2017 Samuel L. Becker Memorial Conference

Sam Becker, black and white

"Interesting questions are the lifeblood of any field. In our case, they must be questions that make a difference, that puzzle and stimulate, and that give some intellectual coherence to this field of communication studies."
—Sam Becker, 1984

Interesting Questions: Movements and Networks

Saturday, October 21, 2017
8:30 a.m.—4:00 p.m.; reception to follow
Old Capitol Museum Senate Chamber on the University of Iowa campus
Iowa City, Iowa

This conference honors the life and work of Samuel L. Becker (1923–2012), noted communication scholar and Distinguished Professor Emeritus of the University of Iowa Department of Communication Studies. In his 1984 keynote address to the Central States Speech Association, Sam took up the theme of "interesting questions" to argue for more sustained intradisciplinary conversations among communication studies scholars, which will better enable them to address critical issues in our time. In that spirit, we've assembled a day of speakers to address the themes of bodies and technologies, which are issues that Sam addressed in his own work, are of central concern to communication studies, and represent thematic areas of inquiry in our own Department.

The University of Iowa 2017 Samuel L. Becker Memorial Conference, Bodies and Technologies, features prominent scholars Lisa Flores, Lori Kido Lopez, and Rachel Smith. The conference will explore the ways that movements and networks—broadly conceived—challenge our thinking about social influence, political resistance, borders and belonging, and modes of community and citizenship. Movements and Networks considers a range of contemporary and historical cultural phenomena for its communicative import, raising new questions about what communication is and how it shapes our world.   

The 2017 Samuel L. Becker Memorial Conference is free; advance registration is required and available here.


  • Lisa Flores

    Lisa Flores, University of Colorado Boulder

    Lisa Flores is Associate Professor of rhetoric and culture in the Department of Communication at the University of Colorado Boulder. Her research and teaching are guided by her belief that public discourse is a central site through which citizens come to occupy the worlds we envision. Her research and teaching interests lie in rhetoric, critical race studies, and gender/queer studies. Her most recent work examines historic narratives of immigrants and immigration, mapping an argument of race making, particular at the intersections of nation, citizenship, and labor.

  • Lori Kido Lopez

    Lori Kido Lopez, University of Wisconsin-Madison

    Lori Kido Lopez is Assistant Professor of Media and Cultural Studies in the Communication Arts department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  She is also affiliate faculty in the Asian American Studies Program and the Department of Gender and Women’s Studies. Dr. Lopez is the author of Asian American Media Activism: Fighting for Cultural Citizenship with NYU Press and a co-editor of the Routledge Companion to Asian American Media with Vincent Pham.  Her work examines race and ethnicity in the media through a feminist/cultural studies lens.  She is particularly interested in examining the way that Asian Americans and other minority groups use media in the fight for social justice.  Her newest research examines Hmong Americans and the culturally specific ways that they are participating in the production and consumption of digital media, particularly considering the gendered dimensions of Hmong media cultures.

  • Rachel Smith

    Rachel Smith, Pennsylvania State University

    Rachel Smith is an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication Arts and Sciences at Penn State. She studies social influence through a scientific lens with quantitative methods. Her theoretical approach emphasizes the socially situated and embodied nature of communication and wellbeing, and she often uses quantitative methods that embrace interdependence (such as network analysis). She is particularly curious about messages that spread through social systems, such as the diffusion of health innovations and the creation of health stigmas.