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Indermohan Virk
Executive director, William T. Patten Foundation

Steve Hinnefeld
IU Communications

Last modified: Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Media scholar Zelizer to deliver IU Patten Lectures

Oct. 10, 2012

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- University of Pennsylvania professor Barbie Zelizer, one of the world's foremost scholars of memory and culture, will deliver two Patten Lectures this month at Indiana University in Bloomington.

Zelizer, who holds the Raymond Williams Chair of Communications in the Annenberg School for Communication, focuses her research on the cultural dimensions of journalism, exploring in particular the areas of journalistic authority, collective memory and journalistic images in crises and wars.

Topics for her Patten Lectures will be:

  • "What Does Genocide Look Like? And How Do We Know It When We See It?" Tuesday, Oct. 23
  • "Why Pictures of People About to Die Depict News Events Involving Death," Thursday, Oct. 25
Barbie Zelizer

Barbie Zelizer

Print-Quality Photo

Both lectures will take place from 7:30 to 9 p.m. in the Moot Court Room of the IU Maurer School of Law, 211 S. Indiana Ave.

The Oct. 23 lecture will trace the depiction of genocide in the news, tracking how certain visual patterns for depicting atrocity became recognizable during the Holocaust, how they were tweaked and how they came to stand in for the display of contemporary acts of genocide. The lecture asks whether the depiction of genocide may have worked against its more complete public understanding.

On Oct. 25, Zelizer will discuss how the pictures of news about death often show us less than what we read or hear in the news. Why, she asks, do pictures of people about to die surface in the coverage of events involving death? What do they look like? How are they used? And what does their prevalence suggest about the nature and degree of our readiness to engage with complex public events?

Zelizer is an author or editor of 16 books. Books she authored include "About to Die: How News Images Move the Public," "Taking Journalism Seriously: News and the Academy," "Remembering to Forget: Holocaust Memory Through the Camera's Eye" and "Covering the Body: The Kennedy Assassination, the Media, and the Shaping of Collective Memory." Her edited books include "Making the University Matter," "Journalism After September 11" and "Reporting War: Journalism in Wartime." She has published numerous peer-reviewed articles, is co-editor and founder of the journal Journalism: Theory, Practice and Criticism, and serves on the editorial board of several book series and journals.

Zelizer's scholarship on the media portrayal of violence, cruelty and death is of interest not only to journalists, but to cultural critics concerned with the impact of visual culture. Her work has challenged scholars in diverse disciplines to explore the authority of journalism, the power of the image and our understanding of war, the Holocaust and the Kennedy assassination.

The Patten Lecture series is conducted by the William T. Patten Foundation under the auspices of the Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty and Academic Affairs at IU Bloomington. The series was established in 1937 with an endowment from William T. Patten, an 1893 IU graduate who settled in Indianapolis and had a successful career in real estate and politics. More than 200 eminent scholars, scientists, authors and public figures have lectured as part of the series.

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