Graduates commend department’s teaching opportunities, faculty mentoring, and supportive community
Congratulations to the Department of Communication Studies first Ph.D. cohort.
Big smiles from Ph.D. graduates Jordin Clark and Hailey Otis.
Emily Amedée, Jordin Clark, Andy Gilmore, Hailey Otis, and Kristin Slattery began their journey through the communication doctoral program fall semester 2017. The cohort has published their research in highly regarded scholarly journals, won prestigious awards, and developed robust teaching portfolios.
All are on track to complete their degrees in 2021, which puts them under the 5-year national average for completing a Ph.D. program in the communication studies discipline.
“These outcomes are remarkable for a brand-new Ph.D. program, and are a testament to the talent and hard work of our graduate students, as well as to the innovative design of our program,” says Department of Communication Studies Director of Graduate Programs and Professor Kari Anderson.
Despite a global pandemic creating a significantly strained and job market, all students in the graduating cohort have secured positions in higher education. secured positions in higher education.
Anderson and department faculty designed the Ph.D. in Communication to be a flexible yet rigorous program that focuses on developing excellence in teaching, writing, and research within a highly collaborative and supportive community.
“What drew me to the program was the department’s commitment to developing well-rounded scholars – not just people who publish,” says Clark.
Students develop and explore their interests across the three areas of specialization that organize faculty expertise: film and media studies, relational and organizational communication, and rhetoric and civic engagement.
“We inherently value coming to our discipline from many different angles,” says Amedée. “Because we have such a diverse faculty and diverse set of interest in our department that has helped me see more of my own experiences within the discipline and thrive.”
(Left to right) Dr. Tom Dunn, Dr. Greg Dickinson, Dr. Martín Carcasson, and Dr. Karrin Anderson gather to honor the first crop of graduating Ph.D. students.
As a result of students not being siloed into one specific area, Anderson says, doctoral students pursued and engaged in transformative research and teaching around diverse and intersecting topics. These pursuits have been aided by an innovative curriculum that includes coursework in pedagogy, professional development, academic writing, and public scholarship.
“We just completed our recruiting cycle for students beginning next fall—every single one of our top recruits accepted our offer,” Anderson says. “Our PhD program launch has been phenomenally successful thanks to engaged and caring faculty members, a close-knit and hardworking cohort of graduate students, and staff members dedicated to supporting the program and our students. I couldn’t be more proud to be a CSU Ram!”
For Anderson, celebrating the graduation of the first crop of Ph.D. students in communication studies is a dream come true. She received her M.A. in Commuication Studies from CSU at a time when department faculty weren’t strongly interested in developing a Ph.D. program. Anderson left the state to pursue her doctorate, despite wanting to stay in Colorado.
She says, “The fact that I was able to return as a tenure-track faculty member and help develop a Ph.D. illustrates how much our program, which has had a highly regarded MA program for decades, has grown in the last 10 years.”
Meet the Cohort
Emily Amedée’s doctoral research explores the political and material consequences of rhetorics of death. She theorizes about the thematic of death beyond its conditions, events, and economies and considers death as relational process of becoming. .
“My project is to is to consider the persuasive power of death in and of itself—death as rhetoric—and also, how rhetoric constitutes death. I do this by centering the rhetorical authority of youth speaking at the intersection of social, cultural, and ecological injustice,” Amedée says.
Her interest in focusing on youth voices emerged from heightened COVID-19 discourse about death and meaning making.
“I wasn’t feeling good about the voices that were the presumed authority on how I should be reckoning with all this death,” says Amedée.
Amedée’s project begins with the assertion that youth possess a unique ability to speak on matters of life and death. In her project, she analyses the speeches of four girls ages 8 to 18, giving a new lens to consider the rhetorics of death and dying. Amedée is also interested in looking at how these youth conceive of environmental death and social death in different ways based on their cultural context, various relationships with ecological issues and the land in general.
Throughout her communication doctoral studies at CSU, Amedée has committed to being an active member of the CSU and northern Colorado community. Among her many roles, she fulfilled a three-year research appointment with the Office of the Provost, served on the Assessment Group for Diversity Issues committee which develops a university-wide employee climate survey, was a member of the Women’s Commission for Fort Collins, held a yearlong fellowship with CSU’s Institute for the Built Environment, and served as a graduate student representative to the department’s undergraduate committee. She now works full-time with the CSU System communication team.
Amedée, who is a first generation student, says that CSU is committed to thinking about working with developing programs around first generation students.
“Our program and institution both honor the whole person,” she says. “We have a lot of versatility and diversity in thought and experience. This a great environment for first gen students to navigate a lot of different pathways into and out of education.”
Amedée recently accepted a full-time position with the CSU System Office as a Content Editor. In this role, she is a part of the managing team for the Global Mapping and Strategic Outreach initiative, which serves as an interactive storytelling experience for CSU research and teaching.
“How many Ph.D. students can say that they developed an experimental undergraduate research course that collaborated with another department, went on multiple field trips, and focused on community-driven work that ties directly into their dissertation?” Clark asks.
Clark entered the doctoral program with a passion for the rhetoric of space and place that was born from her prior graduate studies in the MA program at CSU. It was the potential opportunities for academic and professional growth available in a smaller and newly minted doctoral program, that convinced her to continue as a Ram.
In her first year in the Ph.D. program Clark landed an editorial assistantship full time for a year under Department of Communication Studies Professor and Chair Greg Dickinson who edited NCA’s Critical/Cultural Studies journal from 2017-2020. When she went back to teaching, she developed a course “Communicating Urban Identities” in partnership with faculty from the Department of Economics as a part of a new Undergraduate Research Academy. The course explores different ways of thinking about gentrification, affordable housing, communities in flux, and the urban/rural divide – particularly in the neighborhoods surrounding the new National Western Center (NWC) complex.
The course informed the direction of her dissertation which traces out rhetoric’s role in Denver’s development across different times and spaces including the historic Larimer Square, redevelopment of Globeville, Elyria-Swansea in tandem with the NWC development, and a section 8 housing neighborhood in Sun Valley. Building from the past to imagine new futures, she draws out how rhetoric helps define and develop Denver’s growing and changing identity.
Taking her passion for rhetoric of space to a new region, Clark has accepted a Visiting Assistant Professor position at Wabash College in Indiana where she will continue to build out opportunities for students to explore spaces across the Midwest.
Throughout the course of her master’s and doctoral graduate studies, Hailey Otis has contemplated, researched, and theorized moments of queer worldmaking within the body positive movement – and subsequently developed a new theoretical foundation within feminist rhetorical scholarship.
Steeped in rhetorical theory and criticism, fat studies, queer theory, and intersectional feminist theory,
Otis began to see a need for more critical investigation of how intersectionality functions at the level of discourse.
She subsequently developed a theory of intersectional rhetoric and wrote about this new foundation in “Intersectional Rhetoric: Where Intersectionality as Analytical Sensibility and Embodied Rhetorical Praxis Converge,” which the Quarterly Journal of Speech published in 2019 as one of its lead articles. In 2020, the National Communication Association honored Otis with the Stephen E. Lucas Debut Publication Award.
Her dissertation investigates contemporary fat activism in online and digital spaces and offers to build a case for how rhetors make arguments about intersecting forms privilege and oppression. She explores how a music celebrity, podcast influencers, and even herself, as a body positive activist, intentionally disrupt oppressive norms while envisioning a world and a future ungoverned by those norms.
Otis says she chose to pursue a doctoral degree in communication at CSU so she could continue the meaningful personal and professional relationships and scholarly interests she developed during her time as a master’s student. She also knew she would have the opportunity to teach and design upper division classes, which has been one of the highlights of her time in the department.
Otis is making final plans for her first academic position. “Right now, being able to continue researching amazing activists and influencers and teach students different ways of thinking about the world feels like a really productive way of being in the world,” she says.
Originally from Manchester, England, Andrew Gilmore entered the doctoral program at CSU knowing his focus would be Hong Kong’s battle for democracy, specifically the 2014 Umbrella Revolution. His dissertation gathered new energy and focus during a visit to Hong Kong in 2019, when a new series of protests erupted. The overarching question that now guides his research concerns how rhetors challenge and disrupt hegemonic structures and practices to generate change. One of the primary ways he addresses this question is through critical analysis of the rhetorical mechanisms involved in Hong Kong’s simultaneous decolonization from Great Britain and recolonization by China.
Gilmore’s dissertation explores how Hong Kong protesters challenge the Communist Party of China’s hegemonic influence using strategies that reflect varying protest ideologies—strategies that are enacted through mechanisms such as the creative performance of national identity and the use of transportation infrastructure, the urban environment, gender constructions, and mundane items and rituals.
His essay, “Hong Kong’s Vehicles of Democracy: The Vernacular Monumentality of Buses During the Umbrella Revolution,” published in the Journal of International and Intercultural Communication received the 2020 Xiao Award for Outstanding Rhetorical Research from the Association for Chinese Communication Studies at NCA.
Gilmore says the opportunity to teach upper division courses has been a highlight of his time at CSU, especially since he was able to inject his own expertise and publications into classes such as visual communication and intercultural communication.
He also credits Communication Studies Professor Eric Aoki for influencing his writing. “He’s really good at talking about a paragraph of an essay,” Gilmore says, noting many conversations that lasted more than hour and about just one paragraph. “Every sentence is pulled apart and put together again. He offers a new perspective.”
Gilmore has accepted as assistant professor position at Central State University, an historically Black land grant university in Wilberforce, Ohio.
Department of Communication Studies Master Instructor Kristin Slattery began her teaching career as a communication studies Master’s degree student in 2003. She was partly motived to pursue a Ph.D. to expand her teaching opportunities.
“I knew that gaining the degree would open some new doors for me,” Slattery says. “My husband and I own a small business in Old Town, so even though I had always intended to pursue a doctoral degree, I really wasn’t able to do so until we developed one in our department. In a lot of ways, it was the most perfect PhD program for me. I learned skills typical of doctoral programs while also gaining the benefit of a degree designed to be flexible and used in multiple ways.”
Though Kristin has dabbled in every area communication studies expertise at CSU, she finally found her home within relational and organizational communication.
Kristin’s work centers listening as a world-making phenomenon that is also constitutive of our selves. She values helping students understand how listening can help navigate difference. Kristin recently won the department’s Excellence in Teaching Award for doctoral students, and was recently promoted to Master Instructor, the highest rank for CCA Faculty.
“My job at CSU has always been really gratifying, but my work with listening has been the most personally life-changing,” Slattery says. “I hope that sharing this knowledge with undergraduates will help change their lives as well.”
Kristin is currently working with Dr. Parks on a course called Dialogue and Difference where she will get to put all of these passions together in one classroom setting.
“I have had the chance to further some year’s long relationships with faculty and to engage new ideas with faculty I have never had the chance to work with before,” she says. “It’s been really rewarding to work with my colleagues in a totally different capacity.”
This fall, Kristin will continue her full-time work as a CCA Faculty in Communication Studies. She will also serve as the Assistant Basic Course Director where she will have the opportunity to mentor graduate students and help oversee the Basic course while she completes her dissertation.