Symposium panelists consider relationship of media, culture

Celebrated author Margaret Atwood joins Dr. Amber Watts, Dr. Harry Benshoff and Dr. Joel Timmer for the Emerson-Wier symposium at USAO on March 31. The panelists will discuss the relationship of media to culture from 2-4 p.m. in the Davis Hall Amphitheater on the USAO campus.

Symposium panelists consider relationship of media, culture


A collection of respected researchers and authors will convene on the campus of the University of Science and Arts to discuss the relationship of media to culture during the Emerson-Wier Liberal Arts Symposium on March 31.

The panel discussion is scheduled from 2-4 p.m. in the Davis Hall Amphitheater on the USAO campus. In addition to the panel discussion, the symposium will feature an evening presentation by best-selling author and Booker prize-winner Margaret Atwood at 7:30 p.m. in Te Ata Memorial Auditorium.

The symposium is open to the public and free.

Scheduled to join Atwood for the panel discussion are Dr. Amber Watts, an assistant professor of film, TV and digital media at Texas Christian University in Forth Worth; Dr. Harry Benshoff, an associate professor of film and media studies at the University of North Texas in Denton, and Dr. Joel Timmer, an associate professor of film, TV and digital media at Texas Christian University.

Texas Christian University’s Dr. Amber Watts teaches courses in media history and criticism. Her research focuses on the relationship between media, history, and social culture, particularly in terms of the ways popular texts like reality television and celebrity journalism are in dialogue with larger social issues. She has published articles on makeover television, the postwar “audience participation” genre, and reality TV celebrity.

She also serves on the editorial board for Celebrity Studies, a new journal published by Routledge. Dr. Watts earned her Ph.D. from Northwestern University.

An associate professor at the University of North Texas, Dr. Harry Benshoff’s research interests include topics in film genres, film history, film theory, and multiculturalism.

He has published essays on Dark Shadows fan cultures, blaxploitation horror films, The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999), and Brokeback Mountain. He is the author of Monsters in the Closet: Homosexuality and the Horror Film (Manchester University Press, 1997).

With Sean Griffin, he co- authored America on Film: Representing Race, Class, Gender and Sexuality at the Movies (Blackwell Publishers, 2004), and Queer Images: A History of Gay and Lesbian Film in America (Rowman & Littlefield, 2006). He was also the co-editor of Queer Cinema: The Film Reader (Routledge, 2004).

Dr. Benshoff earned his Ph.D. from the University of Southern California.

Dr. Joel Timmer, of Texas Christian University, has worked for the Federal Communications Commission and for a consulting firm that provided business and regulatory advice to major entertainment companies. Other professional experiences include stints as a business writer, a commercial credit analyst, and a salesperson of TV advertisements. Dr. Timmer specializes in government regulation of the media business.

His published work in Communication Law and Policy has dealt with government regulation of television violence as well as the transition from analog to digital television.

Dr. Timmer earned his Ph.D. from Indiana University

Having penned 14 novels, nearly 20 collections of poems, nine volumes of non-fictional prose, six children’s books, three television scripts and a libretto, Margaret Atwood is one of the English language’s most celebrated living writers and Canada’s most valuable literary export.

Atwood’s presentation is entitled, simply, My Life as a Writer.

Serving as moderator for the panel discussion is Rob Vollmar, a member of USAO’s Media and Community Relations team. Vollmar is the co-author of three graphic novels and has written hundreds of journal articles on comics, film and literature.

Both the panel discussion and the evening lecture are free and open to the public. USAO’s Emerson-Wier Liberal Arts Symposium series is sponsored annually by the USAO Foundation and was inspired by endowment funds created by Oklahoma College for Women alumni Gladys Anderson Emerson and Nance Foules Wier.