Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Communication Studies students selected to Phi Beta Kappa

The Department of Communication Studies congratulates Reagan Jones and Geoffrey Ledbetter, who were initiated into the select Phi Beta Kappa honor society. Phi Beta Kappa chapters appear in only about 10% is universities and selection is very competitive. PBK includes 17 U.S. Presidents, 37 U.S. Supreme Court Justices, and 136 Nobel Laureates.  Congrats to Regan and Geoff!


Change the Talk

University of Nebraska-Lincoln Communication Studies is proud of the research in action by Dr. Amanda Holman, Assistant Professor of Communication at Creighton University. She is creating public service announcements entitled, “Change the Talk” with local high school students on having "the talk" with their parents. The project is based on her doctoral dissertation earned in 2014.



Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Make Yourself Meme

Richard Dawkins (2006) created the term “meme” as a way of describing how culture is transmitted. Memes are key to this transmission through sharing and longevity. The concept of meme grew in an online presence (Shifman, 2009).

When the word meme began gaining popularity, I (embarrassingly) thought it was “Me – Me” because the memes were all about me. There were “25 Things about Me” and “Four Questions about Me” notes in Facebook (remember those?). Then there was “Gratuitous Picture of Yourself Wednesday” (Thanks, Tumblr!).  Famous bloggers posted their first memes. A coloring book was made. 

Recently, Colin McGinn discusses the role of memes in his New York Times article, Memes, Dreams & Themes. McGinn argues that memes spread like a virus through each other’s minds. When we have a commercial jingle or pop song stuck in our head, it’s a meme. Memes are not always silly – they are closely related to culture. Memes spread culture and ideas. They can spread art, ideologies, and unwritten rules.

McGinn asks us to consider the difference between memes (those that are “mentally manipulated”) and those that are themes (those that are “genuinely good,” like, say, the oxford comma). Intermixed within the question, is another question to consider: if a meme spreads, who is to say it’s not good?  Perhaps Gratuitous Picture of Yourself Wednesday (GPOYW) isn’t actually gratuitous, but these photos may be empowering or expressive. Is determining the value of a meme similar to determining the value of art?

I think the bigger question to the value of a meme lies at an exterior level: How are memes spreading? What makes a meme circulate? Memetic and cultural circulation seem closely linked to engagement, emotion, and creativity of the audience.

Likewise, literature about memorable messages tell us the ideas that stick are closely related to individual emotion and relatability (or recognition) in addition to an audience and value. These characteristics are linked to storytelling as a way of generating meaning. When your idea or product sits within a narrative or you can place it in your own narrative, ideas and memes can stick and spread.


And this is important, because marketing your selfie means people have to notice it.

--Janell Walther 

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Final Project for COMM 354

Students in Dr. Angela Palmer-Wackerly's COMM 354, Health Communication, course produced this video as part of a final project that asked them to produce a health campaign.



Look familiar?

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Congratulations to NCA Top Papers by UNL Graduate Students

Congratulations to Communication Studies doctoral candidate Jamie Downing who has two Top Papers at the upcoming NCA conference in Las Vegas in November 2015.  Her paper “Escaping Entelechy: Exploring Intersections of Piety and Style” is one of the Top Papers in the Kenneth Burke Society. Her paper, “Keeping the Feast: Digitality, Counterpublics, and Conversations Surrounding Christian Seders” is a Top Student Paper in the Religious Communication Division.

Congratulations to Communication Studies doctoral candidate Jon Carter who has a Top Paper at the upcoming NCA conference in Las Vegas in November 2015. His paper, “Good Metonyms Make Great Metaphors: Embracing the Opportunities for Scientific Forms in Non-Scientific Contexts” is one of the Top Papers in the Kenneth Burke Society.

Congratulations to Communication Studies doctoral candidate Julia Moore who has been awarded a Top Paper award and the Top Student Paper award by the Western States Communication Association’s Interpersonal Communication Interest Group for her paper, “Where is the critical empirical interpersonal communication research? A roadmap for future inquiry.”  The paper will be presented in at the annual meeting of the Western States Communication Association in San Diego CA in February 2016.

Congratulations to Communication Studies doctoral candidates Jordan Allen and Nicole Allen who have been awarded a Top Paper award by the Western States Communication Association’s Interpersonal Communication Interest Group for their paper, “Complicating and Critiquing the Classical Twin Methodology: Decentring Biogenetic Approaches to Twin Studies." The paper will be presented in at the annual meeting of the Western States Communication Association in San Diego CA in February 2016.

Top 10 Ways My Years in the US Army Prepared Me for Grad School in Communication Studies

For Veteran’s Day Nov. 11, 2015

10.  Sleep?!  You don’t need sleep!  You can sleep when you’re dead!  You’ve got a research paper due!

9.  Just like the military, the professors arm you…but with research studies, texts, and their years of knowledge!

8.  It’s not just a job…it’s an adventure! (You get to eat, breath, and live Communication Studies 24/7!)

7. Drill sergeants don’t yell, they simply talk loud enough so that everyone can hear them! (I never knew this whole time they were teaching me about Berger and diBattista’s (1993) study, Communication failure and plan adaptation: If at first you don’t succeed, say it louder and slower!) 

6.  On those super long class days when you don’t have time to stop for lunch, you realize that the vending machines in Oldfather Hall serve gourmet meals comparable to an MRE packet (meals-ready-to-eat)! 

5.  The army exercises your body – the Comm Studies’ profs exercise your mind!

4.  Forget the camouflage.  It won’t help you hide if you’re not prepared for class!

3. The Comm Studies' professors are like drill sergeants – they constantly push you to a higher level 
of achievement you never knew you could reach!

2.  The road march is long and hard and all uphill!  But the view from the mountaintop on graduation day will be well worth the journey!


1.  Now you’re ready to: “Be!  All that you can be…in Communication Studies!” HOOAH! J



by Carol Tschampl-Diesing, a first year PhD student and US Army veteran

Friday, October 30, 2015

Dawn O. Braithwaite wins the Ferris Award

Dawn O. Braithwaite, Willa Cather Professor and Chair of Communication Studies, will receive the James Ferris Award for Contributions to Communication and Disability Studies from the National Communication Association Disability Issues Caucus (2015).  Dawn and co-honoree Teresa Thompson (University of Dayton) are two of the earliest disability communication researchers in the communication discipline and published the Handbook of Communication and People with Disabilities: Research and Application (2000Erlbaum). 


The selection committee “recognized their important contributions to the field.” The award will be presented at the annual meeting of the National Communication Association in Las Vegas in November.

National Communication Association Disability Issues Caucus supports NCA’s commitment to inclusiveness and diversity by promoting accessibility to all NCA activities for all interested parties, especially through coordinating efforts with NCA leadership to meet both the letter and spirit of ADA laws. The caucus also provides a forum for scholarship on disability and communication that includes the critical area of Disability Studies.

Congratulations to two NCA Award Winners!

Dr. Kathy Krone and her co-author Dr. Erika Kirby have won the National Communication Association’s Charles H. Woolbert Research Award.

The Charles H. Woolbert Research Award is named for one the discipline’s early founders. This is an association-level award whose winners are chosen by the NCA Research Board, celebrating research that has stood the test of time.  The Woolbert Award is in recognition of their research:

Kirby, E., & Krone, K. (2002). "The policy exists but you can't really use it": Communication and the structuration of work-family policies. Journal of Applied Communication Research, 30, 50-77.

Drs. Kirby and Krone will receive the award at NCA’s awards ceremony on Saturday November 21, at the association’s annual meeting in Las Vegas.

Erika Kirby is a Professor of Communication at Creighton University and earned her PhD in Communication Studies at UNL in 2000.  Kathy Krone is a Professor of Communication Studies and been a member of our faculty since 1991.

Based in Washington D. C. with 8,000 members, the National Communication Association is the discipline’s largest and oldest national association.


Dr. Bill Seiler has won the National Communication Association’s NCA’s Wallace A. Bacon Lifetime Teaching Excellence Award. This is an association-level award whose winners are chosen by a committee of those specializing in instructional communication and former award winners.

Dr. Seiler will receive the award at NCA’s awards ceremony on Saturday November 21, at the association’s annual meeting in Las Vegas.

Dr. Bill Seiler is a Professor of Communication Studies and been a member of our faculty since 1972.  He was Chair of Communication Studies for 21 years, ending his term in 2010. 

Dr. Bill Seiler is the embodiment of what is best about teacher-scholars in our discipline. His entrepreneurial spirit about teaching and his substantial contributions to basic course and instructional communication, his dedication to his undergraduate and graduate students, his generous mentoring across the discipline, his service contributions and collegiality all make Bill the embodiment of what the Wallace Bacon Award is all about.

Based in Washington D. C. with 8,000 members, the National Communication Association is the discipline’s largest and oldest national association.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Dr. Carly Woods at Popular Knowledge, Public Stage Conference



She discussed, “A Tale of Two Lucys: Remembering Oberlin’s Early Orators.” She examined the dynamics of race and gender in the story of the first known U.S. college women's debating society at Oberlin College. She argued that public memory about the club should be expanded beyond well-known reformer Lucy Stone to include Lucy Stanton Day Sessions, an early member and the first African American woman to complete a college course of study. This interdisciplinary conference focused on how popular, public interactions shaped the character of knowledge in the long nineteenth century (roughly 1790–1910), as the way people thought and learned together was transformed by speakers and listeners, writers and readers.