The UW-Madison Department of Communication Arts is not only one of the most esteemed undergraduate programs in the country for the study of communications, it also offers one of the premier graduate programs in the field. It was the first department in the United States to award a doctoral degree in communications, and its graduates serve on the faculties of leading colleges and universities, in research institutions, and in public and private agencies throughout this country and abroad. Comm Arts offers four distinct areas of graduate study: Communication Science; Film; Media & Cultural Studies; and Rhetoric, Politics & Culture. This past year (2011-12), 11 graduate students completed their PhDs in Comm Arts. They are listed here, in alphabetical order, along with brief descriptions of their specific areas of study and their postgraduate career plans:
- Joseph Abisaid (Communication Science) recently completed his dissertation, “Framing Effects as a Discursively Invoked Cognitive Phenomenon: An Investigation into the Role of Existing Attitudes and New Media Frames.” He is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor at SUNY-Albany in the Department of Communication.
- Emily Acosta Lewis (Communication Science) researches the developmental changes in media effects, with a special focus on children, adolescents, and emerging adults, and the role of media in shaping young viewers’ perceptions of social reality. Her dissertation is entitled “The Effects of Privileged Television Shows on Emerging Adults’ Materialism and Future Life Expectations.” She is now an Assistant Professor of Communication at Western New England University in Springfield, MA, as well as a faculty member for the Semester at Sea Spring 2013 voyage .
- Amy Barber (Media & Cultural Studies) recently completed her dissertation, “Woods of Their Own: Feminism, Community, Music and Politics at the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival.” She is now Lecturer and Assistant Director of the Women’s Studies Program at East Tennessee State University.
- Erin Copple Smith (Media & Cultural Studies) studies the media industries, specifically conglomerates and the intersection of ownership and content, as well as various advertising and promotional strategies. Her dissertation is entitled “Cross-Promotion at Cross Purposes: Media Conglomerates and the Logics of Synergy.” She is now an Assistant Professor of Media Studies at Austin College in Sherman, TX.
- Elizabeth Ellcessor (Media & Cultural Studies) researches the ways in which the structures and policies of internet media shape social practices, with a particular focus on embodiment, identity, and disability. Her dissertation is entitled “Access Ability: Policies, Practices, and Representations of Disability Online.” She is now an Assistant Professor of Communication and Culture at Indiana University Bloomington.
- Germaine Halegoua (Media & Cultural Studies) examines the relationship between new media technologies, practices, and the urban environment. Her dissertation is entitled “New Mediated Spaces and the Urban Environment.” She is entering her second year as an Assistant Professor of Film & Media Studies at The University of Kansas.
- Sreya Mitra (Media & Cultural Studies) investigates issues of stardom, national identity, gender, and sexuality in contemporary popular Hindi cinema (a.k.a. Bollywood). She recently finished her dissertation on “The Material Star: Consuming the Bollywood Star in Contemporary India.”
- Nick Marx (Media & Cultural Studies) researches sketch comedy and television’s multichannel era. His dissertation is entitled “From Bits to Bytes: Sketch Comedy in the Multi-Channel and Digital Convergence Eras.” He is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor of Critical Media & Cultural Studies at Rollins College in Winter Park, FL.
- Matt Sienkiewicz (Media & Cultural Studies) researches the West’s investment in Middle Eastern broadcasting initiatives, as well as portrayals of race and religion in American film and television. His dissertation is entitled “From All Directions: Globalization and the Struggle for Independent Palestinian Media.” He is now an Assistant Professor of Communication and International Studies at Boston College.
- Ryan Solomon (Rhetoric, Politics & Culture) studies the relationship between particular cultural beliefs about AIDS and the broader AIDS controversy in South Africa, as well as the ethical implications of argument. His dissertation is entitled “Cultural Dilemmas: Public Culture and the controversy HIV in South Africa.” He is now an Assistant Professor in the Department of Writing and Rhetoric at Colgate University.
Congratulations and best of luck to them all!