Monthly Archives: March 2011

2, 4, 6, 8; our recruits are really great!

Last week, CRDM held its annual recruitment visit for students accepted into the program. It is a lot of work putting together the visit (which I learned first hand this year, as the student coordinator), but all the planning certainly paid off. Everything went off without a hitch — except of course for the Wednesday night thunderstorm that delayed some flights. Thanks a lot, weather.

Something that became very clear to me during recruitment is that the CRDM admissions committee is outstanding at picking people to join the program. All of the recruits were extremely intelligent, researching very current issues in digital media, and just all around great people. I think I can speak for everyone when I say we hope to see all of their faces here in Raleigh in the fall.

The visit would not have been as successful without the CRDM faculty (namely Jason Swarts and Steve Wiley) and all of the students who volunteered to help out. With the effort of all, the prospective students visited downtown (twice!) for dinner and drinks, went on tours of campus and housing options, visited the North Carolina Museum of Art, and had many opportunities to speak one-on-one with faculty and students who share their research interests.

The recruitment visit is one of the best things about CRDM as a program. Personally, it sealed my decision to accept my offer, and I know it factored into many current students’ PhD program decision as well. It is true that CRDM is a cutting edge program producing excellent scholarly work, and that Raleigh is just a fantastic city in which to live. However, as I was reminded last week, the best part about CRDM is the people. Supportive faculty, friendly colleagues, and brilliant conversations abound. And all of the prospective students who visited the program will certainly be great assets to CRDM. We hope the adoration is mutual.

CRDM recruitment visit dinner at Busy Bee

Some current and prospective students downtown at Busy Bee restaurant on Friday.

~Lauren (CRDMSA, Vice-President)

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Grad Students, Sledgehammers, and Deconstruction That Doesn’t Involve Derrida (for Once)

This week marked NC State’s Graduate Education Week, full of events like the Graduate Student Research Symposium on Monday and the Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant Awards on Thursday. Early Saturday morning, at the crack of 41 degrees, CRDMers pitched in to help with the Graduate Students’ Day of Service coordinated by the Wake County Habitat for Humanity Chapter.

No, I said Habitat for Humanity. Humanity.

The Wake County Habitat for Humanity ReStore Trailer o' Tools (it's Irish).

Much better. More than 32 students from at least a dozen different programs turned out to lend a hand at the deconstruction site. The house was already stripped down to the basement and a first floor, so we split into two groups: one to process the nails out of the boards in the back so they could be reused or sold, and one to pry up the existing floorboards while not falling through or off.

Grad students apply a mixed methodology of de-nailing boards that's part pneumatic nail gun, part OH GOD WHO GAVE A KNOWLEDGE WORKER A NAIL GUN!?

Habitat is one of my favorite volunteer opportunities so I was really excited to see it picked as this year’s Day of Service. Added bonus: the job site was a deconstruction job, so instead of a series of careful measurements and methodical detail work that go into building a house, we got to go HULK SMASH on hardwood floors and a hanging duct system. Double added bonus: I got to do a full day’s worth of deconstruction with nary a mention of Derrida. Instead, LUMBER! HAMMERS! PANERA BAGELS! HELPING PEOPLE!

What grad students lack in "right tool for the job" they more than make up for in enthusiasm.

The Habitat for Humanity ReStore runs deconstruction projects like this one throughout the year. According to their website,

From partial to full-scale projects that remove all building debris down to the foundation, Habitat offers competitively-priced deconstruction services as an alternative to traditional demolition. The donated house is a tax-deductible contribution.

Check out upcoming opportunities for your chance to help out. Take it from me–there’s nothing quite like a good demolition job to release the stresses that build up in grad school. “What’s that? My article manuscript had too many split infinitives? I’ll split YOUR infinitives! Take that, revise-and-resubmit-notification-that-I-projected-onto-a-rotting-crossbeam!”

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Our Graduate Teaching Assistants? Outstanding!

We’re proud to count several CRDMers amongst the nominees for the 2011 Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant Awards. According to the North Carolina State University Graduate Student Association (or NCSUGSA for a mind-boggling initialism),

The Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant Awards serves as the primary university-level forum for recognizing exceptional contributions made by Graduate Teaching Assistants to the educational excellence of the University. This annual event is a celebration of excellence in graduate student teaching in the laboratory and classroom. The UGSA Teaching Effectiveness Committee invites the Directors of Graduate Programs (DGPs) to nominate a small number of TAs that exemplify outstanding teaching and mentoring and go beyond what is required of them. All departments are encouraged to participate so that their students receive the recognition they deserve.

This year’s nominees for Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant Awards featured five CRDM students:

  • Kevin Brock (English)
  • Kati Fargo (English)
  • David Gruber (English)
  • Jason Kalin (English)
  • Dan Sutko (Communication)

Of those five, the big winner of the day was…


Kevin, looking resplendent in his beard, humbly shows off his award certificate.

Kevin Brock! Congrats, Kevin, on your well-deserved recognition.

Check out Kevin’s digital portfolio or follow him on Twitter.


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A Jobs Update (Careers, not Steve)

From CRDM Program Director Steve Wiley comes this update on our 4th-year job seekers:

Jon Burr has accepted an offer to teach at Elon University this semester and, if all goes as planned, he hopes to accept a permanent position and move to the Burlington area this summer.

Kelly Martin has accepted a tenure-track position as an assistant professor in the Department of Communication at Rochester Institute of Technology.  She’ll be teaching courses such as visual communication, digital design, mass communication, copywriting and visualization and visual communication in new media, in both the undergraduate and graduate programs.

Shayne Pepper recently accepted a position as assistant professor at Northeastern Illinois University. He will be joining the Department of Communication, Media, & Theater and will be teaching undergraduate courses such as Intro to Film, American Cinema 1 & 2, Television History, World Cinema, Gender and Media, Mass Media & Society, and New Media Technologies. He will also contribute to the department’s graduate program by teaching communication and media courses and advising M.A. students in the media concentration.

Christin Phelps accepted an offer from Peace College to become their Director of Online Programs. The position utilizes Christin’s talents in computer science and will also give her the opportunity to teach courses at Peace in her areas of expertise.

Dawn Shepherd will be joining the faculty in the English department at Boise State University as an assistant professor of rhetoric and composition. She will teach courses in first-year and upper-division writing, as well as graduate and undergraduate courses in rhetoric and composition theory, methods in rhetoric and composition, and digital rhetoric.

Wiley went on to remark:

The job market was very, very tight this year, and in this context I think CRDM students have done quite well so far, competing with other candidates who had degrees in hand and several years of teaching and publications.  Please join me in congratulating those students who have accepted jobs, and please join me in continuing to support and advise those who have not yet found a position.  As we (faculty) all know, one’s first year on the job market is not always definitive; it can take some time to match one’s interests and skills with the right institution and position. I have confidence that those who have not yet been placed will be discovered, in due time, as the talented and promising young scholars that they are.

I’d personally like to add that we all look forward to seeing where our alumni networks branch out. It’s only our third year of producing graduates (since Christian Casper kicked things off in December 2009), so each newly hired CRDMer is an opportunity to show the rest of us what kinds of possibilities there are, once we find ourselves in a similar position.

Congrats to all the newly hired and good luck to those on the cusp!

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Kelly Martin, PhD

It’s been a big week for CRDM milestones: two ABD’s, recruitment week (more on that later), and today’s news that Kelly Martin became the latest freshly minted PhD student from our program.

Technically, the defense took place Tuesday, March 22, but we needed two days to process the awesome brilliance of her research and presentation.

Kelly’s dissertation, “Visual Research: Introducing a Schema for Methodologies and Contexts,” was written under the direction of her Committee Chair Vicki Gallagher and members Melissa Johnson, Carolyn Miller and Meredith Davis (from the College of Design). Check back soon for an updated post complete with her abstract and some dazzling graphics from her research.

What’s next for Kelly? She’s accepted a tenure-track job with the Rochester Institute of Technology’s Department of Communication as an Assistant Professor in the fall. She’ll be teaching visual communication, digital design, visual research methods, and how to design a sweet robot logo for their graduate student programs (probably).

We owe so much of our success as a student organization to Kelly and her tireless efforts as our CRDMSA president for the past two years, before handing the reins over to Jason Kalin at the start of this semester. She organized and ran our first meetings, advocated for our organization with the grad school, lent her design talents to logos, t-shirts, and the Carolina Rhetoric Conference, and much, much more. Thanks for everything, Kelly, or should I say, congrats Dr. Martin!

Check out Kelly’s assorted publications, classes taught, awards received, and other errata on her website, and check back soon for more info on her dissertation.


Kelly’s chair, Dr. Gallagher, added this comment about advising Kelly through her research process:

What a pleasure it has been to work with Kelly Martin, now Dr. Kelly Martin, as she has navigated the potentialities and pitfalls of a dissertation which examines and integrates four(!!!) different methodological/theoretical traditions.  This was an especially daunting task since not only the committee members, but also some of the audience members at the defense tried to get Kelly to articulate a preference for one method over the others (kind of like asking a child to choose between parents!).  Still, Kelly responded with grace and insight proving she has a future in the academy, and in the field of communication which itself is characterized by multiple methodological and theoretical traditions.  Perhaps the most unique and interesting contribution Kelly is making through her dissertation is the detailed schema she has developed to demonstrate the intersections and relationships between visual rhetoric, visual communication, visual studies, and design.  Please join me and the members of her committee in congratulating Dr. Kelly Martin on a job well done and wishing her well in her future position as Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication at Rochester Institute of Technology.



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Jordan Frith, ABD

Like the modern political campaign cycle, the candidates keep coming–Jordan Frith became the 5th CRDMer this year to pass his preliminary exams.

Jordan’s committee chair is Adriana de Souza e Silva and his vice-chair is Steve Wiley. Other committee members include Jason Swarts, David Berube, and Eric Gordon. Held on March 16th, his oral exams were perhaps the first in the history of the CRDM program to feature two simultaneous Skype video calls; de Souza e Silva is teaching at the University of Copenhagen this year and Gordon is an associate professor at Emerson College in Boston.

Jordan will now begin work on his dissertation, “How Mobile Got Smart: Exploring 21st Century Smartphone Culture.”

Jordan posing in front of the scenic landscape of Cappadocia, Turkey on a recent Spring Break trip.

Though unconfirmed by Jordan himself and completely made up on the spot right now, sample chapters* could include:

  • “Hand-Held Hindsight: Analyzing Palm’s Early Mistakes That Could’ve Been Avoided”
  • “From Floppy to Touchscreen: How 3.5 Inches Has Historically Measured Our Relationship with Data”
  • “There’s a Cap for That: AT&T’s Monthly Broadband Limits and the Bottlenecking of Knowledge Gathering”
  • “Loopt, Duped, and Grouped: Selling the Culture of Locative Mobile Social Networks”

Reached for comment about his accomplishment, Jordan had this to say:

Thank you. Thank you, Hollywood Foreign Press. Getting through the mid-stage of your life with your dignity and judgment intact can be somewhat precarious, and sometimes all you need is a little bit of gentle reassurance to keep you on track. I don’t know if this qualifies as “gentle” reassurance but right now this is all that stands between me and a Harley Davidson, so I owe you a very great debt.

I’ll admit, I was a little surprised by his reaction but I can see the appeal of the Harley…what’s that? Oh. Right. I’m being told that’s from Colin FIRTH’s Academy Awards acceptance speech for Best Actor, and not Jordan FRITH. Honest mistake. Happens all the time.

Congrats, Jordan!

You can follow Jordan on Twitter (he’s one of CRDM’s most active tweeters) or read more about his research on his online portfolio. If you’re headed to 4C’s next month you can sit in on Jordan’s presentation–alongside fellow CRDMers Seth Mulliken and Kati Fargo–on “The Sound of Location: Situating Auditory Texts in a Physical Learning Environment.”


*(If he uses any of these, I expect a smarmy mention in the acknowledgments.)

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David Gruber, ABD

Number four to become a doctoral candidate this year and number one in your hearts…Daaaaaaaaavid Gruuuuuuuuuuuberrrr! (crowd noise! spotlights! Jock Jams: Volume 3! other references to March Madness to make this a timely blog post!)

Our favorite 3rd Year Californian passed his preliminary exams this week, on March 16th. Under the direction of chair Jason Swarts, David’s committee also includes members Bill Kinsella, Carolyn Miller, and David Rieder.

David now turns his attention to his dissertation project, which Swarts says “promises to be some engaging research.” Tentatively titled, “Recursivity and the Rhetoric of Mirror Neurons: Moving Toward a Performative Neurorhetorics,” David’s dissertation will examine rhetorical, um, well….hmm.

If you’ve met David, you probably bet on him exploring an esoteric research subject for his dissertation; if you’ve talked with him for more than 10 minutes, you also would’ve bet on him explaining that topic in a delightfully brilliant and accessible way. We’re all looking forward to reading it.

Congrats, Grubes!

You can check out David’s ruminations on his blog, follow him on Twitter, or catch him presenting at 4C’s next month in Atlanta alongside fellow CRDMer Dawn Shepherd on their panel, “Mapping the Directions of Directed Self-Placement: Competing Views, Complementary Methods.”


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