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Distinguished Alumni Lecture

The Distinguished Alumni Lecture is an annual lecture given by an alumnus of the Department of Communication at USF. Each year the faculty of the department selects an alumnus of the department to deliver the Distinguished Alumni Lecture and to participate in other events in the department.

The following distinguished alumni of the Department of Communication at the University of South Florida have delivered the Distinguished Alumni Lecture:

2012: Dr. Daniel Makagon, "Digital Mapping and the Sonic City"

Dr. Daniel Makagon (PhD, 2001) delivered the 2012 Alumni Lecture, "Digital Mapping and the Sonic City,"  Makagon is an associate professor of communication at DePaul University and the author of Where the Ball Drops: Days and Nights in Times Square (University of Minnesota Press, 2004) and co-author of Recording Culture: Audio Documentary and the Ethnographic Experience (Sage, 2008). 

Professor Makagon's teaching and research interests are in urban communication, ethnography, documentary, cultural studies, media criticism, and community. His book, Where the Ball Drops: Days and Nights in Times Square, was published with University of Minnesota Press in 2004 (paperback 2007). He is also co-author with Mark Neumann of Recording Culture: Audio Documentary and the Ethnographic Experience. Makagon's published articles on guerrilla art, cultural disruption, democracy, and urban life have appeared in Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies, Text & Performance Quarterly Journal of Communication Inquiry, and Southern Communication Journal. He has won publication awards from the Urban Communication Foundation, NCA's Ethnography Divsion, and NCA's Critical/Cultural Studies Division. Makagon is also editor of a special issue of Liminalities on The City and co-editor with Michael LeVan of a special issue of Text & Performance Quarterly on the seven deadly sins. His audio documentaries have been broadcast on public radio and on the DocumentaryWorks.



2011: J. Emmett Winn, “The Communication of Racist Ideologies in USDA Documentaries”

Dr. Winn (PhD 1999) is Associate Professor of Communication and Vice Provost at Auburn University. He spoke in part about his latest book, Documenting Racism: African Americans in U.S. Department of Agriculture Films. From the silent era through the 1950s, the U.S. Department of Agriculture was the preeminent government filmmaking organization. In the United States, USDA films were shown in movie theaters, public and private schools at all educational levels, churches, libraries, and even in open fields. For many Americans in the early 1900s, the USDA films were the first motion pictures they watched. The films chronicle over half a century of American farm life and agricultural work and, in so doing, also chronicle the social, cultural, and political changes in the United States at a crucial time in its development into a global superpower. Focusing specifically on four key films, Winn’s research explicates the representation of African Americans in these films within the socio-political context of their times and in so doing provides a clearer understanding of how politics and filmmaking converged to promote a governmentally sanctioned view of racism in the U.S. in the early 20th century.

Dr. Winn’s books include The American Dream and Contemporary Hollywood Cinema and Transmitting the Past: Historical and Cultural Perspectives on Broadcasting. He has published numerous scholarly articles in international, national, and regional Communication and Film Studies journals including the Journal of Communication, Critical Studies in Mass Communication, the Southern Communication Journal, and the Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media. He currently serves on the editorial boards of the Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media and Communication Studies, and recently completed a term as Executive Director of the Southern States Communication Association.

2010: Laura Ellingson, “Aunting: Cultural Practices that Sustain Family and Community Life”

Dr. Ellingson (PhD 2001) is associate professor in the Departments of Communication and Women's & Gender Studies at Santa Clara University. Her inaugural Distinguished Alumni Lecture drew from her recent book with Dr. Patricia Sotirin of Michigan Technological University, Aunting: Cultural Practices That Sustain Family and Community Life (Baylor University Press, 2010). Ellingson promoted the enormous potential of aunting as a model for understanding, honoring, and supporting the wide variety of family forms present in society today.

Whether related by biology, marriage, circumstance, or choice, aunts embody a uniquely flexible familial role. The aunt-niece/nephew relationship—though often overlooked—is critical and complex, one that appears at the core of a resilient, healthy family life. For Ellingson, “aunts” is more verb than noun. Rather than a category of people or a role, "to aunt" is a practice, something people "do." Some women "aunt" as second mothers, friends, or mentors, while others play more peripheral roles. Drawing on personal narratives that represent a rich cross section of society, Ellingson and her coauthor construct a cohesive story of the diversity of aunting experiences in the contemporary United States.

Dr. Ellingson’s other books include Engaging Crystallization in Qualitative Research: An Introduction (Sage 2008) and Communicating in the Clinic: Negotiating Frontstage and Backstage Teamwork (Hampton Press, 2004). She conducts research on interpersonal communication within extended family networks and within health care organizations using feminist interviewing and feminist ethnographic methods, and has published her work in such journals as Women and Language, Women's Studies in Communication, Health Communication, Qualitative Inquiry, and Communication Studies. She teaches Qualitative Research Methods, Public Speaking, Communication and Gender, and Health.