CRC fellow Jiaxi Wu awarded American Heart Association fellowship

By Susannah BlairJune 18th, 2020

Congratulations to Jiaxi Wu, CRC graduate fellow and rising third-year student in the Emerging Media Studies doctoral program! She has just been awarded a two-year $100,000 fellowship from the American Heart Association’s Tobacco Center for Regulatory Sciences. Dr. Traci Hong (COM) and Dr. Jessica Fetterman (Medicine) will be co-mentors and direct the core research studies funded by the fellowship: “The Appeal of Flavored Cigars on Social Media for Youths and Vulnerable Populations.”

Jiaxi will utilize a mixed-methods approach (i.e., big data analysis, survey, content analysis) to examine how flavored cigars are promoted on Instagram and other social media platforms. Research findings will be submitted to the FDA to inform the agency’s oversight of tobacco products. Jiaxi will also attend weekly seminars to develop a deeper understanding of regulatory science and policies related to tobacco prevention.

New book co-edited by CRC fellow Patrice Oppliger now available

By Susannah BlairApril 21st, 2020

"The Dark Side of Stand-Up Comedy," a new book co-edited by Patrice Oppliger (CRC fellow) and Eric Shouse, is now available for purchase.

This book focuses on the “dark side” of stand-up comedy, initially inspired by speculations surrounding the death of comedian Robin Williams. Contributors, those who study humor as well as those who perform comedy, join together to contemplate the paradoxical relationship between tragedy and comedy and expose over-generalizations about comic performers’ troubled childhoods, addictions, and mental illnesses. 
The book is divided into two sections. First, scholars from a variety of disciplines explore comedians’ onstage performances, their offstage lives, and the relationship between the two. The second half of the book focuses on amateur and lesser-known professional comedians who reveal the struggles they face as they attempt to hone successful comedy acts and likable comic personae. The goal of this collection is to move beyond the hackneyed stereotype of the sad clown in order to reveal how stand-up comedy can transform both personal and collective tragedies by providing catharsis through humor.

Purchase the e-book and hardcover here.

ICA 2020 presentations by CRC faculty and students

By Susannah BlairMarch 3rd, 2020

*Update: While this schedule remains the same, the conference will now be taking place virtually (not in Australia, as previously planned).*

This May, communication scholars from around the globe will convene for the International Communication Association's 70th annual conference, including several of the CRC's fellows.

As the program has recently been made available, we've compiled our own schedule of sessions and presentations that will feature CRC/BU COM-affiliated faculty and students. It can be accessed here.


CRC conducts biometric research on voter responses to candidates ahead of Super Tuesday

By Susannah BlairMarch 2nd, 2020

In a project conducted for the State House News Service, CRC researchers used biometric methods to measure potential voters' subconscious responses to candidates running in this year's presidential election.

Utilizing galvanic skin response (GSR), facial expression analysis, eye tracking, and self-report survey data, researchers Susie Blair, Anne Danehy, and Mina Tsay-Vogel designed a study to better understand how voters respond to information about six of this year's candidates—five of the Democratic frontrunners, plus  Donald Trump.

Reporter Craig Sandler of the State House News Service authored a piece about the study's findings which has since been published on WGBH's news site.

"Biometrics studies like the one the CRC conducted for the News Service do ask voters questions in traditional ways, and the group was asked a battery of questions about their personal impressions of the contenders after being presented with their photos and biographies," he writes. "But they studied those photos and biographies on a monitor that recorded their eye movements and facial expressions, and while wearing sensors that measured their galvanic skin response—a proven indicator of emotional involvement and arousal."

Read more —"BU Biometrics Study Finds Sanders Generates Most Intense Emotional Response In Voters," WGBH News

New book by CRC fellow Charlotte Howell, “Divine Programming,” to be released April 2020

By Susannah BlairDecember 13th, 2019

From the mid-90s to the present, television drama with religious content has come to reflect the growing cultural divide between white middle-America and concentrated urban elites. As author Charlotte E. Howell argues in this forthcoming book, by 2016, television narratives of white Christianity had become entirely disconnected from the religion they were meant to represent. Programming labeled "family-friendly" became a euphemism for white, middlebrow America, and developing audience niches became increasingly significant to serial dramatic television. Utilizing original case studies and interviews, Divine Programming investigates the development, writing, producing, marketing, and positioning of key series including 7th Heaven, Friday Night Lights, Rectify, Supernatural, Jane the Virgin, Daredevil, and Preacher. 

As this book shows, there has historically been a deep ambivalence among television production cultures regarding religion and Christianity more specifically. It illustrates how middle-American television audiences lost significance within the Hollywood television industry and how this, in turn, has informed and continues to inform television programming on a larger scale. In recent years, upscale audience niches have aligned with the perceived tastes of affluent, educated, multicultural, and-importantly-secular elites. As a result, the televised representation of white Christianity had to be othered and shifted into the unreality of fantastic genres to appeal to niche audiences. To examine this effect, Howell looks at religious representation through four approaches—establishment, distancing, displacement, and use—and looks at series across a variety of genres and outlets in order to provide varied analyses of each theme.

Click here to purchase

Charlotte E. Howell is an Assistant Professor of Television Studies in the Department of Film and Television and a research fellow of the CRC. Her work has been published in the Cinema Journal, Critical Studies in Television, Networking Knowledge, Kinephanos, and in the anthology Supernatural, Humanity, and the Soul: On the Highway to Hell and Back.