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Rhetoric, Culture, Engagement

  • Portrait of E Cram.

    E. Cram

    Assistant Professor

    E Cram earned a PhD in Communication and Culture at Indiana University in 2015, with concentrations in Cultural Studies, Gender Studies, and Rhetoric and Public Culture. Dr. Cram’s scholarship examines intersections between queer and trans studies and the environmental humanities—exploring cultural geographies of gender, sexuality, violence, (dis)ability, and health/wellness. Their current book project, Violent Inheritance: Land, Sexuality, and the Making of the North American West (under contract with the University of California Press) examines the convergence between histories of sexuality, land use, violence and environmental memory. Their essays have appeared in The Quarterly Journal of Speech, Philosophy and Rhetoric, Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies, Women’s Studies in Communication, among others, in addition to Queering the Countryside: New Directions in Rural Queer Studies (New York University Press, 2016). Dr. Cram is the 2014 recipient of the Stephen Lucas Debut Publication Award from the National Communication Association.

    In the department, Dr. Cram teaches undergraduate courses and graduate seminars in: gender, sexuality, and space; movements, protest, and resistance; rhetoric and the body; queer geographies; place, power, and public culture.

  • NFO Headshot

    Natalie Fixmer-Oraiz

    Assistant Professor

    Natalie Fixmer-Oraiz joined the faculty after completing her Ph.D. in Communication Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2012 with a Graduate Certificate in Women’s Studies from Duke University. 

    Natalie’s first book project, Homeland Maternity: US Security Culture and the New Reproductive Regime (University of Illinois Press, 2019), traces discursive alignments between motherhood and nation in homeland security culture. Taking a range of cultural sites and practices into account, she examines the recent history of US reproductive politics and the rhetorical challenges facing advocates for reproductive justice. She has published articles on rhetoric and reproduction, the commercial surrogacy industry, and third-wave feminism, as well as book chapters on the public debates surrounding birth control and communication activism pedagogy. Her research appears in journals and edited volumes, including Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies, Women’s Studies in Communication, and Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies. She serves on the editorial board of Quarterly Journal of Speech and Women’s Studies in Communication and is the co-author of the textbook Gendered Lives: Communication, Gender, and Culture with Julia T. Wood. 

    Natalie teaches courses in rhetorical theory and criticism, gender and sexuality studies, social movements and feminisms. She encourages connections between theory and practice, the community and the classroom, through service-learning and experiential education, and is involved in various community-based reproductive justice initiatives.

  • Jiyeon Kang

    Jiyeon Kang

    Associate Professor

    Jiyeon Kang’s academic interests include online activism, youth culture, vernacular rhetoric, and globalization.

    Her research focuses on conceptualizing the democratic potential of the Internet, with a specific interest in the communicative dynamics and cultural norms that have emerged in the contexts of youth-driven social movements and online communities. Her forthcoming book Igniting the Internet: Youth and Activism in Postauthoritarian South Korea examines a decade of Internet activism in South Korea by combining rhetorical analysis of online communities with ethnographic interviews. The book attends to the political significance of the Internet as not only an extension of existing politics but also a new social space in which the circulation of multisensory texts invites users to act upon their previously unarticulated yet shared desires and grievances. It also draws attention to long-term changes in political sensibilities even after the period of activism has passed. She has additionally published articles on vernacular discourse on the web, collective agency, unintended political effects, and memories of Internet-born activism.

    Kang’s upcoming projects explore “new civilities” on the Internet, referring not simply to politeness but to the transforming social and ethical norms of coexistence. Her article-length project examines how a marginalized group maintains its distinct style in the digital environment, resisting attempts to dismiss it as emotional, rude, or disrespectful. She is concurrently working on a collaborative book-length project with Nancy Abelmann and Xia Zhang on the novel and varied civilities at play in the online communities of international undergraduate students in the U.S., China, and South Korea.

  • Portrait of Darrel Wanzer-Serrano.

    Darrel Wanzer-Serrano

    Associate Professor

    My academic interests are focused on the relationships between race, political possibilities, and rhetoric in the United States. I am deeply interested in the way that theories of race and problematics of difference can and do inform our conceptualizations of public culture. I have particular interests and expertise in Latina/o/x studies and the coloniality of knowledge/power/being. My scholarship complicates (modern/Western) rhetorical theory by putting it into conversation with critical race and decolonial theory in a manner that makes local knowledges and communication practices intelligible, and advances more inclusive theorizing in the discipline. My work has appeared in the Quarterly Journal of Speech, Communication Theory, Environmental Communication, Communication, Culture, & Critique, Rhetoric and Public Affairs, and my pioneering book The Young Lords: A Reader (New York University Press, 2010).

    My most recent book, The New York Young Lords and the Struggle for Liberation (Temple University Press, 2015), has received numerous accolades, including the 2017 Book of the Year Award from the National Communication Association's Critical/Cultural Studies Division. The Young Lords were a revolutionary, multi-ethnic, grassroots political organization comprised of young men and women throughout New York City and included branches across the country and Puerto Rico. In the book, I treat the Young Lords as a critical and representative example of decolonial or anti-systemic social movement struggling against modern/coloniality. What makes the Young Lords particularly interesting is the way in which they advanced their agenda through a political style that operated functionally at the intersections of competing socio-rhetorical traditions and through various discourses including speech, poetry, images, and embodied performance. Their critical geo-/body politics targeted the intersectionality of oppression along gendered-raced-classed axes from the late 1960s until the mid 1970s. Beyond an analysis of the Young Lords, I also make the case for rethinking rhetorical criticism as decolonial practice.

    Most recently I have begun work on my next book project, which I am tentatively calling Possession: Crafting Americanity in Congressional Debates over Puerto Rico’s Status. Where my Young Lords project was focused on the ways in which people challenge coloniality, this new project is concerned with the ways in which coloniality (a) manifests itself in political discourse about Puerto Rico and (b) is in some ways central to the US American national imaginary. While other scholars have done exemplary work examining the implications of key pieces of Congressional legislation, Supreme Court decisions, and Executive branch decision-making for the island of Puerto Rico, little work has flipped the lens around to engage in detailed analysis of the legislative (rhetorical) history that undergirds one of the few remaining colonial relationships in our contemporary world. Instead of asking (as many existing studies do) What does this legislation mean for Puerto Rico? I ask, What do the debates over this legislation mean for the United States? Drawing connections between the logics of possession, master morality, and the rhetoric of modernity, I also hope to build upon Aníbal Quijano and Emmanuel Wallerstein’s “Concept of Americanity” to develop a sense for how the rhetoric of Americanity is structured in the United States post-1898.

    More about my research, teaching, and topics I find important can be found on my personal website at:


Media History and Culture

  • Portrait of Tim Havens.

    Tim Havens

    Professor and Department Chair

    Tim’s research and teaching interests include television studies; media globalization; race, ethnicity, and media; and critical analysis of media industries. He is the author of Black Television Travels: African American Media Around the Globe (NYU Press, 2013) and Global Television Marketplace (BFI Publishing, 2006); the co-author with Amanda D. Lotz of Understanding Media Industries (Oxford University Press, 2011, 2016); and co-editor with Aniko Imre and Katalin Lustyik of Popular Television in Eastern Europe Before and Since Socialism (Routledge, 2012). He is a former Fulbright Scholar to Hungary.

  • Joy Hayes

    Joy Elizabeth Hayes

    Associate Professor

    Joy’s research and teaching interests include radio studies; media history; Latin American media; media theory; race, ethnicity and media; and Latin American Studies.  She is co-author/editor of War of the Worlds to Social Media: Mediated Communication in Times of Crisis (2013, Peter Lang); author of Radio Nation: Communication, Popular Culture and Nationalism in Mexico, 1920-1950 (2000, University of Arizona Press); and a former Fulbright Scholar to Mexico.  Her scholarship has also appeared in The Radio Journal, The Journal of Radio and Audio Media, Diálogos de la comunicación, and Cinema Journal.  Her current US research examines the legacies of New Deal government broadcasting and explores the construction of “radio bodies” in broadcasting from the 1930s-2000s.  Her research on Mexico investigates community broadcasting and translocalism.

  • Portrait of Alfred Martin.

    Alfred Martin

    Assistant Professor

    Alfred L. Martin Jr. is a media and cultural studies scholar whose work is concerned with the complex interplay between media industry studies and audience/fandom studies as related to television and film studies, critical black studies, sexuality and gender studies.

    Martin's book, The Generic Closet: Black Gayness and the Black-Cast Sitcom (Indiana University Press, 2021) argues that the black-cast sitcom is an explicit genre, and therefore its engagement with black gayness does not resemble any other contemporary genre. By examining audience reception, industrial production practices, and authorship, the project argues that representations of black gay characters are trapped into particular narrative tropes.

    Martin has published articles in scholarly journals including International Journal of Cultural Studies, Journal of Cinema and Media Studies, Communication, Culture & Critique, Feminist Media Studies, Popular Communication, and Television and New Media. Martin is currently a Board Member At-Large for the Society for Cinema and Media Studies and serves on the editorial boards of Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies and Queer Studies in Media and Popular Culture.

    Martin is currently working on a book about blackness and fandom studies and a co-authored monograph on the documentary Tongues Untied (under contract with McGill-Queen’s University Press).

  • Kembrew McLeod

    Kembrew McLeod

    Professor, Director of Graduate Studies

    Kembrew McLeod is a Professor of Communication Studies at the University of Iowa and an independent documentary producer. A prolific author and filmmaker, he has written and produced several books and documentaries that focus on popular music, independent media and copyright law. He co-produced the documentary Copyright Criminals, which premiered at the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival and aired in 2010 on PBS’s Emmy Award-winning documentary series, Independent Lens. His first documentary, Money For Nothing, was programmed at the 2002 South by Southwest Film Festival and the 2002 New England Film and Video Festival, where it received the Rosa Luxemburg Award for Social Consciousness. McLeod’s second documentary, Freedom of Expression®: Resistance and Repression in the Age of Intellectual Property, was distributed by the Media Education Foundation—where he also worked as an educational documentary producer. Freedom of Expression® serves as a companion to his book of the same name, which won the American Library Association’s Oboler book award for “best scholarship in the area of intellectual freedom” in 2006. Most recently, McLeod co-authored the book Creative License: The Law and Culture of Digital Sampling and the anthology Cutting Across Media: Appropriation Art, Interventionist Collage and Copyright Law, both published by Duke University Press in 2011. His fifth book, Pranksters: Making Mischief in the Modern World, will be published by New York University Press on April 1, 2013. McLeod’s music and cultural criticism have appeared in Rolling Stone, SPIN, MOJO, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Village Voice, and The New Rolling Stone Album Guide.

  • Portrait of Jenna Supp-Montgomerie.

    Jenna Supp-Montgomerie

    Assistant Professor

    Jenna Supp-Montgomerie earned a Ph.D. in religious studies with a certificate in cultural studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She holds a joint appointment in Religious Studies and Communication Studies at the University of Iowa. Her research examines the relationships of religion, media, and infrastructure.

    Jenna’s work focuses on entangled relationships of religion and infrastructure in everyday life, particularly as we negotiate technological change. Her first book, When the Medium Was the Mission: The Atlantic Telegraph and the Religious Origins of Network Culture (forthcoming, NYU Press) traces the shaping influence of religion—particularly American Protestantism—on network culture through the story of the 1858 Atlantic Telegraph Cable. In a wide range of activities, from global mission to American public speech to utopian experiments in communal living, religion forged an imaginary of networks as connective, so much so that connection now serves as the primary element of definitions of networks. She has published essays and book chapters on religion and media, including “Planetary Subjects after the Death of Geography” in Planetary Loves: Gayatri Spivak, Postcoloniality, and Theology and “‘If Only You Could See What I’ve Seen Through Your Eyes’: Destabilized Spectatorship and Creation’s Chaos in Blade Runner” in CrossCurrents.

    Jenna teaches courses on critical theory, media history and theory, religion and cultural life, digital media, and American religious history.

    Selected Publications: 

    • When the Medium Was the Mission: The Atlantic Telegraph and the Religious Origins of Network Culture (forthcoming, NYU Press)
    • “Affect and the Study of Religion.” Religion Compass 9, no 10 (October 2015): 335-345.
    • “Planetary Subjects after the Death of Geography.” In Planetary Loves: Gayatri Spivak, Postcoloniality, and Theology, edited by Stephen Moore and Mayra Rivera, 149-167. New York: Fordham University Press, October 2010. (Published under Jenna Tiitsman)
    • “Teaching Religious Diversity and Conflict.” In Education, Innovation, and Discovery: The Distinctive Promise of the American Research University, edited by Wendy Katkin, 52-55. Coral Gables, Fl.: The Reinvention Center at the University of Miami, 2009. (Published under Jenna Tiitsman)
    • “‘If Only You Could See What I’ve Seen Through Your Eyes’: Destabilized Spectatorship and Creation’s Chaos in Blade Runner.” Cross Currents 54, no.1 (2004): 32-47. (Published under Jenna Tiitsman)

    Courses Taught: 

    • COMM/GWSS:6345 New Materialisms
    • RELS:2930 Digital Media and Religion
    • RELS:5400 Methods & Theories in Study of Religion
    • RELS:2080 Public Life in US Religion & Media

    Awards, Honors and Grants: 

    • Public Religion and Media Publics Working Group, Funded by the Henry Luce Foundation, 2017-Present
    • Innvations in Teaching with Technology Award, University of Iowa Academic Technologies Advisory Council, 2019
    • Caroline H. and Thomas S. Royster Fellowship, UNC-Chapel Hill, 2007-2012.
    • Distinguished Teaching Award, Royster Society of Fellows, UNC-Chapel Hill, November 2011.
    • Co-Chair, Religion, Media and Culture Group of the American Academy of Religion, 2009-present.
    • Co-Chair and Co-Presider, Religion and Media Workshop, AAR Pre-Conference, Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Religion, 2008-2014.

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  • Rita Zajacz

    Rita Zajacz

    Associate Professor

    Rita seeks to understand the challenges and opportunities available to states as they seek control over the global communications infrastructure. She is interested in the application of enduring legal and geopolitical thinking to new technologies. Her historical book project analyzes the transition from British to American world leadership in global communications by defining “network control” and applying the concept to the early point-to-point radio network. Reluctant power: networks, corporations and the struggle for global governance in the early 20th century has been accepted for publication at MIT Press. Her new project examines the origins and contemporary manifestations of anonymity online. Rita serves on the editorial board of The Information Society and her research has appeared in the following journals: Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media, International Communication Gazette, Media, Culture and Society and The Information Society. On the undergraduate level, she teaches Media and Society, Global Media Studies and Communication, Technology and National Security. Courses on the graduate level include Internet Policy and Internet Histories.


    Recent publications:  Silk Road: the market beyond the reach of the state. Information Society (2017) 33(1): 23-34.​

    WikiLeaks and the problem of anonymity: a network control perspective. Media, Culture and Society (2013) 35(4): 487-503.

    Reluctant power: networks, corporations and the struggle for global governance in the early 20th century

    Reluctant Power Rita Zajacz cover

    In Reluctant Power, Rita Zajácz examines how early twentieth century American policymakers sought to gain control over radiotelegraphy networks in an effort to advance the global position of the United States. Doing so, she develops an analytical framework for understanding the struggle for network control that can be applied not only to American attempts to establish a global radio network in the early twentieth century but also to current US efforts to retain control of the internet.

Interpersonal Communication and Relationships

  • Portrait of Kate Magsamen-Conrad.

    Kate Magsamen-Conrad

    Associate Professor

    Dr. Kate Magsamen-Conrad (PhD, Rutgers University, 2012) is an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication Studies at The University of Iowa.  Her scholarship is at the intersection of health and interpersonal communication, and it prioritizes partnerships with community groups to improve lives.  Her program of research draws on traditions in interpersonal and health/risk communication, relationships, and psychology, and relies on mixed methods to answer questions.  Among her community-engaged projects are a project funded by the Cancer Research UK to work with low-income urban mothers to improve physical activity, and an intergroup communication intervention that partners emerging, middle-aged, and older adults to improve the well-being of aging communities. Her research also examines how technology can be both a facilitator and barrier to health management, and many projects utilize technology in the intervention process.

  • McLaren 18

    Rachel McLaren

    Associate Professor, Director of Undergraduate Studies

    Dr. Rachel McLaren studies interpersonal communication, social cognition, and hurtful messages. Her research seeks to clarify the interplay of communication, cognition, and emotion in response to significant experiences, such as hurtful interactions, within personal relationships. She also examines how relationship and situational characteristics influence people’s ability to process relational messages. Her recent work focuses on how relational turbulence influences a couple’s ability to coordinate relational inferences about past hurtful events. Her other interests include examining how interactions within close relationships affect people’s global conceptions of the relationship and, in turn, how those conceptions influence their experiences of particular communication events. Dr. McLaren teaches courses on the dark side of communication and relationships as well as communication and conflict.

  • Portrait of Sylvia Mikucki-Enyart.

    Sylvia Mikucki-Enyart

    Assistant Professor

    Dr. Sylvia L. Mikucki-Enyart studies interpersonal and family communication. Broadly, her work examines how relational partners and families communicate during times of transition—both normative (e.g., transition to in-law bonds) and non-normative (e.g., late-life parental divorce and stepfamily formation). More specifically, Dr. Mikucki-Enyart’s work examines how experiences of relational uncertainty influence interaction goals (one’s own and perceptions of others), which in turn shape message production and message processing as well as relational perceptions. Her current research examines (a) uncertainty/information management, including message features that are associated with successful uncertainty management and positive relational outcomes, and (b) the “bright” side of family bonds during periods of upheaval.