CARP 2021 Conference

Character Assassination & Cancel Culture

September 24-26, 2021

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While character assassination has taken a variety of forms throughout history, a particularly current and controversial practice of social ostracism has bred “cancel culture.” Cancel culture refers to when a person, typically a public figure, is expelled from their social or professional circles as a result of offensive behavior, real or alleged. The expression is mostly used by those who feel they are being unfairly punished for minor transgressions. As a form of public shaming, those who are “canceled” may be scapegoated or stigmatized and exposed to the judgment and bullying of the public. Canceled individuals may, in perception or reality, find themselves silenced and unable to speak on their own behalf. While cancel culture is often linked to the rise of social media, practices of silencing and social exclusion have many historical antecedents, ranging from public scapegoating rituals to rebellious mobs tearing down the statues of disgraced individuals.

To better understand this phenomenon and its historical antecedents, we invite scholars to submit research and works in progress which will discuss character assassination and cancel culture from a variety of disciplinary and cultural angles.

Conference Program

Saturday, September 25, 2021

Opening Panel
8:00-9:15 am (EST/New York)
New Insights into Character Assassination (CA) Theory CARP Board:
Jennifer Keohane (U of Baltimore), OK, Karen: Cancel culture as a rhetorical strategy.
Eric Shiraev (George Mason U), When cancel culture backfires: A psychological impact of silencing.
Martijn Icks (U of Amsterdam,
the Netherlands), Character assassination and cancel culture: Looking for parallels in the past and present.
Sergei Samoilenko (George Mason U), Cancel culture as a social conflict: The new challenges of reputation management.
9:15-10:30 Keynote AddressEmily A. Vogels (Pew Research Center)
Panel 2
The Impact of Cancel Culture on Public OpinionChair: Martijn Icks (U of Amsterdam)
Gwen Bouvier (Zhejiang U, China), Cancel culture: The limits of Twitter for social justice campaigns.
Ricardo Matos de Araújo Rios and Marina dos Santos Franco (Centro Universitário Presidente Antônio Carlos, Brazil), When morality meets cancel culture: How Karol Conká became the most hated person in Brazil.
Perry B. Johnson and Caitlin J. Dobson (Annenberg School for Communication, U of Southern California), “Principled struggle”: The complexities of cancel culture and the possibilities of transformative justice.
Ilya Bykov (Saint Petersburg State U, Russia), Cancel culture in the political discourse of Russia.
Panel 3
11:45 am-1:00 pm
Cancel Culture, Online Platforms, and
Strategic Deception
Chair: Jennifer Keohane (U of Baltimore)
Inna Suvorova (U College London, UK) and Sergei A. Samoilenko (George Mason U), The present and future of deepfakes and strategic deception campaigns.
Rafaela Tabasnik (Unisinos U, Brazil), The narratives of cancel culture: A study about patterns and its categories in digital platforms.
Carlo Berti and Enzo Loner (University of Trento, Italy), Character assassination as a right-wing populist communication tactic on social media.
Panel 4
Cancel Culture and Institutional PolicyChair: Sergei Samoilenko (George Mason U)
Rod Carveth (Morgan State U), Sharon Osbourne versus cancel culture?
Michael Dudley (U of Winnipeg, Canada),
Academic freedom, cancel culture, and the Shakespeare authorship question
Amy Schumacher-Rutherford, (U of Kansas), Cancelling by any other name
Leslie J. Reynard (Center for Applied Communication Research, Inc.), Shamed to death: The fatal institutional “cancellations” of professors Shiveley and Adams.
Panel 5
Character Assassination and Cancel Culture TheoryChair: Eric Shiraev (George Mason U)
Josh Compton and Daniel Lam (Dartmouth College), Mixing metaphors: The analogics of inoculation theory and character assassination.
Mykola Bondarenko (Taras Shevchenko National U, Ukraine), The sociology of character assassination.
Neofytos Aspriadis (U of Peloponesse, Greece), Towards a character assassination typology of interstate rhetorical attacks.
Alina Eremina (Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Russia) and Anton Gumenskiy (Moscow State U, Russia), Cancel culture as a sociocultural issue: New ethics vs. traditional values in Russia.
3:30 – 5:00Networking SessionModerator: Sergei Samoilenko (George Mason University)

Sunday, September 26, 2021

Panel 6
8:00-9:15 am
(EST/New York)
Character Assassination in International Relations Chair: Martijn Icks (U of Amsterdam)
Ekaterina Egorova (Political Profiler, US), CA in information warfare in international relations.
Athina Limnioudi and Athanassios N. Samaras (U of Piraeus), The case of Cosco and China in the Greek Communist press and parliamentary discourse.
Irina Tsukerman (Independent Scholar), How the Gulf Crisis of 2017 weaponized CA in “total war by cancelation.”
Divine Narkotey Aboagye (U of Maryland, College Park), Unilateral international sanctions, cancel culture, and the rhetoric of U.S foreign policy on Iran and North Korea.
Panel 7
Cancel Culture, Social Movements and Political CampaignsChair: Sergei Samoilenko (George Mason U)
Stephen J. Farnsworth (U of Mary Washington), S. Robert Lichter (George Mason U), Farah Latif (George Mason U), Kate Seltzer (U of Mary Washington) and Sally Burkley, (U of Mary Washington), Late night political humor, cancel culture and the 2020 presidential campaign.
Kanwalpreet Baidwan (Punjab U, India), A secular mobilization of masses.
Panel 8
Character Assassination and Cancel Culture in HistoryChair: Jennifer Keohane (U of Baltimore)
Tyler Johnson (The U of Oklahoma), A little bit more than the law will allow: Biography, history, and attitudes toward memorials to Robert E. Lee
Florian Krüpe (Marburg U, Germany), “He urged upon chaotic fact / the necessary lie”: On the cancellation of Julia, Augustus’ daughter.
Henri van Nispen, Radboud U Nijmegen, the Netherlands), The defamation of Gaius Caligula
12:00-1:00 pm Wrap up discussion and closing remarks
Chair: Eric Shiraev, (George Mason U)