What the FDU
Website Says About Me
Awards and Honors
Sample Course Syllabi
The BA in Communication
Studies at FDU
The MA in
Corporate and Organizational Communication
The Atlantic Journal
The Professors: Gary's Rock and Blues Band
Umberto Eco and Gary Radford, October 17, 2002
Dr. Marie Radford's Web Site
Howard Radford, 1934-2007
Elsie May Radford, 1934-2013
"If only it were that easy. That's not 'reality.' You
see: the deeper reality is made out of language."
Zeta said nothing.
"People don't understand this. And even if they say it, they sure as hell don't know what that means.
It means there is no such thing as 'truth.' There's only language. There's no such thing as
a 'fact.' There is no truth or falsehood, just dominant processes by which reality is socially
constructed. In a world made out of language, nothing else is even possible."
Zeta searched in the dirt. She picked up a rusty nail. "Is this language?"
"Yep. That's a 'rusty nail,' as the conceptual entity called a 'rusty nail' is contructed under
our cultural circumstances and in this moment in history."
"It feels real. It still gets my fingers all dirty."
"Zeta, listen to me. This part is really important. 'Even though her father loved her, the little
girl died horribly because she stepped on the rusty nail.' That's language too."
Zeta's face crumpled in terror. She hastily flung the nail away into the darkness.
"There is no objective reality. There might be a world that has true reality.
A world with genuine physics. But because we're in a world that's made out of language,
we'll never, ever get to that place from here. There's no way out of a world that's
made of language. We can never reach any bedrock reality. The only direction we can move
is into different flavors of the dominant social discourse, or across the grain of the
consensus narrative, or - and this is the worst part - into the Wittgenstein empty spaces
where things can't be said, can't be spoken, can't even be thought . . . Don't ever go there, okay?
You can never come out of there. It's a black hole."
"How come you know so much of this stuff, Dad?"
"I didn't use to know any of it. I was just living my life. I just liked to go live at the edge
of the system, where things were breaking off and breaking down. It took me a long time to
figure out what I was really doing, that I was always in some place where the big story
was turning into little weird counterstories. But now I'm wising up to my situation, because I'm
old now, and I know enough to get along in the world."
Starlitz sighed. "I don't know all that much, really. There are just a few people in the world who
understand how reality works. Most of them don't speak English. They speak French. Because they're all
language theorists. Semioticians, mostly, with some, uh, you know, structuralists and poststructuralists. . .
Luce Iragaray. . . Roland Barthes. . . Julia Kristeva. . . Louis Althusser. . . These are the wisest people
in the world, the only people with a real clue." Stalitz laughed morosely. "And does it help them?
Hell, no! The poor bastards, they strangle their wives, they get run over by laundry trucks. . . And
after Y2K their whole line of gab is gonna be permanently out of fashion. It'll be yesterday."
"How come they know so much?"
"I don't know how they know. But you can tell they know what's really going on, because when you read what
they say, it sounds really cool and convincing, until you realize that even though you know it, you
can't use that knowledge to change anything. If you can understand reality, then you can't do anything.
If you're doing anything, it means that you don't understand reality. You never heard of any of those
French people? I bet you never heard of any of them, right?"
Bruce Sterling (2000). Zeitgeist. New York, NY: Bantam Books, pp. 151-153.
Photograph by Jessica Galfo, December 2010
GARY P. RADFORD|
Professor of Communication Studies
Fairleigh Dickinson University
285 Madison Avenue
Madison, NJ 07940
New Academic Building (NAB), Room 251|
Welcome to my website. Please use the links on the left to explore this site and to
learn more about me.
I joined Fairleigh Dickinson University in September 1999. I
teach courses in interpersonal communication, communication theory, and communication
philosophy as part of the BA in
On October 17, 2002, I had the enormous pleasure of meeting one of my all time heroes,
Dr. Umberto Eco. Click here to read the full story!
Research and Scholarship Highlights
In 2012, I published two journal articles:
"Public relations in a postmodern world" in Public Relations Inquiry
(Volume 1, Number 1, pp. 49-67). Click on the the link
to read a
PDF version of the published article.
"Alternative libraries as
discursive formations: Reclaiming the voice of the
deaccssioned book" (with Marie Radford and Jessa Lingel) in Journal of Documentation,
68(2), 254-267. Click on the link to
read a PDF version of the
In 2011, I published a paper, co-authored with Dr. Marie Radford, Dr. Lynn Connaway, and Dr. Jocelyn DeAngelis, entitled
" On virtual face-work:An ethnography of communication approach to a live chat reference interaction" in The
Library Quarterly (Volume 81, Number 4, pp. 431-453). Click on the the link
to read a
PDF version of the published article.
My paper "Building bridges to the discarded: Deaccession, discursive formations, and alternative libraries" (co-authored with Dr. Marie Radford and Jessica Lingel, Rutgers University) was selected as the Top Paper received by the National
Communication Association (NCA), Philosophy of Communication Division. We presented
the paper at NCA's annual conference in San Francisco, CA, on November 17, 2010.
My paper "The Author Should Die: Semiotics and the Regime of Communication" was selected
as the Top Paper received by the National
Communication Association (NCA), Semiotics and Communication Division. I presented
the paper at NCA's annual conference in San
Antonio, TX, on November 17, 2006.
In June 2006, I was part of a panel invited to debate the proposition: Information
literacy: A waste of librarians' time and talent?. My remarks were
presented at the
Association of College and Research Libraries President's Program at the Annual Conference of the
American Library Association, New Orleans, LA, on June 26, 2006, before an audiene of
between 400 and 500 people.
In 2005, I published a paper co-authored with Dr. Marie Radford entitled
"Structuralism,post-structuralism, and the library: de Saussure and Foucault" in the
Journal of Documentation (Volume 61, Number 1, pp. 60-78). Click on the the link
to read a
PDF version of the published article.
In November 2005, I was the respondent on the panel of the top three papers submitted
to the Semiotics and Communication Division of the National Communication Association (NCA). I
presented these remarks at the
NCA's Annual Convention in Boston, MA, on November 18, 2005.
On September 28, 2005, I had the honor of being the recipient of the Fairleigh
Dickinson University Distinguished Faculty Award for Research and Scholarship. You
can link to the citation that was read on stage by
University Provost Willard Gingerich and the press release that FDU sent to the local,
national, and international media.
My latest book, entitled
On the Philosophy of Communication, was published in 2004 by
Wadsworth Press. The book is available from
My previous book is a treatment of the work of Italian semiotician Umberto Eco and is entitled
On Eco (Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 2003). The book is available on
Amazon.com. Listen to a Message from Umberto Eco
I am also the co-editor of the book Transgressing Discourses:
and the Voice of Other (Albany, NY: State University of New
York Press, 1997). The book is available on
My paper "Casting a Mist Before Our Eyes: John Locke and the End of Communicaton" was
selected as a Top Paper by the Theory and Methodology Interest Group of the
Association (ECA) and was presented at ECA's 94th annual conference held in Washington, DC,
on April 26, 2003.
My paper Beware of the
Fallout: Umberto Eco and the Making of the Model Reader was selected as the Top Paper by
the Theory and Methodology Interest Group of the Eastern Communication Association and was
presented at ECA's 93rd annual conference held in New York City, NY, April 24-28, 2002.
I also received a Top Three Paper Award by the Popular
Communication Division of the International Communication
Association at its annual
conference held in Washington, DC, May 2001. The paper, co-authored with
Dr. Marie L.
Radford, was entitled "Michel Foucault and the Discourse of Fear: Representations of
Libraries in Modern Popular Culture."
For fun I play a wailing lead guitar for a blues/rock band called
The Professors; yes, we
have a website! Check us out at www.theprofessors.net.
The Professors are the only band I know that have had an article published in a blind reviewed
scholarly journal. The citation to the article is below. You can read the article by clicking
on the link.
||Radford, G. P., Cooper, S. D., Kubey, R. W., McCurry, D. S., Millen, J. and Barrows, J. R.
musical expression and creativity among academics: When
intellectualism meets twelve bar blues. American Communication Journal [Online],
And finally, here's an original song I wrote inspired by Michel Foucault. It is called
The Discourse on Language (Music by
Gary Radford, Lyrics by Michel Foucault and Gary Radford, Instruments by Gary Radford,
recorded June 4, 1998)
I hope you enjoy your visit to my site.>
This site last updated September 18, 2013.