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Graduate Dissertation Spotlight


Kate Siegfried, PhD Student

In my dissertation, Rhetorical Cartographies of Exile: Freedom, Mobility and Containment in the Internationalist Black Freedom Struggle 1949-1971, I examine the conditions of possibility for Black political leaders exiled during the Cold War. Through my case studies, I map exile as a communicative condition and demonstrate how utilizing exile as a heuristic through which to map Cold War geopolitical relations offers insight into the relationship between global anticolonial struggles and the Black Freedom Movement in the United States. Through my case studies, which include Mabel and Robert F. William’s exile in Cuba, Eldridge and Kathleen Cleaver’s exile in Algeria, and Paul Robeson’s forced containment in the United States, I assess how exiled and contained political leaders utilize spatially oriented and place-based cultural production to continue engaging in a globally oriented political struggle against racism, imperialism, and colonialism. Taken as a whole, my dissertation project offers a rhetorical cartography of struggle, or a mapping of Black and decolonial resistance that called a new world into being rooted in internationalist liberation. Through this project, I make three primary contributions to Rhetorical Studies and Black Studies. First, theorize exile as a fundamentally communicative condition, enhancing materialist approaches to theories of rhetorical containment. Second, I argue that the exilic condition is a constitutive element of Black and decolonial politics. Third, through analysis of my archival material, I offer a rhetorical historiography of the connections between global decolonial struggles and the Black Freedom Movement, as well as fill in key gaps in the Black rhetorical canon.

View Kate’s current CV here


Adam Bajan  


Adam Bajan, PhD Student

America’s religious landscape is changing, often faster than religious organizations can keep pace with. Longitudinal data from the Pew Research Center indicates that as of 2019, some 65% of Americans identify as religious, a number down some twelve percentage points in the last decade alone. This data corresponds with some 26% of Americans in 2019 reporting no religious affiliation whatsoever, an increase in nine percentage points since 2009. This changing religious landscape places many churches in an unfavorable situation: how to maintain their public visibility and religious vitality and proselytize ever-increasing numbers of Americans who identify as having no religious affiliation at all. Accordingly, my research program focuses on how independent non-denominational evangelical churches integrate entertainment media into their liturgy and combine these media with strategic rhetoric to proselytize the religious unaffiliated and uninitiated and in so doing, maintain both their public visibility and their religious vitality. The reason for my focus on independent evangelical churches is that unlike their more mainline counterparts, evangelicals are much likely to align themselves with contemporary communicative strategies and media-infused liturgy as a way to stem the growing decline in their ranks. In so doing, I argue, evangelicals maintain a distinct technological and liturgical advantage over mainline religious organizations who must work to balance their history and tradition with the changing communicative and religious preferences of their congregants.

View Adam’s current CV here



Arti Nadkarni, PhD Student

My research interest lies in studying ethnic/racial disparities in precision public health by bridging the inequity gaps associated with family health history communication and uptake of genetic risk assessment, such as predictive genetic testing for cancer and other inherited chronic diseases.

My focus is to examine the role of communication (in various contexts such as communication among families as well as patient-provider communication) in promoting informed health decision making and uptake of preventive health behaviors and services among immigrants and other minority populations in the United States.

My research interests also extend towards the advancement of genomics in a global context, especially in resource-poor nations. My methodological tools include statistical, qualitative, as well as media content analysis.

Chante Anderson, PhD Student

For my dissertation, I explore how the black body, particularly the athletic black body, is scripted, emasculated, and exploited in a variety of media outlets within the sports arena. I take a look at three case studies.

First, I examine how Colin Kaepernick’s protest was scripted by observing visual Internet memes. After surveying an ample number of memes, I thematically categorize them into groups which painted an overall message of how his protest was represented.

In my second case, I examine how the NFL’s Rooney Rule emasculates black coaches in the NFL. By exploring close to 50 electronic media articles from prominent sports outlets that mention the Rooney Rule, I argue how black coaches are emasculated in four different ways.

In my last case, I examine commercial and print ads in an effort to see how Nike exploits the black body, monetizes social justice issues, and mythologizes how black bodies are situated in their commercial ads.

View Chante’s current CV here