The award-winning Scholars on the Road Lecture Series brings the fascinating research of the College’s faculty experts to alumni audiences in Washington, D.C., New York City, Boston, Rochester, Buffalo and beyond. From the arts to the humanities and the social sciences, this series represents the incredibly diverse disciplines the College of Arts and Sciences comprises.
The Scholars on the Road Lecture Series events are open
to alumni and feature a reception as part of the program.
Heroes and Villains: Perceptions of Characters
with Professor Matthew Grizzard
UB Department of Communication
Thursday, Oct. 5
6 p.m. Reception | 7 p.m. Lecture
105 Harriman Hall, UB South Campus
Hosted by the College of Arts and Sciences and the UB Office of
Part of UB Homecoming and Family Weekend.
Reality in the Age of Truthiness
with Professor David Castillo
Director of UB's Humanities Institute and professor in the UB Department of Romance Languages and Literatures
Thursday, Oct. 12
6 p.m. Reception l 7 p.m. Lecture
Hunton & Williams LLP, 2200 Pennslyvania Ave., NW, Washington, D.C. 20037
Reclaiming our Ancestors: Family Histories, Public History,
and Racial Justice
with Professor Kari Winter
Interim Exective Director of the Humanities Institute and Professor in the UB Department of Transnational Studies
Thursday, Dec. 7
6 p.m. Reception l 7 p.m. Lecture
Macaulay Honors College, 35 W 67th Street, New York, NY 10023
Registration coming soon.
Q: What inspired you to pursue this research topic, how viewers perceive characters in media entertainment?
MG: I was always curious about why we have these biases against media entertainment, just in general. So, that got me interested, and then when I got into college I found out that I could actually study this and there was a path for where you can kind of do this research.
Q: Is there always a hero and a villain?
MG: I think what our research is kind of pointing to is that even if you don't have a really clear hero and villain, we are so adept at taking schema and taking these mental short-cuts, that we apply them before we even realize it.
Q: Who is you favorite hero and villain character?
MG: I don't know why, but I really like Freddy Krueger. Probably because he's so terrifying, which makes him a fantastic villain. My favorite hero has to be Superman. He's like the epitome of a hero.
Q: What can alumni expect to hear at your Scholars on the Road lecture?
MG: Why we should care how people perceive characters and narratives, and some interesting ways individuals might not realize how characters are being perceived. I think even more relevant, is if we're doing this with characters we're also doing it in the real world, with people that we interact with on a day-to-day basis.
About Professor Grizzard
Matthew Grizzard, PhD, is an Assistant Professor in the UB Department of Communication. Situated within the intersection of psychology and communication, Dr. Grizzard's research examines how media entertainment incorporates and exploits psychological processes related to real-world judgments. In addition to conducting social science research, Dr. Grizzard teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in media effects, mass communication and research methods.
Q: Since the publication of your book Medialogies: Reading Reality in the Age of Inflationary Media, has the ever-changing reality of the media and the political climate caused your research to evolve or change, and is anything out-of-date now?
Castillo: Nothing is out-of-date, if anything, things have accelerated. The whole question of truthiness of reality is something we feel entitled to, our own individual reality in a way. In the same way that data plans offer you unlimited data, we feel that we need to have access to our own unlimited reality, the way we want it. The word “truthiness” is defined as “a quality for actualizing the ‘truth’ that a person making an argument or assertion claims to know intuitively from the gut, or because it feels right, without regard to evidence, logic, intellectual examination, or facts.”
Particularly, it was Stephen Colbert who coined the word and applied it to President George Bush’s decision to invade Iraq. More recently, he has replaced the word with Trumpiness in regards to statements made by Donald Trump during his presidential campaign. According to Colbert, truthiness refers to statements that feel true but are actually false. Trumpiness does not even have to feel true. As evidence that Trump’s remarks exhibit this quality, Colbert cited The Washington Post column stating that many Trump supporters did not believe his wildest promises, but supported him anyway.
Q: What advice do you have for keeping in touch with reality?
Castillo: In this crazy culture that we are living in with social media sites, I would say to talk to people, even those who hold contrary opinions, and be willing to negotiate or entertain the possibility of changing your mind. It’s harder to do than people realize, but it allows for some kind of critical thinking.
Q: What are a few of the take aways from your lecture?
Castillo: I want them thinking about how to engage in real conversation, and not just participate in social media. I want them to challenge the notion that you are only you if you put yourself in situations where your beliefs are likely to be confirmed, and not challenged. I do think that our communities would benefit from open dialogue.
Q: How have students contributed to your research?
Castillo: Even before anything I’m working on becomes a draft for an article or book, I like teaching what I’m interested in. My ideas are tested and challenged in the context of classes. I couldn’t tell you specifically which of my students contributed to any specific thing, but I can tell you that they all contributed to this book and are still contributing to my presentation in D.C.
About David Castillo, PhD
David Castillo is the Director of UB’s Humanities Institute and a professor in the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures. He is the author of multiple books, including Baroque Horrors: Roots of the Fantastic in the Age of Curiosities and Awry Views: Anamorphosis, Cervantes, and the Early Picaresque, and co-author of Medialogies: Reading Reality in the Age of Inflationary Media and Zombie Talk: Culture, History, Politics. Castillo has contributed to The New York Times and made appearances in The Voice of America, NPR and other media outlets.