Author: Samantha Canevez

Laura Fiss’ “The Idler’s Club” To Hit Shelves January 31

Portrait of Laura Kasson Fiss holding "The Idler's Club"
Laura Kasson Fiss explores Victorian humor through the cast of literary figures that contributed to the Idler literary magazine in The Idler’s Club.

The Idler’s Club: Humour and Mass Readership from Jerome K. Jerome to P.G. Wodehouse, written by faculty member Laura Kasson Fiss, is set to be released on January 31, 2023, from Edinburgh University Press. A release party will take place Friday, February 3, from 12-1 PM at the Van Pelt and Opie Library to celebrate the publication.

The Idler’s Club explores the humor of the key contributors to the Idler literary magazine, “. . . finding connections between people that we don’t really think of today as being connected.” Fiss explains, “They were all in this social network.” By creating humor around the idea of the Victorian social club while simultaneously using “The Idler’s Club” column to create one of their own, authors from Arthur Conan Doyle (Sherlock Holmes stories) to J.M. Barrie (Peter Pan) to Israel Zangwill (whose book, Melting Pot, inspired the oft-used metaphor) created these social and literary connections.

“A lot of them were outsiders, trying to foster social mobility at one point or another.” Fiss observes that the club was “. . . a kind of double-edged sword” that could be both appealing and damaging, and “often both at the same time.” But humor offered these writers and contributors a way to convey multiple meanings simultaneously.

Fiss’ passion for Victorian literature and humor began as an undergraduate, when she studied both English and Music and wrote a thesis for each, both centered around the comedic theatrical partnership Gilbert and Sullivan. Her graduate studies continued to focus on the topic of humor, which would lay the groundwork for The Idler’s Club.

“I’m really proud of it! I’m really excited to have other people read it, and I’m really hoping to have more people take up the topic of Victorian humor.”

Readers can save 30% off Idler’s Club by pre-ordering the book before its official release date on Tuesday using the code NEW30 on the Edinburgh University Press web site.

Laura Vidal-Chiesa Inducted into AAC&U Future Leaders Society

portrait of Laura
As a finalist for the K. Patricia Cross Award, Laura was recently inducted into the AAC&U Future Leaders Society.

Humanities PhD candidate Laura Vidal-Chiesa has been inducted into the American Association of Colleges and Universities Future Leaders Society, presented at the AAC&U Annual Meeting in San Francisco Jan 18-20 2023.

“First of all, I would like to thank Dr. Andy Fiss and Dr. Maria Bergstrom for the nomination to the K. Patricia Cross Award. While I wasn’t a winner, I was selected as one of the finalists, which means I have been inducted into the AAC&U Future Leaders Society. I’m very excited about all of the resources that come with it, and looking forward to bringing as many of those back into our department and sharing them with our instructors and faculty,” said Vidal-Chiesa.

According to AAC&U’s web site, “The Inductees into the AAC&U Future Leaders Society share a profound commitment to high-quality teaching and learning, equity, and community engagement.” Membership includes access to “unique, cross-disciplinary opportunities for professional development, networking, and mentorship” as well as training and development resources for future educators.

“The American Association of Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) is a global membership organization dedicated to advancing the democratic purposes of higher education by promoting equity, innovation, and excellence in liberal education. ”

Laura is a fourth-year PhD candidate in the Rhetoric, Theory, and Culture (RTC) Program, as well as the Assistant Director for the Composition Program. In addition to writing and composition, her research includes topics like emotional labor, organizational communication, feminism, and diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI.) She hopes to graduate this upcoming summer, 2023.

Congratulations, Laura!

Fiss Wins 2023 CCCC Technical or Scientific Communication Book Award

Humanities faculty member Andrew Fiss has been awarded Best Book in Technical or Scientific Communication by the Conference on College Composition and Communication for his 2020 book Performing Math: A History of Communication and Anxiety in the American Mathematics Classroom.

Performing Math discusses the history of mathematics education in nineteenth-century American colleges, the anxiety that surrounded (and still surrounds) the subject, and the often performative nature of mathematics teaching and learning. In a review for the book Amir Alexander, author of Proof! How the World Became Geometrical, said “Through an impressive array of evidence and historical accounts, Performing Math convincingly shows that mathematics education has often had a significant theatrical component. Without a doubt this book illuminates mathematics and its place in American culture in new and surprising ways.”

In a press release for the award, the CCCC selection committee noted “Compelling, well-researched, and a very interesting read. Though Fiss’s book focuses on the historical instruction of math, his ideas about classroom performance can be translated to other fields.” And, “While it is historical, it covers a technical topic and anxiety in a way that provides some insight into the resistance seen with technology projects and tools. The takeaways from the book … can be applied broadly to pedagogy, workplace, and any other situation where anxiety exists.”

In light of the award, Fiss reflected on Performing Math, “…its first printing was in November 2020, so it wasn’t possible to acknowledge the COVID-19 pandemic or the changes in education as a result. Specifically, though I talk about written testing in math, I feel like the book does privilege oral, face-to-face communication (including in student songs and plays about math). What those historical stories mean for education has changed since 2020, as the general expectations of post-2020 education are still developing.”

Andy also expressed pride in being able to bring the award back to the Humanities department, and gratitude for the inspiration received from prior Humanities award recipients. Works like Bob Johnson‘s Romancing the Atom (which also won the TSC Best Book) and the multiple awards both won and inspired by the work of Beth Flynn all had an impact on Fiss. “It was so inspirational! I hope this news similarly helps other people along in their work.”

The award will be presented at the CCCC Annual Convention in Chicago on Friday, February 17. “The Conference on College Composition and Communication, with more than 4,000 members and subscribers, supports and promotes the teaching and study of composition, rhetoric, and communication skills at the college level, both in undergraduate and graduate programs.”

Canevez Wins 2023 Meheroo Jussawalla Research Award

New Humanities faculty member Richard Canevez has won the 2023 Meheroo Jussawalla Research Award, presented by the Pacific Telecommunications Council at their annual conference for the best participant research paper.

Canevez’s paper, “All-Encompassing War: An Exploration of Information Disorder Countermeasures Through Smooth and Striated Space,” discusses the various measures both taken and in consideration by Western states to combat disinformation and malinformation originating from adversarial states like Russia, China, and Iran in an evolving digital information landscape. Canevez uses the concept of smooth and striated spaces to explore how information—particularly with harmful intent—flows through digital space, how measures to combat disinformation and malinformation struggle with the unique challenges of digital information flow, and how this evolution is changing the nature of warfare to more closely integrate state, military, civil society, and private industry in a way that contrasts traditional, centralized notions of war.

“These changes in the way that war is fought stand to have a fundamental change in the structure of society we are still coming to grips with. In wartime, and in peacetime.” Canevez posits that where warfare was once a binary comprised of physical states of “at war” or “at peace,” we are transitioning into more of a spectrum of aggression, where states are always involved in some level of information aggression or defense. Add to this that the target of information warfare is, most often, civilian, and “when we fight wars, we fight them as a whole society, rather than as the domain of the state.”

Canevez will present his paper at the Pacific Telecommunications Council annual conference on January 17th as the culmination of a two-year postdoctoral fellowship with the University of Hawaii, Manoa. His fellowship was funded by the Computing Innovation Fellows program, which sought to offset the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the academic job search for new PhD graduates in computing. (See a blog post that Richard made about the evolution of his research for CIFellows here.)

“I must express infinite gratitude to my postdoctoral mentor, Jenifer Sunrise Winter, and to the CIFellows program for preparing me for a faculty position in a way that I was not previously ready at the end of my graduate studies.” Of the award, Richard said, “It’s certainly validating! I’m honored to have my work associated with Meheroo Jussawalla, who contributed so much to the telecommunications field.”

Canevez hopes to take the energy and enthusiasm from this work as he begins his time at Tech in the spring 2023 semester.