Monthly Archives: May 2010

Dissertation Award, the Friendly Ghost

We’ve mentioned his dissertation in an earlier post, and now it seems it’s worth mentioning again: Christian Casper has won the 2009-2010 CHASS Dissertation Award. A committee of graduate program directors evaluates all entries from CHASS (the College of Humanities and Social Sciences) doctoral programs, and ultimately chooses one dissertation project each year to honor for its excellence.

We’re happy to congratulate Christian for bringing the CHASS Dissertation Award home to CRDM this year, and we look forward to seeing who’s going to keep it for next time (we’re looking at you, CRDM class of 2010…).

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Anna Turnage, PhD

Today marks another proud cause for celebration in our program as Anna Turnage became our third colleague to successfully defend her dissertation. Anna’s research has focused on computer-mediated communication in the workplace, and her dissertation topic is a thorough culmination of the work she’s done in the course of her graduate career.

Anna Turnage at her dissertation defense

Anna deftly answers questions after her presentation while being stalked by an important man trapped in a portrait behind her.

Titled “Identification and Disidentification in Organizational Discourse: A Metaphor Analysis of Email Communication at Enron,” Anna describes her dissertation project as “providing a rhetorical analysis of language use at Enron and how metaphor helped employes there bridge dialectical tensions related to identification/disidentification and power/resistance.” Her data came from an exhaustive analysis of the Enron email database, which was made publicly available by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission during its investigation in the mid-2000’s.

Anna’s committee consisted of chair Dr. Vicki Gallagher and members Drs. Deanna Dannels, Joann Keyton, Carolyn Miller, and Dennis Mumby (from UNC-Chapel Hill). Dr. Gallagher praised the unique contributions Anna’s work represents, saying:

Anna’s dissertation project positions her to make a significant contribution to both organizational communication studies and critical and rhetorical approaches to new technologies.  The metaphor analysis of emails from the Enron database represents the first sustained examination, by a communication scholar, of how the language in those emails and the use of email itself functioned in both the development and maintenance of Enron’s culture and in the rise and fall of Enron in the context of turn of the century new economy discourses.  As part of her dissertation research, Anna was able to conduct a one on one interview with Sherron Watkins, the former Vice-President at Enron who “blew the whistle” on Enron’s questionable accounting practices which provides additional context and secondary evidence for her work. In addition, she presented, along with Joann Keyton, one of her committee members, a qualitative empirical analysis of a subset of the emails at the Southern Communication Association conference in April 2009.  I look forward to seeing Anna’s work in print in the near future and, more importantly, to having her as a colleague in the years to come.

Fellow cohort members Shaun Cashman and Freddi Hamilton listen attentively to Anna's responses during the Q&A, while 3rd-year Nick Temple blurs the lines of time and space behind them.

Held in Caldwell M-8, the defense was well attended by other CRDM faculty, who offered some critical questions for Anna to consider, and by her fellow CRDM students, who turned out in support and to observe the process we’ll be going through in just a few semesters.

With her defense behind her, Anna now looks forward to the fall and her new position as Assistant Professor in the Communication Studies department at Bloomsburg University of Bloomsburg, PA. Good luck in Pennsylvania, Anna, and congrats again!

Check out Anna’s profiles on Academia.edu and LinkedIn to learn more about her research activities over the last few years.

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Filed under exams and dissertations, job market