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Conference on Critical Media Literacy

Lewis University’s First Annual Conference on Critical Media Literacy
April 6, 2013
Romeoville, IL
Conference Homepage:

Featured Speakers and Presenters
Dr. Carl James York University Canada
Dr. Ira Shor CUNY, New York
Debangshu Roychoudhury, MA, New York University, PhD student in Psychology, The Graduate Center at the City University of New York.
Lauren M. Gardner, MSW, Fordham University, PhD student in Psychology,The Graduate Center at the City University of New York

Conference Proposals due January 8, 2013
Acceptance Notification by January 22, 2013

Brad Porfilio at Porfilio16@aol.com

Conference Theme:
Promoting Critical Awareness and Social Justice through Critical Media Literacy Today, media culture is one of the most dominant forces in society. It
contributes to defining our sense of self, driving our understanding of the ‘Other,’ and providing “symbols, myths and resources” for generating a common culture (Kellner, 1995). Mass media has become the corporate and political elites’ domain to consolidate their power.

Through the world of entertainment, corporate media control the content, production, and distribution of cultural texts, while simultaneously using their influence to gain control over the production of knowledge in such social outlets as cyberspace, newscasts, and political spectacles.

Consequently, mass media supports the corporate elite’s ideologies and practices and denigrates and ignores what cannot fulfill their agendas (McChesney, 1999, 2008).

Corporate elites infiltrate the lived, experiential worlds of consumers in order to sell their goods and services and perpetuate a corporatist worldview. Despite this power, some youth, schoolteachers and citizens not only hold the critical capacity to use Western cultural products, as reflective tools to critique formations and values ensconced within their own society, but they have remade themselves as social advocates who are committed to challenging the constitutive forces and actors behind corporate control over segments of our social life.

In this vein, this conference is designed to aid educational leaders,current and future teachers, youth, and other concerned citizens in their understanding of the mass media and its impact on the events that shape our lives. Promoting media literacy is essential to excavating (word choice?) social inequalities and fostering participatory democracy during the 21st century.

We call for proposals, presentations and workshops that urgently and critically redefine, redirect, and recreate notions of knowledge, truth, and justice through and with critical media pedagogy. Proposals might address topics such as (but not limited to) the following:

• What are the specific ways that corporate and political elites use mass media to promulgate their ideologies and practices?
• How does mass media perpetuate divisions amongst social groups?
• What role has mass media played in a potential elitist “war against youth?”
• How can educators, youth, and concerned citizens provide more genuine representations of global citizens through their own media products?
• How has media literacy fostered K-20 students’ critical engagement with mass media?
• How can media literacy position K-20 students to become active citizens and advocates for equity and social justice?
• How have various technologies employed by corporate conglomerates in mass media been used to foster critical understanding and solidarity, rather than employing these technologies to promote conformity and corporatism?
• How can various critical theories enrich our understanding of mass media in the age of neoliberalistic ideologies?
• What are some ways in which media literacy can be applied to the new demands and concerns of today’s digitized culture?

Rouge Forum 2011 in Chicagoland

We invited you to join us in Chicago for Rouge Forum 2011.

The Rouge Forum 2011 conference will be held May 20-22 at Lewis University’s suburban campus in Romeoville, IL.

Call for proposals and information on conference registration and housing will be online soon!

Why do you call it the Rouge Forum?

The River Rouge runs throughout the Detroit area—where the Rouge Forum was founded in 1998. Once a beautiful river bounteous with fish and plant life, it supported wetlands throughout southeast Michigan. Before industrialization, it was one of three rivers running through what is now the metropolitan area. Today the Rouge meanders through some of the most industrially polluted areas in the United States, past some of the poorest and most segregated areas of North American, only to lead some tributaries to one of the richest cities in the U.S.: Birmingham. The Rouge cares nothing for boundaries. The other two Detroit rivers were paved, early in the life of the city, and now serve as enclosed running sewers. Of the three, the Rouge is the survivor.

The Ford Rouge Plant was built before and during World War I. By 1920, it was the world’s largest industrial complex. Everything that went into a Ford car was manufactured at the Rouge. It was one of the work’s largest iron foundries and one of the top steel producers. Early on, Henry Ford sought to control every aspect of a worker’s life, mind and body, in the plant and out. Using a goon squad recruited from Michigan prisons led by the infamous Harry Bennet, Ford instituted a code of silence. He systematically divided workers along lines of national origin, sex, race, and language groupings–and set up segregated housing for the work force. Ford owned Dearborn and its politicians. He designed a sociology department, a group of social workers who demanded entry into workers’ homes to discover “appropriate” family relations and to ensure the people ate Ford-approved food, like soybeans, voted right, and went to church.

While Ford did introduce the “Five Dollar Day,” in fact only a small segment of the employees ever got it, and those who did saw their wages cut quickly when economic downturns, and the depression, eroded Ford profits.
The Rouge is the site that defined “Fordism.” Ford ran the line mercilessly. Fordism which centered on conveyor production, single- purpose machines, mass consumption, and mass marketing, seeks to heighten productivity via technique. The processes are designed to strip workers of potentially valuable faculties, like their expertise, to speed production, expand markets, and ultimately to drive down wages. These processes seek to make workers into replaceable machines themselves, but machines also capable of consumption. Contrary to trendy analysis focused on globalization and the technique of production, Ford was carrying on just-in-time practices at the Rouge in the early 1930’s. Ford was and is an international carmaker, in the mid 1970’s one of Europe’s largest sellers. In 1970, Ford recognized the need to shift to smaller cars, and built them, outside the U.S., importing the parts for assembly—early globalism.

Ford was a fascist. He contributed intellectually and materially to fascism. His anti-Semitic works inspired Hitler. Ford accepted the German equivalent of the Medal of Honor from Hitler, and his factories continued to operate in Germany, untouched by allied bombs, throughout WWII.

At its height, more than 100,000 workers held jobs at the Rouge. Nineteen trains ran on 85 miles of track, mostly in huge caverns under the plant. It was the nation’s largest computer center, the third largest producer of glass. It was also the worst polluter. The Environmental Protection agency, in 1970, charged the Rouge with nearly 150 violations.

Today there are 9,000 workers, most of them working in the now Japanese-owned iron foundry. Ford ruthlessly battled worker organizing at the Rouge. His Dearborn cops and goon squad killed hunger marchers during the depression, leading to massive street demonstrations. In the Battle of Overpass Ford unleashed his armed goons on UAW leaders, a maneuver which led to the battle for collective bargaining at Ford, and was the founding monument to what was once the largest UAW local in the world, Local 600, led by radical organizers for years.

On 1 February 1999, the boilers at the aging Rouge plant blew up, killing six workers. The plant, according to workers, had repeatedly failed safety inspections. UAW local president made a statement saying how sorry he was for the families of the deceased–and for William Clay Ford, “who is having one of the worst days of his life.” Papers and the electronic press presented the workers’ deaths as a tough day for the young Ford who inherited the presidency of the company after a stint as the top Ford manager in Europe. The steam went out of Local 600 long ago. The leaders now refer to themselves as “UAW-FORD,” proof that they have inherited the fascist views of the company founder.

When environmentalist volunteers tried to clean the rouge in June 1999, they were ordered out of the water. It was too polluted to clean.

So, why the Rouge Forum? The Rouge is both nature and work. The Rouge has never quit; it moves with the resilience of the necessity for labor to rise out of nature itself. The river and the plant followed the path of industrial life throughout the world. The technological advances created at the Rouge, in some ways, led to better lives. In other ways, technology was used to forge the privilege of the few, at the expense of most–and the ecosystems, which brought it to life, The Rouge is a good place to consider a conversation, education, and social action. That is why.