Faculty Spotlight: Micah Bateman

Get to know SLIS lecturer, Micah Bateman! Micah Bateman is a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop and the School of Library and Information Science at the University of Iowa. He is presently completing a dissertation, supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation through the University of Texas at Austin, on the politics of American poetry in social media environments.

* What are you working on right now?

Right now I'm wrapping up a dissertation on the citations and circulations of poets and poetry as American political response. My last chapter reads the uses of Black poets by Democratic contenders for the U.S. presidency in the 2020 primaries as an outparty authenticating strategy. My first chapters explore the circulations of Walt Whitman during #OccupyWallStreet and the circulations of Bertolt Brecht, W.H. Auden, and Emily Dickinson after the election of Donald Trump to the presidency in 2016. This summer, I'll be partnering with Lindsay Mattock and Benjamin Devane on a public humanities grant to reconceive computing education and practice in library and information science departments. I also have a couple of poems coming out. But mostly I'm just trying to survive a world-historical pandemic with an infant.

* What are you excited about in your research?

My dissertation has led me to research what has been called "media ritual," or the way media ritualistically responds to events. Think "thoughts and prayers" after a public death, or the way the same gun rights arguments are rehashed and circulated in the days following a mass shooting. A lot has been written about media ritual (primarily about news outlets and television), and I'm trying to port that discourse into both new media as well as into nineteenth century print media. I'm interested, ultimately, in the ways social movements and political response are mediated toward efficacy or failure. Through the media they use to organize, do they ultimately tend toward ritual -- a conservative tendency, as ritual is used to maintain a society through time -- or can they conjure a new and effective form of response? I think the latter is possible, as the online component of the Arab Spring might be said to demonstrate. But what are the unique characteristics of these emergent and effective movements that make them different -- and more threatening -- than ritual response? That question is exciting to me.

* Tell us about what classes you will be teaching in the summer/fall?

In the fall I'll be teaching Computing Foundations, a primer on computer use in library and information science contexts, and information visualization, in which I hope to delve into many of the misleading or misinforming graphics surrounding recent events such as the pandemic and the presidential election.