mdawkins's blog

How It's Done: Using "Hitch" to Reduce Uncertainty

I developed an original classroom activity to apply Uncertainty Reduction Theory to initial relationship development using "Hitch." Using my "Uncertainty Reduction Strategies" worksheet to screen a scene between the film's protagonists (played by Eva Mendez and Will Smith), students discover that initiating interpersonal relationships is both rule-governed and imaginative.

Mixed Messenger: Barack Obama & Post-Racial Politics

The election of President Barack Hussein Obama marks an important milestone in United States racial politics. Many cultural critics and opinion leaders argue that Obama’s popularity and position represent post-racial accomplishments for the nation.

Peer Review

As an expert in the field of communication I specialize in third party review of academic content for conferences, journals, and grants. As a reviewer, I return an evaluation of the work to an editor, conference planner, or funding committee noting weaknesses or problems along with suggestions for improvement.

Diversity in Communication?

Whether teaching online or on ground, as faculty we are presented with an array of diversity issues. From race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion, income level, geography and age, to motivation levels, learning and personality styles as well as academic and technological skill levels.

Thank You...

Earning a Doctorate in Rhetoric and Political Communication at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication has been steeped with prospects for professional and personal development. In large part due to the setting, Los Angeles, I have enjoyed the privilege of getting to know many amazing people from all walks of life.

Dissertation: Impurely Raced // Purely Erased

This dissertation won NCA's 2009 and 2010 Outstanding Dissertation Awards.

This dissertation, Impurely Raced // Purely Erased: Toward a Rhetorical Theory of (Bi)Racial Passing, develops a theory about the interrelations between mixed race identification and passing as they pertain to the field of rhetoric and to United States slavery and segregation settings. I introduce the concept of (bi)racial passing to argue that passing is a form of rhetoric that identifies and represents passers intersectionally via synecdoche.

New Rhetoric and New Media

This course is designed to develop our understanding of the relationship between language, persuasion, and technological changes. We will focus on the ability to analyze language use and discourse, and changes in discourse in digital communication contexts.

A Different Kind of Professor

In this chapter I share how I experience my multiracial and gendered identity on a day-to-day basis in the academy. I explain the development and expression of my own standpoint along with some blatant and latent forms of discrimination I've faced. I then introduce some creative ways I've found to succeed by questioning the academic environment and focusing on creativity, change, and the power of changing demographics. I conclude by expressing my standpoint of what it means to be a different kind of professor.

Close to the Edge: The Representational Tactics of Eminem

This manuscript examines Marshall Bruce Mathers III, known both as Eminem and Slim Shady, as he employs pedestrian speech acts to walk the edge between “here and there.” Walking is the discursive process through which a subject is constituted by the relationship it creates with the Other. de Certeau outlines three stages through which this process occurs: (1) appropriation, in which the speaker acquires the language of a given culture to bear the burden of his/her own experience; (2) a “spatial acting-out of the place,” through which the speaker airs his/her position with relation to the language; and (3) allocution, through which the speaker posits the Other as the reference point for the speaker’s own subjectivity and negotiates the relationship between the two positions (97-98). Eminem’s commercial success is examined in terms of these three stages as a method for understanding his representative strategy and his continued commercial success in a popular music as a transracial medium.

A Judge With A View

...full text also available at Inside CSUF

In this op ed for "Truthdig" I analyze the culture wars that became visible during Sotomayor’s confirmation hearing despite our national post-racial and post-feminist ethos. I raise three issues that allowed Sotomayor’s standpoint both answers her critics and raises new questions: recognition, status, and communication. Ultimately, I argue that the hearings and votes have been anything but post- racial or post-feminist. Rather, they have been an exercise in reciprocal communication based on racial and gendered identification. We have watched how those with similar standpoints adopt similar communication styles and how those with differing standpoints adopt differing styles. And, perhaps more importantly, we have watched what happens when different standpoints and communication styles meet.