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Academic Presentations

Graduate School of Arts & Sciences
Cordially Invites You to

Communitas 08

Saturday, March 29, 2008

This page will be updated for the Academic presentations for 2008

Academic Presentations:
The choice and scheduling of sessions offered will depend upon pre-registration numbers.  Please see below for presentation descriptions.  (Please note: More descriptions will be added soon.)

A Media Culture and the Shaping of the Self
B Greening the Charred Earth:  Urban Gardens
C "The Mommy Wars":  Working Mothers in America, Past and Present
D Memoirs, Memoirists, and their Ghostwriters
E Religion in a Post-Modern/Post-Global World
F Foreign Investment in the Global Marketplace
G City Lights, City Nights:  Defining City Culture
H Cheating on High-Stakes Exams:  A Mixed Message?
I Brain Research:  A Means to Understand the Mind
J Evolution in the 21st Century

A. The Medium is the Message: Understanding Media as Environments Dr. Lance Strate, Professor of Communication and Media StudiesDr. Dominic J. Balestra, Professor of Philosophy Everybody talks about the media, some people even try to do something about the media, but few truly understand the media as media. Marshall McLuhan, who was Fordham University's Albert Schweitzer Professor of the Humanities during the late 1960s, famously stated that "the medium is the message," and in addition to coining the term "global village," provided an approach to understanding media as environments. McLuhan's media ecology provides a means of making sense out of the social and cultural revolutions that have rocked our world from the 1960s to the present day. His method begins with the understanding that communication cannot occur without the prior existence of a medium, and that media and technology constitute an invisible environment in which we live. As environments, media shape and alter who we are, individually and collectively, and are now taking us into entirely unanticipated, and certainly controversial new directions.
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B. Greening the Charred Earth: Urban Gardens
Dr. Gail Langellotto, Assistant Professor of Biological Science(additional panelists to be announced)Although conservation initiatives are not typically targeted at cities, the local production of food in urban parks and gardens has the potential to promote sustainability within urban areas. In addition to reducing the ecological costs of global, industrial food chains, local food production can help to bridge the nutrition deficit experienced by many urban residents of lower income areas. Dr. Langellotto will describe her lab group’s studies on insect pollinators and food production in community gardens in the Bronx and East Harlem. The session will ponder the question of whether local food production and urban agriculture can be reasonably achieved on ecological or economically meaningful scales.
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C. Deconstructing the Mommy Wars: Working vs. Stay-at-Home Mothers
Dr. Kirsten Swinth, Magis Distinguished Professor of History (speaker)Dr. Chris Morett, Assistant Professor of Sociology and Anthropology (respondent)"Mommy Wars" has become a catchphrase of recent years, used to describe a range of conflicts between working and stay-at-home mothers. But are career and stay-at-home moms really at war? Why does the U.S. media devote so much attention to battles between mothers? What is at stake in debates about working vs. stay-at-home mothering? And how do these media-staged battles affect the lives that women and men actually lead? This session analyzes some of the most visible books and news reports about the supposed "battle" between women. Newsweek announced back in 1990 that the "mommy wars" had begun: we shall try to make sense of the subsequent cultural debate, including the recent controversy about the 2003 New York Times Magazine story on the "opt-out revolution" and Caitlin Flanagan’s inflammatory book, To Hell With All That (2006). We will situate the "mommy wars" in changes occurring in women’s roles as well as in the economy over the last thirty-five years. In addition, our discussion will explore some of the unresolved social and policy issues regarding parenting and childrearing that the “mommy wars” stories so often mask.
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D. Memoirs, Memoirists, and their Ghostwriters
Dr. Doron Ben-Atar,Professor of History  Dr. Elizabeth Stone, Professor of English, Communication and Media StudiesMrs. Roma Nutkiewicz Ben-Atar, MemoiristLook at The New York Times Best Seller list any week in the year—memoirs are always among the top sellers.   According to many critics and scholars, the memoir as a genre now has the authority that novels once had.   Apparently individuals are as compelled to write memoirs as their readers are to read them, especially now that the genre is no longer limited to Great Men holding forth on their Achievements.    

Come join a conversation about this need to speak out and, more specifically, about the politics of memory and its relation to history. Participants will explore the behind-the-scenes collaboration between author and ghost writer that is often at the heart of a memoir. Among the discussants are Doron Ben-Atar, Professor of History and his mother, Roma Nutkiewicz Ben-Atar, whom he assisted with her memoir, What Time and Sadness Spared: Mother and Son Confront the Holocaust. Also appearing on the panel will be writer Elizabeth Stone, Professor of English, Communication and Media Studies, who will discuss the genre in the context of her work on two memoir projects: A Boy I Once Knew: What a Teacher Learned from her Student, a memoir based on diaries bequeathed to her by a former student who died of AIDS, and her recent collaboration with Dina Matos McGreevey, the former first Lady of New Jersey, on her forthcoming memoir, Silent Partner. 
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E. Religion in a Post-Modern/Post-Global World
John P. Entelis, Professor of Political Science & Director, Middle East Studies ProgramAmir H. Idris, Assistant Professor of African and African-American Studies
Islam has assumed multiple identities and purposes in the Middle East and North Africa in the last decades. While the basic religious precepts of the faith continueto inspire and to motivate millions of devout Muslims throughout the world, a more explicitly and, at times, virulent form of “political Islam” has taken center stage in the post-modern era. This panel seeks to identify the origins, multiple manifestations, and consequences of political Islam in the context of state-society relations as currently being experienced in Northern Africa. We will pay particular attention to the cases of Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, and the Sudan in attempt to elaborate a broader understanding of the state-society dialect in the Middle East and North Africa.

The following academic presentations will be offered by Fordham University faculty members who are experts in their respective fields.  The sessions will be interdisciplinary and interactive:  some will be roundtable or panel discussions, while others will feature a lecture followed by a respondent and a period of general discussion.

For further information, call (718) 817-4400 or email 

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