Spotlight

Join Ryan McMahon in a discussion on Indigenizing the Media

February 7, 2018

7:00pm  to 9:00 pm | Room 1430 | Harbour Centre Campus

Admission is free

How do voices from outside the traditional settler mainstream media ensure that they are properly heard and represented? How can new media forms play a role in diversifying and enriching the media landscape? Ryan McMahon, Anishinaabe comedian, writer, media maker & community activator based out of Treaty #1 territory (Winnipeg), will explore these questions and invite the audience to be part of the discussion. 

More information here.


Exploring Active Learning in the MPub Program

In the Master of Publishing program, it has always been the goal to be both current and relevant—both within the publishing industry and in how students are taught. And education is changing.

As guest lecturer Keiron Simons said at the start of the second semester, “School is supposed to be about social connection and personal empowerment.”

And so, while students can still expect to write multiple research papers, lead lectures, and complete extensive group projects, they can also expect class to run a little differently than traditional lectures as instructors experiment with active learning methods.

Active learning is a way of teaching wherein students take responsibility for their learning. They work together to explore, explain, and exchange ideas. They research what interests them. They all participate, because equality is built into lessons to make classrooms safe, engaging spaces.

In PUB 802: Technology & Evolving Forms of Publishing, we were asked to come to class having read the syllabus. We were asked to give serious thought to what we wanted the course to be about, and about what we wanted to learn.

After some discussion in our first class, our professor left for 20 minutes and instructed us to continue the discussion without him about what we wanted to learn. We were also supposed to decide who was going to be responsible for leading each class. It was up to us to mobilize ourselves. Even though we are well-educated adults, it was still difficult at first to break free of deeply ingrained institutional norms and embrace the autonomy we had been given. And guess what? We managed just fine.

Now in my other life, I work for a school board. We are big advocates of active learning, and I write about our innovative successes on a regular basis. But to be on the other side of it so completely was an eye-opening experience. By being given autonomy over our education, our class felt empowered and listened to. We knew that we mattered, and that our instructor truly cared that we got as much out of our education as possible.

It was a win for him as well, because he knew that by using active learning methods we would be more engaged in his lessons and encouraged by the knowledge that dialogue would flow in both directions. If a kindergarten teacher comes away from a similar teaching experience telling me how she learned alongside and from her students, I have no doubt that a university instructor will have similar things to say. In active learning, we all come away from the lesson with greater knowledge and understanding.

Of course, active learning goes beyond letting students have a say in what they are learning. It can be about creating a safe space for all students to speak, such as by using the annotation plugin hypothes.is to allow students to take notes on online articles as they are reading, or having them write out feedback (One Minute Essays) on cue cards at the end of each class. Or is can be about working with them as the Magazine Project evolves into the more relevant Media Project, and giving them the flexibility to design an agile media entity that will evolve throughout the semester. All of these are real examples of things taking place right now.

It’s a different way of learning for sure, but that’s a good thing. We are more than competent, and after this semester, we will be more confident too.


The Inaugural Jim Douglas Lecture: Marion Sinclair of Publishing Scotland

In September 2016, the great British Columbia publisher James Jardine Douglas passed away in North Vancouver. Jim Douglas — known perhaps most famously as the “Douglas” in Douglas & McIntyre — was one of the most influential and inspirational figures in BC publishing. A number of key publishing firms in BC — including D&M, Raincoast Books, Ampersand & Co — trace their lineage in one way or another to Jim Douglas. And a great many people in the BC industry have known, worked with, and been encouraged by Jim. The Publishing Program at SFU owes an enormous debt to Jim, as he contributed so much of his time, wisdom, and indeed money to the establishment of our program and the encouragement of our students and faculty.

To recognize Jim’s great contributions to the BC publishing industry, we are pleased to announce the Jim Douglas Lecture, an annual event which aims to bring the local publishing community together and to highlight issues of importance.

The first Jim Douglas Lecture will be held on Wednesday, September 20th at 7pm, at SFU Harbour Centre (rm 1400).

Our inaugural speaker is Marion Sinclair, currently Chief Executive of Publishing Scotland and with 28 years experience in the Scottish publishing industry. Ms Sinclair will speak to us about “Scottish Publishing Today and its Place in the World,” a subject with very clear parallels in Canadian independent publishing.

We hope you will join us on the evening of September 20th, to honour Jim’s memory, and to meet our very distinguished guest.

For more about Jim Douglas, BC Booklook published an excellent remembrance:

For more about Marion Sinclair’s Publishing Scotland, see http://www.publishingscotland.org/

For additional information or to reserve a seat, please email: pubworks@sfu.ca

 

 


Canada’s Greatest Storytellers: 1867 to 2017

A special Sesquicentennial show celebrating our finest Fiction Writers

With the help of superb author portraits by Anthony Jenkins appearing on-screen, publisher and author Doug Gibson roams the stage talking about our finest authors down through the years. Decade by decade, he chooses our best authors, English and French, and selects their very best books.

Each decade begins with a burst of Canadian music from the time. Then a contemporary photo reminds us of the historical setting, and a series of iconic works of art remind us of the wider artistic scene in which our writers worked. The result is a celebration not only of our writers and storytellers, but of our artists in general. The resulting reading list is now in great demand, and will be distributed at the show.

Already he has given this hugely ambitious show (with an Intermission when we reach 1967, the year when Gibson himself came to Canada) in the nation’s capital, Ottawa, and at the Toronto Launch in the Lieutenant Governor’s Chambers in Queen’s Park. After this Vancouver Launch, he will be taking the show across Canada for the rest of 2017, as his own tribute to our country and its writers, culminating in his praise of his author, Alice Munro.

WHERE   Vancouver, at Simon Fraser University’s Harbour Centre, Room 1400

WHEN      Wednesday, May 31, at 7pm

BOOK       Free tickets at pubworks@sfu.ca

 


Playful Generative Art: Computer-Mediated Creativity and Ephemeral Expressions

WEDNESDAY, February 8, 2017
7:00 pm – 8:30 pm
Room 1800 (SFU Harbour Centre)
Fee: Free (to reserve a seat, please email pubworks@sfu.ca)

“Generative art” is a blanket term for any creative work produced in part through programmatic or algorithmic means. “Playful generative art” makes use of highly technical disciplines—computer programming, statistics, graphic design, and artificial intelligence—to produce chat bots, digital poetry, visual art, and even computer-generated “novels.” These pieces may be motivated by serious social or political issues, but the expressions are decidedly unserious, often short-lived or quickly composed. Creators working in this medium are rarely artists first—as programmers, designers, game developers, and linguists, they use the tools of their trade in unexpected and delightful ways. Generative art also has much to teach us about issues at the intersection of ethics and technology: what is the role of the artist in a human/machine collaboration; what is our responsibility when we design programs that talk with real people; how do we curate and study ephemeral digital works? Digital artists, writers, technologists, and anyone interested in media studies are invited to attend.

Guest Speaker:


lizadalyLiza Daly
is a software engineer and occasional corporate executive who lives in Boston. She is currently focusing on providing technical assistance to non-profits that work to uphold civil rights and protect vulnerable populations. Her personal projects revolve around digital art, interactive narrative, and digital publishing. Formerly she was CTO at Safari and prior to that, founded a digital publishing company called Threepress, which Safari acquired. Her new company is World Writable. She has been quoted about “Digital Detox” and the effects of the iPad on reading (NYT, 2010), ebooks in the cloud (Wired, 2011), and on strategies to help introverts network (FastCompany, 2015). Liza has presented about great engineering teams and digital publishing. She wrote a short book on Next-Generation Web Frameworks in Python (O’Reilly, 2007), which, she says, is “out of date so please don’t read it”.


Meet the Newest Professor in Publishing: Hannah McGregor!

“Only nerds would want more episodes about print culture” tweets the scholarly duo behind the podcast Witch, Please.

Hannah McGregor (Ph.D., Literary/Theatre Studies, University of Guelph) is one half of that duo, and Publishing’s newest Assistant Professor.

Blending public scholarship and cultural phenomena is the magic that makes the fortnightly podcast so beloved by its 3500 listeners. To Hannah’s surprise, it also proved to be an asset in the job market, particularly with the publishing program at SFU.

Marcelle [Kosman] (Hannah’s partner in the podcast) and I were aware, when we started the podcast, that it was a potentially risky move. We’re proud of the work we do, but it also doesn’t always look or sound ‘professional.’ We get drunk, we make dirty jokes, we cry about an owl dying. We knew that certain kinds of university departments would look at Witch, Please and dismiss us as serious academics. But we also came to the decision that those kinds of institutions would probably not be the best fits for us, anyway. The Publishing program values the things I value: experimenting with new forms, building things, public engagement, and of course pushing against the limitations of what constitutes scholarly production.”

Pulling examples from the Harry Potter series, the podcast explores issues such as print culture and propaganda (through the evolution of simplistic narrative into the emergence of critical thinking). By following, for example, the texts Hermione chooses to read and her realization of the ways words can be used to advance the ends of particular political forces in the wizarding world, the listener becomes more aware of the critical thinking process.

Does that mean students can expect a new course on Harry Potter? Maybe.

“There’s been some talk of a possible podcasting course — I would love to (re) introduce students to the medium of podcasting through the framework of media studies, while also teaching them how to produce their own podcasts. I wonder what a Harry Potter publishing course would look like… perhaps an analysis of the book’s publication and circulation history, alongside engagement with its vibrant fan production community (since, as we all know, fan production is itself a kind of publishing). Oh, and a whole unit studying the rise and fall of Pottermore and what that can teach us about authors attempting to seize control over fan communities.”

Hannah is also quite aware of, and involved with, the power of the public space; the enormous power of social platforms for sometimes unheard voices, as well as the virtual power of anonymity.

“On a historical scale, the digital space is still a very new kind of public space, and I think we’re all (users, creators, scholars) trying to figure out how to navigate it. And one of the most troubling dimensions of digital space has been the enormous amount of abuse and violence that women, trans people, queer people, people of colour, and other minoritized groups have faced when trying to carve out a chunk of that space for themselves. At the same time, digital publishing platforms and social media have turned into radical tools of community organization and alternative storytelling. I’m interested in how women navigate this space — both its risks and rewards — and how we might teach students to interact with digital tools and platforms in more conscious and critical ways.”

Most recently, Hannah was a full time instructor in English and Film Studies at the University of Alberta, but knew, that with her background in Canadian Literature and the digital humanities, coupled with her drive to explore digital publics, there were likely many more academic niches to explore.

“I’ve always fit uneasily into a certain version of English studies. I’ve always been drawn to the kinds of academic work that raise eyebrows — that’s what got me interested in digital humanities, and it’s what drew me to making an academic(ish) podcast. Publishing, with its fundamental interdisciplinarity and interests in print culture, the publishing industry, book design, and alternative methods of scholarly communication, to name a few, feels a little bit like the academic home I never knew I was missing.”

Her belief that theory and practice are essential pedagogical partners aligns perfectly with Publishing’s unwritten mandate that courses be a blend of hands-on practical and academic theory.

Courses such as PUB 101, in which students critically assess and explore digital publics, while building their own online identities exemplify Hannah’s pedagogical underpinnings.

“From my perspective, the most urgent task of postsecondary education in this new digital landscape of publishing is not only to teach students to use the tools and technologies and platforms, but to engage with them critically. It’s one thing to learn how to make a podcast — to study examples, experiment with different audio editors, learn how to layer music and voice and sound effects — and it’s another thing to historicize podcasts within several centuries of serial media, to ask how their entry into today’s media ecology is impacting other media like radio and audio books, to politicize the question of who produces and consumes this new medium and why. If you want to be someone who can not only work in but also meaningfully impact these emergent digital publics, you need to marry theoretical and practical understandings of how they work.

“The most important part of teaching for me is conversation: the classroom is a space where students are actively engaged in conversation with me, with each other, with the things we’re studying. Prioritizing conversation can also help students to become more comfortable with collaborating, first with each other but ideally with people outside the classroom as well. In the past I’ve incorporate community service-learning into my courses, through which students learn that what we’re doing in the class is actually relevant to the rest of the world. Another major tenet of my teaching philosophy is creation. The essay has its place, but I much prefer to incorporate non-traditional forms of research-creation into my classes; I’ve had students build websites, write and print choose-your-own adventure books, design interactive fictions, and create online exhibits. Next up: podcasts, which beautifully incorporate all three of these tenets—conversation, collaboration, and creation!”

A natural collaborator, as her work as Director of the Modern Magazines Project Canada demonstrates, Hannah is eager to build collaborative relationships — with colleagues, across departments and faculties, and with communities outside the university.

When not immersed in her love of teaching and research, Hannah sings women’s barbershop and already has her eye on a new chorus in town.

And while students may not be engaging in much singing, they should expect “a lot of jokes, a lot of Harry Potter references, and a valiant ongoing attempt to teach critical theory through memes. (Ahem: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-t0tbC95sUH4/UJGn4eAdP6I/AAAAAAAAAC4/dQ9MpoTheY4/s1600/althusser.jpg). They should also expect someone who is really, really excited about their ideas and their passions, who is committed to making the classroom a safe and inclusive space for everyone, and who likes to list things in threes.”

 

 

 


Research gets Social: Juan Alperin and the Social Impact of Academic Publications

Our Faculty’s FCAT blog has a new showcase of Dr Juan Alperin (@juancommander), who has just been awarded a three-year SSHRC Insight Grant for “Understanding the Societal Impact of Research Through Social Media.” The proposed project seeks to create an empirical and methodological basis for the systematic analysis of the societal impact of research through the engagement with scholarly documents on social media.

Read the full post from the FCAT Blog: Research gets Social: New study uses social media to explore public applications of academic knowledge.

 



MPub Magazine Projects Hit the Rack

 On March 6, 2015, the Master of Publishing candidates presented their final magazine projects to faculty and industry guests. This year’s batch of magazines included a digital-first news magazine for young urbanites, a wedding magazine for men and an bsurdist cultural satire magazine.

 

Contra Presents... Read more


Ambit Publishing [Student Report]

Envisioning the Future of Publishing—Ambit Publishing, a student project from Pub401, taught by Juan Pablo Alperin—guest post by Holly Vestad, English major, publishing minor at SFU

It seems all student papers and year-end projects in publishing courses have a common theme: envision the future of publishing.

It’s not difficult to understand why the industry is going through significant change, and the Internet certainly needs no introduction. The future of print may remain a mystery, yet one group of students, when assigned the task to envision the future of publishing in Juan Pablo’s course Technology and the Evolving Book, ran with the assumption that print will hold an important place for decades to come.

Although the rest of our classmates designed elaborate and impressive business structures and new mediums that align with an increasingly techno-centric world, Karen La, Lauren Madsen, Alison Roach, Caili Bell and I (Holly Vestad) stuck with something perhaps seemingly more simple, yet infinitely more complex; a viable business plan for a print-only publisher.

ambit-publishingThe result of our research was Ambit Publishing, a theoretical publishing house whose central objective was to create brand loyalty.

Establishing brand loyalty was the most basic aspect of our thesis for the project, which sprang from our own noticeable lack of loyalty to any one specific publisher. As self-proclaimed bibliophiles and publishing students, we found ourselves to be the perfect market for publishers to reach out to in order to increase loyalty, and yet we felt unmoved by their efforts.

In order to establish loyalty for Ambit, we knew we needed to know our market inside and out. With research we discovered a niche market in Vancouver of affluent book lovers. From the information we knew about this market, we designed the company; our logo, clean aesthetic, mandate, book cover template and book synopses were all designed with these readers in mind. (Our full report can be seen here.)

To increase our brand recognition we decided all of our books would have the same cover, with only a central image that would change from title to title. We hoped this design repetition could work to increase tribe mentality amongst readers by helping them feel connected to Ambit’s aesthetic.

Ambit-bagIn addition, we created Ambit merchandise in the form of book totes and stickers with the intention of handing them out for free to our readers in the early stages of the company’s growth to help spread the word and gain that loyalty we were after. And we knew that if we could establish this loyal tribe, then authors would be attracted to the opportunity to promote and sell their book through the network of loyal Ambit readers.

Another significant aspect of Ambit’s business structure was that it explicitly positioned itself against Amazon. Ambit books would only be available through ambitpublishing.ca, our shop front or local retailers—no copies would be available for purchase on Amazon.

Ambit was designed with a specific hyper-local niche in mind; the global coverage that Amazon provides was not necessary. Our goal was to stay simple by tackling a local market and thriving within it. We also knew that explicitly defining an enemy would help to build tribe mentality. The very public battle between Hachette and Amazon only helped our case; Amazon’s true ugly and powerful colours really blossomed in 2014. Ambit positioned itself as a way for readers to stand against Amazon by supporting writers and a small, independent local publisher.

The financial aspect of Ambit is the area we think still needs the most help; although we created profit and loss statements, a financial statement and advertising budgets (as seen in our final report), we were worried of the projections for the second year. Regardless, we truly believe the structure behind Ambit provides a successful model for reader, author and publisher alike.

Related Links:

Ambit Publishing: http://ambitpublishing.ca/
Syllabus for Pub 401: http://tkbr.ccsp.sfu.ca/pub401/
Instructor Juan Pablo Alperin