Happy Friday! I hope everyone has had a good week as we settle back into our school time schedules. By the time you receive this all sorts of cool things will have already taken place in the department: a great C4C regarding internships led by Karyl, the semester’s first Communication Studies Club meeting, and our first research brown bag. Wow!

As always, I have news of recently published research. First an essay by Allison. Her co-authored essay entitled “Saluting the ‘Skutnik’: Special Guests, the First Lady’s Box, and the Generic Evolution of the State of the Union Address” just came out as the lead essay of the Winter 2017 issue of Rhetoric and Public Affairs.

Hye Seung and Scott have two new essays:

“Choi Min-sik in Oldboy,” Close Up: Great Cinematic performances Volume 2: International, eds. Murray Pomerance and Kyle Stevens, (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2018)

“The Cinematic Half-Twist: Art, Exploitation, and the Subversion of Sexual Norms in Kim Ki-duk’s Moebius,” Exploiting East Asian Cinemas: Translation, Circulation, Consumption, eds. Mike Dillon and Ken Provencher (London: Bloomsbury,  2018), 155-171.

Meanwhile, Sonja Hollingsworth is back from the European League for Middle Level Educators conference in Amsterdam. She writes that, “I was chosen as one of a handful of educators to present a workshop based on my research regarding the impact of service learning on middle level learners.  My workshop was entitled “From Backpacks to Boarding Passes: Service Learning as a Pathway for Gifted Middle Level Learners.” Pretty cool event with 500+ educators/administrators from schools across Europe.

Two more items regarding scholarship.

Our first graduate colloquium is this coming Wednesday, January 31, 2018 11:00-11:50. We will be meeting in ANAZO (Anatomy and Zoology) W 205.

Our second research brown bag will be Monday, February 12, 11:00 am in Eddy 100 (yay!). Meara will be presenting a bit of her work.

I think it is clear to all of you that I love my job. There are, however, moments when I wish I were elsewhere, when I wish my responsibilities were other than they are. In fact, my job (and that of nearly all of us) has gotten harder these last months.

Most recently, we are confronting again the conflict between free speech and safety. Some of you have seen emails from the provost talking about freedom of speech, academic freedom, and diversity. The emails come to us because student and other organizations are hosting a number of speakers in February who some might find controversial. Over the last day or two, a couple of you have stopped by asking about the Charlie Kirk/Turning Point USA event. I know little about either the speaker or the organization, though it is clear that the organization aligns well with the rise in reactionary politics. An event like this one raises the deep conflict between the need to create spaces safe for learning and thinking and honoring the nation’s constitutional commitment to free speech.

The university has built this website to help guide us through these conflicts. https://firstamendment.colostate.edu/.  They begin the webpage with the words of the 1st Amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” You can find here resources for dealing with these conflicts and reasons for how and why the university responds as it does.

In the face of these tensions, here is what I want you to know: This department is committed in the first instance to all of our people; we strive to be inclusive of widely varying identities, ways of beings, values, and beliefs. In our classrooms, our hallways, and our scholarship we welcome diversity and we cherish moments of honest and thoughtful conflict that necessarily comes from our inclusiveness. We make mistakes on this as well. Sometimes we—I—say and do hurtful things. Sometimes we—I—do too little to combat prejudice or to take on systemic oppressions. This is true as well.

As scholars and practitioners of communication, we are also committed to free speech. With Cicero, we understand that free speech is the cornerstone of a free society. We know this even as we know that speech hurts and damages. We know that the old playground chant “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me” is a lie.

We live in a moment when people are willing to take the privilege of free speech as a chance to say hateful things. We live in a moment when some of us desire deeply to limit free speech to create a safer environment.

Being a teacher, being a student, being a staff person in higher education is so difficult right now because of this conflict.

I have few words of wisdom on this; no best ways through. We can meet hateful speech with loving speech. We can respond to fear mongering with our studied silence. We can remind each other that each of us matters. With our students, we can remind them again and again that we care for them, each one, as humans.

It is with this weighty understanding of our world that I move into the weekend. I will play some and work some. I will take time to reflect and I will reach out to others. I will—this is so mundane—bake some sourdough bread and I will send an email or two of gratitude.

I hope you have a good weekend.