New Media Fellow Burcu Bakioglu brings study of changing media culture

Cassidy Wilson

This year, Lawrence has hired Postdoctoral Fellow in New Media Studies Burcu Bakioglu to address changes in media and entertainment from an academic standpoint. Bakioglu is an expert in the emerging field of New Media Studies and is teaching three new courses on the subject this year.

Bakioglu received her Master’s degree and Ph.D. from the Comparative Literature Studies Department at Indiana University. She began her career studying post-modern novels by authors such as Italo Calvino and Vladimir Nabokov and was interested in novels that, in her own words, “force the reader to jump around and shuffle the text during the reading process.”

Soon, however, she came to realize that these kinds of formats were also in use on the Internet. Wikipedia, for example, is a public encyclopedia where readers can click hyperlinks within the text and move fluidly from one concept to another. This began to shift her academic focus from literature to the digital communities and cultures that create new media texts.

When asked to define “new media,” Bakioglu specified that she prefers the term “emerging technologies” or “emerging media.” This is because “most of the media that we perceive to be ‘old media’ was new once upon a time.”

Bakioglu described a process in which “established media and emerging media co-exist for an extended period of time. During this time, older media develop new functions and find new audiences and emerging media occupy the cultural space of the older media.”

When asked about the importance of studying these changes, Bakioglu answered, “As a society, we are going through a major transition as a result of these emerging technologies, and we need to develop the literacy and fluency of what these new media mean because they affect all aspects of our lives.”

Bakioglu is teaching three new courses this year. Last term, she introduced the course Digital Cultures, which she said “interrogates the nature of digital media and examines the ways in which new information technologies are affecting everyday life, culture, institutions, and identities.” As part of the course, students must blog, tweet and use various other forms of social media.

This term, she is teaching the course Order, Conflict, & Unrest in Virtual Worlds, which she described as an investigation of “the governance of virtual worlds, as well as the conflict and unrest that emerge in these environments.” Students in this course engage in these virtual gaming and social worlds and even “do investigative reporting” within them.

Next term, Bakioglu’s course will be called Interarts: New Media Projects, which will help students develop skills in online storytelling, writing and design. Guest lecturers will describe the theoretical and technical aspects of their online work, and students will learn how to use a series of internet-based technical tools in order to complete a final project posted on their own sites.

Bakioglu says she has enjoyed working with Lawrence students, who she described as “outstanding…They are open to new things, testing things out, willing to tag along for the ride.” She hopes that students who take her classes will gain a stronger sense of media literacy and learn to think critically about the new media they use every day.