Shafer Discusses Letterman Retirement – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
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Shafer Discusses Letterman Retirement

Assistant Professor of Media and Society Leah Shafer was recently featured in a HuffPost Live interview, “The Changing Landscape of Late Night TV,” and was a guest on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation radio show, “Trail’s End,” during which she discussed David Letterman’s retirement from the “Late Show.”

In her recent interviews, Shafer discussed how pop culture and social media trends have affected traditional late night programs and where these new elements will take the genre in the future.

“I think a bigger question is, “What does it really mean to be ‘late night television’ if you are no longer happening at night or if people are watching it all the time, around the world, at different times?” Shafer asked. “Is there a quality to what ‘late night’ means?”

In the Huffington Post segment, Shafer also compares and contrasts Letterman to contemporary late night talk show hosts like Jimmy Fallon and Stephen Colbert and discusses the televisual aesthetic changes from mature conversations to small and shareable videos. She also made predictions of late night TV’s revitalization in relation to new media influence and consumption. Shafer hopes to hear a new voice with the arrival of other comedians in the post-Letterman era.

“At a certain level, we can think of this as kind of a magnificent renaissance of just comedy 24 hours, coming at you from every corner,” Shafer said. “And there’s something fantastic about that.”

HuffPost Live has also previously featured Shafer for her expertise and insights on media and culture. She has discussed “Seinfeld,” daytime television with Sally Jessy Raphael, and Rolling Stone magazine, among other topics.

A member of the HWS faculty since 2008, Shafer received her A.B. and M.A. from Cornell University. She earned a Ph.D. from the department of theatre, film and dance at Cornell, with her dissertation “Brand Name Vision: Comedy and Props in the Films of John Hughes.” Her studies in visual culture, new media, television history, celebrity culture, digital humanities and media literacy have led her to make knowledgeable observations of such television personalities as Johnny Carson and David Letterman.

Shafer also has assisted in the direction of several Cornell theater department plays. Her work has been published in several journals including Women and Performance: a Journal of Feminist Theory, Transnational Cinemas, and Reconstruction: Studies in Contemporary Culture. She was also an instructor at Ithaca College in the department of cinema, photography, and media arts. 

Recently, Shafer led a discussion at the Internet Cat Video Festival at Cornell. She served as “Mistress of Purrrremonies” and introduced and discussed topics concerning the Internet phenomenon of cat videos.

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