Quinnipiac University College of Arts and Sciences

Archive for December, 2013|Monthly archive page

Writing Outside the Curriculum

In Students, Teaching on December 10, 2013 at 5:51 pm

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By Ken Cormier, Assistant Professor of English

A journalism student recently asked me if I thought the internet and all of its digital-communications spin-offs were having a positive or negative effect on young people’s reading and writing skills. She was working on a class project, and I felt compelled to complicate her question. I showed her a short column entitled “The Phonograph” from the Nov 7, 1877, edition of the New York Times in which an anonymous author speculates that “if the phonograph proves to be what its inventor claims that it is, both book-making and reading will fall into disuse.” The author goes on to envision a future in which students “will never have to learn [their] letters or to wrestle with the spelling book.” To me, this alarmist thinking about the phonograph demonstrates that the question of how emerging technologies will impact literacy is not a question of any one historical moment; it is a perennial question. Furthermore, the assumption that we will become either more or less literate tends to ignore the more plausible, and certainly more complex, inevitability that new technologies will continue to make us differently literate. Since the beginning of the written word, the development of newer, faster, and “better” communications platforms (printing press, typewriter, photocopier, online discussion board, instant message, blog, live tweet, etc.) has allowed more and more participants to enter into a larger discourse that is increasingly accessible and progressively diverse. The monolithic and largely subjective issue of “literacy” begins to show its limitations in such a fluid and dynamic communications environment. After all, no one is “literate” in any single, overarching way. The best communicators are those who know how and when to adopt the most appropriate and effective discourse for any given interaction. It seems we are much better served, then, by considering and examining the plethora of “literacies” that advance and recede as our communications technologies continue to evolve.

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Neuroscientists Get Together

In Faculty, Research on December 3, 2013 at 4:26 pm

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By Todd H. Ahern, Assistant Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Neuroscience

Each fall the Society for Neuroscience (SFN) holds its annual conference. Founded in 1969, SFN boasts a domestic and international membership of 42,000 and has a four-fold mission: to advance our understanding of the brain and nervous system, assist neuroscientists in professional development, promote public awareness and understanding of neuroscientific research, and inform policymakers about how neuroscience impacts and benefits society.

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