Friday, May 21, 2010

Presenting a Paper at the Smithsonian

I will be presenting a paper on semiotics and cultural sensitivity at the 2010 Winton M. Blount Postal History Symposium, whose theme this year is "Stamps and the Mail: Imagery, Icons & Identity." The Smithsonian National Postal Museum is a sponsor and will host this year's event. The full title of the paper is Contemporary Cultural Attitudes in Ukraine: Using Postal History, Marcophily, and Philately as Gateway to Historiography and Cultural Memory. The Smithsonian National Postal Museum has already uploaded the abstract, available here. I'm up against three other scholars of former USSR and Eastern Europe. This talk is related both to my teaching in media theory in the arts in the Interactive Arts and Media department at Columbia College Chicago, and my Masters of Fine Arts thesis work at University of Illinois at Chicago which includes art in the form of artistamps and virtual worlds. In the abstract of this paper I observe "The contemporaneous explosion of the Internet in Ukraine's media landscape in this period [1991-present] serves to strengthen the relevance of postal history study as a transmodern analog to social media and analysis." I have also recently made available the 128page pdf file of a postal history exhibit entitled Ukraine Postal History: 1900-1945 and related research on multiculturalism in Ukraine on which the paper is partly based. In 2007 I was chosen to participate in an online exhibit at the Smithsonian, entitled Collecting Ancestral Homelands. My contribution was the reflection that collecting postal history engages historical analysis. From the semiotics of multiculturalism to media literacy in popular culture and virtual worlds, I assert that media theory in our transmodern world is an important intellectual and cultural asset.