6.0695 Fulbright in Cultural Theory and Comm. Tech. (1/129)

Tue, 4 May 1993 16:12:57 EDT

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 6, No. 0695. Tuesday, 4 May 1993.

Date: Mon, 3 May 1993 15:29:52 +1200
From: Brian.Opie@vuw.ac.nz
Subject: Fulbright appointment

1995 Fulbright Scholar in Cultural Theory and New Communications Technology

The Fulbright Programme has accepted a proposal in the field of cultural
theory, information technology, and the information society for a scholar
to work in New Zealand during the first half of 1995.

It is very important that those with appropriate qualifications and
experience in this field, particularly in humanities applications and
research, should be advised about the appointment. We hope that you will
consider applying and will advise others with relevant interests about this
opportunity to engage in research and development work in New Zealand.

A summary of the proposal is attached to this notice.


Proposals are advertised within the United States from April to July by
The Council for International Exchange of Scholars
3007 Tilden Street, NW
Suite 5M
Washington DC 20008-3009.

The closing date for applications is 1 August 1993.

Other Information

For further information about New Zealand and Victoria University,
potential applicants should contact either of those named below.

1995 Fulbright Scholar in Cultural Theory and New Communications Technology

Cultural theory, information technology, the information society

The term "information society" is gaining currency as a index of what is
fundamentally distinctive about late twentieth century post-industrial
societies. It is a term which is both particularly identified with the
telecommunications and computer industries and which signifies a
transformation of the role of information in society as a consequence of
the invention of electronic communications media and databases.

Although it has been common to regard the media of communication as
transparent channels between the originator and the recipient in a
communication exchange, historical analysis of the cultural transformation
effected by the invention of printing has demonstrated that this once new
communications technology was fully implicated in the restructuring of
social relations which occurred in the shift from feudal to industrial
society. Neither modern science, with its international project for the
creation and exchange of objective knowledge, nor mass consumer society
could have come into existence without the printing press.

A similar analysis is now being made of the cultural changes impelled by
the development and use of new communications technology. This analysis is
a product of the convergence of lines of thought which have different
disciplinary histories and present contexts: theorising about
post-industrial society and the international communications order in the
social sciences; cultural critique of media production and its role in
social formation; post-structural analysis of the role of institutions in
society; literary explorations of the relations between print and other
technologies of communication; investigations into the potential of
electronic (hyper)text. An exemplary instance of this analysis is Mark
Poster, *The Mode of Information. Poststructuralism and Social Context*
(Cambridge: Polity Press, 1990).

Very important work is being done by cultural theorists, particularly in
the United States, on developments in information technology and profound
changes in the whole network of relations which constitutes a society. This
work focusses on core issues of traditional interest to the humanities,
such as: the relations between the individual and the state; the role of
the media; the relations between technology and art; the creation,
transmission and recording of knowledge; the city as the sign, product and
location of what is distinctive about humanity; the link between modes of
symbolic representation and modes of cognition. This work is establishing
the terms of a new or postmodern humanities, distinguished by its drive to
understand the significance of new communications technology by engaging
cultural theory with the analysis of cultural practices.

At Victoria considerable recognition has been given to the importance of
new communications technology. Communication Studies has made the
implications of information technology its prime focus of attention,
particularly in the context of telelearning and international
telecommunications; Information Systems is concerned with business
applications of information technology; the School of Librarianship has
placed information technology at the centre of its graduate diploma
programme; an Honours course is now being offered in the English Department
on the relations between literature and new communications technology. Work
on the theory and practice of writing has direct connections with issues in
educational practice raised in discussions about the information society.
The new Design programme being jointly developed by the Victoria University
School of Architecture and the Wellington Polytechnic School of Design is
concerned both with the theory and the practical applications of this

The Institute of Policy Studies, through its Information Technology
Committee, has published a study by Herbert S Dordick, *Information
Technology and Economic Growth in New Zealand* (Wellington: Victoria
University Press, 1987). Furthermore, in Wellington the National Library is
working on the formation of an information policy, bringing together a wide
range of interests in government, business, and education, and the Ministry
of Commerce has just published a review of policies for information
technology. The deregulated telecommunications environment is being widely
represented as an opportunity for experimentation in the future
possibilities of information technology.

The Fulbright scholar will be expected to engage in development work on the
cultural implications of information technology with the Departments of
English and Communication Studies, to consult with related institutions, to
provide advice about the international community of researchers and
teachers in the field, and to offer a joint programme in the principal area
of the scholar's current research and publication.

For further information, please contact

Dr Brian Opie
Department of English
tel (04) 472 1000
fax (04) 495 5148
email brian.opie@vuw.ac.nz

Dr Anthony Pennings
Department of Communications Studies
tel (04) 472 1000
fax (04) 495 5235
email Pennings@matai.vuw.ac.nz