Research

Interpersonal and Intercultural Communication
Tim Stephen

Communication Institute for Online Scholarship (CIOS)

I am involved in the design and construction of information dissemination, analysis, and retrieval systems for scholarly research and education and in researching and building typological systems necessary for such information technologies to be effective.

With Teresa Harrison, I created the Comserve project, which has since grown into the Communication Institute for Online Scholarship (CIOS), an independent, Web-based not-for-profit scholarly association facilitating the use of information technologies in the service of communication education and research (see http://www.cios.org/). The scope of this project has expanded dramatically from a first-of-kind innovation in the use of IT to enhance an academic discipline’s scholarly communication to become a resource incorporated into the day-to-day process of inquiry and education at institutions throughout the field. The Comserve project was among the first efforts to create a set of online electronic services through which scholars could share resources for education and research, and it did so nearly 10 years before the World Wide Web.

I am the designer, editor, and principal author of an extensive suite of database and other software systems comprising the CIOS. These include: (1) the ComIndex database which indexes scholarship published in nearly 100 communication journals between the years 1970 - 2003 (in total more than 40,000 articles); (2) the ComAbstracts database, a full text database of article abstracts encompassing 65 journals between approximately 1960-2003 (in total more than 17,000 article abstracts); (3) The ComWeb archive indexing 80,000 web pages from 450 academic web sites in communication; (4) the full text of more than a ten year run of ten of the field’s professional journals.
 

Concept Analysis of the Field’s Scholarly Literature

My CIOS work has produced several important resource collections that have created an unusually rich research opportunity to study the evolution and interdependence of concepts in the communication field. Accordingly, I am now undertaking scientometric concept map analyses of the interrelationships among pivotal theoretical ideas extracted through statistical/linguistic analysis of the literature of the communication discipline gathered in CIOS databases. The project uses a suite of original software programs I’ve authored that parse the titles of the data records from the ComIndex database. The resulting dataset of approximately 200,000 unique words is sifted to eliminate junk terms (“and”, “but”, “anyway”, “those”, “who”, and many more) and to isolate core concepts, and normalized by converting British to U.S. spelling. My procedure then reduces the resulting set of normalized core concepts to their linguistic root forms. As well, the procedure lumps synonymous concepts (television, TV, tube), recognizes phrases of disciplinary relevance as singular concepts (e.g., “third person effect”, “spiral of silence”, “genre theory”, “social movements theory”, etc.) and appropriately splits divergent concepts that happen to have common linguistic roots (organic and organization).

I have been conducting statistical studies of the frequencies of co-occurrence within the resulting set of root key concepts and developing software systems that allow live exploration of the strength of these relationships (e.g., “gender” and “talk” co-occur with a particular frequency, “rhetoric” and “argument” co-occur with a particular frequency, etc.). I have also created a mapping process in which concepts are related to each other in a graphical display where distance indicates degree of relationship.


As the field approaches a future in which access to our literature becomes exclusively electronic, my work is discovering trends and regularities that will serve as the foundation for designing interfaces based on keywords and co-occurrence that will enable future generations of scholars and students to recover primary and associated texts, to explore and contact the often otherwise invisible networks of scholars who have contributed to theoretical and applied work in the field, and to view documents within the context of other contextualizing resources (web presentations, electronic discussions) that may help to situate them more precisely within the field’s system of knowledge.

This work, constituting a kind of theoretical data mining, has the potential to serve as a test-bed for examining hypotheses about conditions under which theoretical ideas rise and fall within the literature of our discipline. Further, it will be possible to construct in software an entirely new kind of educational experience for students of communication, a kind of virtual reality exploratorium of this mapped network of concepts, allowing students of communication to view and experience viscerally through the deployment of a 3D interface, the strength of interrelationship these concepts have acquired in the accumulated experience of the field.

Alan Zemel

My research explores how participants engage in instruction, how they display learning’s work, and how they display having made a discovery. In particular, I am interested in analyzing the various communicative strategies and resources people use to display their knowledge, expertise and understanding in various healthcare contexts and other settings outside the conventional classroom. I examine the interactional methods people use to negotiate what is learnable in the instructional setting. Both the work of instruction and the work of learning are treated as mutually constitutive interactional phenomena. Data consist of audio and/or video recordings of talk-in-interaction, but also can include other forms of computer-mediated interactional data such as SMS messages and chat logs. In my work, I focus on how we work together to know the unknown, to speak of the unspoken, and to recognize the unrecognized.  

 

Current Projects

Enactment as Experience in Couple Therapy

Therapists use various kinds of formulation procedures, including direct-modeled speech, to provide clients with alternative ways of understanding their troubles. Therapist's model ways a client may address a partner using direct-modeled speech as a demonstration that the client then is called on to enact with his/her partner. The enactment is monitored for its adequacy by the therapist who may call for a correction when warranted. A successful enactment is designed to explicitly exercise the client's recall of the therapist's actions and interpretive procedures for making sense of the therapist's demonstration. In this way, the enactment is designed as a possible memorable that may serve as a warrant for future epistemic claims or subsequent actions. Results of this research will be will be presented at the second meeting of the Language and Social Interaction Working Group (LANSI) at the Teachers College, Columbia University, in September 2012.  

 

Accounting Practices in Intensive Reprocessing Therapy 
(Alan Zemel, Frances Yoeli, and Tessa Prattos-Spongalides)

Intensive Reprocessing Therapy (IRT) is a form of therapy that uses bilateral sensory stimulation to promote adaptive processing of traumatic memories. In IRT, the client engages in directed focusing activities that consist of remembering a traumatic memory while engaging in bilateral visual, auditory and tactile stimulation. This research examines how client accounts produced during IRT are accomplished. Specifically, we are interested in the local and situated ways that client actions (including talk) are built as responses to the therapist’s actions and how therapist’s actions are built as responses to the client’s actions.

 

Enactment in Surgical Education 
(Alan Zemel and Timothy Koschmann)

Senior surgeons routinely organize instruction of residents in the operating room in terms of demonstration-enactment sequences. Senior surgeons perform actions that residents are expected to observe and understand. Occasionally, a senior surgeon, upon completing an action sequence will call on the resident to repeat that demonstrated sequence. The resident's enactment displays his or her understanding of the demonstrated sequence. We examine how these sequences are organized to provide residents with hands on experience as a form of learning.

Organizational Communication
Alan T. Belasen

Research Interests

  • Innovation communication for effective inter-professional collaboration
  • Middle management roles in healthcare organizations
  • Leadership Communication in healthcare organizations
  • Cultural competence and women’s leadership
  • Integrated corporate communication
     

Research Projects 

Currently I am working on a number of research projects with a focus on healthcare organizations:

The first involves an extension of the work in the area of healthcare leadership and the vital role of middle managers in healthcare organizations. Middle managers’ traditional roles of communication transmitters and organizational custodians have been transformed dramatically with the downsizing and consolidation waves of the 1990s and 2000s.  As a result, many middle managers have become hyper-effective with considerable loss of discretionary time and feelings of powerlessness. As healthcare organizations increased purchases of services from outside suppliers and continue to form alliances and partnerships that bring external influence, middle managers have been pushed to focus on   inter-professional collaboration and stakeholders’ interests. This includes influencing initiatives through direct involvement with executives while implementing change through subordinates.  Balancing strategic awareness with operating experience has become the new mantra for successful, high-impact middle managers.

The second line of research covers healthcare communication with a focus on patient satisfaction.  As the role of the health care leader continues to broaden to accommodate shifting policy, economic, technological, clinical, and demographic conditions, research indicates that health care leaders must also be mindful of the importance of sound interpersonal and communication practices that affect patient satisfaction.  A broader evaluation of these trends and factors and strategies for overcoming obstacles to patient satisfaction are explored in my research and presented in academic conferences with others. 

The third line of my research centers on the socio-structural tension inherent in healthcare organizations, particularly between a variety of approaches to managing and leading. These seemingly contradictory orientations are unified in the concept of ambidextrous leadership to address complex, unprecedented challenges healthcare organizations face.  The research focuses on communication orientations and message construction strategies associated with the responsibilities of the master leader in healthcare organizations.

Michael Barberich

FDR's Fireside Chats

Broadly stated, my research interests are with public discourse, mass media and public policy. I have been concerned with identifying grammars of arguments that supported national policy initiatives and a national definition of the public interest in the United States during the first half of the twentieth century. Because these discourses were disseminated through emerging electronic media technologies, this historical and textual analysis includes an interest in the political function and uses of mass media as well as the invention of public policy and regulation for electronic media.

Although my work has centered on political discourse, through the process of incorporating these interests into my classes, I came to realize that similar frameworks for media use and public discourse were being used by corporate America. I have become interested in corporate uses of public discourse and media to define or influence public policy as well as manage their public image. There are numerous examples in many areas of public concern; however, the confused appropriation of public and private interests in current telecommunications policy has led to fractured and ineffective outcomes. My interests lie with not only the arguments brought to bear upon current circumstances but also with the continuity and evolution of public and private arguments over telecommunications policy. These interests are the beginning of a project.

My future research will continue the study of rhetorical practices of public memory and their mediation through communicative technology. How a past is called forth, disseminated and experienced is but one of the many questions new technologies pose to the traditional role of rhetoric as a practice which shapes public action. The serialized experience of listening to the radio that provided the means for forming a sense of national community in the 1930s offers a model for this kind of research.

My current project studies FDR's Fireside Chats, uncovering the use of public memory to forge and maintain a national community to confront the Depression and the War. The Fireside Chats demonstrate the use of communicative technology for the creation of public consensus and community. The study is significant because it illuminates the rhetorical practices that forged a grammar of public argument at an historical moment when national community was at first a real possibility.

Annis Golden

My research focuses on how individuals negotiate their relationships with organizations, including both employee-employer relationships, and healthcare consumer-healthcare provider relationships. I am particularly interested in how these processes are shaped by new information and communication technologies.
 

Overcoming Barriers to African American Women’s Reproductive Healthcare Seeking

African American women suffer significant disparities in disease incidence and health outcomes in relation to reproductive health, including HIV/AIDS, STIs, breast and cervical cancer. Small towns and cities, home to increasing numbers of African American women, present unique contextual challenges for reproductive health promotion: limited numbers of reproductive healthcare providers, difficulty in traveling to and from providers’ locations, and privacy concerns, in addition to lack of knowledge about preventive reproductive healthcare, and fear of discovering a health problem, which are faced by low income African American women more generally. This study will evaluate the impact of community-based education and transportation interventions on healthcare seeking, with the goal of identifying effective health promotion strategies that can be reproduced in similar settings and improving women’s health.
 

Communication Among Healthcare Providers and Families of Individuals with Traumatic Brain Injuries in a Rehabilitation Setting

The project’s goal is to arrive at a better understanding of the range of problems that staff and families encounter in their interactions, and to identify interactional resources that might be useful in resolving them. The study will combine analysis of conversational interactions between staff and families with analysis of follow-up interviews.

Teresa M. Harrison

Communication Technologies and Democracy

My research and teaching interests focus on communication and technology, with a special emphasis on the relationship between new communication technologies and democratic processes and practices. For the last several years I have been involved in organizing several small conferences bringing together scholars sharing technology and democracy, understood from a variety of perspectives. 
 

Development of Community Information Systems

I am engaged in the design and development of a community information system in a project funded by the National Science Foundation, with Jim Zappen of the Department of Language, Literature, & Communication and Sibel Adali of the Computer Science Department, both at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. This interdisciplinary team is working with approximately 20 government and not-for-profit community organizations to design and develop a community information system devoted to services and resources for youth and to study its diffusion over time. We are addressing a variety of research questions focusing on the organizational and community considerations that are brought to bear in the development and evaluation of a community information system. Our research works with a numerous constituencies in the local community, including (a) representatives of government and not-for-profit organizations providing programs and resources for youth, (b) kids between the ages of 5 and 18, and (c) parents and other social support personnel, to explore how these diverse community actors view the uses and purposes of a community information system and what information needs and functionalities they would find useful in designing and developing this system. We will also soon be interested in exploring the factors associated with the adoption and use of such a system. 
 

Participatory Design in Software Development

Zappan, Adali, and I are also creating a model of processes and practices of participatory design in software system development. Our research is one of few projects that employs participatory design as a strategy for the development of a community information system. In doing so, we take seriously the challenge of determining what community actors want to do with community information. In order to address this issue, we are asking (a) what processes and practices can we use to determine users’ intentions and uses for community information systems, especially in communities of diverse and potentially competing interests and (b) how can we incorporate these interests into a system design that is necessarily complex and multipurpose rather than standardized and single-purpose?
 

Development of an Action Research Agenda

Zappan, Adali, and I are developing a model of specific steps and considerations in the development of an action research agenda in digital government projects. Increasingly, social scientists are working with computer scientists to develop software systems that constitute interventions in the social, cultural, political, and organizational dimensions of community life. Such interventions constitute new ways of information sharing, deliberation over policy options, collaboration on joint projects, or other aspects of governance. However, very little is known about how such interventions are designed, implemented, and sustained over time. We are attempting to consider this question somewhat systematically in reflecting on how our project has developed and the resources, commitments, and support required for sustainability beyond the period of our project’s funding.
 

Electronic Journal of Communication

I am currently editing one of the world’s first peer reviewed electronic scholarly journals, the Electronic Journal of Communication/La revue electronique de communication which is published by the Communication Institute for Online Scholarship. The table of contents for the journal can be perused at http://www.cios.org/www/ejcrec2.htm

Political Communication
Teresa M. Harrison

Communication Technologies and Democracy

My research and teaching interests focus on communication and technology, with a special emphasis on the relationship between new communication technologies and democratic processes and practices. For the last several years I have been involved in organizing several small conferences bringing together scholars sharing technology and democracy, understood from a variety of perspectives. 
 

Development of Community Information Systems

I am engaged in the design and development of a community information system in a project funded by the National Science Foundation, with Jim Zappen of the Department of Language, Literature, & Communication and Sibel Adali of the Computer Science Department, both at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. This interdisciplinary team is working with approximately 20 government and not-for-profit community organizations to design and develop a community information system devoted to services and resources for youth and to study its diffusion over time. We are addressing a variety of research questions focusing on the organizational and community considerations that are brought to bear in the development and evaluation of a community information system. Our research works with a numerous constituencies in the local community, including (a) representatives of government and not-for-profit organizations providing programs and resources for youth, (b) kids between the ages of 5 and 18, and (c) parents and other social support personnel, to explore how these diverse community actors view the uses and purposes of a community information system and what information needs and functionalities they would find useful in designing and developing this system. We will also soon be interested in exploring the factors associated with the adoption and use of such a system. 

 

Participatory Design in Software Development

Zappan, Adali, and I are also creating a model of processes and practices of participatory design in software system development. Our research is one of few projects that employs participatory design as a strategy for the development of a community information system. In doing so, we take seriously the challenge of determining what community actors want to do with community information. In order to address this issue, we are asking (a) what processes and practices can we use to determine users’ intentions and uses for community information systems, especially in communities of diverse and potentially competing interests and (b) how can we incorporate these interests into a system design that is necessarily complex and multipurpose rather than standardized and single-purpose?
 

Development of an Action Research Agenda

Zappan, Adali, and I are developing a model of specific steps and considerations in the development of an action research agenda in digital government projects. Increasingly, social scientists are working with computer scientists to develop software systems that constitute interventions in the social, cultural, political, and organizational dimensions of community life. Such interventions constitute new ways of information sharing, deliberation over policy options, collaboration on joint projects, or other aspects of governance. However, very little is known about how such interventions are designed, implemented, and sustained over time. We are attempting to consider this question somewhat systematically in reflecting on how our project has developed and the resources, commitments, and support required for sustainability beyond the period of our project’s funding.
 

Electronic Journal of Communication

I am currently editing one of the world’s first peer reviewed electronic scholarly journals, the Electronic Journal of Communication/La revue electronique de communication which is published by the Communication Institute for Online Scholarship. The table of contents for the journal can be perused at http://www.cios.org/www/ejcrec2.htm

Communication and Technology
Annis Golden

My research focuses on how individuals negotiate their relationships with organizations, including both employee-employer relationships, and healthcare consumer-healthcare provider relationships. I am particularly interested in how these processes are shaped by new information and communication technologies.
 

Overcoming Barriers to African American Women’s Reproductive Healthcare Seeking

African American women suffer significant disparities in disease incidence and health outcomes in relation to reproductive health, including HIV/AIDS, STIs, breast and cervical cancer. Small towns and cities, home to increasing numbers of African American women, present unique contextual challenges for reproductive health promotion: limited numbers of reproductive healthcare providers, difficulty in traveling to and from providers’ locations, and privacy concerns, in addition to lack of knowledge about preventive reproductive healthcare, and fear of discovering a health problem, which are faced by low income African American women more generally. This study will evaluate the impact of community-based education and transportation interventions on healthcare seeking, with the goal of identifying effective health promotion strategies that can be reproduced in similar settings and improving women’s health.
 

Communication Among Healthcare Providers and Families of Individuals with Traumatic Brain Injuries in a Rehabilitation Setting

The project’s goal is to arrive at a better understanding of the range of problems that staff and families encounter in their interactions, and to identify interactional resources that might be useful in resolving them. The study will combine analysis of conversational interactions between staff and families with analysis of follow-up interviews.

Teresa M. Harrison

Communication Technologies and Democracy

My research and teaching interests focus on communication and technology, with a special emphasis on the relationship between new communication technologies and democratic processes and practices. For the last several years I have been involved in organizing several small conferences bringing together scholars sharing technology and democracy, understood from a variety of perspectives. 
 

Development of Community Information Systems

I am engaged in the design and development of a community information system in a project funded by the National Science Foundation, with Jim Zappen of the Department of Language, Literature, & Communication and Sibel Adali of the Computer Science Department, both at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. This interdisciplinary team is working with approximately 20 government and not-for-profit community organizations to design and develop a community information system devoted to services and resources for youth and to study its diffusion over time. We are addressing a variety of research questions focusing on the organizational and community considerations that are brought to bear in the development and evaluation of a community information system. Our research works with a numerous constituencies in the local community, including (a) representatives of government and not-for-profit organizations providing programs and resources for youth, (b) kids between the ages of 5 and 18, and (c) parents and other social support personnel, to explore how these diverse community actors view the uses and purposes of a community information system and what information needs and functionalities they would find useful in designing and developing this system. We will also soon be interested in exploring the factors associated with the adoption and use of such a system. 
 

Participatory Design in Software Development

Zappan, Adali, and I are also creating a model of processes and practices of participatory design in software system development. Our research is one of few projects that employs participatory design as a strategy for the development of a community information system. In doing so, we take seriously the challenge of determining what community actors want to do with community information. In order to address this issue, we are asking (a) what processes and practices can we use to determine users’ intentions and uses for community information systems, especially in communities of diverse and potentially competing interests and (b) how can we incorporate these interests into a system design that is necessarily complex and multipurpose rather than standardized and single-purpose?
 

Development of an Action Research Agenda

Zappan, Adali, and I are developing a model of specific steps and considerations in the development of an action research agenda in digital government projects. Increasingly, social scientists are working with computer scientists to develop software systems that constitute interventions in the social, cultural, political, and organizational dimensions of community life. Such interventions constitute new ways of information sharing, deliberation over policy options, collaboration on joint projects, or other aspects of governance. However, very little is known about how such interventions are designed, implemented, and sustained over time. We are attempting to consider this question somewhat systematically in reflecting on how our project has developed and the resources, commitments, and support required for sustainability beyond the period of our project’s funding.
 

Electronic Journal of Communication

I am currently editing one of the world’s first peer reviewed electronic scholarly journals, the Electronic Journal of Communication/La revue electronique de communication which is published by the Communication Institute for Online Scholarship. The table of contents for the journal can be perused at http://www.cios.org/www/ejcrec2.htm

Tim Stephen

Communication Institute for Online Scholarship (CIOS)

I am involved in the design and construction of information dissemination, analysis, and retrieval systems for scholarly research and education and in researching and building typological systems necessary for such information technologies to be effective.

With Teresa Harrison, I created the Comserve project, which has since grown into the Communication Institute for Online Scholarship (CIOS), an independent, Web-based not-for-profit scholarly association facilitating the use of information technologies in the service of communication education and research (see http://www.cios.org/). The scope of this project has expanded dramatically from a first-of-kind innovation in the use of IT to enhance an academic discipline’s scholarly communication to become a resource incorporated into the day-to-day process of inquiry and education at institutions throughout the field. The Comserve project was among the first efforts to create a set of online electronic services through which scholars could share resources for education and research, and it did so nearly 10 years before the World Wide Web.

I am the designer, editor, and principal author of an extensive suite of database and other software systems comprising the CIOS. These include: (1) the ComIndex database which indexes scholarship published in nearly 100 communication journals between the years 1970 - 2003 (in total more than 40,000 articles); (2) the ComAbstracts database, a full text database of article abstracts encompassing 65 journals between approximately 1960-2003 (in total more than 17,000 article abstracts); (3) The ComWeb archive indexing 80,000 web pages from 450 academic web sites in communication; (4) the full text of more than a ten year run of ten of the field’s professional journals.
 

Concept Analysis of the Field’s Scholarly Literature

My CIOS work has produced several important resource collections that have created an unusually rich research opportunity to study the evolution and interdependence of concepts in the communication field. Accordingly, I am now undertaking scientometric concept map analyses of the interrelationships among pivotal theoretical ideas extracted through statistical/linguistic analysis of the literature of the communication discipline gathered in CIOS databases. The project uses a suite of original software programs I’ve authored that parse the titles of the data records from the ComIndex database. The resulting dataset of approximately 200,000 unique words is sifted to eliminate junk terms (“and”, “but”, “anyway”, “those”, “who”, and many more) and to isolate core concepts, and normalized by converting British to U.S. spelling. My procedure then reduces the resulting set of normalized core concepts to their linguistic root forms. As well, the procedure lumps synonymous concepts (television, TV, tube), recognizes phrases of disciplinary relevance as singular concepts (e.g., “third person effect”, “spiral of silence”, “genre theory”, “social movements theory”, etc.) and appropriately splits divergent concepts that happen to have common linguistic roots (organic and organization).

I have been conducting statistical studies of the frequencies of co-occurrence within the resulting set of root key concepts and developing software systems that allow live exploration of the strength of these relationships (e.g., “gender” and “talk” co-occur with a particular frequency, “rhetoric” and “argument” co-occur with a particular frequency, etc.). I have also created a mapping process in which concepts are related to each other in a graphical display where distance indicates degree of relationship.


As the field approaches a future in which access to our literature becomes exclusively electronic, my work is discovering trends and regularities that will serve as the foundation for designing interfaces based on keywords and co-occurrence that will enable future generations of scholars and students to recover primary and associated texts, to explore and contact the often otherwise invisible networks of scholars who have contributed to theoretical and applied work in the field, and to view documents within the context of other contextualizing resources (web presentations, electronic discussions) that may help to situate them more precisely within the field’s system of knowledge.

This work, constituting a kind of theoretical data mining, has the potential to serve as a test-bed for examining hypotheses about conditions under which theoretical ideas rise and fall within the literature of our discipline. Further, it will be possible to construct in software an entirely new kind of educational experience for students of communication, a kind of virtual reality exploratorium of this mapped network of concepts, allowing students of communication to view and experience viscerally through the deployment of a 3D interface, the strength of interrelationship these concepts have acquired in the accumulated experience of the field.

Health Communication
Annis Golden

My research focuses on how individuals negotiate their relationships with organizations, including both employee-employer relationships, and healthcare consumer-healthcare provider relationships. I am particularly interested in how these processes are shaped by new information and communication technologies.
 

Overcoming Barriers to African American Women’s Reproductive Healthcare Seeking

African American women suffer significant disparities in disease incidence and health outcomes in relation to reproductive health, including HIV/AIDS, STIs, breast and cervical cancer. Small towns and cities, home to increasing numbers of African American women, present unique contextual challenges for reproductive health promotion: limited numbers of reproductive healthcare providers, difficulty in traveling to and from providers’ locations, and privacy concerns, in addition to lack of knowledge about preventive reproductive healthcare, and fear of discovering a health problem, which are faced by low income African American women more generally. This study will evaluate the impact of community-based education and transportation interventions on healthcare seeking, with the goal of identifying effective health promotion strategies that can be reproduced in similar settings and improving women’s health.
 

Communication Among Healthcare Providers and Families of Individuals with Traumatic Brain Injuries in a Rehabilitation Setting

The project’s goal is to arrive at a better understanding of the range of problems that staff and families encounter in their interactions, and to identify interactional resources that might be useful in resolving them. The study will combine analysis of conversational interactions between staff and families with analysis of follow-up interviews.

Anita Pomerantz

Taking Issue

(Anita Pomerantz and Robert E. Sanders)

We are engaged in a collaborative research on the processes of deliberation. While we initially thought the framework of disagreement would be suitable for our study, we found that discussants engaged in a more complex activity than simply expressing disagreements. Our data consist of a jury deliberation in the death penalty phase of a murder trial that was recorded and transcribed by ABC news for a documentary series aired in 2004.  Our paper will be presented at The 2nd Meeting of the Language and Social Interaction Working Group (LANSI) at the Teachers College, Columbia University, in September 2012.
 

Native/non-native interaction

Istvan Kesckes, Robert E. Sanders, and Anita Pomerantz)

It is a commonplace in studies of interactions between non-native and native speakers to regard the non-native as the main source of understanding troubles, and as dependent on the native speaker for help in remedying them.  However, we are finding, to the contrary, that in interactions where the parties simply exchange ideas on a topic, NNSs are proactive about heading off possible understanding troubles, and, when they do occur, detect and undertake to remedy them. Indeed, it seems that it is NSs that sometimes produce understanding troubles in those interactions by interfering with the NNS’s turns at speaking, possibly because they have the stereotype of NNSs as disadvanged and in need of the NS’s help.  In this study, we examine naturally occurring interactions between moderately fluent NNS and NS. 
 

‘Not wanting to know’ as an account

(Annis Golden and Anita Pomerantz)

This project is based on a larger project funded by the NIH whose purpose is to identify effective community-based strategies for encouraging low income, African American women in a smaller urban setting to seek regular reproductive/sexual healthcare services. Drawing on interview data, we identified one prevalent account for their not seeking health screenings: “They/I don’t want to know.” We are analyzing the discourse used in articulating the account as well as the surrounding discourse as revealing interpretative repertoires of the women in the community.

Mass Communication
Michael Barberich

FDR's Fireside Chats

Broadly stated, my research interests are with public discourse, mass media and public policy. I have been concerned with identifying grammars of arguments that supported national policy initiatives and a national definition of the public interest in the United States during the first half of the twentieth century. Because these discourses were disseminated through emerging electronic media technologies, this historical and textual analysis includes an interest in the political function and uses of mass media as well as the invention of public policy and regulation for electronic media.

Although my work has centered on political discourse, through the process of incorporating these interests into my classes, I came to realize that similar frameworks for media use and public discourse were being used by corporate America. I have become interested in corporate uses of public discourse and media to define or influence public policy as well as manage their public image. There are numerous examples in many areas of public concern; however, the confused appropriation of public and private interests in current telecommunications policy has led to fractured and ineffective outcomes. My interests lie with not only the arguments brought to bear upon current circumstances but also with the continuity and evolution of public and private arguments over telecommunications policy. These interests are the beginning of a project.

My future research will continue the study of rhetorical practices of public memory and their mediation through communicative technology. How a past is called forth, disseminated and experienced is but one of the many questions new technologies pose to the traditional role of rhetoric as a practice which shapes public action. The serialized experience of listening to the radio that provided the means for forming a sense of national community in the 1930s offers a model for this kind of research.

My current project studies FDR's Fireside Chats, uncovering the use of public memory to forge and maintain a national community to confront the Depression and the War. The Fireside Chats demonstrate the use of communicative technology for the creation of public consensus and community. The study is significant because it illuminates the rhetorical practices that forged a grammar of public argument at an historical moment when national community was at first a real possibility.

William Husson

My research interests fall within the area of visual communication. One project I am currently working on involves exploring Erving Goffman's ideas about the use of interaction displays in advertising photographs. I am critically evaluating how such displays communicate information about the relationship between the social actors depicted in these photographs. I am also working on two projects related to film. In one project, I am examining the relationship between face work and interpersonal conflict as these phenomena are depicted in a documentary film by Frederick Wiseman. In another project, I am investigating narrative reflexivity (i.e., a film's calling attention to the fact that it is telling a story) in movie westerns and crime films. I am specifically interested in how narrative reflexitivity is used to render moral judgments about gun violence in these genres.

Nancy L. Roberts

Research Interests

  • Communication and journalism history, especially the history of alternative periodicals.
  • Literary aspects of journalism.
  • Magazine writing and editing.