Professor, Author, Media Literacy Scholar to Retire

ST. LOUIS (APRIL 29, 2015) – At times, it was standing room only as an eclectic mix of current and former Webster faculty and staff, and family and friends, stopped by a reception to celebrate the career of professor, author, and media literacy scholar Art Silverblatt. He is retiring after teaching at Webster University for 34 years.

retirement cake for Art SilverblattSilverblatt joined the faculty in 1981 with a doctorate in English from Michigan State University. At the time, there were 77 students in the media studies program, and the School of Communications did not yet exist.

In his teaching, Silverblatt stresses the importance of media literacy to students. “It’s more than important, it’s essential. People are buying things and they don’t know why; they’re voting for people and they don’t know why. They don’t understand what is figuring in attitude and behavior formation. Well, the media are playing a huge role,” he tells them.

Eric Rothenbuhler, dean of the School of Communications, praised Art Silverblatt as “a world-renowned expert on media literacy.”

When asked what impact Silverblatt has had on the School of Communications, Gary Ford, chair of the Department of Communications and Journalism replied, “Art’s insight into media and its effect on society has been indispensable in formulating the curriculum we offer today.”

Professor Debra Carpenter said Art Silverblatt “championed a vision of a school when administrators had not seen that as a possibility.”Art Silverblatt at retirement reception

As the first chair of the Department of Media Communications, Art Silverblatt was “instrumental in hiring and inspiring many of our current and former faculty colleagues,” said Rothenbuhler.

Professor Don Corrigan said of Silverblatt, "He was always available to listen to new ideas and find ways to add programs that would serve student needs.”

In addition to the growth of the media studies program, the accomplishment Art Silverblatt is most proud of is his promotion to professor. “I was surprised at how moved I was by that,” he confessed.

Silverblatt added that the most rewarding aspect of his career has been interacting with students. He describes Webster students as “unconventional people, who are open to new ideas and thoughts.”

Following his retirement, Art Silverblatt plans to continue writing and working on a number of international book projects, including the Digital International Media Literacy E-book Project (DIMLE). It is a digital literary project that translates and applies the media literacy methodology of his book, Media Literacy: Keys to Interpreting Media Messages to multiple languages and cultures. He will also teach occasionally. In his spare time, Silverblatt plans to practice photography and to catch up on some reading.

His books include:

  • Media Literacy: Keys to Interpreting Media Messages (Praeger Publications, 1995, 2001, 2007, 2014);
  • The Dictionary of Media Literacy (Greenwood Press,1997);
  • Approaches to the Study of Media Literacy (M.E. Sharpe, May, 1999, 2009);
  • International Communications: A Media Literacy Approach (M.E. Sharpe, May, 2004); and,
  • Genre Studies in Mass Media: A Handbook (M.E. Sharpe, 2007).

Silverblatt's work has been translated into Japanese, Korean, Chinese and German.

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