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2015 - SRCD Biennial Meeting Pages: unavailable || Words: unavailable || 
1. Hrabic, Melissa., Williamson, Rebecca. and OZCALISKAN, SEYDA. "Do young children show sensitivity to language-specific gesture patterns in gesture comprehension?" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the SRCD Biennial Meeting, Pennsylvania Convention Center and the Philadelphia Marriott Downtown Hotel, Philadelphia, PA, Mar 19, 2015 <Not Available>. 2019-11-22 <>
Publication Type: Individual Poster
Review Method: Peer Reviewed
Abstract: Children understand gesture+speech combinations with deictic gestures (‘open’+point at box; Morford & Goldin-Meadow, 1992) between ages 1-2 years and iconic gestures (‘open’+book gesture; Stanfield et al., 2013) between ages 3-4 years. However, it remains unknown whether this understanding is influenced by the structure of the language the child is learning. If children are initially sensitive to the semantic categories most frequently expressed in their native language, then we would predict that children will understand gesture+speech combinations with language-specific gestures earlier than the ones with gestures that are not language-specific. If, on the other hand, children are not sensitive to the language-specific distinctions in gesture, then we would predict that they will be equally good at understanding gesture+speech combinations with gestures that do or do not follow language-specific patterns.
To explore these possibilities, we focused on the domain of motion, the expression of which shows strong crosslinguistic differences in gesture, particularly with respect to manner and path components. English speakers produce higher rates of conflated gestures— synthesizing manner and path components into a single gesture (manner+path; wiggle fingers left to right to convey running left to right), than separated gestures that express a single motion component—either manner-only (wiggle fingers in the same location to convey running) or path-only (move finger left to right to convey left to right trajectory). To determine whether children learning English show early sensitivity to native gesture patterns, we tested 60 3-year-olds (M = 37.9 mos.; 18 males) and 4-year-olds (M =50.6 mos.; 12 males) and 32 adults (M = 21.3 years; 12 males), all native English speakers. Each participant was presented with video demonstrations of 8 gesture+speech combinations involving a neutral verbal description (‘look he is moving’), accompanied by iconic gestures conveying manner and path of motion either simultaneously (manner+path; e.g., running left to right, n = 36) or separately (manner-only; e.g., running, n = 29; path-only; e.g., left to right trace, n = 27). After the demonstration of each combination, participants were asked to choose from pairs of animated motion clips, only one of which matched the manner, the path, or both the manner+path depicted.
Our results showed that 4-year-olds were equally good at understanding gesture+speech combinations that did and did not follow language-specific patterns. That is, 4-year-olds chose the correct animation match for gesture+speech combinations that either depicted manner and path simultaneously (the English pattern) or manner and path separately (the non-English pattern), at levels significantly above chance; t(11) = 2.77, p < .05; t(4) = 6, p < .01; t(5) = 2.7, p < .05, respectively. Three-year-olds, on the other hand, showed chance performance for all judgments. Our results suggest that children can glean action information expressed uniquely in gesture at an early age, but this ability does not show sensitivity to language-specific patterns.

2015 - AAAL Annual Conference Words: 50 words || 
2. Hamamoto, Hideki. "Can Gestures Help Learners Perceive Syntactic Structures? A Proposal of Gestures Based on Ideas from Relational Grammar" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the AAAL Annual Conference, Fairmont Royal York, Toronto, ON, Canada, Mar 21, 2015 <Not Available>. 2019-11-22 <>
Publication Type: Poster
Review Method: Peer Reviewed
Abstract: Our proposal is to utilize a set of gestures based on ideas from Relational Grammar. In our proposal, the structure of a sentence is mapped onto a set of movements of our hands. Performing gestures representing the structures of what they listened to helped learners memorize and reproduce the sentences.

2009 - International Communication Association Pages: 25 pages || Words: 6110 words || 
3. Yasui, Eiko. "Collaborative Idea Construction: The Repetition of Gestures and Talk During Brainstorming" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the International Communication Association, Marriott, Chicago, IL, May 20, 2009 Online <PDF>. 2019-11-22 <>
Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Review Method: Peer Reviewed
Abstract: This paper examines the process of proposing and elaborating ideas in a group project meeting. The data shows three college students brainstorming for a group project, the production of a short film for a class. Employing various modalities, the participants accept or reject each other’s proposals, elaborate upon them, and combine them into complex wholes. Gestures make idea-construction a thoroughly public process. By repeating and building upon one another’s gestures (or components thereof) the participants embody collaborative thought processes. This study thus exhibits some of the roles of repetitive gestures during the brainstorming stage of a meeting. The reuse of previously produced gestures connects sequences of talk (LeBaron & Koschmann, 2003), shows shared understanding of what the gesture represents, or indicates acceptance of proposals. Gesture, a social public practice, embodies the process of formation of shared imagination and enables participants to achieve mutual agreement of the ideas that they co-construct.

2009 - American Studies Association Annual Meeting Words: 401 words || 
4. Mills, Mara. "Codes of Behavior: Orality, Gesture, and Digital Signals" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Studies Association Annual Meeting, Renaissance Hotel, Washington D.C., <Not Available>. 2019-11-22 <>
Publication Type: Internal Paper
Abstract: This paper uses the vocoder as a hinge, looking toward the emergence of efficient digital coding, and backward at ideas about the materiality of communication that arose in the 19th-century discourses of experimental phonetics and lip-reading. The vocoder is most familiar as a “robotic” voice in electronic music, however I will argue that the significance of this machine to media history goes beyond speech synthesis. American Telephone and Telegraph (AT&T) engineers began planning a “VOice-CODER” in 1927 as a tool for speech compression—to reduce the bandwidth, and hence the expense, of telephone transmission. World War II models of the vocoder employed pulse code modulation successfully for the first time; this was one of the earliest demonstrations of digitization.

An early spur for speech compression came from the lip-reading community, which by the 1920s had established several ties to AT&T. The vocoder’s sampling mechanism was based on the theory that tangible “gestures” lay beneath speech. The vocoder analyzed speech into its sound stream—reconceived as a “carrier”—and the message itself, which was imprinted onto breath and vocal cord sounds by movements of the lips, tongue, and teeth. These speech “codes” could be transmitted with great efficiency, and the speech itself re-made at the receiving end of the system.

Most histories of digital media draw from the annals of computing or the genealogy of cinema. Through the vocoder, I foreground instead the 20th-century telephone system, and its imperative for efficient transmission. Rather than reinstate the monopoly of AT&T and its engineers, I’ll trace their appropriation of linguistic expertise from deaf people and deaf education. My argument is put together through media archaeology—archival research informed by theory, and attentive to the losses and losers of traditional history—as well as readings of contemporary deaf memoir and fiction, which suggest alternate approaches to engineering communication.

By outlining the debts owed by AT&T to the lip-reading community in particular, I suggest that this case forces us to rethink the assumed relationship between digital code and embodiment. Ideas about human language and normal bodies are engineered into communication technologies. The normalizing technique of lip-reading helped make possible the construction of media that were at once compatible with bodily norms, and aimed to enhance those norms by making communication more efficient. By joining the old speech ideal of immediacy with the modern ideal of efficiency, analog and digital telephony alike contributed to a widespread intolerance of slowness and error in communication.

2009 - American Studies Association Annual Meeting Words: 345 words || 
5. Johnson, Courtney. "Across the Pacific and Back Again: Pan-Americanism, Sovereign Reciprocity, and the Anti-imperial Gesture" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Studies Association Annual Meeting, Renaissance Hotel, Washington D.C., <Not Available>. 2019-11-22 <>
Publication Type: Internal Paper
Courtney Johnson
Assistant Professor
Department of Spanish and Portuguese
University of Wisconsin - Madison

Across the Pacific and Back Again: Pan-Americanism, Sovereign Reciprocity, and the Anti-imperial Gesture

Whether satiric or celebratory, turn-of-the-century illustrations dealing with the new formation of United States colonialism strained to give form to the puzzling epistemology of empire. For instance, one illustration from the era called the “Imperialism Stunt” depicted a conservatively dressed woman walking a high wire connecting the California coast with the east edge of the Pacific Rim. Another depicted Uncle Sam as a fisherman simultaneously having tugs at multiple lines reaching the Philippines, Cuba, and Porto[sic] Rico. Both of these metaphors imagine a form of physical connection that implies commerce – economic, political, cultural and otherwise. These tethers simultaneously put the “Pan” in “Pan-Pacific” as well as in “Pan-American.” These linkages would be stretched to the breaking point in the immediate post-1898 era. But with the rise of (return to?) anti-imperial Americanism, these lines would slacken as the 20th century proceeded through dependency of the putatively underdeveloped world on the obscenely overdeveloped one. What legitimated this world order?

To address this question, this presentation examines the specific contours of Pan-Americanism that necessarily incorporate Filipino, Caribbean, and broadly imperial manifestations. This three-pronged approach to understanding the emergence of Pan-Americanism serves as a way to narrate the coincidence of an anti-imperial gesture that ironically held together the ligaments of neo-colonial identifications. A smaller part of a larger project on neo-colonial modernity in the Philippines and Latin America, this paper is an extension of my critical analysis of Elihu Root as the underappreciated architect of the new American imperial consensus. Root built that consensus, sometimes deftly and other times bumblingly, on a notion sovereign reciprocity and international obligations in which some international citizens are more equal than others. With this more critical awareness of the incommensurable anomalies that a simultaneously Pan-Pacific and Pan-American geopolitics, we can see how Root was the architect not only of neoliberal globalization but also of its much ballyhooed discontents.

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