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College of Arts and Sciences

John Yoon

Class of 2020

 John Yoon

Hometown: Daejeon, South Korea and Ithaca, New York

What is your College Scholar project? 
I am studying how communication technologies precisely shape the conditions of communication. Learning from works of literary criticism that engage with distinct conceptions of “form” and “content,” I am investigating the complicated conceptual relationship between medium and discourse. That relationship lies at the heart of the contemporary debate on fake news and the apparent tension within it between the concern for the growing influence of mass digital media technologies versus the concern to make truths emerge by separating facts from fiction without necessarily interrogating the particular technologies in which the discourse appears. In this way, my research uses literature and criticism as rich resources for thinking about today’s issues and as a point of reference that links various multidisciplinary sources of knowledge that inform my project, including philosophy and political theory. For my honors thesis, I hope to identify concrete literary and critical works on which to base a conceptual analysis of medium and discourse.

What are your most important extra-curricular activities?
Serving as an editor and writer for the Cornell Daily Sun’s news team helped me to develop not only my love for writing but also my project centered on media. My experience in journalism today and seeing how mass media influence my writing and my community have inevitably shaped my interest in the topic. Public writing has also pushed me always to keep the contemporary moment and my community in mind, including in my academic work. I am also a backpacking guide for Outdoor Odyssey and an active member of Von Cramm Cooperative House.

Talk about any summer internships or programs you’ve attended?
I spent my time in Buffalo, New York for two months after my freshman year working at a non-profit organization that serves chronically unemployed individuals in Buffalo’s African American communities. My work involved researching the conditions that enable chronic unemployment and what is needed in the transition into employment. While my findings drew mostly on empirical findings, my political and ideological considerations on the language of unemployment helped make my contribution to the community to be ethical. Meeting people carrying burdens and traumas of chronic joblessness and intergenerational poverty as part of my method made me become more aware of the ethical implications of my work.

What do you dream of doing after graduation?
I plan to continue my research in a Ph.D. program in comparative literature with the hope of becoming a professor one day.