Lessons, Connections and Directions

The summer now underway, it’s a good time to take stock of gains, setbacks, and lessons learned from the semester. This post simply reviews the three sets of work undertaken over the past few months, and then try to detail the priorities and next steps necessary to continue progress towards the dissertation. Between materials, structures, and approaches, more incommensurability than contiguity prevails – yet weak ties persist in imagination and in theory. Broadly speaking, both epistemological and methodological considerations justify holding all three in concert, as parts of the long-term and focused project. And yet this can only hint at a strategy, it seems, and my largest outstanding challenge will be to find the coherent framework that unifies or at least governs the relationship between each of these schools of thought. Continue reading

thesis statement

I study the recordings, writings, and public figure of Mumia Abu-Jamal, a Pennsylvania death-row prisoner since 1982. I analyze synecdochic manifestations of his body in space, his oeuvre in time, and the codes of his figure online. This includes examining analog and digital media artifacts, as well as observing figurative representations of both Abu-Jamal and Daniel Faulkner, the police officer that Abu-Jamal is convicted of killing. I use interdisciplinary theoretical and methodological interventions to show how the social and political implications of this polarizing narrative extend beyond either man’s life or death.

new thesis statement

I am studying the cultural production of Mumia Abu-Jamal, a prisoner in Pennsylvania and a prolific writer. Cultural production has two senses here; first, it refers to the cultural artifacts, such as writings and audio recordings, produced by Abu-Jamal while incarcerated since the early 1980s. Second, it refers to the many ways in which Abu-Jamal has been produced as a cultural icon for certain political causes, especially online. Combining theoretical constructs from critical literary studies, communication, cultural history, and media studies, I examine production and its limits, across the media of print, radio, and the internet.

Also, I made a page on my CCT portfolio to house (and back up) my work over the spring.