Quite a lot has happened in the past two years, so I suppose it’s time for a blog update. Most importantly, Nancy and I bought a house, and we adopted a beagle puppy named Busby. We love them both very much, and they’ve added quite a bit of adventure to our lives. We’ve spent a large portion of our time remodeling the house and taking Busby to the nearby forest preserve to run around and chase squirrels.
On the teaching front, I’ve really settled in at Northeastern Illinois University. I just wrapped up year three, and things are going really well. I can’t say enough good things about the department and the university. The students and colleagues have just been wonderful, and I feel very lucky to be there.
Later this summer I am teaching two classes (Mediated Communication and Gender & Media) and also working on a grant-funded research project with two graduate students in my department. Until then, I plan to enjoy the month of June by catching up on Breaking Bad and reading issues of Wired magazine that have been stacking up for the past year.
It has been one year since I last updated this blog, and quite a lot has happened in that time. Nancy and I moved to Chicago’s Albany Park neighborhood, and we spent the summer of 2011 geting acquainted with the area and watching a lot of The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show. We found some fantastic restaurants that have become regular favorites: Merla’s Kitchen, Tre Kronor, Beijo De Chocolat, Dawali Mediterranean Kitchen, and Noodles Party. If we’ve learned anything about this area of Chicago, it’s that Albany Park has amazing food.
After a very pleasant summer, I began my first year as an assistant professor at Northeastern Illinois University in the Communication, Media, & Theatre department. This year I taught several undergraduate courses: The Art of Film and Video, Mass Media and Society, Contemporary Issues in Mass Media, and Gender and Media. I also developed and taught a new graduate course titled Studies in New Media. I really can’t say enough wonderful things about the students, my department, and the university. It’s a fantastic place full of amazing people.
On the research front, I just completed the final revisions on a book chapter due to be published in the upcoming months, and I am currently working on an article to be submitted by the end of the summer. I also presented several papers this year:
“HBO’s Cultural and Public Service Programming in the 1980s” (SCMS Boston 03/24/2012)
“Rethinking Ownership and Accessibility in The Age of Digital Reproduction” (NCA New Orleans 12/20/2011)
“When Public Television Goes Private: Early AIDS Documentaries on PBS and HBO” (NEIU Symposium 12/04/2011)
“Social Media: Logics of Gaming/Logics of Markets” (NEIU Symposium 10/27/2011)
The upcoming year looks to be equally interesting on a number of fronts. More news coming soon!
I accepted a tenure-track position at Northeastern Illinois University!
I am officially Shayne Pepper, Ph.D., and my students can now finally call me Dr. Pepper if they wish. The defense was a surprisingly fun experience. Trying to condense the entire dissertation into a twenty-minute presentation actually forced me to rethink what the key takeaways were. It enabled me to have a great conversation with the audience and my committee about the real stakes of the project and how to move forward in the future.
Dissertation Defense (05-02-2011)
Now that I’ve defended, I can begin to focus on the next stage of my career as an assistant professor in the Department of Communication, Media, & Theatre at Northeastern Illinois University. My wife and I will be moving to Chicago this summer, and I will be joining the faculty in the fall. On top of all that, my wife just passed her preliminary exams, and now she is ABD! It’s clearly been a big week for us! As I complete my dissertation, she begins her own. We’ll obviously have a lot of work to do this summer, but I’m sure we’ll find a nice balance of work and relaxation as we enjoy our new apartment and explore the city together.
In the meantime, I am wrapping up the spring semester and my time at NC State. I’ll be done grading final papers and final exams soon, and I will be able to enjoy the end-of-the-semester parties during my last few weeks here. I will miss everyone in the CRDM program, and I will certainly miss Raleigh. It’s been a wonderful four years here, but I can’t wait to begin our new life in Chicago.
Com 467: Gender, Sexuality, & Media went really well. I had a great group of students, and their final projects were outstanding. We ended the semester with a mini-conference where they presented their papers on thematic panels, and I was really proud of how good their projects were. They presented on everything from Glee to Nancy Drew to Katy Perry. After a nice break, I’m ready to begin the spring semester tomorrow. I am teaching two sections of Eng 282: Intro to Film, and I’ve swapped out a couple of films this time (swapped Duck Soup for The Triplets of Belleville, for example). I also had to adapt one section to meet only once a week (Wednesday nights from 6pm-10pm). That will be an interesting change of pace from my typical Tues/Thurs or Mon/Wed/Fri schedule.
On the research side of things, I finished the final chapter of my dissertation over winter break thanks to a steady diet of Artie Shaw and Benny Goodman albums. (It’s much easier for me to write with music playing, but I wanted to retire the Sigur Rós for a while. Plus, the early big band and jazz felt more “holiday sounding.”) I am turning in my first complete dissertation draft on Friday and hope to take care of the revisions by the end of February. That should put me on track to defend in March and meet the graduate school deadlines in April. (If revisions take an extra month, I’ll just meet the summer deadline. It wouldn’t be the end of the world, but this earlier deadline keeps me motivated.)
Upcoming Conference Presentations:
2011 SCMS Conference, New Orleans: “HBO’s Memorial Documentaries: Remember. Reflect. Respond.”
2011 Cultural Studies Association Conference, Chicago: “Public Service Entertainment: HBO’s Interventions in Politics and Culture”
It’s been an eventful summer! I got married in June, spent time in Prince Edward Island for the honeymoon, and then Nancy and I spent the rest of the summer in Raleigh. I taught a section of Electronic Media Writing in the second half of the summer. This was another great group of students, and it was interesting to compress the course to a five-week summer session. I will be teaching Gender, Sexuality, & Media in the fall. Foucault, Butler, Lady Gaga, Mad Men… it’s a recipe for a good class. I’ll have the syllabus posted on the website soon.
In other news, I wrote a piece for a special edition of FlowTV titled “Beyond Netflix and TiVo: Rethinking HBO Through the Archive” and will also be involved in a roundtable discussion titled “It’s Not History. It’s HBO” at the 2010 Flow Conference in Austin. The dissertation is coming along well, and I’m looking forward to having a full draft by November so that I can be on track to defend early in the spring.
Oh, and now that I have an iPhone 4, I don’t really want an iPad as much.
I took my written exams in mid-February and passed my oral exam and defended my dissertation prospectus on March 5th. Now it’s time to move forward with the dissertation project. The progress is going well, and I’m looking forward to spending the summer focusing entirely on the dissertation.
In other news, an essay I wrote for an edited collection about singer/songwriter Joanna Newsom was recently published. The book is edited by Brad Buchanan and is called Visions of Joanna Newsom. It’s available through Amazon, and the book has gotten some nice press from music magazines. My essay is titled “Joanna Newsom Covers in the Blogosphere.” It was a fun project that I did a few summers ago, and it involved interviews with a number of artists who have covered her work. Her new album is amazing, by the way. I managed to see her a few weeks ago when she played in Durham, and it was a beautiful show.
I also recently found out that I had two papers accepted for presentation at NCA this coming November. The first is something I co-wrote with my CRDM colleague, Dawn Shepherd, titled “Watching Tina Fey Make Liz Lemonade: 30 Rock’s Post-Feminist Feminism.” The second paper is dissertation-related and titled “HBO, New Queer Cinema, and the AIDS Epidemic.”
On the teaching front, the spring semester is winding down. Introduction to Film has been a blast to teach, and I’ve also really enjoyed teaching Electronic Media Writing again. Those students have recently completed their documentaries, and the final products are available on YouTube and Vimeo if you’re interested in taking a look.
There are a few things to report as the fall semester wraps up. First of all, the NCA conference went well, and it was great to see old friends that are scattered about at different universities. Secondly, studying for exams is progressing nicely. I’ve completed the readings for two of my three exam areas (“Television Studies” and “AIDS Media & Culture”). My third area, (“Biopolitics & Governmentality”) should be finished by mid-January, which will put me on track to take my written exams late-January or early-February. Finally, I have a few new projects that were recently published:
“Invisible Children and the Cyberactivist Spectator.” Nebula 6.4 (December, 2009), 40-55.
Review of Looking Past the Screen Case Studies in American Film History and Method (Durham: Duke University Press, 2007) by Jon Lewis and Eric Smoodin (eds.). Film Criticism Vol. 33, No. 3 (Spring 2009), 72-75.
Review of Contagious: Cultures, Carriers, and the Outbreak Narrative. (Durham: Duke University Press, 2008) by Priscilla Wald. The Journal of Popular Culture (December, 2009), 1160-1161.
Looking ahead: in the spring I will be teaching one section of Introduction to Film and one section of Electronic Media Writing: Theory and Practice. Until then, as winter break approaches, I’m looking forward to spending time with Nancy in Ann Arbor, celebrating the holidays, and completing my exam readings.