Featured Scholar - November 2019
What are you watching/streaming?
I've been watching foreign crime dramas recently. The Hotel Beau Séjour is a Flemish drama in which a teenager wakes up to find her own dead body in the bathtub. She has no memory of her death and investigates her own murder. (Talk about ghosting!) I've also been watching The Sniffer, a Ukrainian crime drama that features a would-be detective whose hypernosmia (unusually acute sense of smell) allows him to solve crimes. I'm curious to see how regional variations in crime shows play out, and I came across The Sniffer by using my research search-terms to look for examples tied to my interest in olfaction. It's interesting to me that the Flemish drama features strong female characters, and the Ukranian show defaults to masculinist stereotypes often featured in hard-boiled detective shows.
What games are you playing?
I have played Werewolf with friends fairly recently. I'm not an active game-player, though. I have a friend who has created and just launched a Kickstarter project for Dance Card, which is an interactive board game. It's the most inclusive, diverse set of characters I've come across in board game design. The game's setting is a high school dance. I play-tested it with my family last year for usability.
What are you listening to?
I have a wide-range of musical interests. Lately, I've be stuck on K'Naan because the lyrics are so powerful. My playlist always has some Rodrigo & Gabriella on it, which is instrumental only. Mano Chao is another favorite of mine, in part, because he sings in at least nine different languages. That code-switching is so fun to listen to because it shapes how one perceives the music. Over the summer, I revisited Miles Davis and Cesária Évora—the former because, well, awesomeness!, and the latter because her voice is so haunting, beautiful.
What are you reading?
Over summer break, I read Educated by Tara Westover, which is a memoir in which the author relates her experiences growing up in a non-mainstream Mormon home in rural Utah. The memoir features Tara's decision to leave home and get a formal education. Her sense of introspection and reflection are remarkable. For work, I've been reading books and articles on climate change, activism, advocacy, and sensation. The combination of hope and despair speaks to the climate-related protests happening across the globe.
What are you writing/thinking about?
I'm working on a book project that addresses environmental rhetoric at intersection with sensation. Specifically, I analyze how ordinary citizens pay attention to airborne environmental hazards, linking their perception to public policy that informs legislative action. Nondiscursive sensation—response to physical stimuli—affects our perceptions of, and responses to, environmental degradation. How and what we sense and pay attention to is culturally-informed and trained via language which segues to rhetoric and how risk is understood and evaluated in different contexts. I highlight environmental justice issues in my research because the people who suffer the most exposure to environmental hazards are often economically-disadvantaged people of color. (The lead crisis in Flint, Michigan represents an example.)