Sunday, March 1, 2009

About My Research Interests

I am interested in several distinct yet overlapping topics related the areas of communication theory, gender communication, psychology, and rhetoric and imagery in popular culture. Because my education at the University of Oregon (UO) focused on both practical applications and theory of new media, my curiosity about the experiential quality of using computers and how people mediate their self images through new communication technology has continued to grow. My inquiry into this topic involves investigating the new ways that people instantly access vast amounts of information and the effects of this shift on mass communication audiences. In other words, how has the accessibility of information changed the way people seek, process, and organize information?

More specifically, I examine the rapidly evolving nature of representations of the self, often defined through reference to the body, and how these representations relate to the technological innovations and communicative capabilities afforded by new media. This topic could be more broadly understood as the social uses and effects of new vs. traditional media representations of the body. The idea of the disembodied self is fascinating to me, especially as it relates to the interactions between the individual consciousness and virtual physicality.

The problem of mediated consciousness and its effects on the body translates into an exploration of the current state of body image studies regarding traditional media technologies contrasted with the potential areas of investigation of body image in new media. In this comparison, I am interested in analyzing gender and race communication throughout broadly defined textual sources in the new media and how this kind of identity communication has evolved from its uses in traditional media to new media contexts. In essence, I am motivated to probe the question of what role new media will play in shaping images of ourselves.

This line of inquiry logically leads to an interest in the psychological ramifications of body image in the new media environment, particularly related to the nature of the relationship between the body and mind. If the means and media for communicating gender, race, and physicality are shifting with the advance of technology, then how will these developments change people's relationships with themselves, their bodies, and their identities? Of special interest to me is the psychological impact of new communication technologies on disordered eating behaviors and other body dysmorphic disorders, particularly in women.

1 comment:

  1. hey margaret- this is fascinating. i think i might borrow your phrase, "disembodied self." i like that. good luck with UK! chances are pretty good that i'll be out there with you.