Category Archives: Feature

Articles written by faculty and students that highlight important and controversial issues in today’s society.

UNH Seton Gallery Debuts Spring 2016 Exhibit

Written by Dayna Lindo

This Thursday, February 11, UNH Seton Gallery with artists and director, Laura Marsh will debut well-known artist, Felandus Thames’ most recent works, Whereabouts Unknown. The opening will take place in Dodds Hall from 5pm to 8pm, and will provide coffee, light refreshments, and a relaxing environment, allowing students the opportunity to revel in the art, and exchange thoughts, feelings and experiences.

For the past month, Thames has been working within the UNH community as an artist-in-residence, and has transformed Seton Gallery into a space reflecting his calm, and hospitable demeanor. Born in Jackson, Mississippi, and having spent some of his childhood in Chicago and Detroit, Thames emphasized how important community is to him. He says one thing he likes to do to gain inspiration is walk through his community.

“I like to think about how dollars circulate in the community. I try never to go to the big store, because those dollars go straight out. If I can get my art materials in my community, that’s what I want to do. I don’t care if you’re the white guy, black guy, green guy, indian guy, whatever. I am a stickler about community. And I begin to make relationships with the people who own the shops too. It’s important to me to community build on that level,” replied Thames.

In 2010, Felandus earned his MFA in Paint/Printmaking from Yale University’s School of Art. He described his art studio as a scientific lab, stating that he’s constantly pulling from previous work, and scrapping other ideas completely.

“My work is self-reflective in a weird kind of way. I think about my personal experiences, but I also try not to make it too personal. I teach a little bit, but I try not to be too didactic. I also try to think about myself, outside of myself, and what people may want to gain from experiencing me. I allow multiple discourses to happen at once in my work,” said Thames.

Thames revealed that his inspiration for this particular show was the prison industrial complex. He talked briefly about his love for haikus, and how two books in particular helped him build inspiration for his most recent works, ”Ideas of Ancestry” by Etheridge Knight (central theme) and S.O.S by Amiri Baraka.

Laura Marsh, the director and curator of Seton Gallery, as well as the owner of her own gallery in Downtown New Haven, expressed what she hopes students will take away from the experience of an artist-in-residence.

“Our university talks a lot about experiential education, and interdisciplinary studies. I’ve noticed that a lot of the conversations that I’ve been a part of here, or at Yale, surrounding the idea of race, always has breaking point. As an artist myself, I think when artists work together to build on personal narratives, or community, it is essential to keep that dialogue going,” Marsh explained.

Marsh stated that when race is discussed in a classroom, most of the time, she feels it is discussed in a very didactic manner, and is not always humanizing. She expressed frustration to this practice, and hopes that the gallery will be an experiential learning experience for students to create a new dialogue in how sensitive topics are discussed.

“If there is a way to discuss personal narratives, and how communities can relate to each other through class, through objects, through sharing, but also talk about the work, where its coming from, and the diaspora; when all of those things can connect, a point of intersection happens,” stated Marsh, “I hope there will be more experiences where, instead of attempting to cover 30 years of U.S. history in one class session, we could share family experiences.”

Marsh concluded that the end result of the exhibit is definitely important to her and Felandus Thames, but the reason she asks students to come and visit before the debut, is because it is important to her that students  actively share in the experiences leading up to opening day.

Media Literacy Combats Media Bias

Written by Dayna Lindo

Published December 4, 2015

With each story we encounter, what we deem most important and choose to take away depends on our individual ideologies. Ideology refers to how an individual understands the world in which they live based on the experiences they have had. Every written story is brought about from the same thing; a storyteller. The same logic holds true for news stories published in the media, but instead, the storytellers of news stories are referred to as journalists. Any story, be it fiction, non-fiction, folktale, or a biography, leaves each individual reader with a different feeling. The content published in the news medium we consume has been censored in one way or another. It is impossible to write an unbiased news story, unless a journalist solely limits their story content to who, what, when, where, and why. But even then, the content that is selected to portray the “who” and the “why” are still influenced by a journalist’s ideology.

Critically examining the top news media outlets’ headlines on the recent tragedies taking place in Paris is a prime example of how collective ideology seeps into news stories. American media channels such as the NBC News display similar headlines with words like “terror” or “ISIS.” These  word choices are influenced by the terrorists attacks of 9/11, and invoke fear and excitement in the targeted audiences. International media channels such as BBC News display headlines such as, “Paris Attacks: Search goes on for missing.” This kind of headline places emphasis on the victims of the attacks. The ideology within international news and American news content varies widely, and exposes what each medium deems as most important.

Most American citizens consume messages within media passively. They accept what is laid out in front of them as truth, and often forget to analyze the content critically to ensure it is in line with their own ideology. Most are not even aware that they have the power, freedom or ability to challenge the content within the media. The content that news sources select, and how they are covered embody media bias. A revolutionary approach to interpreting media and technology, known as media literacy, seeks to provide a framework that educates and encourages individuals to access, analyze, evaluate, create and participate in media messages. It is the process of understanding and using mass media in an assertive and non-passive way. Media literate individuals understand the nature of media, can identify the hegemonic techniques used in a medium, and explain the impact of these techniques.

Media literacy involves watching carefully, and thinking critically. Because most news media take part in agenda setting, which is the persuasive ability to tell people what to think and who to talk about, media literacy advocates encourage media consumers to take advantage of their access to news sources. Access is the ability of media consumers to produce their own texts and to have those texts acknowledged by the agenda setting media. Consumers of media are encouraged to respond to the dominant media and challenge the connotations within news stories. Simply looking for political agendas, stereotypes or misrepresentation is not media literacy; it also involves exploring the systems making certain representations seem “normal.”

Works Cited

            Boles, Derek. “Language of Media Literacy: A Glossary of Terms.” Language of Media Literacy: A Glossary of Terms. Center for Media Literacy, n.d. Web. 16 Nov. 2015.

Chrum, Alex. “A Quest for Truth: A List of the Top 8 Unbiased News Sources.” Debateorg Blog. N.p., 24 Aug. 2012. Web. 16 Nov. 2015.

Engel, Pamela. “Here Are The Most- And Least-Trusted News Outlets In America.” Business Insider. Business Insider, Inc, 21 Oct. 2014. Web. 15 Nov. 2015.

“Media Literacy: A Definition and More.” Media Literacy: A Definition and More. Center for Media Literacy, n.d. Web. 16 Nov. 2015.

This piece was written by Dayna Lindo for an American Government and Politics course taught by Professor Kate O’Gara. The assignment was to support or refute the statement, “The is no such thing as an unbiased media source.”

Social Media – Not So Social After All

Over the last decade there has been an incredible shift in the field of communication technology. Websites like Myspace, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and many others have changed the game not only for the business industry but also for the average consumer. When talking about social media most put an emphasis on all the good that has come out of it in terms of advertising and global connections among other things. The problem these new generations are beginning to face is the way they are used to communicating. Social media allows people to dedicate more face-to-screen time which is creating less face-to-face time.

Apps like Instagram have created this false sense of “enjoyment”. Younger generations are more focused on making sure the lighting is perfect in a picture at a concert than actually enjoying the concert itself. The main purpose behind Instagram has shifted from being a place where users can look back and remember fun times he or she had, and has not become a place where photos are primarily posted to make others envious of what someone else is doing. The emphasis is no longer on the event itself but on what the event can make others feel in comparison to the individual posting. The illusion of fun social media is giving, takes away from the actual fun that can be had interacting with others.

There is no denying social media technologies have not done incredible things as far as keeping families and friends in touch no matter how far away they are from one another. The problem arises when an increasing number of people would rather stay at home and communicate with others than get off his or her couch and have some real world interactions. According to an article written by Jennifer Brannock Cox, a professor at Salisbury University, research conducted by social scientists has shown signs of decreasing participation in community events. More people are deciding to stay indoors on his or her devices instead of meeting up with people to participate in such events.

There are even more people using online dating sites as a means to find Mr. or Mrs. Right. A study conducted in 2013 showed 17% of marriages that year consisted of those who had first encounters through online dating sites, according to statisticbrain.com. As the online presence increases, users will forget how to interact with one another when forced into close quarters. Now-a-days if a person looks around, whether it is on the train or at a restaurant, he or she will find a majority of the people are looking down at his or her phone, unaware and uninterested to what is going on around him or her. Research has shown that “one in four people spend more time socializing online, via sites such as Facebook and Twitter, than they do in person,” according to a study conducted for online casino Yazino. Avid social media users are forgetting what it is like to actually experience things because he or she is too concerned about what “Sarah” is doing tonight.

Written by:

Brianna Rodriguez

Editor-in-Chief

How to Prepare for the Graduate School Application Process

Throughout the last few years, I have had a number of students come through my door asking questions about whether they should pursue graduate study. Given that many students have had similar queries, I thought it would be useful to provide a short explanation of considerations that should be made when making decisions about graduate school and steps that should be taken when preparing for the application process. Depending on one’s personal interests and career goals, the steps that should be taken when deciding to pursue graduate study are different. In particular, the process for individuals seeking a professional degree such as a J.D. or a M.B.A., would be different than the process for an individual seeking a degree in the social sciences. For these reasons, it must be noted that this article is focused on the steps one should take when pursuing a graduate degree in communication (in particular, a research-oriented degree).

Prior to discussing how to prepare for the application process, it is crucial for a potential graduate student to take some time to consider why they wish to attend graduate school. Is it because one believes an advanced degree will make them more competitive on the job market? Is it because an individual has an intense passion for a particular field and would like to devote their life to it? Regardless of one’s reasons, it is very important to consider the rationale for this option. Pursuing graduate study can be a long process that requires a considerable amount of drive and commitment (if done well). As such, it is incredibly important that individuals put a lot of thought into their decision about moving forward in higher education.

While I found this path to be challenging and rewarding, it is not a path everyone has to take. Since we all have varied interests, expertise and career goals, graduate study will certainly benefit some more than others. When it comes down to it, whether or not one wishes to pursue graduate study is a personal decision. While graduate study can refine existing skills and make an individual a more attractive candidate for some communication-related positions, this is not a “one-size-fits-all” decision. Therefore, it is necessary to determine whether or not working toward an advanced degree would assist a prospective student in reaching their professional goals.

If an individual has weighed the options and decided that pursuing graduate study is the way to go, there are a number of tasks that need to be completed prior to (and during) the application process. Starting these tasks early will make the process easier and will likely improve one’s chances of success.

Step One: Gain Experience

When pursuing graduate study, students learn how to be an expert in their field. For example, if an individual is pursuing a research-oriented program, he or she will learn how to become an expert researcher. Eventually, these skills can translate into positions in government, non-government organizations and/or higher education. Prior to delving into these programs, it is important for an individual to determine whether or not this would be a good career fit by gaining experience in this domain. There are a number of ways one could gain research experience. The easiest way would be to contact a professor at one’s university, discuss research interests and determine whether or not it would be possible to work on a collaborative research project. Another way to gain experience would be to obtain a research-oriented internship. Each summer, countless research-oriented internships are available for students looking to gain experience in this sphere. If this is something one would like to pursue, they should get in touch with faculty members for more information on where to find internship opportunities.

Step Two: Make Connections

Making connections within the discipline can also be incredibly helpful when applying to graduate school. Nearly all graduate school applications require prospective applicants to submit letters of recommendation. Letters of recommendation speak to a candidate’s qualifications to pursue graduate study. These letters often come from mentors, supervisors and faculty members who have long-standing relationships with the applicant. Strong letters can make a candidate stand out amongst others. Therefore, it is important to develop strong relationships with instructors and professors. To do this, students should try to stand out in class and visit professors during office hours. Not only will those connections assist students in obtaining letters of recommendation when they are needed for graduate school, but faculty members will often be able to provide students with invaluable advice about the ins and outs of the graduate school application process.

Step Three: Prepare and Take the Graduate Record Exam

The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is a standardized test that is intended to assess students’ abilities in the areas of analytical writing, mathematics and vocabulary. Admissions committees use students’ scores on this test as one (of many) proxy measures to predict potential success in their program. Given this, students should start to review for the exam early in their college career. Specifically, junior year would be a good time to start preparing for this exam. Students should make sure they have taken the exam prior to applying for graduate programs.

Step Four: Research Graduate Programs

A very important component of pursing graduate study is identifying a program that fits one’s needs. Prospective graduate students will want to try to balance program prestige with personal research interests. Specifically, students will want to identify a rigorous program (with outstanding faculty members) that also offers course work that is in line with their interests as researchers. When searching for this information, a good place to start is at NCA’s doctoral program guide: http://www.natcom.org/DoctoralProgramGuide. Students should also speak with faculty members about their recommendations for doctoral programs.

Written by:

Professor Carolyn Lagoe