Lont, Ray Named Fenwick Fellows for 2003-2004

Posted: September 25, 2003 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Fran Rensbarger

University Libraries has announced the Fenwick Fellows for this academic year: Cindy Lont, Communication Department, and Marcella Ridlen Ray, School of Public Policy, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, and Women’s Studies.

The Fenwick Fellowship is awarded annually to instructional faculty members for the pursuit of a research project that utilizes the libraries’ resources and advances knowledge in the faculty member’s field. The award includes, for each fellow, a research office in Fenwick Library and a financial award to support research.

“We are delighted to support the research projects of Lont and Ray and look forward to their library residency this academic year,” says University Librarian John Zenelis.

Lont will study media stereotypes about women and minorities. Current books, articles, and videos on women, minorities, and media, she notes in her research proposal, generally focus on one specific media form with little research on the effect these repetitive, stereotyped images may have on the audience.

“In fact, the stereotypes of women and minorities are quite similar across most media forms, and it is the culmination of these consistent stereotypes and perspectives which has the most impact on the audience,” Lont’s proposal explains. “My intention is to review and critique the various books and videos in this area and then write, produce, and distribute a video on the stereotypes of women and minorities that demonstrates these similarities and the impact on the audience.”

The immediate result of the project would be a videotape for classroom use, and also residual work including video reviews, book reviews, articles, and a new book Lont expects to write within the next five years.

Ray expects her project, “Social Institutions: Messages from American Bestsellers for Educators, Civic Leaders, and Policy Makers,” to bring about a fresh source of information about public awareness and attitudes towards our social institutions. Ray will address general knowledge about institutions, culturally embedded and indirectly shared, that is part of the social and public discourse. She aims to make this discourse more explicit, as it relates to social institutions in the U.S., by an analysis of the content of a sample of popular reading material.

“It is important that students learn how institutions are formed, what controls and influences them, how they influence individuals and culture, and how they are maintained or changed,” Ray says in her proposal. “We build and perpetuate societal institutions daily, despite low institutional awareness. If we are to build effective, accountable social institutions, then we must first illuminate our current perceptions and requirements of these institutions.”

Fellows present their research findings through a public lecture to the university community in the following academic year, and share their studies with the broader academic community through presentations at scholarly conferences and publications. Last year’s Fenwick Fellows–Kristin Johnsen-Neshati, Theater, and Hazel McFerson, Public and International Affairs–will present their Fenwick Fellows lectures during the 2003-04 academic year.

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