COMS professor guest speaks in Germany, travels globe for research

Meindl in Hawaii
Meindl in Hawaii

School of Communication (SOC) Assistant Professor Michael Meindl guest spoke at a German university and traveled to Romania, South Africa and Hawaii for research on documentaries – all in a 30-day span.

After presenting at the Oceanic Popular Culture Conference in Hawaii, Meindl spoke at Europa-Universität Flensburg (The University of Flensburg) in Germany as part of the Master of Arts Culture, Language and Media (KSM) programming. The title of Meindl’s talk was “Animated Technology: Representations of Early Animators and Technology,” as animation is one of Meindl’s core research areas.

Prior to giving his talk, Meindl spoke with a class at the University of Flensburg to get a sense of their intercultural experiences.

“I spoke with them about their international and intercultural experiences and not just of Americans in Germany, but them elsewhere,” Meindl said. “Most of these students had been to the United States. I wanted to get a sense of what other cultures were like from their perspective.”

Meindl learned that, for the German students, traveling to another country in Europe was very similar to traveling to another state for Americans “because of the difference in size of the two continents.”

Meindl on Table Mountain, just outside of Cape Town, South Africa.
Meindl on Table Mountain, just outside of Cape Town, South Africa.

“You don’t have to leave your country for an intercultural experience,” he said.

While at the University of Flensburg, Meindl was researching a potential study abroad and/or exchange program between Flensburg and Radford University.

Meindl’s next stop was Romania for preliminary research on a documentary comparing miners from the Appalachian region to those in the Carpathian Mountains. Meindl is working with Assistant Professor of English Theresa Burris and SOC Associate Professor West Bowers on the project.

“This was an initial trip to get to know the region and learn the history from the ground,” Meindl said. “We’re looking at the mining issues and how similar or different these experiences are compared to those in Appalachia. My initial goal right now is to do a short documentary comparing one miner from each region and letting them tell their stories.”

From there, Meindl flew to Cape Town, South Africa, for research on the use of crises in stand-up comedy routines in the country.

One example is the drought currently plaguing the country.

“They had 'Conserve Water' printed on napkins,” Meindl said. “In bathrooms, they only had disinfectant gel instead of water. You felt it everywhere you went. I wanted to get to know that experience. I wanted to talk with people about their experiences with both the draught and stand-up comedy.”

While traveling, Meindl was teaching an online summer graduate course on intercultural communication at Radford University. While teaching, he was able to integrate his experiences in each country into the course.

“I felt that it was very important to show that the course concepts don’t just exist in the ether, but are used every day,” Meindl said. “Regardless of me being in Germany, Romania, South Africa or Hawaii, I was bringing those experiences into the course.”

Funding for Meindl's travel was made in part by the School of Communication, the College of Humanities and Behavioral Sciences, and the McGlothlin Faculty Travel Grant Program.

Jul 13, 2018
Max Esterhuizen