logistical media are media

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Scholarship Narrative




I am an active and productive scholar. Since

I joined the Manchester

faculty in the Fall of 2007, I
have: 1) completed my doctoral disse
rtation, 2) published
in the
Journal of Media & Religion
,

3)
published in the
Journal of
Empire Studies
,

4
)
submitted an invited article to the
Ca
nadian Journal of
Communication,
5)
presented four
p
apers at national c
ommunication

conferences, and 6
) participated in
a panel at the
Annual Conference of the Association of Educators in Journalism
& Mass Communication

(AEJMC). I
now detail
these works
and
my current projects, and
do so with an eye for their contributions
to
the
communication st
udies

discipline
.


Dissertation

I had a difficult time
finishing my dissertation. Professor Lahman was an e
ffective mentor
throughout, though, and even when my committee asked for an additional chapter

during the summer
of 2008
.

Br
oadly, my dissertation
draws on artifacts from MIT’s Radiation Laboratory to understand
radar as a
log
istical medium
.
I
introduce th
e notion of
logistical media

by declaring
:

Logistical media mimic the communicative cosmos. They intrude, almost imperceptibly,
on our experiences of space and time, even as they represent them. They are devices of
cognitive, social, and political coordina
tion that are so fundamentally communications
media that they intersect and envelop much of our lives without our conscious
awareness. Lighthouses, clocks, global positioning systems, temples, maps, calendars,
telescopes, and highways are just a few of the
m. In modern terms logistical media are at
once bureaucratic and militaristic. They intersect issues of social organization, power,
and economics. My tidy description of logistical media is this:

logistical media are media
of orientation. They have to do
with order and arrangement first, and representation
second, if at all.

(Case, 2010, p. 1)

My move against representation, against the predominan
ce of interpreting media texts
, allows
me to study

how media

such as radar

coordinate
movement
.
In my abstract,

I describe my
dissertation this way:

This study introduces
logistical media
and considers one example of such

radar. Innis (1972;
1951), Mumford (1970; 1934), Carey (1988), Virilio (1997; 1989; 1986) and others are discussed
as preparing an understanding
of logistical media as subtle but powerful
devices of cognitive,
social, and politic
al coordination that affect our experience of time and space. Radar is
presented as significant because of its progressive
-
catastrophic potential. Radar was invented

for na
tional defense and to remotely survey the earth and its a
tmosphere, but it also allows new
collisions with “others.


(Case, 2010)


In media studies, the discussion of

collisions
with ‘others’”
has been
revived after 9/11. It is
especially popular with sch
olars who are concerned with nationalism, international conflict, and
surveillance.
At the undergraduate level, it emerges in the study of telecom
munications and is a
featured component of the Telecommunications course here at Manchester.

Please
see

“Disse
rtation”
below

for chapter one

of my dissertation
.


Journal of Media & Religion


While waiting for feedback from my dissertation chair, I revised a conference paper and
submitted it to the
Journal of Media & Religion.
The paper, “Sounds from the Center: Li
riel’s
Performance and Ritual Pilgrimage” is what communications scholars call a
performance analysis
. It
asserts that live performance can disrupt the ideological power of
encod
ed meaning
. Hall (1980) argues

that encoding is ideologically powerful because it is “the relations of knowledge and production that
lead to ‘meaning structures’

to the economies and technologies that make common sense of ideology”
(Case
, 2009, p. 211). Hall emphasizes

that encoding in
cludes media professionals’ normative practices,
such as camera angles, lighting techniques, and comm
ercial sponsorship.
In this paper,
I contend
ed

that
in the context of religious singing, encoding can also include “architectures such as the existence an
d
arrangement of choir seats, clergy, and congregants, of chancels, and of enclosing buildings pregnant
with meaning
,
” as well as “liturgies, traditions, and hymnbook production and access” (Case, 2009, p.
211
-
212).


In this paper
I
also
drew

on Schechne
r (2002) to reason that Hall’s encoding processes can be
disrupted by the ambiguities of li
ve performance. I then evaluate
d

the encoding processes and live
performance of Liriel

Domiciano, a Brazilian pop artist who sang during a world
-
wide religious broad
cast
in Apr
il 2004. In conclusion, I argue
d

the relevance of performance analysis for the study of media and
religion
. I wrote

that
:

The underlying relations of knowledge and production that comprise Hall’s meaning structures
are not exclusive to my study
. Performance analysis allows cultural issues to be explored
without reducing performers to objects, and with emphasis on the encodings that make worship
meaningful

architectures, processes, performances, and power. (Case, 2009, p. 223
-
224)

This paper
ha
s
led to a
n awareness

of the impact of cameras and microphones on speeches in
the Foundations

course, and

especially to instructors accounting for
shot distances, camera angles
, and
noise when
grading

recorded
speeches
.

It
has
also
drawn the attention of
scholars working at the
intersection of communications and religious studies, and at the boundaries between interpersonal and
mediated communication. Even as a conference paper, it led to my participation on an AEJMC
panel
in
2008
. It was

published
in
vol
. 8, no. 4 of the
Journal of Media & Religion

(see “Sounds from the Center”
below
)
.


Journal of Empire Studies


During the summer of 2011 I was contacted by
the editor of the
Journal of Empire Studies.
He
was
i
ntrigued by my logistical

a
pproach to
communication, and by

the implications of my ideas for
notions of empire
. H
e offered to publish a wide
-
ranging

interview
with me that would introduce his
readers to
the “
logistics of empire.

The result was “Geometry, Radar and Empire
,


which was published
in October, 2011.
In response to the
editor’s
questions
,


How did geometry impact 20th century
empires?
” and “
Did it affect them differently?


I wro
te

that:

In the 20th century…
empires added lines and points that were mediated, private, and
controlled. Sea
rchlights could be seen by most anyone within range, but radar pulses could only
be seen by those with the knowledge and means to detect them. Civil War Generals surveyed
fields with spyglasses, but by World War I Generals were in distant rooms watching fi
lms
recorded by surveillance aircraft. Sentries on towers can be hit with rocks, but taking out spy
satellites requires the means of a nation state or a Bond villain. The short of it is that during the
20th century empires added remote lines and points. Di
gital technologies further extended this
remoteness as geometries became even fast
er, more secure, and integrated
…. (Case, 2011
a
, p.
2)


In this interview
I

emphasize
d

relationships bet
ween media
, power, and empire,

and did

so in a
way

that historians, political scientists, and m
ilitary scientists could

access.

In
communications, similar
work has been done by Innis (
1972;
1951), Carey (1988), and Kittler (
1999), and is seen

as a viable
alternative to conventional studies of media

repres
entations and effects
(see “Geometry, Radar and
Empire” below
)
.








Canadian Journal of Communication


In May, 2012, I presented “A Prehistory of Radar: Feedback, Logistics, and Remote Control” at
the annual meeting of the International Communication

A
ssociation in Phoenix
.
This pa
per

made

some
of the historical work in my dissertation digestible
; it created

a framework for otherwise disparate
fragments

from the development of the torpedo, searchlight, and war horn, and from the attempted
development of

the death ray
.

Eac
h of these media

prefigures

radar

in its impact

on movement, the
arrangement of objects, and the understanding of national space.

In this paper, I wrote

that these
media
:


R
eceive information from objects that help nation states identify
, coordinate, and control
movements from a distance. They establish points of view, become collection points for
information, reinforce and extend nation states’ borders, and prefigure some of radar’s logistics.
In these terms they are
logistical media
;
they are primarily concerned with order and
arrangement
.

(Case, 2012
, p. 4)

Immediately after
I presented this paper
,
a member of the editorial board of the
Canadian
Journal of Communication

invited me to submit it for inclusion in a special, “earth observ
ing media”

edition of

that journal.

I have done so, and anticipate
its
publication

in
2013

(see “A Prehistory of Radar”
below
)
.





Conference Papers

In November of 2007,
I presented two papers

at the annual conference of the National
Communication Associ
ation
,

in Chicago.

“Recovering the Radical: Biocybernetic Subversion in Guerrilla
Media Primer,” was a performance analysis that investigated the political potential of guerrilla
journalism

(I discussed the other paper, “Sounds from the Center,” above)
. It

theorized

how new media
might be adapted to the purposes of guerrilla journalism
, and analyzed

a video created to train
prospective guerrilla journalists
.
As I argue
d

on the first page of “Recovering the Radical
,


guerrilla
journalism is a contradiction in terms:

Producing and distributing media for radical social change, the practice commonly referred to as
guerrilla journalism, is paradoxical from the first. As guerrillas, the goal is to gain access to the
corpor
ate media so that it

and the consumer society values it rein
forces

can be
undermined….
But as journalists, there is a need to do the work of journalism, to fill the vacuum
of substantive news coverage and enable citizens to participate knowledgably in their

own
governance. Audiences have expectations about what constitutes credible and professional
journalism, and political radicals running through the streets with home video cameras is not
usually part of the mix. Moreover, if guerrilla journalists are to r
each and persuade the masses,
they need to understand and cater to mass tastes, even if just enough to gain an opportunity to
change them. Clearly, the tensions between guerrilla journalists’ professional and subversive
commitments are strong

even severe

a
nd the risk of privileging one over the other is real.
(Case, 2007, p. 1)

The dialectical tension between guerrilla journalists’ needs to subvert and their needs to meet
audience expectations exemplify my approach to research objects.
I tend to analyze the

tensions
between extremes, whether those extremes are in
popular
texts,
ritual
performances, or historical
fragments.
This paper
in particular, though,
helped me
design

the
Guerrilla Journalism

course
.
At
Manchester,
Guerrilla Journalism students

balance
audience expe
ctations with guerrilla techniques
,
sources, and perspectives
(see
the guerrilla journalism videos in the Teaching Narrative and
“Recovering
the Radical” below
)
.



In November of 2011, I presented “The Logistics of Communication: Radar as a Br
anch of
Communication Theory”
at the
Annual Convention of the National Communication Association in New
Orleans.
I adapted this paper
from my dissertatio
n work, and tried to distill its theoretical component
. In
this paper, I argue
d

that radar invites the
study of
communication in terms of logistics.

I wro
te that:

Radar is a branch of communication theory. As cyberneticist Norbert Wiener observed while
developing radar for the U.S. military, “The technique of radar used the same modalities as the
existing technique of radio besides inventing new ones of its own. It

was thus natural to
consider radar as a branch of communication theory. Besides finding airplanes by radar it was
necessary to shoot them down” (Wiener, 1954, p. 148).


Wiener is positioned to makes such an observation. His computation of firing tables d
uring
World War I, his toils to shoot down planes that went faster than bullets during World War II,
and his contributions to communication theory are of a kind (Rheingold, 2000). All turn on
precise and unremitting adjustments based on predictability. Wie
ner’s notion of feedback is a
military thermostat: it

presupposes that output associated with radar transmissions reflects off
target objects and returns in a diminished, but measurable, form. For Wiener, returned
transmissions, or feedback, are useful if they are attained with sufficient speed and accuracy.
They enable
radar readers

as radar operators were first known

to predict an object’s
distance and trajectory. During World War II, Wiener refined and automated the use of
feedback in radar systems so that servomotors could steer artillery batteries in time

to hit
enemy aircraft. His systems
detected

aircraft,
identified

them as enemies, and
coordinated

their
collision with armaments and friendly fighters.
(Case, 2011b, p. 1
)


I am here cutting against the grain of the last few decades of research. It has be
come popula
r to
discount the

logistical origins of notions such as
feedback
,
and to instead critique their role in sender
-
centric messages and communication systems.

The

return to a critique of the

logistical a
nd military
roots of these systems invites a
consideration of communication, movement, an
d space, and prepares
the notion of logistical media that I advocate

(see “Logistics of Communication” below)
.



Panel


In addi
tion to my dissertation, publications
, and conference papers, I was a featured speake
r on
a panel at
the
2008 Annual Conference

of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass
Communication
. The panel I presented in was concerned with the work of James Carey, an influential
scholar in communications and the developer of the
ritual
model of communication
. I traced a portion of
Carey’s work to its roots in the thinking of Harold Innis, and then sketched the concept of logistical
media from my dissertation. My fello
w panelists were noted experts on Carey’s work

Cliff Christians
from th
e University of Illinois and Dan Stout from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.


Current Projects


I am submitting two projects to the International Communication Association’s Annual
Conference this year. The first is as a member of a panel on the histo
ry of earth observing media, a
panel that will also include John Peters of the University of Iowa and Chris Russill of Carleton University.
The second is an adaptation of my dissertation chapter on logistics and a
ntennas, a topic that is
rooted
in the
British effort to develop radar and that will fit the conference them
e

and London location.


I am also working on two papers for the
Journal of Media & Religion
. I worked at two different
archives last summer

one in Kansas City and one in Salt Lake City

th
at preserved records on the ways
religious groups used radio in the pre
-
broadcast area. Between this work
and my logistical work, I

have a
healthy and viable research agenda.





References



Carey, J. (1988). Communication as culture: Essays on media and
society. New York: Unwin Hyman.

Case
, J. A.

(2012)
. A prehistory of radar: Feedback, logistics, and remote control.
62nd
Annual
Conference of the International Communication Association,
Phoenix AZ.

Case
, J. A.

(2011
a
)
.
Geometry, radar and empire.
Journal of Empire Studies

vol. 1, no. 2
, 1
-
11
.

Case, J. A. (2011b). The logistics of communication: Radar as a branch of communication

theory.
97th
Annual Conference of the National Communication Association
, New

Orleans, LA.

Case, J. A. (2010).

Geometry of empire: Radar as logistical medium. Doctoral Thesis.The University of
Iowa.

Case
, J. A.
(2009)
. Sounds from the center: Liriel’s performance and ritual pilgrimage.
Journal of Media &
Religion
vol. 8, no. 4, 209
-
225.

Case, J. A. (2007). Recover
ing the radical: Biocybernetic s
ubversion in Guerrilla Media P
rimer.
93
rd

Annual Conference of the National Communication Association
, Chicago, IL
.

Hall, S. (1980). Encoding/Decoding. In Hall, S., Hobson, D., Lowe, A., & Willis, P. (Eds)
Culture, Media,
L
anguage
. London: Hutchinson.

Innis, H. A. (1972).
Empire and c
ommunications. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Innis, H.A. (1951).
The bias of co
mmunication. Toronton: University of Toronto Press.

Kittler, F. A. (1999). Gramophone, Film, Typewriter.T
rans. G. Winthrop
-
Young and M. Wutz (trans).
Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

Mumford, L. (1970).
The pentagon of p
ower: The myth of the machine. New York: Harcourt Brace
Jovanovich.

Mumford, L. (1934). Technics and civilization. New York: Harcour
t Brace & Co.

Rheingold, H. (2000).

Tools for thought: The history and future of mind
-
expanding technology.
Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.





Schechner, R. (2002). Performance studies: An introduction. London & New York: Routledge.

Virilio
, P. (1997). Open sky. London & New York: Verso.

Virilio, P. (1989). War and cinema: The logistics of perception. London: Verso.

Virilio, P. (1986). Speed & politics: An essay on dromology. M. Polizzotti (Trans.). New York:
Semiotext(e).

Wiener, N. (1954)
.
Human use of human beings: Cybernetics and society.
Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co.