We’re hiring five new faculty at Oregon, including in Games and Emerging Media Technologies

Here at the University of Oregon’s School of Journalism and Communication, we have five(!) tenure-line faculty openings — in Science Communication (open rank); Social Media and Data Analytics; Media and Intersectionality; Media Studies: Global Media, Technology, and Social Justice; and Media Studies: Games and Emerging Media Technologies (see all the position descriptions here). I’m chairing that last one; the full description is below.

I’ll be at AEJMC this week, if folks would like to connect and chat about this position or the other opportunities at SOJC.

And please spread the word to anyone you think may be interested in these openings. Thanks!

University of Oregon

School of Journalism & Communication

Assistant Professor in Media Studies, in the area of Games and Emerging Media Technologies

Position Announcement

The School of Journalism and Communication at the University of Oregon seeks a tenure-track assistant professor in media studies, with an emphasis in game studies and related issues for digital media and society, to join a nationally recognized program that emphasizes critical thinking, media literacy, experiential learning, and a commitment to social progress and diversity.

Digital games are one of the fastest­growing sectors of the entertainment industry, generating both enormous profits and emerging forms of influence in media, culture, and society. Related developments in mobile applications, virtual reality, and augmented reality likewise are shifting how we think about the nature of media technologies, the philosophies and ethics associated with them, and relationships between humans and machines. The ideal candidate should be poised to help position the SOJC at the forefront of research in game studies and digital studies more generally.

Ideal assistant professor candidates will have a Ph.D. (ABD considered), a well-defined research agenda with evidence of scholarly publication, and a demonstrated teaching ability at the collegiate level. Experience with applying for and securing external grants from relevant government and private sources is especially desired. Professional experience in game design/development and/or other relevant forms of digital media work is desired but not required. The ideal candidate will offer the ability to research, teach, and lead in an innovative fashion.

The candidate should demonstrate the ability to teach courses in game studies, digital media and society, and other areas of the media studies undergraduate area. Teaching opportunities in the candidate’s additional areas of specialization (if applicable) are potentially available across the undergraduate curriculum, as well as in our academic master’s and doctoral programs in Media Studies and our graduate professional programs in both Eugene and Portland. Additionally, the ability to teach courses in ethics and media law may be given special consideration.

We value candidates who share the following school priorities: attracting undergraduate and graduate talent, offering relevant experiential learning opportunities, and academic excellence through enhanced research productivity.

The SOJC is an ACEJMC-accredited program with a century-long history at the University of Oregon, which is a comprehensive research university and a member of the Association of American Universities (AAU). Our program thrives as a journalism and communication school known for innovation, ethics, and action. We offer four undergraduate concentrations (in advertising, journalism, media studies, and public relations), four professional and academic master’s programs, and a doctoral program in media studies.

We invite applications from qualified candidates who share our commitment to a diverse, equitable, and inclusive learning and work environment. Employment begins September 16, 2018. To ensure consideration, please submit application materials by October 2, 2017. The position will remain open until filled. Interested candidates should submit a letter of interest, CV, and the names of four academic references to http://careers.uoregon.edu/cw/en-us/job/520583/assistant-professor-of-media-studies-games-studies.

For inquiries about the application process, please contact sojcjobs@uoregon.edu or the HR Manager at 541-346-2369. Specific inquiries about the position may also be directed to the search chair: Associate Professor Seth C. Lewis, Shirley Papé Chair in Emerging Media, sclewis@uoregon.edu.

The University of Oregon is an equal opportunity, affirmative action institution committed to cultural diversity and compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The University encourages all qualified individuals to apply and does not discriminate on the basis of any protected status, including veteran and disability status.

And deliver us from distraction: Understanding resistance to media life

Note: This is cross-posted from the Culture Digitally blog, which represents a collective effort by a couple dozen scholars converging on questions of cultural production in the digital age. This is part of a National Science Foundation-sponsored series of workshops, the first held March 2011 at Cornell University and the second coming in April 2012 at Temple University.

Jonathan Franzen, dubbed the Great American Novelist by TIME magazine, isn’t a fan of ebooks—nay, he sees them as corrupting our values, undermining all that’s good and holy about the printed word and its place in society.

But what caught my attention about this report on his comments at a writing festival recently wasn’t so much his lament for the loss of a sense of permanence (“everything else in your life is fluid, but here is this text that doesn’t change”), although that does raise interesting questions about the role of physicality in media’s communication of authority. No, I was more intrigued by the backstory of his writing habits, which appear to shape how he sees technology generally:

The acclaimed author of Freedom and The Corrections – which are published as ebooks – has said in the past that “it’s doubtful that anyone with an internet connection at his workplace is writing good fiction”. He seals the ethernet port on his own computer to prevent him connecting to the internet while he writes, also removing the card so he is unable to play computer games and wearing noise-cancelling headphones to prevent distraction.

Leaving aside the issue of a removable card used to play computer games (huh?), this concern about the interwebs, with all their neon lights and dens of distraction, getting in the way of the creative writing process appears to be shared among a number of leading writers today—at least judging by the list of authors who swear by the benefits of a Mac/Windows application that’s appropriately titled Freedom.

Screenshot from the internet-blocking software Freedom

The software locks down all network connections for up to 8 hours; you can only break the spell by restarting your machine. (By the way, I’ve played with Freedom a bit, and it’s a fine tool; my wife swears by it for her novel writing.)

So, why should this internet avoidance matter for us—for the study of cultural production in the digital age? Because, as Mark Deuze noted in this space the other day, and as he’ll explore in his forthcoming book, “our lives gradually, invisibly, [are] shift[ing] from living with media – in which case there are indeed things that can be effectively switch ‘off’ (by pulling a plug or developing sophisticated media literacies) – to living in media.” As this transition occurs, I would argue that it becomes increasingly important to understand the strategies that people deploy in negotiating these conditions—both rhetorically in the way they talk about living in media, and materially in the way they structure their physical environment to embrace or resist living in media.

Of course, the premise of a media life suggests that, as lived experience and work practice and so forth become ever more mediated, distinctions between life “offline” and life “online” begin to blur, making it harder (and less meaningful, anyway) to distinguish between them. Thus we might expect it to become more challenging for people to step back, away from media, and self-critique their experience lived within and through it. And yet, given the lengths that writers like Franzen are going to (superglueing your ethernet connection—really?!), it would seem that research on cultural production and technology use might better capture the dynamics of resistance to the connectivity that is so central to media life, for reasons ranging from productivity to digital anxiety. (p.s. I’m sure there’s a literature on internet avoidance that I’m missing here, so forgive my ignorance; please enlighten us in the comments!)

Perhaps the more pertinent question, and an important practical consideration for scholars whose primary output is long-form writing, is this: How do users negotiate the participatory immersion and fluid, ambient exchange of always-on communication with the temporary need for quiet and connection-free contemplation? Because it isn’t just an idiosyncratic group of elite authors who are using these techniques, judging by the folks talking about Freedom on Twitter. I think it’s fair to say that many internet users (hey, I’ll count myself among them) struggle to maintain attention—real, enduring, deep-writing kind of attention—on digital projects, when so many bright, shiny bobbles are just a click away, ready to relieve us, momentarily, from the stress of writer’s block.

Practically speaking: Don’t we all, Odysseus like, need to lash ourselves to a mast (of Freedom?) to avoid succumbing to the Siren song of digital temptations?

If so, then what are the implications of this condition, for scholarship on digital users and for our own personal work habits? How are we to understand  the psychological, rhetorical, and/or material negotiations that figure into digital labor in an age of easy distraction?

Perhaps, as the nature of digital work and writing evolves over time, it’s possible that we’ll come to re-define notions of “productivity” and “distraction” in a digital context. In the meantime, we’re left to wonder about the philosophy and practicality of shutting off the wireless to survive within (or without) a media life.