Come Join us in the Cloud

Richard Utz, Chair
Literature, Media, and Communication

Richard5_editThe School of Literature, Media, and Communication (LMC) is quite unlike most traditional teaching units in the liberal arts and humanities. Most importantly, it is not organized according to the regular confines of academic disciplines that have dominated how groups of scholars and teachers define and congregate since the late nineteenth century. Thus, while “English” was among the six foundational departments when Georgia Tech was founded in 1888, faculty in our English Department recognized the signs of the times in the early 1990s and reoriented and renamed the unit to critically accompany and even shape the quickly evolving future of academic education. The result of this reorientation, and the realization that complex social questions cannot be solved by any one academic discipline in isolation, is a School that features faculty with specializations in Biomedicine, Communication, Composition, Creative Writing, Critical Race Studies, Cultural Studies, Digital Media, Digital Humanities, Film, Literature, Law, Performance Studies, Science Fiction, Video, and many more. All that still suggests the “English” beginnings of our unit are the curricular offerings of “ENGL 1101” and “ENGL 1102,” a course sequence which satisfies the Georgia Board of Regents requirement for composition. However, even these courses, just like LMC’s organizational and curricular make-up, bear only a faint resemblance to conventional academic introductions to writing and communication. They offer elements of the kinds of Written, Oral, Visual, Electronic, and Nonverbal (WOVEN) communication with which students are expected to be conversant now and in the future.

Similarly, our two undergraduate majors, both Bachelor of Science degrees, are deeply interdisciplinary and encourage students to be “critical makers” interested in both evaluating AND producing the media (texts, images, games, video, objects, etc.) with which they engage. Our Literature, Media, and Communication (LMC) major allows students to focus on one of six threads from an exciting interdisciplinary banquet of courses: Communication; Literature; Media; Social Justice Studies; Interaction Design; and Science, Technology, and Culture. Our Computational Media (CM) major, which we offer in collaboration with the College of Computing, allows students to select one thread from LMC and one from Computer Science to forge a similarly interconnected experience. CM students may concentrate on Intelligence and Film, Performance, and Media, People and Game Studies, Media and Interaction Design and Experimental Media, to name only a few. Finally, at the graduate level, we provide nationally renowned M.S. and Ph.D. programs in Digital Media which comprise the areas of Arts & Entertainment, Civic Media, and Creativity & Knowledge.

From a distance, of course, LMC resembles somewhat the description you will see if you search for our School acronym on Wikipedia. There, you will find that LMC stands for a nearby “irregular type galaxy,” the “Large Magellanic Cloud,” a “faint ‘cloud’ in the night sky of the southern hemisphere,” “undergoing vigorous star formation activity.” We are indeed “irregular” in that we consciously and joyfully (re)combine and (re)connect what academic specialism has separated over the last 150 years so that our work may have an impact inside and outside the ivory tower. Our “vigorous star formation” includes faculty who garner major grants with the National Science Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and who disseminate their research in renowned academic publications as well as discuss it publicly on the Colbert Report and MSNBC’s Melissa Harris Perry show, in The Atlantic, the Chronicle of Higher Education, Inside Higher Ed, and And did I mention that LMC faculty, in addition to national and international recognition, are recent recipients of the Georgia Board of Regents Teaching Excellence Award, the Governor’s Award in the Arts and Humanities, and the Georgia Writers Association’s Author of the Year Award?

And where have our “star” graduates gone in recent years? At the undergraduate level, their innovative and wide ranging educational experience lands them positions with the Woodruff Arts Center, Turner Classic Movies, the College of William and Mary, Make-A-Wish Georgia,, Graphic Dimensions, Asset Marketing, Huron Consulting, Salesfusion, Electronic Arts, Microsoft, Boeing, AT&T, IBM, General Motors, Google, ThoughtWorks, and Sapient Nitro; at the graduate level, they move on to positions at the University of Georgia, Rensselaer Polytechnic, New York University, or are hired by Nokia, Walt Disney Imagineering, Google, and Turner Broadcasting.

Because our numerous achievements are not always visible in a traditional academic culture still based on segregated disciplines, we thought we should make more transparent what is happening in our fascinating “irregular galaxy.” Each of the stories in this volume grants insight into what awaits you, should you choose to join us as student, faculty, staff, or visitor. However, while each of the stories can offer only one “slice” of LMC’s activities, reading the entire volume reveals the mission that unites us in spite (or perhaps because) of the diverse nature of our backgrounds, experiences, and specializations: We strive to provide interdisciplinary humanistic perspectives in an increasingly technological world.

Please get in touch if you wish to learn more about how we work at the intersection between science/technology and the humanities/social sciences. Come join us in our very own “cloud.”

Richard Utz
Chair & Professor

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