (2003), Crisis Media(2004), and Frontiers (2007).  Sundaram’s essays have been translated into various languages in India, Asia, and Europe. His current research looks at the post-digital world: circulation after the mobile phone, information fever, ideas of transparency and secrecy, and the postcolonial media event. Sundaram has taught at taught in India and the United States. He has held visiting fellowships and teaching appointments at Binghamton University, Johns Hopkins, Princeton, Chicago, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Oxford University and Goldsmith College, London.


Paula Chakravartty is Associate Professor of Media, Culture and Communication and the Gallatin School at NYU.  Her books include Race, Empire and the Crisis of the Subprime (with Denise Ferreira da Silva,  2013), Media Policy and Globalization (with Katharine Sarikakis,  2006), and  Global Communications: Towards a Transcultural Political Economy, (with Yuezhi Zhao, 2008) . Her writings have been published in American QuarterlyInternational Journal of CommunicationMedia Culture and Society, Political Communication and Economic and Political Weekly. She is a member of the Gulf Labor Coalition and NYU’s Coalition for Fair Labor. 


Adeline Koh is an associate professor at Stockton University, an independent web designer and the founder of a skincare product startup, Sabbatical Beauty. She's passionate about teaching, web design, technology, and the darker side behind tech: inequality and oppression. She writes a lot about gender, race, ethnicity, issues in higher education, digital pedagogy and the digital humanities.


Jinying Li is an assistant professor of Film Studies at University of Pittsburgh. Her research focuses on the media culture of East Asia. Her essays on Asian cinema, animation, and digital media have been published in Film International, Mechademia, The International Journal of Communication, and Camera Obscura. She is currently co-editing a special issue on Chinese animation for the Journal of Chinese Cinemas.


Marc Steinberg is Associate Professor of Film Studies at Concordia University, Montreal. He is the author of Anime’s Media Mix: Franchising Toys and Characters in Japan (University of Minnesota Press, 2012) and Naze Nihon wa “media mikkusu suru kuni” nano ka (Why is Japan a “Media Mixing Nation”?) (Tokyo: KADOKAWA, 2015). He has published essays on media objects, franchising and the animated image, and is currently co-editing a volume on Media Theory in Japan (Duke UP, forthcoming 2017).


Mél Hogan is as an Assistant Professor of Communication at IIT in Chicago. She teaches classes on media and the environment, internet materialities, and graphic design. Her current research is on “memory ecologies,” looking at communication infrastructures, server farms and data centers. She is also a co-editor of and a research design consultant for


Nicole Starosielski is Assistant Professor in the Department of Media, Culture, and Communication at New York University. She is author of The Undersea Network (Duke University Press, 2015), which charts the development of transoceanic cable systems, beginning with the nineteenth century telegraph network and extending to today’s fiber-optic infrastructure. She has published articles on media, technology, and the environment in numerous journals, and is co-editor of Signal Traffic: Critical Studies of Media Infrastructure (2015) and Sustainable Media: Critical Approaches to Media and Environment (forthcoming, 2016).


Melody Jue is Assistant Professor of English at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Melody has published articles in Grey Room, Animations: An Interdisciplinary Journal, Green Planets: Ecology and Science Fiction, and Humanities Circle. Drawing on the experience of becoming a scuba diver, her current book project, Wild Blue Media, aims to develop a theory of media specific to the ocean environment. This not only expands the definition of media to include natural elements—like seawater—but also closely examines the conceptual language of media and the ways in which that the metaphoricity of that language is best suited to terrestrial environments.