• 05 Dec 2017 2:12 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Last year, Thom Gencarelli received NYSCA's John F. Wilson Fellow Award, based on his record of scholarship and service. Other scholars previously named as John F. Wilson Fellows include Neil Postman, Gary Gumpert, Dan Hahn, Deborah Borisoff, Susan Drucker, James W. Carey, Lance Strate, Susan B. Barnes, and Brian Cogan. In conjunction with his selection, he delivered this year's John F. Wilson Fellow Lecture on October 13th, at the 75th anniversary meeting of the New York State Communication Association:

    "Dark Nets and Disruptive Practices"

    All too often, people outside the academic discipline of communication and media studies consider what we do to be little more than a special interest, rather than the study of something that is central to, and one of the primary defining features of, the human experience. As a case in point, the Presidential election of 2016, the most disruptive event of all disruptive events in our contemporary experience in the U.S., can be explained from a media perspective, and an historical one at that. Beginning from Gutenberg’s invention of the mechanical, movable-type printing press and through our contemporary innovations in mobility, social media, and Tor, this presentation argues that all inventions and innovations in media are a disruption, and that the evolution of media by which the citizenry in a democratic society inform themselves can explain, in full, exactly what happened to us in 2016. 

    On November 3rd, Professor Gencarelli reprised his Wilson Lecture as the main event of our NYSGS program, and following the lecture, as an added bonus, additional reflections, comments, and responses were delivered by MJ Robinson, Professor of New Media and Journalism and Media Studies, Bernard N. Stern Professor of Humor, and Graduate Deputy Chair for the Media Studies MS program in the Department of Television and Radio at Brooklyn College of the City University of New York; Michael Plugh, Professor of Communication at Manhattan College, Immediate Past President of the New York State Communication Association, and Internet Officer and Executive Board member of the Media Ecology Association; and Lance Strate, Professor of Communication and Media Studies at Fordham University, Past President of the New York State Communication Association, Editor of Explorations in Media Ecologyand Executive Board member of the Media Ecology Association, a member of the Board of Trustees of the Institute of General Semantics, and President of the New York Society for General Semantics.

    Thom Gencarelli, Ph.D. (NYU, 1993) is Professor and the founding Chair of the Communication Department at Manhattan College in Riverdale, New York. He is a Past President of the New York State Communication Association, the Media Ecology Association, and New Jersey Communication Association (twice), and a member of the Board of Trustees of the Institute of General Semantics. He researches and writes about media literacy/media education, media ecology, and popular media and culture with an emphasis on popular music. He is co-editor (with Brian Cogan) of Baby Boomers and Popular Culture: An Inquiry into America’s Most Powerful Generation (ABC-Clio/ Praeger, 2014), and is currently at work on a book about language acquisition and cognitive development. Thom is also a songwriter, musician, and music producer, and has released two album-length works with his ensemble bluerace, World is Ready and Beautiful Sky. The group’s third, as yet untitled effort is due out in 2018.

    It was a program that most certainly shed light on our contemporary semantic environment!

  • 30 Oct 2017 7:45 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    On October 8th we hosted a mind-blowing program featuring mentalist Marc Salem. Here's the description:

    We all have wished for, at one time or another, the power to read minds and decipher the thoughts of others. And while true ESP may be out of reach, it is possible to interpret clues to what others are thinking, a power that leads to greater success at work, in relationships, and in every aspect of life. The key is to pay attention to aspects of our world that we typically overlook, find the hidden meaning in conversations, negotiations, and personal encounters, and understand the meaning of nonverbal communication.

    Marc Salem, aka Professor Moshe Botwinick, holds advanced degrees from the University of Pennsylvania, and New York University, where he earned his PhD studying with Neil Postman, Christine Nystrom, and Terence Moran, and has served as book review editor of ETC: A Review of General Semantics. He has been on the faculty of several major universities, was a director of research at Sesame Street Workshop where he studied the development and nature of mental processes, and is a world-renowned entertainer. 

    His show, Mind Games, has completed two successful runs on Broadway, as well as the Sydney Opera House, Singapore's Esplanade, London's West End, and the Edinburgh Festival. Salem has been profiled on 60 Minutes, and been featured on Court TV, CNN, The O'Reilly FactorMontel, and Maury. The New York Police Department, and businesses across the country have turned to Marc Salem for advice. 

    He is the author of Marc Salem's Mind Games: A Practical Step-By-Step Guide to Developing Your Mental Powers, and The Six Keys to Unlock and Empower Your Mind, Spot Liars and Cheats, Negotiate Any Deal to Your Advantage, Win at the Office, Influence Friends, and Much More,  soon to be published in a second edition.

  • 02 Oct 2017 7:07 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Our first event of Fall 2017, held on September 8th, featured a book launch for Media Ecology: An Approach to Understanding the Human Condition (New York: Peter Lang, 2017) by Lance Strate, published on July 4th. Dr. Strate is Professor of Communication and Media Studies at Fordham University, a Trustee of the Institute of General Semantics, and the President of the New York Society for General Semantics. 

    Thom Gencarelli, Professor of Communication at Manhattan College and a Trustee of the Institute of General Semantics hosted the event, which included a conversation, discussion, reading, book signing, and reception.

    From the publisher's blurb: 

    Media Ecology: An Approach to Understanding the Human Condition provides a long-awaited and much anticipated introduction to media ecology, a field of inquiry defined as the study of media as environments. Lance Strate presents a clear and concise explanation of an intellectual tradition concerned with understanding the conditions that shape us as human beings, drive human history, and determine the prospects for our survival as a species.

    This book represents a new synthesis that moves the field forward. Taking as its subject matter "life, the universe, and everything," Strate describes the field as interdisciplinary and communication-centered, provides a detailed explication of McLuhan's famous aphorism, "the medium is the message," and explains that the human condition can only be understood in the context of our biophysical, technological, and symbolic environments.

    Strate provides an in-depth examination of media ecology's four key terms: mediumbias,  effects, and environment. A chapter on tools serves as a guide to further media ecological research and scholarship

    Advance Praise for Media Ecology:

    “With characteristic passion and soulfulness, Lance Strate embarks on a metatask: to synthesize thinking about ‘life, the universe and everything’ through the lens of media ecology. In the process, he locates media ecology as the dynamic shift between figure and ground and as the basis for ‘understanding the human condition.’ Writing with an almost disarming ease that belies the complexity of the ideas he communicates, Strate brilliantly and reflexively mediates media ecology itself, bringing clarity to the Kekulé-like conundrums of an immense and increasingly relevant field. Anyone who thoughtfully enters and engages the environment of Strate’s book will be rewarded with moments of profound clarity, connecting ideas typically viewed as disparate or oppositional into patterns of deep understanding about media ecology―and about the process of living.”―Julianne H. Newton, Professor of Visual Communication, University of Oregon

    “Lance Strate’s synthetic thinking opens up media ecology, allowing the reader to see how, as a field of inquiry, it applies to everything from language, media, and philosophy to our very understanding of what it means to be human living in a dynamic environment.”―Paul Soukup, Professor and Chair, Department of Communication, Santa Clara University

    “Lance Strate asks big questions―and provides a myriad of perceptive answers. This book is at once playful, poetic, and precise. The clear writing about complex ideas is a pleasure to read and offers many gifts of understanding.”―Joshua Meyrowitz, University of New Hampshire

    It was a gathering and celebration that was most certainly stimulating and thought-provoking!

  • 02 Oct 2017 1:45 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    A special issue of the Journal of Romance Studies (Volume 16, Number 1, 2016) on the topic of Experimental Narratives has been made freely accessible for the month of October. The issue, edited by Dr. Emanuela Patti, presently on the faculty of Royal Holloway, University of London.

    The contents of the issue are as follows:
    • "Readers’ Experience in Experimental Narratives," Emanuela Patti
    • "Choosing is Not an Option (But a Necessity)," Sabine Zubarik
    • "Gameplay Literature," William Docherty Halbert
    • "From Page to Screen/From Screen to Page," Emanuela Patti
    • "LIMITE Unbound," Erika Fülöp
    • "Sites of Uncertainty," Kristin Veel
    • "Hive Minds," Giulia Iannuzzi

    To access the issue, click on the link.

  • 08 Aug 2017 8:25 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    On April 26th, we hosted a fascinating program featuring a conversation with New York City tour guides. The panel discussion featured the following participants:

    Matthew Baker, owner of Beautiful New York Tours, past president of the Guides Association of New York City, and newsletter editor for the National Federation of Tourist Guide Associations.

    Ibrahima Diallo, owner of All New York Fun, chairman of the GANYC Multilingual Guides Committee, and leader of the organization's delegation to Iran in a bid to host the 2019 convention for the World Federation of Tourist Guide Associations.

    Robin Garr, owner of R. Garr Tours, specializing in Equestrian New York, and tours that focus on sports history, racing history, and natural history, in addition to other more mainstream topics, and a member of the GANYC Awards Committee and Public Relations Committee.

    Lee Gelber, dubbed "the Dean of Guides" by the New York Times, a past-president of GANYC, and owner of Here Is New York Tours, and, after 23 years of guiding, recipient of the inaugural Guiding Spirit Award at the annual Apple Awards gala.

    Kristin Singleton-Ferrari, the owner of Kristin's Tours and A Brooklyn Experience,  giving tours in English and Italian, and a member of the GANYC Awards Committee and Public Relations Committee.

    Matt Baker served as the moderator of the panel, following a brief introduction by NYSGS president Lance Strate. And here is the program description:

    Between Map and Territory

    The Art of the Tour Guide

    Alfred Korzybski, founder of the discipline of general semantics, famously insisted that the map is not the territory. This saying serves to remind us that words are not the things they represent, symbols are not the reality they stand for, and our perceptions of objects in our environment are not the same as the events that actually occur in the world.

    The map is not the territory, but any given map may be a more or less accurate representation of any given territory, and may be more or less useful and effective in helping us to understand, experience, and navigate through that territory. Maps are visual representations, mediating the territory by way of hand drawn illustration, printed document, or electronic display.

    Maps are guides that take us through a territory, and it seems only fitting to feature the human maps known as tour guides in a program that allows them to discuss their art, craft and trade. More than a living map, a tour guide is a performer, a storyteller and raconteur, a fusion of navigator and narrator.

    It was an all-star panel of tour guides talking about the ways in which they present and represent that unique terrain we call New York City. 

  • 04 May 2017 6:13 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    On March 29th filmmaker, author, and educator Nora Bateson journeyed to New York City all the way from Sweden to join us for conversation, discussion, and readings from her recently published book, Small Arcs of Larger Circles: Framing Through Other Patterns, and a book signing. We were honored to be able to host this very special event, moderated by NYSGS President Lance Strate.

    Here is more of the description of that evening's program:

    Systems, Contexts, Frames, and Patterns

    A Reading and Conversation With Nora Bateson

    Nora Bateson brings an ecological and cybernetic approach to the problems we face, individually and globally, in the ways that we understand and interact with our world. Drawing on the famous map and territory metaphor that is central to general semantics, she emphasizes the need to to change our ways of thinking, and perceiving, and engaging with each other, and the environment we share.

    Her award-winning documentary, An Ecology of Mind, focuses on the life and thought of her father, Gregory Bateson, a pioneer in systems theory, information theory, and complexity, as it relates to culture, psychology, and biology (his father, William Bateson, coined the term genetics). Carrying on in this tradition, Nora Bateson gives lectures and workshops worldwide, and founded the International Bateson Institute, based in Sweden, which she serves as President.

    Joy E. Stocke, in Wild River Review, states that, "Bateson brings her gifts of language and storytelling to fruition in her new book of essays and poems... as she explores her father's and grandfather's work in the context of her life as a writer and researcher, as well as the world each of us navigates as part of a larger whole."

    David Lorimer, in Network Review, describes Small Arcs of Larger Circles as, "a rich feast with poetry, short reflections and more extended pieces introducing the terms transcontextuality and symmathesy," and concludes that "this seminal book will give you a new relational lens on life."

    It was by all accounts an evening that was thought-provoking, enlightening, and inspiring.

  • 12 Apr 2017 2:17 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Our March 1st program on the theme of Science Fiction, Language, and General Semantics was wide-ranging and fascinating, with participants that included science fiction writers and critics. The panel consisted of

    Marleen S. Barr, Science Fiction Critic and Novelist

    Paul Levinson, Past President of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America and Novelist

    Lance Strate, NYSGS President and Professor of Communication and Media Studies, Fordham University

    Ed Tywoniak, Editor of ETC: A Review of General Semantics and Professor of Communication, Saint Mary's College of California

    We were especially pleased that Professor Tywoniak was able to join us, traveling all the way from the west coast to take part in the discussion.

    And here is the description of the program:

    Science Fiction, Language, 

    and General Semantics

    Science fiction has long been associated with spaceships, alien beings, futuristic technologies, and the like. But the genre has also provided an opportunity to speculate about the future of human consciousness, about modes of perception and communication, and about language and symbols.

    Not surprisingly, general semantics, as a discipline  based on applying a scientific approach to thought and action, has influenced science fiction in a number of ways. Science fiction writers such as A.E. van Vogt, Robert Heinlein, and Frank Herbert were familiar with general semantics and incorporated concepts learned from Alfred Korzybski and S.I. Hayakawa into their novels and short stories. Through them, the influence of general semantics spread to the fiction of Philip K. Dick, and the films of George Lucas. Moreover, novelists William S. Burroughs and L. Ron Hubbard were students of general semantics, while a fictional (and less than flattering) version of the Institute of General Semantics appears in the Jean Luc-Godard film, Alphaville

    More generally, questions concerning language, meaning, and consciousness have been incorporated into science fiction narratives, for example the presence of Jean Baudrillard's Simulacra and Simulation in The Matrix, references to Julian Jaynes in HBO's remake of Westworld, and in the problematic nature of translation in stories such as Samuel R. Delaney's Babel-17, Stanslaw Lem's His Master's Voice, and the recent film, Arrival.

    Clearly, this is a topic for discussion that is, in many ways, out of this world. 

  • 05 Mar 2017 11:44 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    On February 8th, we held a panel discussion on the theme of post-truth, alternate facts, and fake news, all subjects of great interest within the discipline of general semantics, and issues that general semantics can help to solve. These three relatively recent coinages may be viewed as symptoms of a larger concern that our culture is in crisis, making this particular topic especially vital to try to understand.

    Participants on this background hailed from a variety of backgrounds, making for an especially lively and insightful discussion about science, journalism, philosophy, and language. Here is the list of panelists:

    Babette Babich, Professor of Philosophy, Fordham University

    Peter Brown, Science Writer and former Editor-In-Chief of The Sciences, and Natural History, and member of Scientific American's Editorial Board.

    Katherine Fry, Professor of Media Studies and Chair of the Department of Television and Radio, Brooklyn College, City University of New York

    Paul Thaler, Professor of Communications, Adelphi University

    Moderator: Lance Strate, NYSGS President & Professor of Communication & Media Studies, Fordham University

    And here is the description of the program:

    Post-Truth, Alternate Facts, & Fake News:

    Our Culture in Crisis

    On November 8th of last year, Election Day in the United States, Oxford Dictionaries announced its word of the year: post-truth. The selection represents a response to both the American presidential election campaign and Great Britain's Brexit vote. 

    Over the past year, the phrase fake news has also been frequently invoked, especially in regard to online communications and social media. 

    On January 22nd of this year, Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway used the phrase alternate facts during a Meet the Press interview. 

    Modern science and journalism both are based on the ideal of objectivity, that we can gather data about our environment, examine the evidence available to us, and evaluate facts and claims regarding reality. General semantics is based on the understanding that scientific method can be applied to human communication, thought, and action, to the benefit of individuals, and humanity as a whole.

    There is nothing new, however, about the idea that we have lost all sense of cultural coherence, that we are subject to all manner of Orwellian doublespeak, or that public discourse has been trivialized by an emphasis on sensation and amusement.

    But, have we turned a corner over the past year, as the emergence of terminology like post-truthalternate facts, and fake news might seem to suggest? Have we reached a crisis point in our culture regarding the role of rationality and reality-testing? Are we on the verge of the kind of dystopian society commonly depicted in so many of our recent young adult novels?

    Or is there hope? And are there ways of coping and strategies for fighting for the future that can be adopted by writers, journalists, educators, and citizens?

  • 19 Dec 2016 4:50 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    On November 30th, we held a panel discussion and debate on the topic of Bob Dylan being awarded the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature. The panel, organized and moderated by Thom Gencarelli, featured a wide-ranging discussion that included multiple intersections with the discipline of general semantics. Here are the details of the program:


    A Conversation about Bob Dylan 

    and his 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature

    On Thursday, October 13, 2016, the Swedish Academy announced that it had awarded Bob Dylan its Nobel Prize in Literature “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.” While Dylan’s lack of acknowledgment and acceptance of the award until two weeks later raised controversy, this paled in comparison to the controversy raised right away as pundits in the professional media and across social media weighed in: He deserves it. He doesn’t deserve it. Popular songs aren’t literature. Lyrics aren’t poetry. If the Academy’s prize for literature is expanded to include popular song, is Dylan the only deserving songwriter? Is he the most deserving? Et cetera.

    This roundtable discussion seeks to address, make sense of, and try to come to some conclusions with respect to all of this ruckus. The participants will consider questions including: What is the relationship of lyrics to poetry? What is the symbiotic relationship between lyrics and music in popular song? Is poetry literature? Are popular songs literature? What is the meaning and significance of the Nobel Prize, or any award for that matter? What is the significance of Bob Dylan? What is the literary value of his lyrics? What is so new and distinctive about his “poetic expressions” and use of language? And is everything important about Dylan and his contribution simply a matter of language?

    Finally…does he deserve it?

    Panel participants:

         Thom Gencarelli, Professor of Communication, Manhattan College
          Callie Gallo, English Department Teaching Fellow, Fordham University
          Sal Fallica, Professor of Media Ecology, New York University
          Lance Strate, NYSGS President & Professor of Communication & Media Studies, Fordham University

  • 15 Dec 2016 5:20 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    On September 28, 2016 a crowd of over 100 people came to listen and watch over the course of the evening, as the New York Society for General Semantics joined forces with the Poetry at the Players group for a program of poetic performance. 

    Following an hour of dramatic readings of poems from the past in the tradition of the Poetry at the Players group, the NYSGS hosted a series of readings of original poetry on the part of David Linton, Martin Levinson, Lance Strate, and Adeena Karasick.

    The original readings were prefaced by an Introduction by NYSGS President Lance Strate:

    The introduction was followed by a performance by David Linton of Marymount Manhattan College:

    The performances continued with a reading by Institute of General Semantics President, Martin Levinson:

    Lance Strate followed with several poems of his own:

    And the evening was capped of by performance poet Adeena Karasick:

    Of course, there's no substitute for being there, but we are grateful to have a record and a recording of what was, by all accounts, an extremely successful event, and an amazing night of poetry on themes closely connected to general semantics.

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