What We Save and What We Abandon: A Chat about Ruins and their Social Value

By: Niki Fritz

A view from above of the limestone pyramid ruin.

Up by Bedford, there is a half-completed/ half-uncompleted pyramid. While walking along the limestone slabs with weeds and flowers now poking through the crevices, it looks like a haphazard stone park of some sort. But from above you can see the outline of a pyramid, a human-made one. Back in the 80’s, the now-deserted pyramid began as a project partially funded by the government and partially by the local community. It was meant to display the beauty of one of Indiana’s most prevalent natural resources: limestone. But due to lack of funding, the structure was never finished. And now it sits, weeds seeping through, a ruin.

A glimpse of the pyramid from the ground, which Saul took while exploring the ruins.

A glimpse of the pyramid from the ground, which Saul took while exploring the ruins.

“People call it a folly, an example of government waste. It is interesting to think of that failure of the pyramid when we talk about the history of limestone in Indiana. Limestone surrounds us every day on this campus,” explains Saul Kutnicki, a first year PhD student in Communication and Culture. “[Ruins] are also a way into thinking about history in a way we didn’t do before, to question something that we encounter daily. It is interesting that ruins can be a failure or something to be preserved. There is some sort of culture consensus about what ruins matter and what don’t, about what is sacred and what is not.”

For Saul, ruins weren’t always his primary interest. He came into the program as a MA student interested in film and media studies and gradually began to integrate rhetoric into his work.

“The intersection between film & media and rhetoric & public culture is an important component of my work. This was the impulse behind participating in the interdisciplinary opportunities afforded in CMCL, opportunities that I hope to carry on taking and sharing in the Media School,” Saul explains.

The ideas of ruins interested Saul so much because of their pervasiveness in the media today.

“[Ruins] are kind of a big deal right now. Anyone who is on social media knows ruins are big. There is always some part of Detroit that is being depicted,” according to Saul. “Ruins are such a part of our everyday language. We talk about ruined relationships, ruined careers … What are the things we deem ruins and what does that mean.”

Saul Kutnicki

His work with the rhetorical criticism and images of ruins led Saul to think of the ethics of ruins, which in turn led him to apply for the Poynter Center’s Jesse Fine Fellowship.  Fine Fellowships support the creation of course curriculum that specifically address ethics in classes developed for undergraduate students. In the “Ethics of Ruins” course Saul is developing as a Fine Fellow, he has several objectives.

First, he hopes to help students establish their own archives of ruins and to give them a broader understanding of the history of ruins. Traditionally we think of ruins as things that are a) old and b) part of our heritage, but Saul wants students to expand this narrow definition to encompass what are ruins in their own lives or in their communities or in the larger world.

Next, Saul seeks to encourage students to place the ruins into a narrative, not just looking for similarities in structures or locations but similarities in the value and metaphor, the ruin represents. To illustrate this point, he pointed to the difference in how we treat ruins and slums, going to great lengths to preserve the former and not hesitating to tear down the latter.

“What do we save? What don’t we save? What films do we protect? What buildings do we protect? What value to be attribute to ruins? We assign value according to certain social values,” Saul explains. “Ruins are a good place to start thinking about our values.”

Finally, Saul wants his students to make something out of their ruins, whether that be a film, a photo essay or some sort of multimedia presentation. From his course proposal, Saul explains:

“In my teaching, I strive to provide students with an opportunity to hitch their own intellectual wagon to the ideas, concepts, and problems presented in the course material. The course will be designed to help students carve their own path according to their individual productive or creative impulses. Thus students will be asked to develop individual or group projects that demonstrate critical writing skills, visual storytelling and public speaking.”


Sixth Brown Bag – April 10, 2015


Irene van Driel, Jessica Gall-Myrick, Rachelle Pavelko, Betsi Grabe, Paul Hendriks-Vettehen, Mariska Kleemans & Gabi Schaap

The Entanglement of Sex, Culture, and Media in Genderizing Disease

This cross-national survey tested how biological sex, culture, and media factors cultivate gender-based susceptibility to diseases. Data were collected from 1,299 Millennials in two countries (US and the Netherlands), shown to differ in gender role socialization. Sex, national and individual gender role perceptions, and media use variables were entered into hierarchical regression models to predict genderization of 48 diseases. Results indicate that aside from sex and culture, medical media contribute to genderization of diseases.


Glenna Read, Irene van Driel, Yongwoog Jeon, & Robert Potter

Explicit and Implicit Responses to Same-Sex Couples in Advertisements 

Research indicates psychophysiological measures may be more accurate indicators of attitudes towards stigmatized groups than self-report (Stewart et al., 2013). This study examines both types of measures in response to advertisements featuring same-sex couples. Participants (n=94) watched 10 television ads for common items while corrugator activity and heart rate (HR) were recorded, time-locked to the stimuli. Half of the ads featured same-sex couples, the others different-sex couples. The gender composition of the couple was revealed toward the middle of each ad.  After seeing each ad, participants answered questions about their attitudes and affective responses. After all ads, participants completed the Sexuality Implicit Attitudes Test (IAT; Greenwald et al., 1998), with scores used to divide participants into high- and low-bias groups. Results show none of the self-report measures were affected by level of implicit anti-gay bias. However, the high-bias group showed significantly less deceleration in HR over the 10 seconds following the reveal of the same-sex couples versus the different-sex couples. There were no differences in corrugator activity following the reveal of couple orientation, perhaps due to less attention paid to same-sex couples by those high in implicit bias. We conclude those high in anti-gay bias may attempt to ignore messages featuring couples they consider objectionable. However, because of social desirability concerns, these differences are not reflected when subjects are asked about attitudes towards these commercials.


Rob’s Measurement Book Goes International

By: Niki Fritz

Back in 2011, when Rob Potter was on sabbatical in Australia, he decided to finally get serious about writing a book about psychophysiological measures. He and Paul Bolls had been under contract to write such a book for a while but the muse just hadn’t visited the authors yet.

“It took a lot longer than I thought it would. It’s hard to write a book,” Rob explains. “Eventually you just don’t want to fail, so you say ‘Let’s just get it done!’ You don’t want to say you started and never finished.”

The timing was right as well. The price of equipment used to gather physio data was dropping and more scholars were starting to use these quantitative measures; and some of them were using them incorrectly. In effect, the academic world was becoming more and more open to physio data and it needed a best practices book.

Even though Rob had been wanting to write such a book for a while, sitting down in Australia to finish it was particularly difficult.

“Part of the reason it took so long is because, for me, there was a real psychological hurdle to feel like I had the expertise to write [this book]. There is some arrogance in saying, ‘Hi. This is how you do this correctly.’ That was a struggle for me,” Rob explains.

He went on to explain there were definitely some areas he was well versed in, and was comfortable saying he was an expert. But other measures he was less comfortable with. “There were areas I knew less about. I couldn’t fudge the answers,” Rob says. “And I couldn’t just delete that topic because I didn’t get it. So I had to learn.”


Rob’s book in three languages: English, Chinese, and Japanese

Eventually, after overcoming his mental hurdle and leaning a bit more about some new measures, Rob and Paul published the book Psychophysiological Measurement and Meaning.

Soon after that, Rob started getting requests to translate it, especially into Chinese. Since the publisher owns the rights to the book, it was up to Routledge to get the book translated.

“I just trust Routledge that it was translated correctly,” Rob laughs. “I’m assuming they are correct. I have no idea what they actually say … When I’ve handed the book to JingJing or Ya and asked them to read a page, it sounded right to me.”

This year the book was translated into yet another language – Japanese. Rob’s physio measures best practices are becoming global best practices; something that – although Rob isn’t the type to brag about it – is pretty cool.

“When it took so long to get it done, what was really pushing me was that someone was going to scoop me. To be the one who did it first and the only one to do it so far, that is pretty cool,” Rob says. “Now to see [the book] has international appeal is gratifying. And it makes for cool Instagram pictures.”

Spring Break From Two Points of View

By Mona Malacane

Spring break … Spring break. Among the many differences between the two, spring break stands out in my mind as one of the starkest contrasts between grad school and undergrad. Some of these differences I welcome more than others … For instance, I think we all miss the unfettered freedom of undergrads at times – especially when the weather warms up and all you want to do is lay in the soft, grassy, sun-filled Arboretum instead of work in a windowless computer lab. But at the same time, many a fruitful and exciting research idea have come out of toiling away in the windowless computer lab, which can be equally as elating as a day in the sun (which in turn makes sun bathing on the weekends that much more enjoyable).

Maybe the freedom to sun bask wasn’t the best example after the weeks of temperatures that fell too far below my age for comfort. Pretty sure we would all agree that sunshine > no sunshine. But back to the point of my post! I find it interesting to think about these differences because they: (a) remind me of all the hard work that I have put in to get to where I am now (something we all need to remind ourselves because it is easily forgotten in the daily grind of deadlines and delayed gratifications of academia) and (b) offer good practice for perspective-taking and thinking about how the same event can be experienced so differently depending on your view. I was feeling a little introspective over this spring break so I decided to put some of these thoughts down into a gif-list for you all to enjoy.

1. Reactions to the last class on the Friday before spring break.


SB 1 ugrad


SB 1 grad


2. The emptiness of the city.

Undergrad: A reminder that you’re missing out on fun.

SB 2 ugrad

Grad: No traffic, no overcrowded gyms, endless parking options.

SB 2 grad

3. An entire week without classes.

Undergrad: What are classes?

SB 3 ugrad

Grad: Sleep, no readings and being able to write without a deadline over your head.

SB 3 grad

4. Traveling.

Undergrad: Beaches, Mexico, cruises

SB 4 ugrad

Grad: Home.

SB 4 grad

5. Conversations with people.


SB 5 ugrad

Grad: Talk about things other than classes, programs of study, assignments, group projects etc.

SB 5 grad

 6. Working over the holiday.

Undergrad: ?

SB 6 ugrad

Grad: Optional, mostly necessary, but significantly more relaxed.

SB 6 grad

 7. Returning to classes after a week off.

Undergrad: Dread.

SB 7 ugrad

Grad: refreshed, caught up, ready for the marathon to finals!

SB 7 grad


8. Non-academic things you accomplish while on break.

Undergrad: A tan (that will eventually fade).

SB 8 ugrad

Grad: Read interesting books,binge Netflix, more time for hobbies, and spring cleaning!

SB 8 grad

9. Walking around on campus.

Undergrad: Not in town.

SB 9 ugrad

Grad: Don’t have to dodge bikers, avoid people looking down at their phones walking straight at you, or skirt around people who walk in rows down a narrow sidewalk.

SB 9 grad

Random Quote of the Week

Julien coffee

Julien with his ever-present coffee

Julien Mailland:

“I see Bloomington as the Berkeley of the Midwest. One of the things they share in common is the coffee house tradition. There are a lot of cool off-beat coffee houses here in Bloomington.”

Random Pictures of the Week

A reminder to visiting speaker Kevin Coe of a persisting Patriots – Seahawks

complication in an old friendship …

Superbowl 1

Superbowl 2



Sine Qua Nonsense

Spring Break Destination Guide

Cancun is for undergrads. Florida is for underage drinking. California is for students who never heard the sound of a dial-up modem. We adults, faculty, staff, and graduate students alike, need our own places to go during the one week vacation celebrating the end of winter. It still isn’t too late to make plans for March 15-22, so I present some recommendations for you.

For quantitative researchers who aren’t looking for warmer climates, the best Spring Break destination is Alpha Ridge, Alaska. The temperature never rises above 0.05 degrees at this hiker-lovers’ paradise and sedentary folks’ hell. Take your significant other!

It would be a cliché to recommend Hollywood to our TV and film production students and faculty, some of whom actually worked there in the past. Instead, they should travel to New Zealand to see the breathtaking locations of films such as the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogies. The only problem is that since they would be traveling to the southern hemisphere, this would turn into Fall Break, which at IU is just a three day weekend.

The Telecom staff especially deserves a week off for putting up with all the rest of us. I’m not sure where they should go, but I know where they shouldn’t. Don’t go to Dunder Mifflin headquarters in Scranton, PA. Just stay as far away from The Office as possible.

The Telecom running group should visit Marathon, Greece. For cheap airfare and lodging, negotiate with your travel agents. Don’t let them give you the runaround.

Those of us hard at work laboring over a dissertation, thesis, or other big projects may not have time for a vacation. You should travel to the North Pole, where it is cold and dark and you would not be tempted to leave your hotel room, where you can work all day long. On second thought, the scenery may be too beautiful. Better yet, look up the most dangerous cities in the United States to choose your destination. If you want to work on a long flight, look up the worst cities in the whole wide world.

Since St. Patrick’s Day is during Spring Break, you may want to travel to Ireland. If you do, please do not attempt an Irish accent. It will probably sound terrible, somebody may punch you in a pub (not necessarily an Irish person), and a leprechaun will put a curse on you.

Finally, remember that there is always the possibility of a staycation. The best staycation destination for Bloomington residents is, by definition, Bloomington. If you want a semi-staycation, travel to Bloomington, Illinois, a few hours away from here. On the welcome sign at the entrance to the city, please spray the following message: “You sure you didn’t mean to type ‘Bloomington, IN’ into your GPS app?”