2021 NCA Award Winners

NCA Award Winners by Year

NCA’s annual awards will be bestowed on several distinguished members at the Annual Convention in Seattle, Washington. Below is the list of those who will be honored at the awards presentation.

Teaching Awards

Donald H. Ecroyd Award for Outstanding Teaching in Higher Education

Dr. Holt’s record exemplifies the potential of educators to nurture students from diverse backgrounds to become future leaders. Student comments attest to Dr. Holt’s transformative support in the classroom, his excellent mentorship, and thorough advising. Dr. Holt has made a lasting difference in his students’ lives from helping students achieve graduate school acceptances, to raising awareness of racial injustices, to being open and embodying a vulnerability with all students.

Scholarship Awards

Bernard J. Brommel Award for Outstanding Scholarship or Distinguished Service in Family Communication

Dr. Keeley’s research, particularly their work on end-of-life communication and “final conversations,” has made a significant contribution to the field of family communication. Based primarily on extensive interviews with both adults and children, Keeley’s research illuminates the importance of communication with and between the dying and their loved ones. As Dr. Keeley’s nominator notes, “the nature of these messages are central to our very humanity.” With nearly 50 publications on the topic, Dr. Keely’s “line of research has been one of the most consistent and significant programs of study in our field in almost two decades.”

Charles H. Woolbert Research Award

For the article, “Creating Discursive Space through a Rhetoric of Difference: Chicana Feminists Craft a Homeland,” published in Quarterly Journal of Speech in 1996.

Lisa Flores’ “Creating Discursive Space through a Rhetoric of Difference: Chicana Feminists Craft a Homeland” (Quarterly Journal of Speech 82 [1996] 142-156) was ahead of its time and has in its transformative influence thrived for a generation. “For Chicana feminists,” Flores wrote, “who carry the baggage of their border existence and who often find themselves straddling different cultures, creating a home is essential.” With this essay, Flores moved Chicanx rhetoric from disciplinary invisibility to the pathbreaking forefront of scholarship concerning marginalized identities, vernacular rhetoric, and discursive space. Eloquent, incisive, and bold, Flores’ essay brought women of color to bear on central questions of rhetorical theory, criticism, and method. Their legacy for the field, which is to say Flores’ legacy, is evident in this early and long mattering enactment of intersectionality and what Flores years later would come to call racial rhetorical criticism. The radical interventions of the disciplinary present have everything to do with the Chicana discursive space Flores amplified and mobilized in 1996.

Diamond Anniversary Book Award

For the book #HashtagActivism: Networks of Race and Gender Justice, published by MIT Press in 2020.

Drs. Sarah Jackson, Moya Bailey, and Brooke Foucault Welles’ book provides excellent insight into the ways in which technology, social media, and generational communication practices contribute to social change. The methodological rigor and sophisticated analysis using hashtags as data reveals the growing phenomenon of social media activism, particularly as it relates to race, gender, and social justice issues. The case studies provided in this book generate new insights and understandings concerning the phenomenon’s history and future directions for continued work. This book has the potential to benefit courses and learners in technological communication, journalism, social media, performance studies, interpersonal communication, and beyond. The authors have provided an insightful guidebook for activism, solidarity, and allyship.

For the book Deportable and Disposable: Public Rhetoric and the making of the “Illegal” Immigrant, published by The Pennsylvania State University Press in 2020.

Dr. Lisa Flores’s book provides timely research concerning communication, Latinx lived experiences, and human rights that combines historical analysis, theory, criticism, and intervention. Charting history through four decades, Flores makes that case that framing Mexican immigrants as criminal or domestic laborers through the four tropes of the "illegal alien," the zoot suiter, the bracero, and the "wetback," is by design to serve the political interests of the United States. This book is an excellent example of using cross-disciplinary research to arrive at what Flores calls racial rhetorical criticism that speaks to not only the historical moments where these figures emerge in the first half of the 20th century, but also in how they persist and shape narratives around immigration today.

Donald P. Cushman Memorial Award

For the essay, “Intimacy, Exoticism, and Asian/American Women: Theorizing Multiculturalism as Fetish.”

Corinne Mitsuye Sugino examines the phenomenon of “Asian fetish” or “yellow fever,” which colloquially refers to people who have a particular preference for dating Asian/American women. Scholars in both communication and Asian American studies have addressed the way in which Asian/American women are featured through racialized and gendered tropes that both essentialize and homogenize them. Mitsuye Sugino’s essay considers this line of study along with the work of Marxist and psychoanalytic thinkers who have explored the theoretical processes of sexual fetishism, and contemplates what “Asian fetish” reveals about larger processes of Asian/American racialization.

For the essay, “Conversations with My Son: A Poetic Autoethnography of Black Mothering Experiences.”

Anjuliet G. Woodruffe extends the work of Black feminist scholars and poets Audre Lorde, Patricia Hill Collins, and Patricia Williams by examining the ways in which Black mothers use anger to make sense of their lives amidst the continuous law enforcement sanctioned killing of Black men by White police. Through poetry, Woodruffe intertwines her voice with those of Black feminist voices of the past and present to reconstruct a narrative about Black mothering and Black boyhood amidst the spirit murders in communities of color in the United States.

Douglas W. Ehninger Distinguished Rhetorical Scholar Award

As one of the early scholars of Queer Studies in Rhetoric, Dr. Charles E. Morris III has shaped the field with extraordinary boldness and engagement. His body of research in historic public address has transformed the field, both through their recovery of otherwise neglected GLBTQ rhetoric and through his work to queer our understanding of rhetorical theory and criticism. With numerous peer-reviewed articles in NCA journals, many of them selected as exemplary by awards committees and editors, Dr. Morris has executed a research program with a lasting influence on the field. Additionally, his work as editor or co-editor of several books and special journal issues, and as a founder of QED: A Journal in GLBTQ Worldmaking further extends his impact on the discipline. His eloquent writing style and distinctive voice, as well as his insightful contributions to rhetorical theories such as “the fourth persona” and “critical self-portraiture,” have marked him as a distinguished rhetorical scholar worthy of recognition by NCA.

Franklyn S. Haiman Award for Distinguished Scholarship in Freedom of Expression

For the book The Right to Parody, published by Cambridge University Press in 2019.

Dr. Amy Lai’s book compellingly argues for an expansive definition of parody to maximize authors’ free speech while simultaneously providing robust protections for those who engage in cultural critique. Lai’s work combines philosophical inquiry with legal analysis, drawing upon examples from five different legal jurisdictions (the U.S. and U.K., Canada, France, and Hong Kong). As Lai develops their advocacy, they examine the philosophy of natural rights, provide insightful analysis of the copyright laws in each nation, use illustrative and contemporary examples, and prescribe ways for each country to move toward broader protections for parody.

Gerald M. Phillips Award for Distinguished Applied Communication Scholarship

Dr. Tamara D. Afifi has published extensively in the areas of interpersonal and family communication. Dr. Afifi’s work demonstrates a sustained commitment to at-risk and underserved populations, and highlights communities that have been largely overlooked, including mothers and adolescents in Palestinian refugee camps and families coping with natural disasters. Dr. Afifi’s applied scholarship contributed to a methodological shift in the areas of interpersonal and family communication, from the primary reliance on laboratory environments, student samples, and online surveys to the examination of participants’ processes of communication in their natural environment.

Gerald R. Miller Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation Awards

For the dissertation completed at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, "Maternal Healthcare Experiences of African American Women in Milwaukee: A Relational Dialectics Perspective

Advisor: Erin Sahlstein Parcell

Tosin Adebayo uses critical communication theory to examine dominant and marginalized discourses that present in women’s talk about maternal care. This dissertation presents an understanding of African American women’s constructions of meaning at the site of maternal health care and identifies the discourses that permeate through African American women’s experiences. This study addresses a timely, compelling, and understudied area in communication studies that has potential impacts beyond academia, and the author's use of theoretical framework (RDT 2.0) aligned with the project beautifully. Participant quotations served as exemplars within the dissertation and revealed an impressive level of in-depth interviewing by the author.

For the dissertation completed at Louisiana State University, “Ties That Bind: Black Familyness and the Politics of Contingent Coalitions.”

Advisors Ashley Noel Mack & Bryan J. McCann

This dissertation covers the timely and important issues of race, gender, and intersectionality. This study expands upon ongoing developments of Black Queer Studies in Communication. In this dissertation, Self examines the historical and cultural significance of Black Familyness and features a unique, cutting edge perspective of Black Queer Studies as the analytic. This dissertation complicates disciplinary approaches to understanding Black and African American identities and spaces. This critical rhetorical work expounds on race, gender, queer, and intersectional approaches to Communication.

For the dissertation completed at The Pennsylvania State University, “Antecedents and Consequences of Communication about Serial Arguments: A Longitudinal Study of Associations within and between Conflict Episodes”

Advisor: Denise Haunani Solomon

This dissertation uses quantitative research to examine communication in serial arguments in romantic relationships through the levels of abstraction of the analysis. It investigates the possibility that perceived resolvability is more than just an antecedent or consequent condition of conflict episodes, but rather, is a foundational tenant of larger argument processes. This dissertation addresses a topic of concern to communication scholars; while romantic relationship conflict is a well-studied area, this dissertation will hopefully inspire future research.

Golden Anniversary Monograph Award

For the article, “’To Fly Under Borrowed Colours’: Insulin Discovery Accounts, Scientific Credit, and the Nobel Prize” published in Rhetoric and Public Affairs in 2020.

In this study, Dr. Jorgensen-Earp and Dr. Jorgensen examine the struggle over credit for the discovery of insulin, beginning in the early 1920s, that took place among the principal investigators, Frederick Banting, J.J.R. Macleod, Charles Best, and James Collip. This historic controversy serves as an example of the rivalries that often emerge in large-scale laboratories employing multiple investigators. The authors argue that the need for such credit in the insulin discovery episode led to a series of informal self-narratives by the principals involved in the research. These informal self-narratives formed the basis for intensive lobbying for credit and took on a form that was markedly different from the temporal narratives and rigorous proofs to be found in formal scientific articles and lectures.

James A. Winans-Herbert A. Wichelns Memorial Award for Distinguished Scholarship in Rhetoric and Public Address

For the book Deportable and Disposable: Public Rhetoric and the making of the “Illegal” Immigrant, published by The Pennsylvania State University Press in 2020.

Dr. Lisa A. Flores’s 2020 book, Deportable and Disposable: Public Rhetoric and the Making of the “Illegal” Immigrant, published by The Pennsylvania State University Press, represents the very best of rhetorical scholarship for its well-developed and extensive archival research and theorization on how race and immigration is constructed. The discussion of the rhetorical construction of race for Mexican Americans through four tropes, the “illegal alien,” the zoot suiter, the bracero, and the “wetback,” in the 1920s-1950s demonstrates the early roots of these terms and how they have persisted into the 21st century. This historiographic work parallels contemporary rhetoric on Latina/o/x and Mexican American representations, representing a work that is historical, timely, and relevant. In terms of rhetorical theory, this book expertly explores and unpacks how the Blackening and whitening of violence has played out in the 20th and 21st centuries. Flores offers an understanding of racial rhetoric, scripts, and recognition through the perceptual/conceptual collapse as well as racial constructions as excess. That is, her work importantly theorizes how the percept/concept of race, as well as race’s excesses, have shaped US American understandings of Mexican Americans, brownness, and the role of Blackening in social constructions of race.

For the book Intellectual Populism: Democracy, Inquiry, and the People. published by Michigan State University Press in 2020.

Dr. Paul Stob’s 2020 book, Intellectual Populism: Democracy, Inquiry, and the People, published by Michigan State University Press, responds to denunciations of populism as undemocratic and anti-intellectual by arguing that populism has contributed to a distinct and democratic intellectual tradition in which ordinary people (exemplified by Robert Ingersoll, Mary Baker Eddy, Thomas Davidson, Booker T. Washington, and Zitkala-Ša) assume leading roles in the pursuit of knowledge. The case studies of these five people’s rhetoric combine extensive historical context, engaging storytelling, and deft rhetorical analyses of texts to identify the five rhetorical trademarks of intellectual populism: (1) “attacking the established institutions and figures of intellectual culture;” (2) “affirming ‘the people’ as stewards of inquiry;” (3) “deploying ‘Americanisms’ in the pursuit of knowledge;” (4)” characterizing inquiry as radical conservatism;” and (5) “visualizing a utopian community of thought.” As one review notes: “Stob is able to wrestle the populist moniker from the disdain of its enemies and place it in the hands of its rightful possessor: the people. That is, ordinary people committed to democratic modes of inquiry.” The “lush history” provided via case studies point us to future rhetorical practices of intellectual populism.

James L. Golden Outstanding Student Essay in Rhetoric Award

For the essay "Rhetorical Altermobilities: Proposing a Framework for the Study of Discourse, Mobility and Resistance."

Taking Martin Luther King Jr.'s "Letter from Birmingham Jail" as a case-in-point, Parr Balaram’s essay proposes a framework for investigating the intersections of mobility, discourse, and resistance. Specifically, this essay illuminates the rhetorical processes linking physical to social movement and mobilization in the dynamic terrains of U.S. racial politics.

Karl R. Wallace Memorial Award

Dr. Amanda Nell Edgar’s cutting-edge research program sits at the intersections of rhetoric, media, power, and identity. Dr. Edgar’s third book, Silenced: Racial Justice and Sonic Relationality, promises to build upon and expand expertise in sound studies and social justice by examining the myriad ways that “silence” is deployed in public discourse, from the Nixon-era “Silent Majority” through recent gestures of solidarity via social media “blackouts.” Dr. Edgar’s innovative work demonstrates how even well-intentioned uses of silence can limit organizing and knowledge about the rhetoric of racial justice.

Leslie Irene Coger Award for Distinguished Performance

Dr. M. Heather Carver's career in performance studies has been exemplary. Dr. Carver models the artist/scholar dynamic with a steadiness of inquiry, a boldness of tongue, and a softness of reflexivity. Dr. Carver's performance work exemplifies the highest levels of artistic excellence and social efficacy in performance studies methodologies. Dr. Carver’s solo work, which explores issues with breast cancer, and directing work, which engages the difficulty and complexity of domestic violence, provides, as one reviewer writes, "strategies that are moving and inspiring, a brave and empathetic connection to people facing similar challenges."

Mark L. Knapp Award in Interpersonal Communication

Dr. Wilson is prolific, productive, and programmatic in his work, blazing a trail for scholars of interpersonal influence, identity, intercultural interactions, and both marginalized and military families. Dr. Wilson’s diverse scholarship explores interpersonal communication in myriad contexts, advancing both theory and research and applying those to socially significant topics. Dr. Wilson’s research on interpersonal influence is required reading for the field of interpersonal communication. Dr. Wilson serves the discipline in a variety of ways including mentoring new scholars, supervising numerous award-winning dissertations, and, more recently, co-founding the Communication and Military Division.

Marsha Houston Award

Dr. Durham's timely and cutting-edge research offers substantial methodological, theoretical, and practical insights that resonate across several disciplines and areas of study. In doing so, Dr. Durham’s interdisciplinary research poses timely and necessary challenges to Communication Studies scholarship as they embrace transdisciplinary perspectives and embodied cultural experiences. At the intersections of Black feminism, intercultural communication, and hip-hop studies, Dr. Durham’s critical cultural communication scholarship takes seriously Black women and girls’ communication lives and futures.

Orlando L. Taylor Distinguished Scholarship Award in Africana Communication

Dr. Ronald L. Jackson builds on the example of Dr. Orlando L. Taylor, through his body of work. Dr. Jackson has made impactful contributions to the Communication discipline for over two decades. Dr. Jackson is a trailblazer who integrates theory and praxis to examine the depth and breadth of African American communication and culture. Dr. Jackson’s commitment to the field of Africana Communication is evident in his research, teaching, mentorship, and leadership. Dr. Jackson’s powerfully diverse and inclusive scholarship has helped support and usher in new generations of Black and African American Communication scholars.

Stephen E. Lucas Debut Publication Award

For the article, "Theistnormativity and the Negation of American Atheists in Presidential Inaugural Addresses,” published in Rhetoric & Public Affairs in 2020.

In this work, Lee uses 20th century presidential inaugural addresses to illustrate how political rhetoric positions American atheists and the potential exclusionary impact of this positioning. Using the term “theistnormativity,” Lee’s work provides a strong foundation for future theoretical and analytical perspectives and, in doing so, equips communication scholars to further illuminate the intricacies and implications of rhetoric on religious and/or spiritual identities.


Service Awards

Robert J. Kibler Memorial Award

Dr. Srividya Ramasubramanian has served NCA and the field of Communication for more than 15 years and has continuously excelled in scholarship and tireless advocacy for diversifying the discipline. Dr. Ramasubramanian’s scholarly work has involved a deep, sustained, and mutually beneficial relationship with important external communities around significant social concern. Dr. Ramasubramanian is the co-founder and Executive Director of Media Rise, a global collective that works to promote inclusivity and justice through the power of positive storytelling, collaborative media projects, art, and design.

Samuel L. Becker Distinguished Service Award

Dr. Patrice Buzzanell has served NCA and the field of Communication for over 35 years. Dr. Buzzanell has served on the NCA Research Council, the NCA Publications Council, and the NCA Doctoral Education Committee. Dr. Buzzanell also served as the Scholar-in-Residence for NCA’s Institute for Faculty Development, as co-organizer of the Mid-Career Scholars Writing Retreat, and as a facilitator for the 2017 Legacy Training and Professional Development Series. Further, Dr. Buzzanell has served as president of the International Communication Association (ICA), the Council of Communication Associations, and the Organization for the Study of Communication, Language, and Gender. Dr. Buzzanell has produced over 211 refereed journal articles and chapters and four co-edited books.


IDEA Awards

IDEA Engagement Award

Through an emphasis on using personal narrative as cultural and identity production, Dr. Scott-Pollock has made an impact on both their students and surrounding community. Their teaching engages students in personal narratives and provides them with a complex understanding of systematic injustices and how to resist and dismantle them. More specifically, Dr. Scott-Pollock’s work in the classroom promotes the inclusion and celebration of children from different races, backgrounds, abilities, and gender identities; helps students tell stories that highlight the presence of racism, heterosexism, classism, and ableism in their own lives; and examines how performance can help marginalized societal members share their stories without taking on the social risks of telling their stories through their marginalized body. Their work not only reaches their university students, but is impactful in the greater community, especially to the more than 1500 primary school students who benefit from the work of the students in Dr. Scott-Pollock’s courses.

IDEA Scholarship Award

Dr. Lisa Flores’ scholarship has added a needed voice to conversations about race and racialization, and their record of work consistently engages questions of diversity, equity, inclusion, and access. Dr. Flores urges rhetorical scholars to expand their understandings of diversity and develop rhetorical theories of race that build routes around stoppage. Their work has consistently created space for historically excluded voices to be heard and included, even within the field itself. Cited as an excellent scholar, mentor, and advocate, Dr. Flores’ contributions to the field and to IDEA work are undeniable.


Distinguished Scholar Awards

Dr. Tamara Afifi is Chair and Professor in the Department of Communication at UC Santa Barbara. Dr. Afifi’s research examines, among other issues, how family members communicate when stressed and the impact of that communication on personal and relational health and information regulation in interpersonal contexts. Dr. Afifi has amassed nearly 150 publications during their career, with publications in the discipline’s top journals as well as in several journals outside the discipline. In addition to winning several awards, including for the development of the Theory of Resilience and Relational Load, Dr. Afifi has served the discipline as an editor of Communication Monographs.

Dr. Mohan Dutta is Dean’s Chair Professor of Communication in the School of Communication, Journalism, and Marketing at Massey University. Dr. Dutta’s research examines the role of advocacy and activism in challenging marginalizing structures, the relationship between poverty and health, and the ways in which participatory culture-centered processes serve as axes of global social change, among other topics. Dr. Dutta’s research program includes 10 books, over 200 articles and book chapters, and has been cited over 12,000 times. Dr. Dutta provides extensive intellectual leadership; they have directed 46 doctoral dissertations, facilitated numerous workshops, and served as editor of Journal of Applied Communication Research.

Dr. Laura L. Ellingson is Patrick A. Donohoe Society of Jesus Professor at Santa Clara University. Dr. Ellingson’s research focuses on gender in extended families, feminist and qualitative methodologies, and interdisciplinary collaborations and teamwork in health care organizations. Dr. Ellingson has authored six books, including the multi-award-winning Communicating in the Clinic and the highly influential Engaging Crystallization in Qualitative Research which introduced a groundbreaking new framework for multi-genre approaches to research. Dr. Ellingson has served as the President of the Organization for the Study of Communication, Language, and Gender and as a tireless advocate for dis/ability rights and scholarship in the field.

Dr. E. Patrick Johnson is Carlos Montezuma Professor of Performance Studies and African American Studies and Dean of the School of Communication and Annenberg University Professor at Northwestern University. Dr. Johnson’s work examines the intersection of gender, sexuality, race, and religion with focuses on Black gay men of the U.S. South and Black Queer Southern women. In addition to writing four award-winning highly-acclaimed books, Dr. Johnson has edited several book collections and published multiple journal articles and book chapters. Dr. Johnson is known for crafting exquisite performance scholarship, and their development of highly influential Quare Theory has received multidisciplinary attention.

Dr. Raka Shome is the Harron Family Endowed Chair in the Department of Communication at Villanova University. Dr. Shome’s work focuses on postcolonial cultures, transnational feminism, and media/communication cultures, with specific research interests in Contemporary Hindu Nationalism, Asian Modernities, and transnational media cultures, among others. In addition to an impressive record of journal scholarship, Dr. Shome is the author of the influential book Diana and Beyond: White Femininity, National Identity, and Contemporary Media Culture. Dr. Shome has brought rhetoric and cultural studies together in meaningful ways, has pushed communication studies beyond Eurocentric frames, and is a social justice leader in the field.