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Main reading Hall at the Library of Congress, Washington, DC. (photo by Carol M. Highsmith)
Todd Belt

Todd Belt, a political science professor at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo has been awarded the prestigious John W. Kluge Fellowship in Digital Studies for 2017. The fellowship will put Belt in residence at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC, from May to December of 2017.

The John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress awards the Kluge Fellowship in Digital Studies to researchers to examine the impact of the digital revolution on society, culture and international relations using the library’s collections and resources.

“My project evaluates how political humor in the context of presidential campaigns influences the information environment available to voters,” explains Belt. “I am particularly interested in what differences exist between information environments prior to and after the internet revolution, which gives the common citizen a greater hand, for better or worse in shaping what we learn about candidates and their policies.”

During the past few years, Belt has conducted research on internet communication and presidential campaigns, with a particular focus on the difference between citizen-generated content and commercially-generated content.

“The archives at the Library of Congress, particularly the National Digital Newspaper Program, gives me access to a vast database for analysis of the role of political humor in the information environment prior to the digital revolution,” says Belt. “These data will be combined for analysis with my ongoing collection of post-internet revolution digital media in order to inform my current book manuscript on political humor and presidential campaigns.”

About Todd Belt

Belt teaches courses at UH Hilo on “Congress and the Presidency” as well as “Politics, Media and Public Opinion” that relate directly to the area of research he’ll be conducting during his fellowship. He also teaches a “Methods of Research” course, which will further benefit from his hands-on research utilizing the cutting-edge archives of the Library of Congress.

Belt received his master of arts and doctor of philosophy in political science from the University of Southern California. He received the University of Hawaiʻi Frances David Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching in 2008.

—From UH Hilo Stories

—By Susan Enright

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