Sharing Englishes and Social Media

Dr. Florescu and I are currently working on our project titled, “Sharing Englishes and Social Media. Through our project, we aim to emphasize the need to recognize that there is more than one way for an individual to perform the English language, thus creating a series of “Englishes”. Furthermore, we seek to dispel the myth of “improper English” by acknowledging how language has been used to oppress and subdue minority communities by forcing them to adhere to monolinguistic English, rather than forming their own tongue and identity. By examining the factors in which language has been used to suppress, this research could be used to change our perceptions on English by allowing us to acknowledge a multitudinous array of “Englishes” as valid, question what we deem “proper English”, and create newfound understanding for those who do not perform their English in the same way that we do. I aim to do this by drawing from various media—literature, media, music, songs, and art—that comment on how one’s personal identity influences their own Englishes. I would like to go through scholarly journals to find articles in relation to race, gender, immigration status, and sexual identity to see the significants between these groups and the English language. Lastly, I would also like to conduct some informal interviews to gain insight on those who speak English as a second language, those who have stylized the English language in the black, female, and queer communities, and how social media has allowed them to enhance and control their own languages. If I could figure out a way to conduct a survey that could capture these thoughts, that would be phenomenal as well.

As an introduction to our topic, I have studied the 8-minute long audio track of  “Discourse on the Logic of Language” by Marlene Nourbese Philip, as well as Lenelle Moïse’s “the children of immigrants”, using them as points of comparison.

Philip’s audio track is spoken with a certain calmness, but there is a commanding presence about it. She repeats the message multiple times: “English is my mother tongue / a mother tongue is not a foreign lan lan language / l(anguish) / anguish / a foreign anguish / therefore, English is a foreign language / not a mother tongue.” Immediately, Philip paints for us a picture of the conflict between herself and the English language. She claims English as her mother tongue and states that it is not a foreign language because it is a part of her, something as natural as breathing air. Yet still, despite the naturalness of English and her asserting her ownership of the language, she also recognizes that English is something that brings her great anguish; she does this through combining “language” and “anguish” to create “l(anguish)”. English is seemingly innate to Philip, but she cannot ignore that the language has been imposed on her,  making her natural tongue seem foreign to her simultaneously. It is both her own and not her own, as a colonial and postcolonial lens would identify English as being a Eurocentric standard forced upon minorities. This idea of conflict may appear confusing to the listener during the first listen, as Philip states contradicting ideas on English being a mother tongue/not a mother tongue as well as foreign/not foreign. However, the confusion perfectly captures the way that Philip feels: something so natural to her—a language that she has spoken since birth—still feels foreign to her because it is of someone else.  As she repeats this internal struggle with herself and the language, booming clinical voices overpower her throughout the course of the audio track. They come without warning, drowning out her mantra with their own agendas.These voices do succeed in overpowering her at several points, giving historical snippets of ways that language has been used to oppress minorities: slave owners buying slaves that spoke different languages so they would not be able to communicate and form a rebellion,  parts of the brain related to speech being named/connected to scientists that tried to prove that white males’ brains were larger (and proved superiority to blacks, women, and other groups), etc. As a black woman, her voice is overpowered by the white voices and we can no longer hear her. She must repeat her message multiple times and fight in order for her message to be heard, as other voices attempt to silence her. 

On the other hand, Moïse’s “the children of immigrants” does not directly address language, but the implication that the study of language is crucial for the children of immigrants is absolutely present. The children of immigrants are gazed upon with great scrutiny: by their parents, teachers, and other individuals in their lives. Their parents force them to grow up quickly by leaving behind their childhood and launching them through adulthood at a young age, in hopes that this will grant them a better opportunity at life once they have grown. As the child of immigrants, they are not expected to have mastered the language at such a young age. A teacher bewilderedly questions Moïse,  “How do you know? How do you already know?” Yet as children of immigrants, the children are held to an entirely different standard within their households. They must assimilate into this culture and perfect it in every way possible, including through their mastery of the English language. They must enunciate, spell, and speak properly, and once they have done it, they are forced to be the “bridge, cultural interpreter, [and] spokesperson” for two different cultures.  Through their parents expecting better lives for the children and by the children witnessing the hardships their parents endure for them to have an opportunity, their children are not allowed to be children. Instead, they take on the adult-like responsibility of reaching ‘the standard’, then go beyond the standard by perfecting it. The bar is set the highest for them and in a sense, they must speak English even better than native speakers with non-immigrant parents. In return, they are commended for their fluency in English. However, it must be questioned at what cost to the child’s emotional wellbeing and growth is this praise gained. 

“Discourse on the Logic of Language” by Marlene Nourbese Philip
http://www.nourbese.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/Discourse-She-Tries-01.mp3

Lenelle Moïse’s “the children of immigrants”
https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems-and-poets/poems/detail/91753

Conceptualizing Materiality in the Digital Age: Examining the Relationship Among Humans,Technology and Language (Blog 1)

Our initial direction was to examine the fidget spinner, an analog toy that has gone viral in recent months, to conceptualize distraction and productivity in the Digital Age. After sifting through scholarly databases, we became fixated on exploring the role of touch and materiality in our digital-saturated generation. Thus, we have titled our project, “Conceptualizing Materiality in the Digital Age: Examining the Relationship Among Humans, Technology and Language.” The purpose of this project is to gain broader insights on the ways humans cope and adapt to technological advancements.

First, we will define materiality, a term whose primary meaning was limited to the notions of matter and tactility. The rise of digital culture expanded the definition of materiality due to the birth of cyberspace, a supposed intangible place. During a time in which screens mediate interaction, there is a heightened desire to fulfill the basic need for connection or to be in touch with others. We will examine words that are specific to the Digital Age such as “touchscreen,” which suggests that a technological component is now needed to achieve connectivity. Through our analysis, we will show that the expansion of language coincides with imperative to preserve a firm sense of self in an increasingly digitized era.

During this process, I will gain the experience of working with advanced qualitative research practices that will help me develop more effective methods for future studies. Moreover, I hope to hone my skills in analytical reading, academic writing and organization. We will use the database, JSTOR, to locate secondary sources including scholarly and academic journals on media philosophies. We will filter searches based on keywords including ‘materiality’, ‘phenomenology,’ ‘media technology,’ ‘tactility,’ and ‘touch.’ By reading the abstracts of related searches we can determine which readings are relevant to our project.

The theoretical frameworks for this project will stem from the perspectives of media theorists, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Marshall McLuhan and N. Katherine Hayles. To explore similar perspectives or to help clarify complex ideas, we will refer to other media theorists that appear in the articles. Once we gather foundational theories on materiality and human-technology interaction from JSTOR, we will use Google Scholar to find primary sources on fidget spinners. Then, we will draw connections among our sources to pose our own arguments about the changes in the relationship among humans, language and technology.

Modern-Day Slavery (Blog #1)

Christina N. Stewart
16 July 2017
Blog #1

Much like every other country in the world, the United States of America has been no stranger to slavery. Without a doubt, slavery has had an extensive, well-known history, but there is one particular form of exploitation which proves that modern variations of enslavement exist to this day: human trafficking. Arguably the greatest ethical challenge facing the world today and one of the most tragic, egregious human rights violations of our time, human trafficking is modern-day slavery. Simply put, human trafficking is the unjustified trade and exploitation of individuals for sex or for labor through force, fraud or coercion. It’s the commodification of human beings. It’s an insidious crime that both dehumanizes and erodes human dignity. The stomach-turning realization that human trafficking exists seems like fantasy. After all, who would imagine that a form of slavery could still exist in the 21st century in a country founded on freedom? Unfortunately, this is absolutely the case. In fact, the issue is so widespread and extensive that virtually every country in the world could be considered a country of origin, transit, or destination for trafficking. If this isn’t shocking enough, it’s estimated that there are more slaves now than at any other point in history. Despite this reality, the nature of human trafficking is sometimes overlooked and deemed intangible. It’s a problem most Americans assume is confined to far-off, developing countries. The truth of the matter is that it’s as real and immediate an issue in the United States as it is throughout the world. If you’ve benefited from cheap goods, you’ve benefited from slavery.

As one of the vilest crimes committed against humanity, human trafficking implicates Americans of all backgrounds and socio-economic statuses whether they know it or not. It is for this reason that Dr. Maxam and I felt compelled to bring awareness to this subject. Through our research project, “Using Crime-Mapping to Understand and Identify Hot Spots for Human Trafficking in the U.S.,” we want to bring awareness to the issue of human trafficking while also helping to map out hot spots where this inhumane crime is most prevalent. The crime mapping is not only helpful for prevention, but can also be helpful when discussing new possible legislation. Through both our research and crime mapping, we hope to use our findings to create suggestions for clearer, more updated legislation against trafficking. I believe it’s extremely important for strong legislation to be implemented and even more important for prosecutors to be knowledgeable of these laws. Frustratingly, many prosecutors and judges fail to pursue traffickers with actual trafficking laws, overwhelmingly indict them with lesser crimes, and sometimes even charge the victim for engaging in prostitution. In some cases, prosecutors believe the certainty of punishment is more valuable than its severity. This injustice should not be allowed to continue. Emphasis should be placed on the atrociousness of those who profit from exploiting others. As it is, a trafficking victim faces a bitter struggle for safety and dignity— often staying silent as they remain dependent upon their abuser or abusers. Clearer legislation could be the key to giving victims a voice and ending the commonality of victim blaming.

We’ll begin our research with the objective of gaining a general overview of the heinous nature of human trafficking—placing emphasis on the types of trafficking as well as their causes. Part of this general overview of human trafficking will involve researching its history in both the U.S. and abroad. Additionally, we’ll find resources for trafficking victims and possible prevention measures. Our other objective will be to look at the interconnectedness of worldwide trafficking—learning how both industrialized and developing countries partner to engage in this “business”. In the end, we’ll create a crime map that will be complemented by our research. The research that we acquire will help us pinpoint where trafficking is most likely to occur, and where it’s actually occurring. A majority of our research will be based on the U.S.—concentrating on where it is most prevalent, who is most often trafficking, and where trafficked victims come from. The crime map that we create will be centered on New York City. It will enable us to identify trafficking hotspots in this area. If you think about it, New York City’s large immigrant population and close proximity to major airports and other ports of entry make it the perfect area for trafficking to thrive.

In order to answer my research questions and complete my objectives, I will use a variety of research methods. I will conduct internet research via media articles and videos, view police reports, legal documents, and case files to help aide in the crime mapping process, and utilize databases to view peer reviewed journals. In addition, I will conduct informational interviews with a few individuals from various backgrounds who are well-versed in human trafficking. These interviews will include a world renowned forensic traumatologist, a former counsel at the New York County Lawyers’ Association, as well as others.

Ultimately, I expect to gain a comprehensive understanding of both human trafficking and crime mapping. I’ve never done crime mapping before, and I’m sure learning this skill would prove to be a valuable resource for me in the future. Aside from learning the technology behind crime mapping, I will also be able to visualize hot spots of where trafficking is actually occurring. This is something that I currently have limited information on and am eager to discover. I’d like to think I have a pretty general understanding of human trafficking, but being able to crime map would certainly help to broaden my understanding. For this reason, I am sure this part of the research will be especially eye-opening for me. I expect our findings to potentially be submitted to both the forensic traumatologist we’ll be working with as well as local law enforcement so that key areas for trafficking could be accurately identified. Although this atrocity degrades and victimizes countless people every year, there has been very little mapping done to track it. Because of this, our research has the potential to be quite significant.

It’s overwhelming to get your mind around the indignity of how humans can treat other human beings. Having said that, human trafficking is an issue that I feel is such a violation of human rights and such an injustice to human beings in general that it simply must be brought to more people’s attention. I am excited to gain what I know will be an exceptional amount of knowledge and insight about this topic from a range of various perspectives. I am also extremely excited to have the opportunity to present the findings to a global audience at the “International Journal of Arts and Sciences” academic conference in Germany this November.

Blog Post 1 “Transgender/Gender Non-Conforming Students & Retention: A Family Intervention Model”

This summer, I am working on a research project titled “Transgender/Gender Non-Conforming Students & Retention: A Family Intervention Model” which is about retention for transgender and gender non-conforming students with Erin Furey. Erin is the Associate Director of Pace University’s LGBTQA & Social Justice Center, and I Gabe Nichols, am a rising sophomore majoring in Communications. We are doing this research because currently, we as a society are lacking in support and research on transgender students in college, particularly in terms of retention. This lack of research leaves transgender and gender non-conforming students with no strategies to help them continue and succeed in school. Additionally, we hope that this research shines a light on the issues faced by the transgender community regarding their rights–or lack thereof–and how they are treated, and their unique stressors that lead them to possibly struggle more with staying in school than their cisgender counterparts. Since we hope to be able to continue to carry out this project into the fall and spring semesters, our goals for the summer are primarily research based. Examples of our goals are to research articles regarding transgender and gender non-conforming students and retention, to explore, apply and critique LGBTQA+ literature on retention as it applies to transgender and gender non-conforming students, and to develop a hypothesis around the needs of transgender and gender non-conforming students that is linked to retention.

So far we have begun researching the topic, but our exact topic has little to no previous research conducted about it, so instead we are exploring similar topics, such as retention throughout the whole LGBTQA+ community, or the mental health of transgender adults and adolescents. After reading these articles, I have created an annotated bibliography with important information about each of the articles. While reading these articles, we have noted which articles specifically pull the ‘T’ out of the LGBTQA acronym and acknowledge the difference in effect between being a cisgender queer person, and being a transgender person. An article we have read that did this well is “The Path Forward: LGBT Retention and Academic Success” by Shane Windmeyer. In the article he points out that, “LGBT youth, specifically LGB youth of color and transgender youth of all races, are much more likely than other students to struggle academically and personally in college.”

For some next steps throughout the summer, we intend to plan a focus group regarding our topic, and seek approval from the institutional review board (IRB) to publish and circulate a survey for transgender and gender non-conforming students. Looking further into the future, we intend to create a dual intervention program for transgender and gender non-conforming students and their parents with the goal being that we ease tensions at home by answering parents questions that may upset the students, We plan to submit this information in workshop format for educational and LGBTQA conferences and present our research, in the hopes to publish a paper about strategies to increase university retention of transgender students.

So far I have loved working on this research project. It is a topic near to my heart, as a transgender man whose parents don’t always approve or understand. Getting to find the information around the topic as well as eventually work on the intervention program first hand is incredible. I am learning so much and I hope to continue to do that. I also hope to find an intervention model with Erin that works, so I can help others in similar or even worse situations than mine.

 

Glossary:

  • Cisgender: Refers to people whose sex and gender are congruent by predominant cultural standards: women who have female bodies, men who have male bodies.  This term was created to challenge the privileging of such people relative to those who are transgender.
  • Gender Non-Conforming: Someone who does not conform to the ideologies of any one gender. Often considered to be outside the gender binary, or “nonbinary”
  • LGBTQA: acronym standing for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Asexual, used to represent that community.
  • Retention: In this research, this word is used to refer to the amount of students who stay in school and graduate.
  • Transgender: Those whose psychological self/gender identity differs from the social expectations for the physical sex with which they were born. Acts as an umbrella term for both those who fit within and outside of the binary.

 

Sources cited:

  • Windmeyer, Shane “The Path Forward: LGBT Retention and Academic Success” INSIGHT into Diversity, 2016
  • Pace University’s LGBTQA & Social Justice Center “All Gender Housing: Terms to Know” http://www.pace.edu/lgbtqa-center/all-gender-housing-overview-instructions

 

Blog post #1: “A Predictive Model of the Non-Profit Sector’s revenues in the US”

Blog post #1.- Andrea Katherine Quevedo-Prince Graphic Model of the Non-Profit Sector-2m7o3ix

Please describe the title and purpose of your project as well as the goals and objectives of your research.

Title: “A Predictive Model of the Non-Profit Sector’s revenues in the US: From a macro to a micro perspective”

General description: Our research aims to define predictive models of the non-profit sector, from a macro to a micro perspective. Accordingly, it comprises three stages: (1) A macro phase, focused on the non-profit sector’s total revenues, as the dependent variable; these are close to one trillion dollars a year, (2) a segmented phase, focusing on fundraising for amateur sports, health and/or education, among other social causes, and (3) a micro phase that would look into individual donor motivations.

Research goals:

1.            To define a predictive model that integrates the variables, and identifies moderating factors, that come into play to determine the ups and downs of the non-profit sector, as measured by total revenues, from the macro perspective.

2.            To define a predictive model that integrates the variables, and identifies moderating factors that come into play to determine the ups and downs of fundraising for amateur sports, and other segments of the non-profit market as health or education, as measured by social cause specific revenues.

3.            To define a predictive model that integrates the variables, and identifies any moderating factors that come into play to determine individual donor motivations for amateur sports, and other segments of the non-profit market as health or education.

Our hypothesis: On a macro or segmented, social cause-specific level, is that total non-profit revenues will respond more greatly to public awareness, among other variables that may include the country’s per capita disposable income, tax incentives, and the legal framework. See enclosed graph of our model.

On a micro level, we posit that as public awareness cascades down into the individual donor’s own awareness of a specific social cause, his or her relationship the cause and non-profit organization would greatly influence his commitment to its cause, again, among other factors. 

Research objectives:

1.            To obtain a clear understanding of the theory and dynamics of the non-profit sector.

2.            To clearly identify the variables and moderating factors that determine non-profit revenues.

3.            To secure reliable statistical sources.

4.            To select the appropriate tests and statistical techniques to determine the weights and interactions of the determining variables and moderating factors.

5.     To select the appropriate scale and questionnaire to determinate individual donor motivations.

6.     To apply all of the above to test our research hypotheses.

Caveats: We worry about the abstract nature of “public awareness” at the macro level. We feel this concept may drive us into a segment-specific metric (ex: concern about health, education, or sports), but the review of the literature and statistical sources should provide early orientations.

Also, we understand total revenues are a combination of individual, corporate, government and NGO donations, sales and fees, plus other fundraising sources. Though we would take all into account, our focus will be on donations, which stand close to $300 billion per year in the US alone.

 

Highlight what you expect to achieve or learn from this project.

We should get a clear understanding of the dynamics of the non-profit sector, its variables, sources of funds, and its players.

We believe that the combination of these predictive models would provide great insight and guidelines for non-profit organizations to properly adjust their fundraising strategies and processes to the dynamics of their sector, segment, and target donor.

 

Explain what methods you will use to answer your research questions.

Our work schedule entails the following. Points 4.1., 4.2., and 5.1. to 5.4. address the question:

1.            Theoretical Grounding, involving the review of close to 100 academic articles.

2.            Research Design, properly sustained hypotheses, research questions, and methodology.

3.            Statistical sources.

4.            Statistical tests, tools and methods.

4.1.         Pace University’s SPSS license

4.2.         Factor Analysis to sort out the variables that determine total revenues, specify their weight and statistical significance; this on the macro phase of the project. 

5.            On a micro level, individual interviews and or surveys among donors of NGOs would be utilized. This would require:

5.1.         Sampling

5.2.         Questionnaire design

5.3.         Appropriate scale

5.4.         Pre-test, and other steps.

Currently, we are deep into the review of the literature. We have sorted out over 100 academic articles and statistical sources, and cited over 25 already, in the development of our theoretical grounding.

Gaps in the literature: We are finding an absence of macro models for the non-profit sector. An overwhelming majority of the articles refer to donor motivations. The amateur sports’ segment is rarely reported on.

We would expect our second post to include a detailed review of the literature, an analysis of non-profit sector statistics, and a clear orientation of our research.

A Probabilistic Model for the Occupancy-Abundance Relationship of Species Populations using Taylor’s Law

“A Probabilistic Model for the Occupancy-Abundance Relationship of Species Populations using Taylor’s Law” is the title of the project that I and Dr. Xu are conducting in this summer. The goals of our project are to 1: clarify the roles of Taylor’s law and negative binomial distribution in He-Gaston model; 2: derive an occupancy-abundance probability model intrinsically from Taylor’s law; and 3: compare our model with the traditional occupancy-abundance model based on negative binomial distribution.

During the project, I participate in data analysis, research design and manuscript writing of the proposed research. I am expected to improve my analysis skills, enrich my knowledge in statistics, ecology and software R,  and learn more practical problem-solving methods in the research.

To answer our research questions, we investigate different models for Occupancy-Abundance relationship using statistical theory and species count data. All analysis are conducted in software R. Currently, we have retested some species count data to access the established models and we have been trying to figure out the insight behind the numbers we gather from the data.

How the nature of work relationships influences the benefits of positive support in the workplace

     The title of the project I am doing with Dr. Gosnell is “how the nature of work relationships influences the benefits of positive support in the workplace.” Our project will examine whether providing support for positive events will benefit the group through greater organizational identification, commitment, and satisfaction. My component will be examining the differences in benefits based on the nature of the relationship. The goal of this research is to further understand workplace support and connectivity. I hypothesize that providing positive support will help people feel more connected to their workplace and people will feel better about their achievements if the support came from a superior. Although, I also think that people will be more likely to share their positive and negative events with coworkers.

     To conduct this study, we had to finalize and submit an IRB. To answer our research question, Dr. Gosnell and I put together a daily diary survey that will be emailed to our participants every day for two weeks. This diary will track how daily fluctuations in event disclosures and support received influences organizational outcomes.  I already entered the survey questions in Qualtrics and we ran several trails to make sure the survey is functioning correctly and doesn’t take too much time to complete. Our questions range from basic demographics to asking whether people had positive or negative events that day, whether that was shared with anyone, and how their mood was affected. Currently, we are finding places to advertise our study and recruit participants. Once we recruit participants we will administer the dairies and later analyze the data to help us understand how support received influences workplace dynamics.

By: Christina Marciante