Kyanna, Brenna, Dr. Valerie Schrader, Christina and Baylee examine their submissions.

Penn State Schuylkill Students to Present at Regional Communication Conference

The “Outlander” TV Series, “Hannibal,” “Game of Thrones,” Memes and More

Five Penn State Schuylkill students had their research papers accepted to the Eastern Communication Association’s James C. McCroskey and Virginia P. Richmond Undergraduate Scholars Conference (USC). The competitive conference will take place concurrently with the Eastern Communication Association (ECA) Convention in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, from April 25-29, 2018.

The ECA conference has existed since 2011 and features some of the best undergraduate communication scholarship in the Northeastern Region of the United States.

The conference was especially competitive this year with over 225 submissions. In previous years, only 40-50 percent of submissions were accepted for presentation at the conference. All submissions were blind reviewed by scholars in the communication discipline, and only quality scholarship is accepted for presentation at the Undergraduate Scholars Conference.

Additionally, the abstracts of three Penn State Schuylkill students were accepted for a panel on public memory for the Rhetoric and Public Address Interest Group of the ECA conference. Dr. Valerie Schrader, Penn State Schuylkill’s interim director of academic affairs and associate professor of communication arts and sciences, will also present her research titled “Recreating and Co-creating Public Memory of the Battle of Culloden and 18th Century Scottish Clans in Startz’s ‘Outlander’ Series,” a rhetorical analysis of the TV series “Outlander” through the lens of public memory on this panel.

All five students who had work accepted to this year’s conference completed their projects under the guidance of Schrader, who also serves as co-coordinator of the Penn State Schuylkill Honors Program, in an honors communication class or an honors independent study.

Brenna Baker, a junior majoring in corporate communication with a minor in sociology, completed a rhetorical criticism paper titled “Building Bridges, Building Connections: The Social Construction of ‘Joe Biden Memes’ After a Chaotic 2016 Election Cycle.” She will present this paper as a panel presentation at the conference. Her paper is a rhetorical analysis of Joe Biden memes that were prevalent on Facebook after the 2016 presidential election.

Baker’s paper suggests that the memes serve as a coping mechanism for those who were unhappy with the results of the election. Baker is currently a member of the Penn State Schuylkill Honors Program, and this is her third ECA-USC conference session. She also will present her project, titled “Recalling with or without Accuracy: The Co-creation of Public Memory through the Mandela Effect,” as part of a panel for the Rhetoric and Public Address Interest Group of the ECA conference this year.

“As a communication major, I appreciated the amazing opportunity to present my work at last year's ECA-USC conference. I look forward to this year's conference and learning more from other scholars in my chosen field. Penn State Schuylkill students are fortunate to experience such a high level conference as undergraduates," Baker said.

Baylee Colburn, a sophomore double-majoring in planetary science and meteorology, completed a rhetorical criticism paper titled “Behind the Faces of “In the Heights:” A Rhetorical Analysis of Nina Rosario’s Use of Facework in the Musical “In the Heights.”" She will present this paper as a panel presentation at the conference.

Colburn’s paper uses rhetorical criticism to examine how the character Nina Rosario uses Goffman’s theory of facework in her interactions with other characters in the musical In the Heights. Goffman defines facework in "Interaction Ritual: Essays on Face to Face Behavior” as the positive social value a person effectively claims for himself by the line others assume he has taken during particular contact.

Colburn notes how Nina’s storyline and use of facework reflect the struggles of real-life college students. She is currently the president of the Penn State Schuylkill Honor Society.

Christina DeMoss, a sophomore majoring in business, completed a rhetorical criticism paper titled “Choose Daenerys! A Rhetorical Analysis of Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones as an Intermediate Social Movement Leader.” She will present this paper as a panel presentation at the conference.

DeMoss’ paper uses Herbert W. Simons’ theory of social movement leadership to examine how the character Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones becomes first a moderate and then an intermediate social movement leader who relies primarily on militant tactics. Her paper advocates for future studies in social movement leadership and rhetoric.

DeMoss is also presenting her project titled “Creating Awareness and Co-creating Public Memory: A Rhetorical Analysis of the Film Hotel Rwanda,” as part of a panel for the Rhetoric and Public Address Interest Group of the ECA conference.

Kyanna Gonzalez, a sophomore double-majoring in forensic chemistry and digital/print journalism with a minor in physics will present a paper titled “A Rhetorical of Relational Dialectics in the TV series Hannibal” as a panel presentation at the conference. In her paper, Gonzalez uses the communication theory of relational dialectics to rhetorically analyze the episode “Potage” of the TV Series Hannibal. She advocates for the use of communication theories, such as relational dialectics, in studying criminal behavior.

Gonzalez will also present her project titled “Public Memory, Magic, and Writing: A Rhetorical Analysis of the TV Mini-Series Houdini and Doyle,” as part of a panel for the Rhetoric and Public Address Interest Group of the ECA conference.

Rebecca Masser, a sophomore majoring in advertising/public relations, wrote a rhetorical criticism paper titled “Selfishly ‘Selfless:’ A Pentadic Analysis of Act-Purpose Ratio in Kevin Rosario’s Storyline In the Heights.” She will present this paper as a poster presentation at the conference, and will compete with other undergraduate scholars in the Undergraduate Competitive Poster Session.

In her paper, Masser uses Burke’s dramatic pentad to analyze the storyline of Kevin Rosario, one of the characters in the musical In the Heights, suggesting that Kevin’s seemingly-selfless motives are actually a means of self-preservation. She questions whether any act can be truly selfless. A member of the Penn State Schuylkill Honors Program through 2016-17, Masser is now studying at University Park.

Under the direction and mentorship of Schrader, a group of eight Penn State Schuylkill students tied for Top School in the 2017 ECA-USC conference.

The Eastern Communication Association was established in 1910 and is the oldest professional communication association in the United States.

Please direct any questions about the Eastern Communication Association, the James C. McCroskey and Virginia P. Richmond Undergraduate Scholars Conference, or the Penn State Schuylkill Honors Program to Dr. Valerie Schrader at vls146@psu.edu.