note: this post is written by Blogger Emeritus Matt Morain.
Hearty congratulations are in order for Dr. Jacob Dickerson, our latest CRDMer to successfully defend the dissertation. Writing about collective memory in framing the attack on Pearl Harbor, Jacob’s project was expertly co-guided by chairs Carolyn Miller and Steve Wiley, with Ken Zagacki and Carole Blair (from UNC) rounding out the committee.
To an audience of a dozen, Dr. Dickerson Tora Tora Tore it up in a 35-minute overview of his dissertation (a Dickertation?), titled “Framing Infamy: Media and Collective Memory of the Attack on Pearl Harbor.” Using Burke’s frames of acceptance to analyze popular texts depicting the attack on Pearl Harbor, Jacob artfully argued that the repeated use of the epic frame throughout the 20th century was instrumental in shaping and reshaping American identity and understanding the country’s role in world events. He utilized multiple examples in film, miniseries, and video games to introduce the concept of “memory ecology,” a collection of representations that influence our collective interpretations of a given event.
Jacob then went on to draw comparisons to frames used in popular texts of the attacks on 9/11. For generations of Americans, Pearl Harbor had become a lens through which to view other attacks; yet, for younger citizens, 9/11 became the dominant frame to view Pearl Harbor in turn. In doing so, Jacob demonstrated that an ecological frame analysis of popular texts can help us understand collective memory in a more nuanced way.
Steve Wiley, Jacob’s co-chair, remarked that “Jacob’s is one of the first dissertations I’ve seen that really takes the interdisciplinary bull by the horns, ” combining rhetorical analysis with media studies into a single, ambitious project. Whether this dissertation turns into one book or two, we wish him the best as he moves on to the details phase. Join us in congratulating Dr. Dickerson on Twitter, @jacob1480.
Jacob has accepted a position as an Assistant Professor of Communication and Media Studies at Georgetown College in Georgetown, KY, where I am sure no one at all will notice the uncanny resemblance he bears to Justified actor Timothy Olyphant.