News & Updates
Graduate Student Highlights Attending and Presenting at The Western States Communication Association Conference 2020Friday, May 29, 2020
I came in with nothing but the clothes on my back (and the clothes in my backpack). I left with something a bit less tangible and a lot more comforting. What that is I'm actually not sure, so please don't ask me to elaborate. I consider myself incredibly lucky - being a first-timer and a member of two panels (Futures of/in Performance Studies and the Embodied Performance Response) is something that I'll be eternally grateful for (shout out to Pablo Ramirez and Suzanne Pullen for the lob). I mean who wouldn't be, performing alongside such distinguished scholars pushing the activistic boundaries of Performance Studies? That said, my experience was not bereft of regret. See, mixed haphazardly between the dazzling chaos of poetry, analysis, and dialogue lay the appalling order of missed opportunities, awkward run-ins, and "sir, there's only 5 minutes left in the panel, please wrap it up." My time at WSCA, like my time in Communication, was/is like rooming with Failure and Success. You learn how to clean up after yourself and bask in the feeling of getting through it all. Now who says a learning experience can't be a win in and of itself? See y'all next year.
Presentation- Bartending: Space and Labor
Through the opportunity that was granted to me through the Provost Award, I was fortunate enough to go to WSCA and learn from my peers and mentors about our field and discipline. It is always exciting and enlightening to see the absolute best minds in Communication Studies, show up and present the newest research and theories. I was fortunate enough to be accepted to present some of my own work at this conference and the experience was one that has shaped the work I am doing and also the way I feel about myself and my peers. Through the work that inspires me I was able to make connections with other scholars in the field and I cannot wait to apply again and continue having a voice in these conversations that we are having as a discipline.
Western States Communication Association (WSCA) is a place to be recognized, appreciated, and inspired for contributions in communication studies research. I did not get an opportunity to present my work, but I attended WSCA for the first time to support my San Francisco State University colleagues. My goal was looking to create relationships with as many people and programs as I could. However, I felt it was going to be tough behind the pressure that the conference is a professional gathering. I am a firm believer that authenticity attracts authenticity; therefore, I wasn’t going to let my belief falter in the way I interacted. I strive for community above all else. Having an appreciation for the known and upcoming scholars, I soon felt WSCA was a space for community and a space for relationship building. Every person and panel I interacted with was full of warmth and motivation. I was privileged to be around scholars that shared the same enthusiasm and challenges for graduate school. All in all, the sense of community is the reason for my attendance at WSCA and I was greeted with much more than I expected. The people, the panels, and the sock hop created lasting memories. I thank everyone I got a chance to interact with because it was those interactions that made my weekend meaningful.
Presentation- Mapping Queer Game Studies: Where it Has Been and Where it Could Go
Attending WSCA this year was my first time attending, let alone presenting at, any academic conference ever and needless to say I was nervous. I was one of the few people presenting in my cohort and I was going first on Saturday, after traveling all day on Friday. Walking into the conference that day with Oliver had me incredibly nervous as I did not know what to expect. Once I took my seat at the table in the front my mind started to race as I continued to get more and more nervous. After what seemed like an eternity, I see my friends and colleagues start to fill into the crowd. In fact, all of my cohort who attended WSCA came out to support me as well as others I knew from SFSU such as Nikki, Pablo, Dr. Abdi, and Dr. Alaoui. I received various smiles and looks of encouragement as I prepared for my presentation. Their presence alone calmed me almost immediately and allowed me to deliver the best presentation I could muster. For that I am extremely grateful for all of the support that I received from my colleagues. This really set the tone for me the entire weekend as I not only attended various panels to support and learn about other’s projects within the department, but I also found the strength to meet and attend panels from scholars outside the department as well. I met various graduate students and professors who shared similar excitement as me in topics that I love. I was able to converse on various topics such as the politics of video games and have conversations with profound scholars such as Dr. LeMaster. It was a space that truly allowed me to explore the various sections of scholarship that I am not always able to fully dive into. Overall this experience is something that I will remember for a very long time and I am extremely grateful for the opportunity, thanks to the Provost Award, to not only attend but to be supported by those around me as well.
Though I had gone to a few conferences before, my time at WSCA was both unique and inspiring due to the amount of welcome, respect, and comradery I found in the panelists and people that invited me into their spaces as I took in what they had to share. I was able to enjoy quite a few panels where I was able to connect and hear the voices of others, who had similar experiences to me and could guide me through the ins and outs of academia and higher education. Some of the more impactful moments for me were the opportunities to hear from women I have, personally, looked up to (like Dr. Alaoui, Dr. Lawless, and Dr. Abdi) as well as learn from other people that I had not been able to work with closely but hope to in the future. From performance studies and their almost other-worldly spaces they are able to transform, to hearing about mentorship and dedication to pedagogy, you take in so much and try to find various communities that speak to you. Each conference is different, but I am excited to be able to continue them in the future.
This WSCA conference was my first experience attending a communication conference. Initially, I went to support my peers who were presenting and to attend a few panels in my spare time. I never expected to have an extreme emotional and existential experience while visiting. I was able to meet one of my favorite communication studies scholars, Benny R. LeMaster, from Arizona State University. Watching LeMaster perform was an inspiring experience that blurred the line between scholar and performer. They were freaking phenomenal! Later, Suzanne Pullen and others gave me the opportunity to be part of their performance studies panel. I worked with participants on how to agitate for justice through the act of button making, which sparked a realization within myself. An act I perceived to be so simple, in truth, was an empowering form of expression allowing others space and a place to make their own. I didn’t realize there were so many opportunities to be had at WSCA and look forward to attending next year.
To all faculty, staff, and students in Communication Studies:
Black Lives Matter
As the nation and world rise up in outrage and grief following the most recent state-sanctioned murders of black people in the US, we in the Department of Communication Studies at SF State join in solidarity with those protesting voices. Last week, graduate students in the department called on us to act in response to the systemic anti-blackness and racism. These students exemplify the leadership embodied by black youth and other communities of color in the current protest movements: they are righteously angry; they demand fundamental and lasting change. As a department that is sometimes a disciplinary leader, one that aims to—and struggles to more consistently—enact social justice, all of us, especially those of us with white privilege, need to do better in terms of directly addressing and resisting anti-blackness and supporting our students, faculty, and staff who are BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color). Inspired by and in solidarity with our students, we vow to align our departmental practices, curricula, and communication with our espoused values.
Communication Studies as a discipline has long been complicit in systemic anti-blackness, in, for example, its centering of white, U.S., and Eurocentric research, and its promotion of primarily white scholars for leadership positions. On social media platforms and in disciplinary conversations, faculty and graduate students who are BIPOC have been providing long lists of instances of micro and macro aggressions in their graduate programs, their departments, and their professional organizations (e.g., #CommunicationSoWhite).
Communication is constitutive—that is, communication does not just report or describe the world, it creates and recreates the world. When we say Black Lives Matter, we recreate the world in a small and profound way that gives the lie to so-called color blind constructions. However, individual acts of communication cannot stand alone—they must be part of ongoing, repeated acts in service of dismantling structures of white supremacy, anti-blackness, and racial injustice.
As our former and much missed colleague, Javon Johnson, reminds us:
. . .black people are a threat to safety simply because we are black, “and the resistance to enslavement,” or perhaps resistance in general “is the performative essence of blackness,” which, in a white supremacist, anti-black world, must be reined in. Hell, gay safe spaces, prison (not justice) systems, HIV/AIDS discourses, and this entire country were built on the logic that black bodies are inherently unsafe and must be reeled in. (p. 179)
Four hundred years of structural racism will not be swiftly dismantled. But its continued presence in our institutions is unconscionable and we must not delay in doing what is necessary. In the days ahead, we will work together as faculty, staff, and students in Communication Studies to plan and take action in multiple ways. We look forward to coming together in this undertaking.
Yours in Solidarity,
Amy and Karen
Johnson, J. (2015). Black joy in the time of Ferguson. QED: A Journal in GLBTQ Worldmaking, 2(2), 177-183.
Amy Kilgard, Ph.D. [she/her/hers OR they/them/theirs]
Professor and Chair, Department of Communication Studies
Founding Faculty Director, Center for Equity & Excellence in Teaching & Learning (CEETL)
Karen E. Lovaas, Ph.D. [she/her/hers]
Associate Professor and Associate Chair, Department of Communication Studies
Co-Coordinator, Global Peace, Human Rights, and Justice Studies Program
Thanks you the hard work of the Communication Studies Student Association and our very own Internship Director, Paloma Mathern, on May 27th we were proud to honor the graduating Comm majors of 2018-19. Photos of the event can be found here.
This year Samuel McCormick, Lean Wingard and Chritopher Koenig are all up for promotion.The Department of Communication Studies seeks letters from students describing their experience with Professor McCormick as a teacher, advisor, or mentor. Letters from students are a critical part of the university’s evaluation of faculty members. These letters are read carefully by the departmental review committee, the dean, the provost, and the president. Please be advised that Professor McCormick will have access to all letters submitted. The department has found that the most useful letters are those that provide details about and specific examples of the performance of the professor in question. Letters must be signed and dated in order to be considered as part of this process. Emails are acceptable provided that they are sent from an sfsu.edu address. More info can be found here (PDF)
Please address letters to:
Dr. Gerianne Merrigan, Chair
Retention, Promotion, and Tenure Committee
Department of Communication Studies
1600 Holloway Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94132
The San Francisco State University Forensics is excited to share with you the success of the 11th Annual Golden Gate Season Opener, the largest intercollegiate forensics tournament in the Bay Area hosted at San Francisco State University September 20-22, 2019. Along with our partners from the City College of San Francisco, we welcomed 23 schools from across the Bay, Southern California, Oregon, and Nevada to participate in over 15 categories of speech and debate competition to open the season.
We are so excited to be able to offer students an essential opportunity to showcase hours of research in a format that values critical thinking, applied communication skills, embodied performance, and democratic deliberation. Our students did exceptionally well. Consider just some of the highlights to include:
Patrick Ford WON the open program of oral interpretation on day one… Sabrina Ghidossi WON on day two!
Victoria Meuter-Montijo WON open dramatic interpretation; Zach Water took third
Dan Gabis WON novice impromptu
Zachary Waters & Victoria Meuter-Montijo - 2nd place in duo interpretation
Madison Ryan & Juan Campbell – 3rd place in novice parliamentary debate
Raquel Robeson – 3rd place novice impromptu
Elicia Lock – finalist program of oral interpretation.
We could not host such an impressive event without the support of graduate students Oliver Tripp, Philip Enguancho, Brianna Morales, Katelyn Gonsalves & Alex Fagin, the entire Communication Studies department, the College of Liberal & Creative Arts, and the support of Instructionally-Related Activities.
It is with great regret that we announce the passing of Professor Emeritus Dr. Henry “Hank” McGuckin Jr. who passed away, surrounded by his family at home on December 17, 2016. Hank earned a Doctorate at Stanford University. He taught rhetorical communication at SFSU for 33 years. In addition to being a popular professor and a well-respected colleague, he was a committed activist who participated in the anti-war movement during the country’s involvement in the Vietnam War and the San Francisco State University Strike of 1969. For additional information, please refer to the obituary link from the Democratic Press.
Mark Jones has been selected by the First Year Experience Committee, Faculty Director of FYE Grace Yoo and Faculty Director of CEETL Dr. Amy Kilgard to receive a CEETL-FYE Excellence in Teaching First-Year Students Award.
Congrats, Mark!! Your contributions make a huge difference to first year students at SF State and to the university community. We are lucky to have you!
In front of an international television audience, actress and comedian Alex Borstein shimmied her way to the 70th Primetime Emmy Awards stage on September 17.
Borstein (B.A., ’92) won Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for her role as Susie Myerson on Amazon Prime’s The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Just eight days earlier, Borstein picked up a Creative Arts Emmy Award for Outstanding Character Voice-Over Performance for her longtime role as Lois Griffin on Fox’s Family Guy.
These are Borstein’s first Emmy Awards. Previously, in 2008, she was nominated with her Family Guy colleagues for Outstanding Animated Program.
Amy Sherman-Palladino, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel creator, wrote the Susie Myerson character specifically for Borstein. They previously worked together on Gilmore Girls.
“I think she can do everything,” Sherman-Palladino says in an IMDB Live interview conducted backstage at the Primetime Emmys. “ … In the many years that I’ve worked with her, she’s even better than I thought she would be.”
Borstein joined Family Guy at its inception in 1999. She is also a writer for the cartoon. She was a cast member and writer on Fox’s MADtv, where she gained acclaim for her character Ms. Swan. She has also appeared on Shameless, The Cleveland Show, Getting On, Robot Chicken, Workaholics and many more television shows.
Her film credits include Bad Santa, Good Night and Good Luck, Catwoman, Dinner for Schmucks and Ted. The Deerfield, Illinois, native trained in improvisational comedy at the ACME Comedy Theatre in Los Angeles.
While attending San Francisco State, Borstein performed with sketch troupes in Mary Ward Hall and the student union. She also performed stand-up comedy on campus and around San Francisco.
“That was my pulse during college,” Borstein says in a story from the fall/winter 2017 issue of SF State Magazine. “I loved it, performing in the dorms and at the school and other places around the town. It fed me creatively.”
— Matt Itelson
The Conflict Resolution Certificate Program in the Communication Studies Department received a donation of $25,000 from Frank and Linda Kurtz in October 2017. The purpose of their gift is to conduct conflict management workshops that provide an opportunity for SFSU undergraduate students to learn approaches and skills for constructive dialogue in social interactions where diverse viewpoints can create tension and conflict. Dr. Victoria Chen, the Director of the Conflict Resolution Certificate Program, conducted the inaugural workshop in April 2018. The second workshop will take place in November 2018.
Please join us in congratulating all the forensics students (and the amazing graduate student coaches) for their successes at competitions supported by the Communication Studies department the College of Liberal and Creative Arts, and Instructionally-Related Activities (IRA) over the last few weeks...
On December 26, the San Francisco Chronicle published a front-page feature on Communication Studies student Garrick Wilhelm. He led the University’s successful get-out-the-vote campaign last fall and was homeless before attending SF State.
We are excited to share the first information for this year's Commencement Celebration!
Jennifer Zenovich, a San Francisco State University researcher who studies the former Yugoslavia, said small “pockets” of Serbian nationalists might sympathize with elements Tarrant’s alleged manifesto and his use of the country’s history to further anti-Muslim violence.
“But that isn’t the dominant ethos of what is happening in Serbia,” she said.
Our very own Director of the Conflict Resolution Certificate Program, Victoria Chen, has been featured for her work in a news piece that can be found here
The Performance Ensemble Presents:
Blue Skye Cafe
A play that imagineers the future we want from the world we've been given.
Fri-Sat, May 10 & 11, 7pm
Preshow Cafe opens at 6:30
Rudolph Busby, Professor of Communication Studies, died on May 9, 2019. He was teaching half-time at the time of his death. Rudolph received his BA (1974) and MA (1980) in Speech Communication from the University of Houston. His MA thesis set out his commitment to social justice: "Public school teachers: verbal expression which may result in employment dismissal until declared constitutionally protected." His PhD (1983), in Rhetoric and Communication Theory, was from the University of Texas, Austin, with a dissertation on "Myth and political rhetoric: a content analysis of keynote and presidential nomination acceptance addresses."
Rudolph Busby joined the SF State faculty in 1983. He was co-author of Basic Speech Communication: Principles and Practices (1978, 1987).
One of Rudolph Busby’s areas of greatest service to the university was his work for the Sally Casanova Predoctoral Program. The CSU pre-doctoral program supports the academic and intellectual aspirations of students who have experienced economic and educational disadvantages. Dr. Busby was its Campus Coordinator from 1989 to 2006 and served on the Selection Committee and the Board from 1994 – 2006. In that capacity, he mentored undergraduate and graduate students who applied for competitive awards to attend professional association meetings and visit PhD programs.
Rudolph Busby served as Department Chair from 1999-2003. He was a member of the Academic Senate, served on the University Budget Committee, and many other college and campus committees, and his was the sonorous voice of SFSU commencements for several years.
Rudolph Busby taught Advanced Public Speaking, Communication Criticism, Communication and Rhetorical Theory, among other courses. He was a careful and caring advisor and a consummate editor/writing coach to many undergraduate and graduate students. He will be deeply missed by current and former students and his faculty and staff colleagues at San Francisco State University.
A new documentary has been posted on Amazon Prime looking at the lives of folks in an LGBTQ+ friendly retirment home, featuring Sally Gearhart. Gearhart was the first openly queer woman to receive a tenured faculty position at SFSU and renowned activist known for her close association with Harvey Milk.
You can find the film here.
Cat Brewer will be on The Kelly Clarkson Show this Friday discussing her upcoming documentary Sign the Show: Deaf Culture, Access & Entertainment. The episode will air 9/27 at 3pm on NBC (in San Francisco), please tune in and support our amazing faculty.
The Communication Studies department has been awarded a Teagle Foundation grant to work on redesigning the curriculum for the undergraduate Communication Studies major. Under the leadership of Drs. Mindi Golden, Javon Johnson and Amy Kilgard, the department will focus on updating course offerings, ease pathways to graduation, and update advising materials for our undergraduate majors and minors.
The Communication Studies department has hired Theodore (Teddy) Albiniak to be its new Director of Forensics, starting in the 2015-2016 academic year. Teddy, who completed the SFSU MA in Communication Studies in 2007, joins us from the PhD program in Communication Studies at the University of Texas, Austin. A nationally ranked competitor himself, Teddy has worked with some of the top forensics programs in the country and looks forward to “coming back” to SFSU this year and working with our own growing and nationally competitive speech and debate team. The Forensics team has already started work for the year’s competitions and will host the annual Golden Gator Invitational tournament in speech and debate at the end of September.
After many years in HUM 282, the Communication Studies department offices havemoved! Please come to visit us in HUM 289, where you can always find Donna Smith, the department’s Academic Office Coordinator and two new staff members: Heidi Ng and Stacie Guam. We are located directly across from HUM 290, which is the new Performance and Forensics space.
This year the Western States Communication Association (WSCA) annual convention was held in Salt Lake City, Utah. Read below to hear about the experiences of our faculty members and lecturer's who attended the conference.
Dr. Amy Kilgard – A tenured faculty member and advisor for the Communication Studies Department recently attended the WSCA conference in Salt Lake City, Utah. She has attended this conference since 2004. She was part of a performance that dealt with feminist interventions in masculinist films. An example of that is the new “Ghostbusters” and how the main characters are all females. Dr. Kilgard explored 4 movies: Fight Club, The Godfather, Full Metal Jacket, and Dirty Harry. In her performance on these films, her group did a panel about dominant masculine discourse on film and they wanted to interrupt that idea and do a feminist remake of masculine films. Fight Club was converted to Fight “Book” Club, The Godfather turned into The “Godmother”, Full Metal Jacket transpired into “Full Figured Jacket” and finally Dirty Harry was turned into Dirty Harriet. She enjoyed her experience at WSCA 2017. And expect to see her at WSCA 2018 in Santa Clara!
Dr. Suzanne Pullen – First off, congratulations to Suzanne's interest group Top Debut/Top Student/Top paper for winning the Top Debut paper award! Dr. Pullen, a lecturer and the current Chair of the Performance Studies Interest Group, has been attending WSCA since 2008. When asked about her experience at WSCA, Suzanne mentioned one positive was seeing old friends, while one negative was not being able to see all the performance panels she wanted to because being Chair of the Performance Studies Interest Group came first. She did, however, manage to see two performance panels: “Indigenous Digital Story Telling” and “Queer Masculinities.” Next year WSCA will be held at Santa Clara,CA and Suzanne hopes for more students to participate and explore their horizons!
Nicholas Chivers— A Communication Studies lecturer has been attending WSCA since 2013 and he says every year that he attends, he always feels "reinvigorated, energized and repassionate.” WSCA is a smaller conference and more intimate than most. He likes the fact that WSCA is more about “what WE do” rather than “what I do”. Prof. Chivers is interested in possibly taking on a leadership role in the interest group at a community college level. Not this year he said but is definitely exploring and gathering more data and content to pursue the leadership role. He is looking forward to attending WSCA in the upcoming years because it gives him a renewed passion in the communication discipline and encourages those who are interested to attend WSCA in Santa Clara in 2018!
Dr. Gust Yep has been awarded the Outstanding Mentor in Master’s Education Award by the National Communication Association (NCA). Way to go, Gust. Hip hip hooray!!
Professor Joe Tuman Invited to Speak at a NATO Conference about Terrorism and Media in Ankara, TurkeyWednesday, November 04, 2015
Professor Joseph Tuman has been invited to make two lectures to a special NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) conference on Terrorism and Media, to be held in Ankara, Turkey, December 7-11th. Joe will speak about
* News, Newsworthiness and Terrorism: How Terrorists/Terror Groups Manipulate News Media Coverage And Are In Turn Manipulated by News Media; and
* Roles, Responsibilities and Realities: News Coverage When Nation States Sponsor or Engage in Terrorism
Then, in January of 2016, Professor Tuman will be the featured speaker at the Linguistic Society of America conference in Washington D.C., where he will address “Balancing Competing Interests: Combatting Hate and Hate Speech while preserving Freedom of Expression and Political Speech.”
Lecturer and Assistant Director of Forensics Lindsey Ayotte was recognized by the Northern California Forensic's Association (NCFA) as the Coach of the Year! Candidates were highly competitive and each displayed exceptional skills in competitive speech instruction. Lindsey, however, was recognized for her deep commitment to Forensics education and the sacrifices needed for her student success.
Lindsey excels equally at perfecting national caliber speeches as she does at introducing and motivating new students. Her attention to detail and balancing of multiple responsibilities is just another hallmark of her skill base. One recommender wrote, "She not only guides each of us to flourish, grow, and preserve through the stressful times but bestows us with her wealth of knowledge."
From all of us involved in Forensics and the entire Communication Studies Department - Congratulations, Lindsey!!