The Eclectic and Electric Dr. Barry Mauer

Dr. Barry Mauer’s UCF office resembles less of an office and more of a low lit lounge. The ceiling is lined with decorative linen that hides the ceiling tiles and harsh fluorescent lights. Lamps cast a low glow and pillows sit on his chairs. The walls are lined with rows of bookshelves hosting a mix of books, videocassettes, and CDs. The books include titles like, Centuries of Childhood: A Social History of Family Life, Lacan and Narration: The Psychoanalytic Difference in Narrative Theory, Patterns of Intentions: On the Historical Explanation of Pictures, and Avatar Emergency. The books cover a broad spectrum of disciplines including film, visual art, cultural studies, media theory, art theory, philosophy, and internet/electric studies. The eclectic collection of books reflects Dr. Mauer, an Associate English Professor, who self-identifies as a generalist and who publishes in many formats.

My scholarship is written in three areas,” Dr. Mauer says, “cultural studies, pedagogy, and electracy.”

Barry Mauer the Scholar

Recently Dr. Mauer has published on a broad range of ideas in a variety of mediums. Some of his work includes songs, ‘zine style comics, book chapters, scholarly journal articles, and newspaper columns.

His comic series “Deadly Delusions,” published in Itineration: Cross-Disciplinary Studies in Rhetoric, Media, and Culture, comments on political and social issues. “Deadly Delusions, Issue 1: Eliminationist Rhetoric in Mainstream Political Discourse,” argues that the American Right Wing promotes eliminationist rhetoric in order to dehumanize and demonize modernists and liberals.

Additionally, his recent published refereed articles include:

You can also download his music from iTunes. Kevin McGowin, who edited reviews for Eclectica, writes Dr. Mauer’s music (which is recorded in different rooms throughout his house) “is a gift package of clever quotes and parodies from everybody and everything from early Rockabilly to punk, coupled with expert and original instrumentation and a friendly voice.” And don’t be confused, Dr. Mauer plays many (and sometimes all of the instruments) in his recordings, including: guitar, bass, violin, mandolin, and keyboard in addition to providing vocals.

Barry Mauer the Pedagogue

The first episode of the sketch comedy series Portlandia begins with the actors singing: “The dream of the 90s is alive in Portland” and includes a wide shot of clowns, tattoo artists, bearded men, unicyclists, skateboarders, people with facial piercings, musicians, etc. Stemming from 80s’ punk and aesthetics, the 90s encouraged the youth to deconstruct, analyze, and redefine cultural norms. If you had to sing a song that describes Dr. Mauer’s classes, you might sing the same anthem from Portlandia, but, instead of 90’s stereotypes in the wide shot, you’d see Louis Althusser, Gregory Ulmer, Roland Barthes, Judith Williamson, Robert Ray, Andre Breton, Sigmund Freud, Laura Mulvey, and Walter Benjamin.

Like many Gen-Xers, Dr. Mauer’s formative years stemmed from the 80s scene. Popular influences of the time include anthems from the Sex Pistols who scream “I want to be anarchy/And I want to be anarchy/(Oh what a name)/And I want to be an anarchist/(I get pissed, destroy!)” And the Clash who sing “London calling to the underworld/Come out of the cupboard/you boys and girls/London calling/now don’t look to us/Phony Beatlemania has bitten the dust.”

The 80s promoted deconstruction of systems while the 90s promoted self-awareness and societal change — creating a generation of skeptic optimists who questioned capitalist constructions of race, class, gender, sex, family, schooling, etc.

Additionally, it was an age where technological determinists declared the Internet to be the ultimate democratizing tool: a tool that would educate and liberate everyone. “I believed in that vision for a while – way too long actually,” Dr. Mauer says.

Like the popular culture in the 80s and 90s, and stemming from the 1960s onward, scholarship in the humanities was also becoming self-aware of oppressive systems and creating methods to disrupt modernist logics. These scholars were the post-structuralists, post-industrialists, post-Marxists, and post-modernists. They influenced the study of culture as a construct. It was during this time that Dr. Barry Mauer was earning his cred as a student and teacher of cultural studies.

Dr. Mauer completed an Interdepartmental Individualized Bachelor of Arts titled Film Theory and Cultural Politics in 1990 at the University of Minnesota. In 1995 he completed a Master of Arts in English with an emphasis in cultural studies at the University of Florida. And in 1999 he completed a PhD in English with an emphasis in cultural studies at the University of Florida.

This isn’t to say Dr. Mauer’s pedagogy is outdated, in fact, it is to say that it is still ahead of its time. Dr. Mauer’s Gen X idealism is still relevant and current. His pedagogy is based on critical theory. He intends for students to walk away from his courses questioning their positions in society so that they become aware of their participation. It is his hope for students to become self-aware and to change societies by disrupting negative social patterns. Ultimately, he is on a quest to change behaviors.

In Dr. Mauer’s recent column, “How Do You Make A Society Wise,” written for the University of Central Florida Forum hosted by the Huffington Post, he writes “A wise citizenry is one that takes an active, informed role in looking at its past in order to reason about its future. It cannot properly reason unless it articulates its values, asks if its behavior is congruent with those values, and calculates the costs of its behaviors, changing them if necessary.”

To analyze values and adjust behaviors, Dr. Mauer encourages students to explore different mediums and modes of logic. Writing in his courses is a method of in(ter)vention. Students explore who they are and how they construct meaning. They’re encouraged to borrow methodologies from surrealist art and diverse media genres to provide different perspectives on social problems and lift the veil behind cultural assumptions.

Dr. Mauer’s recent courses have centered on projects that ask students to network beyond the classroom and University. For example, in his 2015 Spring Visual Texts and Technology course, he implemented the “The Citizen Curator Project.” During the project, students worked with UCF Library’s Carol Mundy Collection to create digital and physical exhibits discussing race, which were displayed in the UCF Library.

If you’ve taken a “Mauer course” you know you should expect to read… a lot. “Students shouldn’t complain about the amount of reading they’re asked to perform,” Dr. Mauer says, “it’s only a fraction of all the things they should know.” In order to be successful PhD students Dr. Mauer insists that students be open to and listen to directions from advisors and professors and to also set good habits: exercise, sleeping, and regular meals

In addition to teaching, Dr. Mauer has served on 18 dissertation committees, 9 of which have defended. He is the current dissertation director for Texts and Technology students Marci Mazzarotto, Michael Sacasas, Nathan Snow, Aaron Zwintzscher, and Clayton Benjamin. Past and current dissertations focus on a variety of subject matter including noise, video, mapping, assistive technologies, animation, and gaming.

Dr. Mauer is a unique instructor in the Texts and Technology program. His scholarship and pedagogy are influenced by a broad range of theory and disciplines. Considering that Texts and Technologies is an interdisciplinary program, Dr. Mauer’s diverse knowledge is uniquely situated for teaching Texts and Technology students. If you want to wax poetic or theorize with him, he can be found in his office/lounge in Colbourn Hall Room 304C. If you do decide to enact such a decision, don’t be surprised if you leave your meeting with Dr. Mauer toting a book, a list of songs to listen to, or an obscure auteur film to watch… and a slightly puzzled or pondering affect.