I am an Associate Professor of Media Studies in the School of Communication & Information at Rutgers University. I’m interested in how ideas, things and practices become valuable; and the technologies of legitimacy that render them that way. My current research focuses on the intersection of promotional culture with environmental problems: How do promotional campaigns featuring the natural environment influence our ability to value climate futures?
Maria I. Espinoza and I are writing about this in our new book, A Strategic Nature: Public Relations and the Politics of Environmentalism, for Oxford University Press. It’s a critical look at the intertwined history of environmental (in)action in the United States and the rise of the PR industry in the twentieth century.
I have two other books out: Branding the Nation: The Global Business of National Identity, available from Amazon or via Oxford University Press; and Blowing Up the Brand: Critical Perspectives on Promotional Culture, an edited book with Devon Powers, available from Amazon. You can hear me talk about the ideas in my book, Branding the Nation, on the New Books Network podcast or on the National Public Radio show Marketplace.
Here at Rutgers I’m a Faculty Associate with the Eagleton Institute of Politics and Affiliated Graduate Faculty with the Department of Sociology. I’m also a Faculty Fellow with the Center for Cultural Sociology at Yale University and a Research Affiliate with the Center on Digital Culture & Society at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania.
I’m currently an Associate Editor of the Canadian Journal of Communication, an independently published, top-quality peer-reviewed media and communications journal. We’ve been trafficking in ideas and commentary about Canada and the world since 1974. See our excellent archival collection and find us on Twitter @canjcomm.
From 2020 through 2022 I am serving as the Chair of the Popular Media & Culture Division (formerly PopComm) for the International Communication Association. Check out our division’s new website and Twitter handle!
I hold a Ph.D. from the Department of Media, Culture and Communication at New York University.
Recent & Upcoming Events
In Fall 2020 I was Visiting Senior Fellow in the Department of Media and Communications at the London School of Economics.
I’m teaching a new course this semester: Writing as Craft and as Profession. I designed this workshop-style course for graduate students to develop essential skills of academic writing and academic socialization. It addresses a wide range of writing-related issues, including style and voice, writing discipline, drafting, preparing for deadlines, writing literature reviews, narrative development and organization, models of accountability, taming the “internal editor,” writing up empirical research, profile- and network-building, and peer review.
In January 2021, I’m part of an Author Meets Critics panel to discuss a new book by Emily Contois – Diners, Dudes and Diets: How Gender and Power Collide in Food Media and Culture.
In March 2021, I’m speaking at the Canadian Student Journal Forum about the value of graduate-student academic journals.
The International Communication Association conference is virtual in 2021. The division I chair, Popular Media & Culture, has an excellent lineup of panel presentations. Check out our new website and our Twitter feed for announcements.