The Influencing Machine, a graphic novel by co-host of National Public Radio’s On the Media Brooke Gladstone, was the selection for this year’s “One Book, One Campus” reading.
The novel exposes biases and distortions of the media, examining the development over the last 30,000 years and making readers more aware of the media’s influence over certain political and social situations. “We like this book because it’s an election year, and because the book is about media… we thought this would be a good application of the book,” explained Dr. Caleb Corkery, professor of English.
The committee chose this book “for incoming students to recognize that the perspectives they bring are built on biases that they might not be aware of; a book like this helps to crack through those assumptions… to look at what we think and see a way that’s more unbiased,” said Corkery. The students who already read the book have mixed reactions. According to Corkery, while most students enjoyed the theme, “there has been some negative reaction to the format… some people thought that it was kind of ‘dumbing it down’. I thought it was very complex.”
The graphic novel format is indeed a different form of reading than that of traditional texts. It involves looking at pictures as well as captions, text and thought and action bubbles. It reads more like a comic strip, which is why the contest this year is to create just that.
This year’s “One Book, One Campus” challenge is a comic strip contest in which students, faculty and community members are welcome to submit comic strips of any subject matter that convey their meaning through a combination of words and images. The winner will be published in the Millersville University Magazine, The Review, and given a $150 University bookstore gift certificate. The submissions are due November 1 and can be sent via email to Corkery at email@example.com or to the English Department, which is located in Chryst Hall. Submissions are required to be no larger than one 8.5” by 11” page and holds standards of good taste.
Along with the comic strip contest, Millersville University is hosting a Reflect and Connect Series event to discuss The Influencing Machine and the role of storytelling. This event will take place in the Ford Atrium on October 10 from 5 to 6:15 p.m.
Additionally, on October 23 at 7:30 p.m., there will be a panel discussion in the Student Memorial Center’s Reighard Multipurpose Room featuring author Brook Gladstone, internationally acclaimed artist Martha Rosler, and associate professor at Rutgers University, Jack Bratich.
Corkery shares, “The panel discussion is the day after the last presidential debate so I’m hoping that there will be a lot of momentum… I think that it will be very interesting because the perspectives on that panel are very specialized and very educated.” The panel will discuss their perspectives on coverage of current events leading up to the election.