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Interdisciplinary projects the focus of McVicker sabbatical
Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Interdisciplinary projects the focus of McVicker sabbatical

Dr. Jeanette McVicker

Department of English faculty member Dr. Jeanette McVicker’s interdisciplinary projects during her sabbatical broadly explore the changing conceptions of the human subject as these are constructed through media (mainstream news and social media), politics (including discourses of war and terror) and culture (literature and the arts). Her questions focus specifically on the many implications of these constructions with regard to citizenship, political agency and language. The separate yet related projects will take concrete form through several conference presentations during the spring and summer that she hopes to expand into eventual publications.

Dr. McVicker’s primary emphasis during the first half of her sabbatical focused on mainstream news media both in the U.S. and in the U.K./Europe and their role in shaping readers’ conceptions of the subject: who counts as human, and what implications follow? She addressed this in a paper, “Media narratives of transnational terror and the construction of subjectivity,” presented at Augusta University in Augusta, Ga., for the inaugural transnational journalism history conference, co-sponsored by Dublin City University in Ireland, in early March. Taking a critical theory approach to an historical analysis of news before and after September 11, McVicker analyzes the U.S. mainstream news media’s constructions of subjectivity in reporting on terrorism and its transnational impact.

In a second conference paper, this one presented at the Joint Journalism and Communication History Conference, held at New York University’s Arthur Carter Journalism Institute in New York City in mid-March, McVicker looked more specifically at the way terrorism intersects with neoliberalism in U.S. media reporting of social justice issues. This paper, “Social justice vs security: media, democracy and the war on terror in the era of neoliberalism” took an historical approach to consider how neoliberalism has created an internalized racial ‘other’ that converges with an external racialized ‘other’ constructed through the discourse of terrorism, and the implications for citizenship and democracy.

During the second half of the semester, McVicker’s focus turns toward literary studies.

She will take up the question of subjectivity as it pertains to Virginia Woolf’s sense of Englishness, and how that mattered to her as a writer. McVicker will present a paper, “’Curious contrasts!; reimagining the legacy of heritage,” at the 27th Annual Conference on Virginia Woolf at the University of Leeds (U.K.), focusing on Woolf’s relation to place and its impact on her subjectivity as a distinctly English writer. McVicker focuses on Woolf’s travels to the English countryside in contrast with her two trips to Greece, one early and one late in her career, during which issues of nationalism and heritage are foregrounded in British and European culture. The paper explores the relation that these specific journeys have to Woolf’s developing sense of tradition, history, and western civilization, and her sense of her own ‘place’ as a writer.

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