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Attempting to Define the "New" in New Media: John Fekete Distinguished Lecture

November 17, 2014

Annual lecture series welcomes distinguished author and professor Dr. Wendy Chun

Dr. Wendy Chun says it’s difficult to define the “new” in New Media. There is always a promise of new, she says. But by the time it arrives and people begin to understand it, it’s already changed. Still, Dr. Chun has made New Media much of her career focus, and on November 23 she brought her expertise to Trent University.

Professor Chun, a professor and chair of Modern Culture and Media at Brown University, was at Bagnani Hall at Traill College to deliver the 2014 John Fekete Distinguished Lecture Series.

The lecture entitled “New Media: Paradoxes and Habits” focused on Prof. Chun’s most recent work on rapid changes in digital technologies, and society’s responses to such changes, which are simultaneously excitement, anticipation, anxiety, and boredom. Prof. Chun has studied both Systems Design Engineering and English Literature, which she combines and mutates in her current work on digital media. She is author of Control and Freedom: Power and Paranoia in the Age of Fiber Optics, and Programmed Visions: Software and Memory.

Prof. Chun says New Media has enveloped society to a point where it’s now everywhere. “Silence is impossible not only because were constantly being captured, but because we’re constantly being compared to people who like us and who are like us,” she said. “So our friends knit us more closely into networks … the Internet, as big data, relies on those of liking and unliking.”

Trent Cultural Studies student Stelios Pappas says his interest in new media persuaded him to come and listen to Prof. Chun’s talk. “It’s very interesting. I think everyone here has similar ideas and conceptions of ‘this stuff exists’ and it’s something we all should understand,” he said. “I really enjoyed the lecture. I’m glad it was offered.”

The John Fekete Distinguished Lecture Series was created by Trent University’s Cultural Studies Ph.D. Program in 2012.  It honours retired Professor Emeritus John Fekete for his prolific career at Trent. The series aims to bring influential and important thinkers in the field of cultural inquiry to the university.