Media Studies Colloquium

Media Studies Colloquium

Designed to expose students to the diversity of media studies scholarship, the Radio-Television-Film (RTF) department's Media Studies Colloquium enables advanced graduate students to present work related to their dissertation projects, provides models for research presentations, and offers a platform for discourse.

The Colloquium’s programming also includes presentations from RTF faculty and visiting scholars and intersects with lecture series co-sponsored and organized by the Center for Entertainment & Media Industries (co-founded & co-directed by RTF faculty Alisa Perren and Wenhong Chen) and the Latino Media Arts & Studies program (founded by Mary Beltrán and directed by Mirasol Enriquez, both RTF faculty).

All RTF faculty and graduate students are encouraged to attend, while others are welcome as well.

These talks will be held from 3:30–4:45 pm CT in DMC 5.208, unless otherwise noted. A Q&A session will follow each 40-minute presentation. Check back in the coming weeks for more event details.

Spring 2022

FEB 10 - MARY BELTRÁN BOOK LAUNCH

RTF Associate Professor Mary Beltrán will give a talk based on her new book, Latino TV: A History, followed by a light reception outside in the DMC plaza. We hope you can join us in person; however, there is also an option to join via Zoom: https://utexas.zoom.us/j/96280945404

The first book-length study of Latina/o narratives and storytelling in U.S. English-language television, Latino TV: A History explores key moments of Chicana/o and Latina/o representation and authorship since the 1950s. Drawing on archival research, interviews with dozens of media professionals who worked on or performed in these series, textual analysis of episodes and promotional materials, and analysis of news media coverage, Mary Beltrán examines the construction of Latina/os and Latinidad in television. Her study moves from children’s TV Westerns of the 1950s, Chicana/o and Puerto Rican activist-led public affairs series of the late 1960s and 1970s, and sitcoms that span half a century (many of which bombed), to Latina- and Latino-led series of the 2000s and 2010s on broadcast, cable and streaming outlets, including George Lopez, Ugly Betty, One Day at a Time, and Vida. Through exploration of Latina/o images, narratives and storytelling on prime-time, Mary Beltrán sheds light on Latina and Latino struggles for inclusion in the television industry and for cultural citizenship in the country writ large.

FEB 17 - COURTNEY DONOGHUE

Global Media Industries Speaker Series (GMISS) presents this talk, co-sponsored by the Center for Entertainment & Media Industries
*In-person: CMA 5.136 or via Zoom

Courtney Donogue (PhD alum), Assistant Professor, Department of Media Arts, University of North Texas will give a talk: "Female-Driven Filmmaking, Gendered Value, and the International Festival Marketplace".

FEB 24 - JING WANG

PhD Candidate Jing Wang will present parts of her dissertation.
"Globalizing Independent Cinema: The Role of Cultural Intermediaries in the Transnational Circulation of Chinese Independent Documentaries (1991-2017)"
The talk will be held in person in DMC 5.208.
Guests may also join via Zoom.
Meeting ID: 953 8853 7396
Passcode: 218307

Abstract:
Chinese independent cinema, with documentaries as an essential component, has been widely hailed on the international cinematic circuit since the 1990s. Since the emergence of this culture is usually associated with mainland China’s dramatic social and economic transformations at the end of the 1980s, most scholarship has focused on situating this movement within China’s domestic political and social contexts, and most discussions have concentrated on narrative films in particular. However, media globalization has deeply affected the existence and development of Chinese independent documentary, through a variety of processes related to these films’ overseas circulation.

Drawing on methodologies including interviews with industry practitioners, archival research into industrial documents, discourse analysis of trade journals, and textual analysis of selected films, this talk takes industrial intermediaries as its entry point to discuss their pivotal role in mediating transnational media contra-flows of Chinese independent documentaries from their domestic production community into international marketplaces. By focusing on three key groups of intermediaries—filmmakers/producers, film festival decisionmakers, and transnational distributors—I argue that these smaller-scale actors, as opposed to the dominant media conglomerates, influence the availability and visibility of media from non-Western countries on global screens. Equally important is the fact that the decisions of these intermediating players can lead to changes in independent production culture back home in China.

MAR 3 - BRETT SIEGEL

PhD Candidate Brett Siegel will present parts of his dissertation.
"From Protest to Paralysis: NFL Media and the Policing of Athlete Activism under Trump"
The talk will be held in person in DMC 5.102.
Guests may also join via Zoom.
Meeting ID: 94832763508

Abstract:
Players protesting racial oppression and police brutality during the national anthem challenged essential aspects of the NFL brand by disrupting its patriotic rituals and interrogating its postracial mythologies. The outrage over these demonstrations, stirred in no small part by Donald Trump, pointed to the broader cultural, political, and economic investment in professional football as a nation-building project. In its mission to suture and sell a cohesive American identity to a fundamentally divided country, the league worked to convert the perceived threat of player protests into politically neutral displays of unity. Tasked with satisfying a variety of stakeholders, including owners, players, sponsors, broadcast partners, and fans, the NFL sought to contain athlete activism and shift the surrounding discourse “from protests to progress.” I examine the early period of this enterprise (2016-2018), before the league formalized these endeavors under its social justice initiative “Inspire Change,” because it reveals a powerful brand grappling in real time with who and what it values most. Analyzing an assemblage of media texts, rhetorical strategies, and public relations activities, I explore three strategies that the NFL used to police player activism: obscuring the protest’s original purpose as a question of patriotism, sanitizing it as a conversation, and dismissing it as a distraction. I argue that these strategies traded in the potentially generative threat of protest with a state of paralysis that, in reverting to pro-military, pro-police, and pro-football frames, inhibited the capacity for the league and its players to act on behalf of racial justice. It is clear from a range of branded media content, including NFL specials, short films, and docuseries, that restoring faith in militarized U.S. institutions and evading accountability for the perpetuation of white supremacist systems took precedence over any commitment to combating structural racism in football, much less in society at large.

MAR 31 - JAEWON CHOI

PhD Candidate Jaewon Choi will present parts of his dissertation.
This talk will be held over Zoom, id# 96416274346
"Exploring the Surveillance Culture in the Context of Smart Health: A Comparison between South Korea and the U.S."

Abstract:
Developments of technologies at an unprecedented pace have accelerated the digitalization of seemingly “everything”, often epitomized by terms such as the Internet of Things (IoT). The sheer breadth and depth of data collected in such a hyper-connected environment bear substantial privacy and surveillance implications, further requiring a more holistic approach in understanding how people perceive privacy. While previous studies on individual privacy have been lucrative, the key constructs and theoretical frameworks have remained relatively fragmented, warranting a fresh conceptual approach. Furthermore, despite the increasing recognition of the contextuality in understanding privacy and surveillance, there are still needs for more cross-cultural examinations.

This research seeks to fill these gaps by applying the concept of surveillance culture in the context of smart health device and applications—a prominent consumer IoT domain—, and embark on comparative analysis between two countries of distinct cultural backgrounds: South Korea and the U.S. Using quantitative methods, the research proposes typologies of surveillance imaginary in the two countries and explore the relationship between the surveillance imaginary and surveillance practices (i.e., privacy-protective behavior and self-tracking behavior).

APR 14 - SOOYEON HONG

PhD Candidate Sooyeun Hong will present parts of her dissertation.
Held in-person in DMC 5.208. For those who can't attend in person, you can also join over Zoom, Meeting ID: 958 2423 3987

"Believe in Algorithms or Believe in Your Friends?: The influences of the different ways in seeking what to watch on Netflix"

Abstract:
While the cord-cutting trend has been accelerated during the early days of the pandemic, media streaming platforms have surged in popularity and Netflix is currently leading the streaming industry. Compared to the general TV networks, the streaming platforms specifically provide a different viewing experience to their users in that they have a specialized functionality known as “algorithmic recommendations”. Because of the technological affordance, we are better informed of what shows are available on the platforms, which one is the most popular, and what shows we might be interested in. Netflix especially, among the streaming platforms, has invested a great deal of time and energy into improving the content curating algorithms to maintain and attract its subscribers. However, the algorithmic recommendation is not the only way we can use to find and search for what to watch on the streaming platform.

The present study started with a question: “How do the younger generations find what to watch on Netflix?” The younger generations grown up with digital devices and social media have alternative information sources to receive recommendations about what to watch.

Based on media choice theories and the concept of the active audience from three different perspectives, it proposed a conceptual framework. This study employed a quantitative, survey-based approach and deployed Structural Equation Modeling for estimating influential relationships between the theoretically based concepts. The results indicated that the impacts of Netflix algorithms on the younger generations’ decision-making process about what to watch were not as much powerful as critics have worried. This study suggested theoretical implications in uses and gratifications, media repertoires, active audience, and integrated perspectives about the media choice process; and practical implications of algorithms in the film and television industry, user agency (audience), and media agency (algorithmic designers).

APR 21 - ARLENE DÁVILA

Hosted by the Latino Media Arts & Studies program. Co-sponsored by Department of Radio-Television-Film, Department of Mexican American & Latina/o Studies, and the School of Advertising and Public Relations. Moderated by RTF Associate Professor Mary Beltrán.

"Latinx Consumers, Viewers, Stories and Spin: A Conversation with Professor Arlene Dávila"

This is a virtual event that is free and open to the public. A zoom link to the webinar will be provided for all guests, upon registration.
Register here: bit.ly/L-MAS-SpeakerSeries-SP22

Join the Latino Media Arts and Studies program for a conversation with Professor Arlene Dávila, whose work on the imagining of Latinx cultures and people in U.S. media and popular culture has been influential in a variety of fields, including scholarship on advertising, film and media, and art. In this conversation with Professor Mary Beltrán, Professor Dávila will touch on a variety of themes that she has grappled with in her influential scholarship. From Latinos, Inc. and Latino Spin, to her most recent work, Latinx Art: Artists, Markets, and Politics, Dávila sheds light on the complexities of Latinx representation and self-representation, including how Latinxs are constructed as markets, audiences, citizens, and artists. Her insights with regard to the dynamics of the global media economy and the politics of representation continue to shape how we understand the profound connections between the culture industries, Latinx identity, and efforts to attain political equality. We hope you will take part in this important conversation.

APR 28 - SACHIN DHEERAJ MUDIGONDA / LALITHA GOPALAN

CMB Studio 6A

MFA film & media production student Sachin Dheeraj will screen his short film, "Testimony of Ana," followed by a discussion with RTF Associate Professor Lalitha Gopalan and a Q&A. Set in rural India, the documentary looks at the life of Anaben Pawar, an elderly tribal woman accused of witchcraft.

Fall 2021

SEPT 30 - COMMUNITY HAPPY HOUR

4 pm –5:30 pm – The Hole in the Wall

For RTF Graduate Students, Faculty, & Staff: Reconnect with the RTF community!

OCT 14 - RTF PITCHFEST

DMC 5.208

We'll invite studies and production faculty and grad students to "pitch" a project that they are working on in order to get feedback on works in progress.

OCT 28 - ALISA PERREN BOOK TALK

Based on topics from her new book, "The American Comic Book Industry and Hollywood" (co-authored with Gregory Steirer), RTF Associate Professor Alisa Perren will give a talk with a reception to follow.

Join us in person in DMC 5.208, or via Zoom.

"More Than Just Superhero Stories: The Rise of the Hybrid Publisher-Studio"

Abstract:

In recent years, our screens have become dominated by characters and stories drawn from DC and Marvel Comics IP. The output of these “corporate comics” publishers – and the roles played by their respective parent companies, AT&T/WarnerMedia and Disney, in mining their IP – have been the focus of a great deal of cultural conversation and media studies scholarship. But these are not the only companies involved in exploiting comics IP for films and TV series. In fact, since the 1990s, a number of comic book publishers beyond DC and Marvel have moved aggressively into financing, producing, and distributing adaptations of their comic books. Rather than simply passively licensing their IP to other filmed entertainment companies, publishers including Dark Horse (The Umbrella Academy, 2019-), BOOM! Studios (2 Guns, 2013), IDW (Wynonna Earp, 2016-), and Skybound (Fear the Walking Dead, 2015-) have been actively involved in making filmed entertainment.

Drawing from both trade and journalistic coverage as well as interviews with executives at several hybrid publisher-studios, this talk surveys the approaches taken by these different independent operations as they have shifted into producing movies and TV series across a range of genres. In addition, I will address how these publishers have negotiated the relationship between their publishing and filmed entertainment divisions as well as with other key industry stakeholders. The talk will also highlight what is distinctive about comic books as sites of contemporary IP exploitation by Hollywood in comparison to other pre-sold properties such as plays, podcasts, and popular fiction.

NOV 18 - NATHAN ROSSI

Nathan Rossi, "Digitizing Roots & Routes: Central American Adoptees and the Negotiation of Cultural Identity in Online Diasporas."

Nathan will present portions of his dissertation.

Abstract:
Through looking at the mediated narratives of Central American adoptees as a site from which to better understand the impact of U.S. intervention in Central America, I examine the role that social media and digital technology plays in the negotiation of the cultural identities of transnational youth. My study introduces the idea of digital unforgetting to better understand the ways in which global communities of Central American adoptees are using hashtag networking, Facebook groups, and cultural production to insert themselves in transnational histories of migration and displacement from Guatemala and El Salvador, as well as negotiate alternative modes of kinship, belonging, and cultural identity. I argue that through digital mediation adult Central American adoptees complicate the boundaries of what centralaméricanismo, or being Central American, can be for themselves and future generations. In advancing this argument, this project provides new insights into the affordances and limitations of digital media and technology use among diasporic subjects in negotiating meaning of kinship and identity.

DEC 2 - ERIC FORTHUN

Eric Forthun, "The Tonight Show and the Construction & Formation of U.S. Late Night Television, 1953-1983."

Eric will present portions of his dissertation.

When media studies scholars discuss the history of U.S. late night television, they often begin with The Tonight Show (NBC, 1954-), a series at its launch known simply as Tonight. The show is generally referred to as the quintessential and most successful example of the late night format in the U.S., and popular literature frequently assumes that the series has already been extensively studied and historicized. Despite its nearly seven-decade run on broadcast television, however, The Tonight Show remains understudied and misunderstood. My dissertation project, “The Tonight Show and the Construction & Formation of U.S. Late Night Television, 1953-1983,” uses the early years of The Tonight Show as a means of locating late night within key tensions in U.S. broadcasting history. Through NBC’s internal documents, advertisements, financial figures, and trade journal coverage, my project moves late night programming away from the fringes of television studies scholarship and positions the genre within existing broadcasting and media industries research. In doing so, I interpret the history of late night programming as one significantly fraught from the beginning, with creative, financial, and geographical tensions dominating The Tonight Show’s formative years before it became one of NBC’s most commercially successful series.