Communication as…: Perspectives on Theory


Edited by: Gregory J. Shepherd, Jeffrey St. John & Ted Striphas

  • Citations
  • Add to My List
  • Text Size

  • Chapters
  • Front Matter
  • Back Matter
  • Subject Index
  • Copyright

    View Copyright Page


    This book hinges on two main premises: first, communication is—or should be—a contested concept; and second, arguments over the meaning, value, and utility of communication ought to be generative. In our estimation, the 27 chapters that follow demonstrate just how productive arguments of this kind can be—for communication theory specifically and for the discipline of communication more broadly. And yet, these arguments have been generative of more than scholarly knowledge. They have helped to produce—inasmuch as they embody—a dense web of interpersonal encounters without which this book would not have been possible. Truly, what you are now reading and what you are about to read represent collaboration to the core.

    As editors, we were struck again and again by the complementarity of our respective editorial strengths—the ease, equity, and egalitarianism by which the process of producing this book unfolded—and so, as colleagues and friends, each of us wants to thank the other two. Also palpable were the influences of the many teachers and students who have inspired our interest in communication theory, along with the support and goodwill of everyone who encouraged us to see this project through from beginning to end. The acknowledgments that pepper many of the subsequent chapters similarly bear witness to the generosity and comradeship that projects like this both foster and follow from.

    Greg Shepherd would like to acknowledge his teachers at the University of Minnesota, Penn State, and the University of Illinois, but especially his mentors Barb and Dan O'Keefe, who taught him that ideas matter and so should be contended, and that best friends contest ideas with zeal and love. He also wants to thank all of his colleagues and students at the University of Iowa, the University of Kansas, and Ohio University, whose conversation allowed for the appearance of his articulation of theory, but especially three friends and colleagues, old and new: Eric Rothenbuhler, Autumn Edwards, and Bill Rawlins. Finally, he would like to thank Mary Shepherd for providing more than three decades of experiential proof that communication is indeed transcendence.

    Jeffrey St. John wishes to express his gratitude to two extraordinary teachers—Kristin Langellier and the late Tom Puckett—for introducing him to the study of communication.

    Ted Striphas would like to express his thanks—long overdue—to Cindy White, whose introductory communication class at the University of New Hampshire first inspired his interest in communication research and theory. He also would like to acknowledge John Nguyet Erni, Lawrence Grossberg, Joshua Meyrowitz, Mari Boor Tonn, and Julia T. Wood, whose mentorship and courses at the University of New Hampshire and the University of North Carolina strengthened that interest into a lifelong professional commitment. Finally, he is grateful to Phaedra C. Pezzullo for her ongoing support in all spheres of work and life.

    Collectively, the editors would like to thank Todd Armstrong, our editor at Sage, for his interest and astute editorial guidance. Our gratitude also extends to Deya Saoud, Tracy Alpern, Brenda Weight, and to the entire production team at Sage with whom we have had the good fortune to work. Finally, our thanks to the following reviewers whose outstanding and incisive feedback, we hope, is reflected amply in the individual chapters and in the shape of this collection as a whole: Marianne Dainton, La Salle University; Thomas G. Endres, University of Northern Colorado; Sonja K. Foss, University of Colorado at Boulder; Bradford ‘J’ Hall, University of New Mexico; Peter Marston, California State University, Northridge; Patricia Rockwell, University of Louisiana at Lafayette; Lynn H. Turner, Marquette University; and Laura Drake Witz, University of Maryland.

    Introduction: Taking a Stand on Theory

    JeffreySt. John, TedStriphas, and Gregory J.Shepherd

    The essays in this book are the flowering of a modest seed, one which has bloomed into a remarkably diverse set of claims about how communication theory should be understood and put into practice. In our view, that seed was (and remains) an irritant, or agitant, of the most productive sort. At its core, it entails an unapologetically stubborn suspicion that communication theorists have become a bit too open-minded with regard to perspectives on communication theory: we fear for the resulting draftiness. From the outset, one of our goals for this book has been to nudge, push, or openly cajole theorists and practitioners of communication toward a fundamental reappraisal of what is at stake when we think and write and talk and argue about our subject. In concrete terms, we are insisting that they—and we—start to think in exactly those terms: about what's at stake. In fact, a stakeholder model of contemporary theorizing is one that we believe might compel us to embrace what matters most about communication: the real-world repercussions of what we think, write, and do. We firmly believe that it matters whether we take communication to be one sort of phenomenon or process or idea … or another. Our theorizing and teaching influence how we and others live our lives, for the better or for the worse.

    An affirmative way of saying all of this is to argue that a bracing dose of “now wait just a minute” would do wonders for the study of communication. That is precisely what we have asked for, and gotten from, the 27 contributors to this volume. They do not believe that it is important to accept every idea about communication that happens to show up in a book or a journal article or a classroom lecture. Some of them reject many of the notions that appear in one or more of those places, and others question the very ground beneath our collective feet. Is our ontology truly coherent? Do we have our epistemology down quite as pat as we think we do? Are there elements of theories—or theories entire—that just don't work? These questions and others like them typically are not tackled through negation, but rather through the forging of a remorselessly positive claim for one stance on communication theorizing. Each contributor to this volume has been encouraged to defy the quietly powerful decorum demanded by most forms of academic writing and has been freed up to take a stand. Each has been asked to think like this: My stance is the one most serviceable for the study and practice of communication. My metaphor, my analogy, my model. This, not those, and for these reasons. Here is what I believe and why I believe it, and here is the difference it makes. Thus, while the authors of these chapters are tolerant of other views, knowing as we do that there are a multitude of perspectives on communication, that perspectives are adhered to and applied for different purposes, and that communication can sensibly be defined variously, they also assert a particular stance as primary, or essential, or most important among the alternatives, if not forever, at least for now. In other words, though their stances are not cast in stone, neither are these authors' positions made of straw, subject to undoing at the slightest winds of disciplinary change. Each contributor holds a view, and each is unafraid to suggest that others would do well to hold it also, and for some very compelling reasons. It is important that the standard apologies for one's not having chosen another theory, or for not giving sufficient attention to the merits of those unchosen others, are not generally found in these essays.

    Before going any further down this path, we should be clear about what this book does not do. First, this is not a book that mounts an impassioned defense of the intellectual relevance of communication. Communication is relevant; each of the chapters in this collection begins with that assumption, and not a single one concludes anything other than the same. We see this volume as evidence of the richness of contemporary thinking about communication, the breadth of communication's influence on intellectual endeavors of all sorts, and the significant weight of our collective theorizing. Please do not read these essays as evidence of our immaturity as a field of inquiry, or as contributing to some “crisis in the field” conversation; they are not exercises in hand-wringing, or public soul-searching for a disciplinary place in the world. Each of us stands convinced of communication's salience as a body of theory and an embodiment of praxis even as we author alternative readings of its manifestations and ambitions.

    Second, this book is not an exercise in or example of theory pluralism, or the belief that all theories have equal merit if understood and appreciated on their own terms. We want scholars and students to appreciate differences, but to understand also that those same differences make a difference. We decidedly did not want to edit a volume of many perspectives that left readers with the impression that our theoretical and methodological choices are about as consequential as the choice of dishes at a potluck dinner—which is to say, of next to no consequence at all. Communicative choices are, or should be, something different in kind from mere consumer preferences. The extent to which such choices are relevant to the world of consequences, and so guided by sober judgment, is one reason why, we assume, almost all contributors to this volume so readily accepted our charge to excite and influence readers with these essays.

    More than 25 years ago, B. Aubrey Fisher published his influential treatment of communication theory under the title Perspectives on Human Communication (1978). In the conclusion to that work, Fisher cautioned readers to avoid the position that there is only one “right way” to study communication, even as he urged people conscientiously to select one perspective over others—weaknesses, warts, and all. Don't be a “mugwump” (p. 324), he advised; don't think you can lump disparate perspectives together and thereby avoid the need to discriminate critically among them. Guided by a like-minded belief in the constructive uses of clear-eyed appraisal, we happily take up Professor Fisher's mantle and urge that after reading these essays, you take advantage of the invitation to rank one of them above all others, or at least rank some ahead of others. This invitation is a rather unfashionable one in contemporary theorizing. In making it, we open ourselves (as coeditors, and as individual chapter authors) up to just the kind of judgments that we (ourselves and our fellow theorists in the field) work so strenuously to evade.

    Finally, this book is not primarily about communication practice; it's about communication theory. This is not, of course, to say that theory isn't practical. As we've already tried to make plain, we follow William James in believing that metaphysical beliefs of all sorts are the most pragmatic of beliefs, because they are broadly and deeply consequential for the living out of our lives. But that doesn't mean that this is a book devoted to empirical study, behavior, or skill. This is, proudly, a work of theory by theorists. By that, we mean that it is a collection of abstractions. This is not a book that analyzes speeches, conversations, performances, or media texts; it is a book that includes some of the thinking required for the analysis of speeches, conversations, performances, or media texts. We believe that such activities, or practices, only can be understood theoretically. What makes the act of two persons speaking to one another a conversation for them and a densely significant communicative “act” or “event” for communication scholars is, precisely, a theoretical disposition coupled with the conceptual overlay we apply to these ordinary, everyday actions. These acts or events cease to be ordinary and everyday for scholars because we are inclined to think and write about them in theoretically informed ways. To the extent that doing so helps us help people make their conversations more equitable, or more constructive, or more influential, then we're getting somewhere. To the extent that it does not, our overlay is stripped of its lone link to public relevance and the communicative “act” serves only a localized, instrumental purpose. The point here is that communication theory stands one critical step behind practice; it is neither several steps behind (as philosophy) nor fully present in the buzz of communication itself (as practice).

    On now to what this book is. It is a collection of 27 freestanding arguments. It is an exercise in contrarian thinking. And it is a deliberate rejection of the tacit claim in contemporary communication that an undifferentiated plurality of theories is somehow a good thing. Frankly, we have grown both leery and weary of communication as buffet: that is, the uncritical presentation of theories in the absence of evaluative measures with which to recommend one over another or some over others, or, heaven forbid, one over all others. A guest at the potluck may prefer one dish to another, but he or she doesn't stand at the table audibly faulting other guests for their failure to share his or her tastes. But communication is different; it either amounts to something significantly more than a simple matter of preference or we are all wasting our time. We think just such a voice should stand at the buffet of communication theories—and maybe kick the whole thing over from time to time.

    Imagine this. What would happen in (or to) communication inquiry if the appraisal of theories no longer were relentlessly horizontal, but were instead openly vertical? What would happen in an undergraduate or graduate communication theory course if students were encouraged to rank the theories under investigation from best to worst, or from most useful or persuasive to least? Theorists are quick to defend the practical dimensions of their study of theory, to argue that our accumulated knowledge of communication theories has traction “out there” in the real world. But the frustration that usually accompanies that defense, together with the vigor with which we tend to make it, gives us away more often than not. How can we say what we think is best for communication practice if we are unwilling to think about what is best in communication theory? Judgment, then, is an integral component of communication theory and practice and, in a larger sense, of maintaining a vibrant, socially relevant communication discipline.

    This book also is an exercise in both theoretical and expressive creativity. In addition to asking authors to take a stand on theory, we have asked them to write in a minimally referenced, essayistic style. This style wears favorably, we think, in relation to the exhaustively researched and extensively citational writing customary of most scholarly books and journals. Our reason for making this request cuts against the grain of one of the key trends in the field, one that, in our estimation, constrains the imaginations of communication theory and theorists. Since at least the second quarter of the 20th century, a strongly empiricist orientation has guided much of academic research and writing, including that in communication. This orientation's principal legacy has been a stultifying set of expectations for what counts as “good” theory. Theories, empiricism tells us, must demonstrate a clear connection to an observable reality and must be grounded in an extensive scholarly literature to be viewed as credible. For a variety of complex reasons, a cluster of procedures (including rules for referencing, footnoting, and the like) came to determine whether an idea was worthwhile, good, believable, or true (cf. Gadamer, 1998). The powerfully humanist belief that the inherent sense of an idea—its place in a community, its emergence within an identifiable tradition, or its reflection of a way of life—is the strongest measure of an idea's worth was overwhelmed by method. In an astonishingly brief time, the new empirical paradigm began to declare that what made a theory “good” was whether it could be proven, where proof was confined to normative and potentially limiting rules of measure and referral. That's what we hoped to avoid in this collection. Our idea has been to give a diverse grouping of accomplished thinkers the kind of free reign that scholars of an earlier century had, and that nonacademics still do.

    In response to the long shadow now cast by empiricism, we contend that more space for theoretical speculation and stylistic experimentation must be carved out in the discipline of communication, and must be met with a corresponding generosity and patience on the part of readers, reviewers, and editors. Openness of this sort should not preclude our making judgments, however, but should move us to scrutinize the very terms by which we judge the worth of theories. More to the point, it may be less helpful to evaluate a specific theory or stance against empiricism's cherished norm of verifiability, for instance, than it would be to consider a theory's capacity in the long term to provoke new research, insight, and response.

    There are, of course, costs associated with a blunt call for emancipation from the narrow confines of empiricism. For example, as editors of a collection committed to encouraging such freedom, we have struggled with the question of how heavy a hand to take in the editorial process. Often, editors of volumes such as this exert considerable influence over the formatting, style, pitch, and organization of individual essays, in part to ensure a high degree of consistency or uniformity across chapters. Our commitment to allowing expressive freedom to our contributors made us reluctant to exert such a leveling influence. We have given our authors a precise set of guidelines for tasks to address in their essays and a severe page limitation, and have otherwise left them to their own creative devices. Though we did request revisions from most authors and offered suggestions for improvement, even then we tried more or less to preserve the expression they already had made. For the most part, then, here was our approach: we gathered together a terrific assembly of thinkers, gave them a detailed charge, and let them have at it. The result is a collection of very strong and irreducibly diverse chapters that offers far less thematic consistency on the surface (from essay to essay) than may be typical of such works.

    Our Contributors and Their Stances on Theory

    This book encompasses an extraordinary range of stances on communication theory. A quick glance at the table of contents will show the diversity of metaphors by which the contributors as a whole understand—and would like you to understand—the idea of communication. And yet, these metaphors are more than just figurative language. Embedded within each are deeply held ontological, epistemological, and axiological orientations—choices that have guided each contributor in formulating her or his own stance. Each author, in other words, not only advances a specific argument about communication, but also (and often implicitly) makes broader claims about human agency, knowledge and reality, and the importance (or not) of making judgments. Thus, we want to raise the stakes for what it means to adopt a particular theoretical stance. This may be a book about communication and communication theory, but also, and just as important, it is about the intellectual, political, and ethical consequences of making the very choices that lead us to form and enact particular conceptions of communication.

    While the range of stances on communication theory represented in these pages is extensive, it is by no means exhaustive. This book project originated in the 2002 National Communication Association annual convention, at which a small group of us briefly shared our thoughts on “What we take communication to be.” These short presentations spurred a lively conversation with the audience, who, in addition to engaging with the substance of the papers, offered some views about what they took communication to be. One person, for instance, insisted that communication be conceived of as democracy and was as resolute in his position as the panelists were of their own. A second asked us to recall James Carey's work on communication as culture. And still another framed communication as performance, or performativity. Their responses are proof positive that a volume such as this one, however broad, at best can encompass only a fraction of possible stances on communication. The stances you do not find here, in other words, may well provoke as much thinking about communication as those you do. If you do not see your preferred stance in these pages, then by all means, go formulate it yourself.

    Some authors in this volume are explicit about what they take to be the academic and/or “real world” consequences of choosing a particular stance (or stances). Other contributors offer relatively little comment on the subject. There are good reasons for this difference. Some in the latter camp, for instance, reject the distinction many people draw between institutions of learning and the so-called real world, as though formal education somehow fundamentally stood apart from daily life. (Ask anyone who works at a university: It's work!) These authors tend to foreground theoretical gains more than concrete outcomes for their chapters. Many would reject the idea that you must be able to “cash in” on a given theoretical stance at the end of the day (or upon graduation) for that theory to be relevant and useful. On the other hand, several authors in these pages believe just as strongly in those concrete outcomes—and argue for them accordingly. This divergence is telling. Clearly, it speaks to a rift in how communication scholars imagine both the purposes and consequences of their theorizing. Yet it also speaks, implicitly, to how the nature and import of the consequences that flow from adopting a particular stance cannot be assumed in advance, but follow from the complex theoretical, methodological, professional, pedagogical, and political choices each theorist must make prior to formulating a position. What's at stake theoretically in each of these chapters, in other words, is not only the product, or the specific theoretical stance, but the very process of theorizing itself.

    In some cases, that is to say, the job of determining both the choices that went into formulating, and the consequences of adopting, a particular stance may fall on your shoulders. In all cases, you should consider what choices each author needed to make in crafting that stance. Out of what theoretical tradition or traditions is this person working? What role does this person think theory ought to play, and in what context(s)? With whom does this person side or identify politically, and how might that have influenced his or her decision making? We already have mentioned, moreover, how our desire to include a broad range of theoretical stances in this volume has meant that the authors needed to remain as concise and focused as possible in their remarks. At times, unfortunately, this brevity has resulted in the authors' including fewer, or less developed, examples than they (or we) would have liked. We encourage readers to respond to these formal constraints and perceived absences by generating more elaborated examples where you think they are needed. All this work might seem unnecessarily burdensome, but we hope that any frustration you may feel will be generative of classroom exercises, collegial debate, and scholarly publications: the very stuff that keeps communication (both the field and the activity itself) going.

    Structure of the Present Work: A Unity-in-Difference

    We have constructed an organizational framework that cuts across the divisions that usually pattern the institutional lives of communication scholars and their students (e.g., cultural studies, health, intercultural, interpersonal, journalism, media, organizational, performance, rhetoric, and so on). We have done this for two primary reasons. First, rather than relying on existing divisions within the field, we have opted instead to acknowledge that scholars and students routinely and increasingly work across them. This productive spirit of fusing and mixing, borrowing and adapting, improvising and extending also is in keeping with the history of our field, a field forged from such seemingly disparate disciplines as anthropology, history, linguistics, literary studies, philosophy, political science, psychology, sociology, theater, and more. We have organized this book, in other words, in a manner intended to push more than to reproduce the shape of the field of communication. Second, it became clear to us in reading over the chapters that, despite their differences, some commonalities in how the authors approached or thought of the idea of communication drew groups of them together. Some authors hold fast to its creative or constitutive capacities; others resist the idea that communication consists of ephemeral, insubstantial symbols and insist instead on its material dimensions; still others believe that communication cannot be understood apart from the affiliations and social networks that both produce and are produced by it; some contributors see communication as inherently political and politicizing; and some, finally, want to problematize the idea of communication entirely.

    Just because a given set of chapters may cluster together, however, does not mean that, together, they constitute anything approaching a unified position, perspective, or school of thought. Far from it! The consonances between and among chapters, while important, are less crucial ultimately than their dissonances. Again, a key question driving this book is, What's at stake in adopting this stance over another, or perhaps over all others? Some authors cite fellow contributors to this volume, for instance, sometimes even claiming their work as foundational to their own. And yet, in all cases, these authors go on to articulate a different position, one that may differ only by degree or that may depart quite radically. Either way, theoretical differences of even a small degree can influence profoundly how we think about the purpose, value, and consequences of communication, theory, and communication theory. Each of the sections of this collection, as well as the collection as a whole, thus are best imagined as a unity-in-difference; they are complex wholes that are held together, tensely, contingently, and more or less uneasily, in what the cultural theorist Stuart Hall once called a “teeth gritting harmony.” The structure by which we've organized this book in turn begs three final questions that we hope readers of this volume will consider: in what ways do seemingly consistent or compatible stances differ; why do they differ; and what's the larger significance of those differences?

    On Not Having the Last Word

    We have tried our best in this introduction not to ensnare ourselves in the worst of all possible ironies: that is, of unintentionally foreclosing on the chance that you, the reader, might take up our offer and stake a claim for a particular way of theorizing and enacting communication. How could we fall into that trap? Easy: We could overplay our hand. Remember, we have argued that communication as buffet—an uncritical theory pluralism—should be replaced with a model of theorizing in which the possibilities of evaluation and an insistent awareness of what is at stake are kept fully in mind. But to argue too strongly for our way of looking at theorizing—even if that way might allow you to grab hold profitably of one stance and jettison some, maybe even all the rest—would be to commit the same offense that prompted us to put this book together in the first place. If we unwittingly adopt a stance that says that the act of adopting one stance over all others is the only legitimate approach to communication theorizing, then we're right back where we started—and we're as guilty as anyone else of limiting the choices that we think should be available to theorists and practitioners of communication. Put differently, dogmatism is as undesirable and deadening to creative theorizing as is theory pluralism—and it's far meaner in the end.

    You might have read that last sentence and concluded that we've completely contradicted ourselves, but we do not think that we have. We are just as wary of the “one-and-only-way” approach to communication as we are of the “all-roads-are-equally-good” approach—and for the same reason. Both approaches handcuff theorists unnecessarily; both try to set arbitrary and unproductive limits on what ideas or examples or metaphors or analogies or typologies or schemas could be used in the production of good, compelling theory. To take a stance and reject all others is one thing, but to take a stance and then reason that whatever is left is unworthy of existence operates in bad faith and at cross-purposes with everything we have labored to say in this introduction. To adopt a stance is to stake a claim, but it is not the same as denying the validity of other claims—nor should it be. It is, rather, to partake in the broader barter of ideas, to move in a realm of thinking and enacting in which we believe no participant should apologize either for making tough intellectual choices or for standing firm on the ground of his or her theoretical and praxical convictions.

    Fisher, B. A. (1978). Perspectives on human communication. New York: Macmillan.
    Gadamer, H. G. (1998). Truth and method (
    2nd rev. ed.
    ). New York: Continuum.
  • About the Editors

    Gregory J. Shepherd (PhD, University of Illinois) is Professor and Director of the School of Communication Studies and is currently serving as Interim Dean of the College of Communication at Ohio University. His primary scholarly interests are in communication theory and American pragmatism. He is a winner of the Central States Communication Association Outstanding Young Teacher Award, as well as a W. T. Kemper Fellowship for Teaching Excellence. He is coeditor with Eric Rothenbuhler of Communication and Community (2001, Lawrence Erlbaum), and in addition to chapters in various edited volumes, his work has appeared in Communication Monographs, Human Communication Research, Journal of Communication, Communication Yearbook, Communication Studies, Southern Journal of Communication, Communication Research, Journal of Social Psychology, Management Communication Quarterly, Journal of Research and Development in Education, and other scholarly publications.

    Jeffrey St. John (PhD, University of Washington) is Assistant Professor in the School of Communication Studies at Ohio University. His published work includes essays on legal argument, critical rhetoric, the construction of self at sites of public controversy, and the deployment of contested terms (e.g., tolerance, civility) in public culture. He teaches undergraduate courses in public advocacy, free speech, communication theory, and political rhetoric, along with graduate courses in communication theory and public deliberation. His current research projects include a mapping of the rhetorical geography of “moral values” voting patterns (with his colleague Jerry Miller) and a study of mimesis and public memory in contemporary fiction.

    Ted Striphas (PhD, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill) is Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication and Culture, Indiana University. His primary research interests include media historiography, cultural studies, Marxism, and communication theory. At present, he is at work on a cultural history of the U.S. book industry tentatively titled Equipment for Living: Everyday Book Culture in the Making. He also is coeditor (with Kembrew McLeod) of a forthcoming special issue of the journal Cultural Studies on the politics of intellectual properties. His work has appeared in, among other places, Critical Studies in Media Communication; Cultural Studies; The Review of Education, Pedagogy, and Cultural Studies; Social Epistemology; and Television and New Media. He is a 2004 recipient of the Gerald R. Miller Outstanding Dissertation Award from the National Communication Association.

    About the Contributors

    Leslie A. Baxter is F. Wendell Miller Distinguished Professor of Communication Studies at the University of Iowa. She has published 100 articles, book chapters, and books on topics related to communication in relationships, both familial and nonfamilial. Her work on communication and relationships is largely informed by Bakhtin's dialogism.

    Carole Blair, Professor of Communication Studies at the University of North Carolina, is coeditor and cotranslator of Friedrich Nietzsche on Rhetoric and Language (Oxford), and coeditor of Critical Questions: Invention, Creativity, and the Criticism of Discourse and Media (St. Martin's), as well as numerous monographs and anthology articles. Her work has received the National Communication Association's Doctoral Dissertation Award and Golden Anniversary Monographs Award, as well as the annual outstanding article award from the Organization for the Study of Communication, Language and Gender. Her research focuses on the rhetorical and cultural significance of U.S. commemorative places and artworks.

    Arthur P. Bochner is Professor of Communication and codirector (with Carolyn Ellis) of the Institute for Interpretive Human Studies at the University of South Florida. He is coeditor (with Carolyn Ellis) of Composing Ethnography: Alternative Forms of Qualitative Writing (1996) and Ethnographically Speaking: Autoethnography, Literature, and Aesthetics (2002), and the AltaMira book series Ethnographic Alternatives. He has published more than 70 articles and book chapters on communication theory; interpersonal, personal, and family communication; and narrative inquiry.

    Franklin J. Boster is Professor in the Department of Communication at Michigan State University. His research focuses on social influences processes and group dynamics. He is corecipient of the Speech Communication Association's Golden Anniversary Award for outstanding scholarly publication (1976), the Charles H. Woolbert Award for scholarship of exceptional originality and influence (Speech Communication Association, 1989), and the John E. Hunter Meta-Analysis Award (Division 1 of the International Communication Association, 1998). In 2003, he received the Distinguished Faculty Award from Michigan State University.

    Daniel C. Brouwer is Assistant Professor in the School of Human Communication at Arizona State University. His research and teaching projects include public sphere studies, rhetorical criticism, the rhetoric of social movements, the rhetoric of HIV/AIDS, and cultural performance. What unifies his research and teaching projects is a focus on controversy and conflict and the ways in which various social actors employ cultural, economic, and political resources in the drama of a controversy. He is coeditor of and contributor to the 2001 book, Counterpublics and the State. Appearing in Text and Performance Quarterly, Critical Studies in Media Communication, Rhetoric & Public Affairs, Western Journal of Communication, and Argumentation & Advocacy are his articles on HIV/AIDS tattoos, passing, congressional eulogies, congressional debate about lesbians and gays in the military, and public intellectuals. He is currently working on manuscripts about HIV/AIDS zines and a coedited book project on public modalities.

    Briankle G. Chang is Associate Professor of Communication at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He is the author of Deconstructing Communication: Representation, Subject, and Economies of Exchange (University of Minnesota Press, 1996). His work has been published in journals such as Cultural Critique, Differences, International Philosophical Quarterly, History of European Ideas, and British Journal of Aesthetics.

    Celeste M. Condit, Distinguished Research Professor of Speech Communication, University of Georgia, teaches courses in rhetorical criticism and theory. She is the former coeditor of Critical Studies in Media Communication, and author or coauthor of Decoding Abortion Rhetoric, Crafting Equality: America's Anglo/African Word, and The Meanings of the Gene. She is a National Communication Association Distinguished Scholar.

    Robert T. Craig is Professor in the Department of Communication, University of Colorado at Boulder, and a past president of the International Communication Association. His research has addressed a range of topics in communication theory and discourse analysis, including cognitive processes, conversational coherence, goals and strategies in discourse, argumentation, the philosophy and methodology of communication as a practical discipline, and the intellectual structure of communication theory as a field. A primary focus of his work for the last 2 decades has been to conceptualize communication theory as a form of discourse for the cultivation of reflective communication practices in society. Current projects include a book and an anthology of readings on communication theory, and studies of metadiscursive practices in public and group discourse.

    James W. Dearing is Professor of Communication and Director of Graduate Studies in the School of Communication Studies at Ohio University. He has been on the faculty of Michigan State University and a visiting faculty member at the University of California, Berkeley, and at the University of Michigan. His primary activity is social science research about the strategic testing of using diffusion of innovation concepts to accelerate the spread of best practice innovations in health, health services, youth development, education, and development. He has been the principal investigator for research sponsored by the U.S. National Science Foundation, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Agency for Health Care Policy & Research, the W. K. Kellogg Foundation, and other organizations. He has taught doctoral seminars in diffusion of innovation theory and research, program evaluation theory, the media-public-policy agenda-setting process, mass communication theory, and research methods.

    Carolyn Ellis is Professor of Communication and Sociology at the University of South Florida. She is the author of The Ethnographic I: A Methodological Novel about Autoethnography (2004) and of Final Negotiations: A Story of Love, Loss, and Chronic Illness (1995). She is coeditor (with Arthur Bochner) of Composing Ethnography: Alternative Forms of Qualitative Writing (1996), Ethnographically Speaking: Autoethnography, Literature, and Aesthetics (2002), and the AltaMira book series Ethnographic Alternatives.

    Cara A. Finnegan is Assistant Professor of Rhetorical Studies in the Department of Speech Communication at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is the author of Picturing Poverty: Print Culture and FSA Photographs (Smithsonian Books, 2003), which won the National Communication Association's 2004 Diamond Anniversary Book Award for the outstanding scholarly book published in communication in the past two years. Her research on rhetoric, visual culture, photography, and the public sphere has appeared in journals such as The Quarterly Journal of Speech, Rhetoric & Public Affairs, and Argumentation & Advocacy. She is currently completing a book manuscript titled Image Vernaculars: Rhetorics of Photography in American Public Culture.

    John Gastil is Associate Professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Washington, where he studies and teaches courses on political deliberation and group decision making. He earned his PhD in communication from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1994 and a BA in political science from Swarthmore College in 1989. From 1994 to 1997, he conducted public opinion research at the University of New Mexico Institute for Public Policy. He is the coeditor (with Peter Levine) of The Deliberative Democracy Handbook: Strategies for Effective Civic Engagement in the Twenty-First Century (Jossey-Bass, 2005). He is the author of By Popular Demand: Revitalizing Representative Democracy Through Deliberative Elections (University of California Press, 2000), Democracy in Small Groups: Participation, Decision Making, and Communication (New Society Publishers, 1993), and the Election Day computer simulation game ( Most of his writings and projects are accessible at

    Jake Harwood is Associate Professor of Communication and chair of the graduate program in Gerontology at the University of Arizona. He received his PhD in Communication from the University of California, Santa Barbara, in 1994 and taught at the University of Kansas before moving to Tucson. His research focuses on intergroup communication, with a particular focus on age groups, and draws on theories of social identity, intergroup behavior, and communication accommodation. He is the editor of Intergroup Communication: Multiple Perspectives (Peter Lang, 2005) and has published more than 50 articles in professional journals. His recent publications have appeared in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, journal of Communication, Journal of Applied Communication Research, Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, and Human Communication Research. He is book review editor for the Journal of Language and Social Psychology and currently serves on the editorial boards of the Journal of Communication, Communication Theory, Communication Research Reports, and Communication Studies.

    Todd Kelshaw is Assistant Professor of Communication Studies at Montclair State University, Montclair, New Jersey. His research considers deliberation and dialogue in public meetings, particularly in novel settings that permit the institutional incorporation of public voice in policymaking. These interests in the qualities and potentials of deliberative public participation are shaped by broader concerns about contemporary organizational life as it is influenced by the integral forces of globalization, postmodernity, and democratization. His teaching interests include organizational, group, and interpersonal communication topics, with an emphasis on connections between theory and practice. Along these lines, he is especially interested in experiential and service learning initiatives.

    Karen Kroman Myers is a doctoral candidate in the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication at Arizona State University. Her research examines organizational assimilation, organizational knowledge, leadership, and identity in high reliability organizations.

    Kristin M. Langellier is Mark and Marcia Bailey Professor at the University of Maine, where she teaches communication, performance studies, and women's studies. Her research interests include narrative performance, family storytelling, and Franco American cultural identity. Her numerous publications include Storytelling in Daily Life: Performing Narrative (Temple University Press, 2004), coauthored with Eric E. Peterson. She is former editor of Text and Performance Quarterly.

    Judith N. Martin is Professor of Communication at Arizona State University. She has taught undergraduate and graduate courses in communication at the University of Minnesota, Pennsylvania State University, and the University of New Mexico. She has published research on ethnic identity and communication, interracial communication, sojourner communication overseas, and research ethics in a variety of social science journals; and served on the editorial boards of Communication Monographs, International Journal of Intercultural Relations, and Western Journal of Communication Journal. She has coauthored (with Thomas K. Nakayama) Intercultural Communication in Contexts and Experiencing Intercultural Communication (McGraw-Hill), and coedited Whiteness: The Communication of Social Identity (Sage).

    Carolyn Marvin is Frances Yates Professor of Communication at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania. She is the author of When Old Technologies Were New, Blood Sacrifice and the Nation: Totem Rituals and the American Flag, and numerous articles on communication.

    Katherine Miller is Professor and Director of Graduate Studies at Texas A&M University. Her research and teaching interests lie at the intersection of organizational and health communication. In particular, she is interested in communication in the lives of health care and human service workers, and has considered topics such as stress and burnout, professional and personal identity, and emotional communication in the workplace. She has published two textbooks and numerous journal articles and book chapters.

    Thomas K. Nakayama is Professor of Communication and Director of Asian Pacific American Studies at Arizona State University. He is interested in the critical theory and cultural studies traditions, particularly as they inform the study of intercultural communication. In developing a critical intercultural communication agenda, he has published essays on whiteness, critical race theory, and critical sexualities. He has been on a Fulbright at the Université de Mons-Hainaut (Belgium), and has been Visiting Libra Professor at the University of Maine. He has served on a number of editorial boards, including Critical Studies in Media Communication, Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies, Quarterly Journal of Speech, and Women's Studies in Communication. He is coauthor (with Judith Martin) of “Thinking Dialectically About Culture and Communication” in Communication Theory.

    John Durham Peters is F. Wendell Miller Distinguished Professor in the Department of Communication Studies at the University of Iowa. He is author of Speaking into the Air (1999) and Courting the Abyss: Free Speech and the Liberal Tradition (2005), and coeditor of Canonic Texts in Media Research (2003) and Mass Communication and American Social Thought: Key Texts, 1919–1968 (2004). His work has been translated into Bulgarian, Chinese, French, German, Greek, Italian, Lithuanian, and Macedonian.

    Eric E. Peterson is Associate Professor at the University of Maine, where he teaches in the Department of Communication and Journalism. His research and teaching interests are in narrative performance, media consumption, nonverbal communication, and communication diversity and identity. He is coauthor (with Kristin M. Langellier) of Storytelling in Daily Life: Performing Narrative (Temple University Press, 2004), and coeditor of Public Broadcasting and the Public Interest (M. E. Sharpe, 2003).

    Eric W. Rothenbuhler is Professor of Communication at Texas A&M University and was previously Director of Graduate Media Studies at New School University (2001–2004) and on the faculty of Communication Studies at the University of Iowa (1985–2001). He earned his doctorate at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Southern California in 1985. His research and teaching address communication systems ranging from ritual through community to media industries. He is the coeditor (with Mihai Coman) of Media Anthropology (in press, Sage); author of Ritual Communication: Prom Everyday Conversation to Mediated Ceremony (1988), which has been translated into Polish (2004); and coeditor (with Greg Shepherd) of Communication and Community (2001, Lawrence Erlbaum). He was Review and Criticism Editor for the Journal of Communication (1997–1999) and has authored or coauthored more than 50 articles, chapters, essays, and reviews on media, ritual, community, media industries, popular music, and communication theory.

    Robert C. Rowland is Professor and Chair in the Communication Studies Department at the University of Kansas. His research focuses on argumentation, rhetorical criticism, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He is the author of three books: The Rhetoric of Menachem Begin: The Myth of RedemptionThrough Return, Analyzing Rhetoric, and (with David Frank) Shared Land/Conflicting Identity: Trajectories of Israeli and Palestinian Symbol Use, which won the 2004 Kohrs-Campbell prize for rhetorical criticism. Rowland has written numerous journal articles and has won several major teaching awards at the University of Kansas.

    David R. Seibold is Professor in the Department of Communication and Director of the Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Management Practice at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Author of more than 100 publications on organizational communication, innovation and organizational change, group processes, and interpersonal influence, he has received numerous research and teaching awards. He is past editor of the Journal of Applied Communication Research and serves on the boards of many other journals. He has served as Chair of the Interpersonal and Small Group Interaction Division of the National Communication Association and is a past Chair of the Organizational Communication Division of the International Communication Association. He also has consulted widely with business, government, and health organizations.

    Jennifer Daryl Slack is Professor of Communication and Cultural Studies in the Department of Humanities at Michigan Technological University. She is author of Communication Technologies and Society (1984), editor of The Ideology of the Information Age (with Fred Fejes, 1987), editor of John Waisanen's posthumous Thinking Geometrically (2002), editor of Animations (of Deleuze and Guattari, 2003), coauthor of Culture and Technology: A Primer (with J. Macgregor Wise, in press), and associate editor of Communication Theory.

    Jonathan Sterne teaches in the Department of Art History and Communication Studies and the History and Philosophy of Science Program at McGill University. He is author of The Audible Past: Cultural Origins of Sound Reproduction (Duke University Press, 2003) and numerous essays on media, technologies, and the politics of culture. He is also an editor of Bad Subjects: Political Education for Everyday Life, one of the longest-running publications on the Internet.

    James Taylor, author/coauthor of 6 books and some 70 published articles, is Emeritus Professor and recently served as interim chair of the Communication Department, which he founded, at the Université de Montréal. He has pioneered approaches to the study of the role of language in the constitution of human organizations, emphasizing in his work the contrasting roles of conversation and text in the construction of social reality. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the International Communication Association. He is currently working on two new books, and, since 1999, has authored or coauthored two books, The Emergent Organization and The Computerization of Work, and some 25 articles in peer-reviewed journals and books, and has been the recipient of Best Article and Best Book awards at the International Communication Association and National Communication Association. In 2003, he was the first scholar named to the prestigious Kurt Baschwitz Chair at the University of Amsterdam.

    • Loading...
Back to Top

Copy and paste the following HTML into your website