Communication and Media Studies

CMS Speaker Series

The CMS Speaker Series is dedicated to advancing discourse and learning around contemporary issues in communication and media studies across disciplinary boundaries. 

Each year the CMS program brings a diverse roster of speakers to campus to spark intellectual curiosity and engage the campus and Chestertown community in contemporary debate around a wide variety of issues.

Each guest scholar holds a student seminar during the day for students and faculty. Student seminars are informal spaces for students to learn from and interact with the guest scholar. Secondly, each guest scholar gives an afternoon public lecture. These lectures are open for anyone to attend; we strongly encourage and welcome non-campus community participants.

For a list of past speakers, student seminars, and public lectures please click here

The series is overseen and curated by Prof. Kozma with the assistance of Prof. Grosse. Past speakers have been generously supported by the William James Forum Fund, the Business Management Department, and the program in Black Studies. 

Spring 2019 Speakers & Events

The CMS Speaker Series will host two speakers during the Spring 2019 term. Information on all events is below.

Dr. Allison Page | Assistant Professor of Communication & Theatre Arts, Old Dominion University

Monday February 4, 2019

Student Seminar, 1pm-2pm Sophie Kerr Room: “Governing through Algorithms: Predictive Policing in the Era of Black Lives Matter”

Within the past five years, police departments across the United States have increasingly turned to digital technologies putatively designed to make policing more efficient and “race-neutral.” In particular, through the use of software like PredPol, which is reliant on analytical and predictive algorithms, policing has undergone a temporal shift toward what is called “proactive” or “predictive” rather than “reactive” policing. Predictive policing justifies ever-increasing surveillance of racialized and impoverished communities under the guise of neutrality garnered by supposedly impartial data. Indeed, as big data mystifies in terms of race, gender, class, and sexuality, it also visualizes and makes these categories knowable, often through highly coded language and classifications like “neighborhood.” At the same time that Black Lives Matter is calling attention to police brutality and police killings of unarmed black people, the use of data, body cameras, and other media technologies is proliferating as a solution. In this presentation, Dr. Page examines this entanglement of policing, surveillance, and the digital in the context of Black Lives Matter and the fight for racial justice. She suggests that the simultaneous rise of Black Lives Matter and hyper-mediated policing requires close scrutiny of the digital and its capture of contemporary life.

Public Lecture, 4:30pm-5:30pm Litrenta Hall: ‘Meet, Help, Become a Slave…to Better Understand History’: Race and Agency in Educational Videogames”

In this presentation, Dr. Page examines the educational role-playing videogame Flight to Freedom, part of the Mission U.S. series of games designed to teach middle school students about the history of slavery in the United States. In Flight to Freedom, players inhabit the character Lucy, a 14-year-old girl enslaved in 1848, two years before the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act. Set in northern Kentucky and southern Ohio, the game begins with Lucy on the “King plantation” outside Lexington. Divided into five parts plus prologue and epilogue, the game requires students to navigate choices provided in order to help Lucy “find a path to freedom.” Flight to Freedom is part of a larger curriculum with an interactive website featuring teacher’s guides, activities, and primary source documents. Through an analysis of the game as well as the broader educational agenda and policy discourse in which Flight to Freedom is situated, Dr. Page argues that the game is a technology of racialized citizenship that centers choice and individual agency while erasing white supremacy. The absence of racism or a critical discussion of whiteness teaches students, including those labeled as “risky,” a very safe kind of resistance and agency for the status quo, one that does not challenge white supremacy. In this way, Dr. Page places Flight to Freedom in a longer genealogy of public media’s civic and pedagogical efforts that work to govern race.

Allison PageDr. Allison Page is assistant professor with a joint appointment in the  Humanities Institute and the Department of Communication and Theatre  Arts at Old Dominion University. Prior to joining the faculty at ODU, she  was Visiting Assistant Professor of New Media Studies at Hampshire  College, and also taught at Smith College and Mount Holyoke College.

Her work has been published in Television and New Media, the Journal of  Consumer Culture, Feminist Media Studies, and Cultural Studies/Critical Methodologies. She is currently working on a book project preliminarily titled “The Affective Life of Slavery: Race, Media, and Governance.” 


Thanks to the Black Studies Program, the Mathematics and Computer Science Department, and the Education Department for supporting Dr. Page’s visit to campus.  

Dr. Stephanie Brown | Visiting Assistant Professor of Communication, St. Louis University

Monday March 25, 2019

Student Seminar, 1pm-2pm Sophie Kerr Room: “Dissecting the Frog: Identity and Comedic Taste”

How do professional television critics shape the discourse around what is and isn’t considered funny? Whether a series is considered funny or not funny is not merely a function of an individual audience member’s personal taste, but the result of a process of meaning making within the whole field of stand-up comedy, of which critics play an integral role in the legitimation of comedic texts. While the recent success of women-helmed comedy series like Insecure (HBO) and Broad City (Comedy Central) in the form of accolades, positive reviews and growing buzz seems to signal a shift in the historically male-dominated arena of comedy, television critics tend to take seriously women-centric comedic programming only when they abide by masculine standards of “good taste.” In this talk, we’ll unpack how television critics align ideas of “funny” and “authenticity” in their creation of taste hierarchies and how the defining of comedic inauthenticity often draws on ideas of feminine artificiality.

Public Lecture, 5:30pm-6:30pm Litrenta Hall: “Open Mic?: Gender, Labor, and Gatekeeping in Stand-up Comedy”

In this talk, Dr. Brown will discuss the gendered labor of becoming a successful stand-up comic. Stand-up comedy, like other cultural industries, is marked by short-term precarious employment, informal networks of entry, and a lack of managerial structure or formal policies on diversity and inclusion. The industry thus tends to produce and exacerbate gendered and racial inequality, especially at the local, least formalized levels. Dr. Brown focus primarily on local stand-up comedy scenes as the start of the comedy industrial pipeline, drawing on interviews with comics performing in Chicago. She’ll also touch on the ways in which women, especially queer women and women of color, are treated within the stand-up industry - locally, nationally, and in digital spaces— as outsiders who must constantly prove their worth through a shifting and slippery set of aesthetic and cultural norms that reinforce masculine dominance both on and offstage.

Stephanie Brown

Stephanie Brown is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Communication at  Saint Louis University. She holds an M.A. in Television, Radio, and Film from Syracuse University and a Ph.D. in Media and Communications from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

Her most recent projects include work on gender, authenticity, and  gatekeeping in stand-up comedy; podcasting; and social television fandom. Her work appears in Flow Journal, In Media Res, Transformative Works and Cultures, Studies in American Humor and the forthcoming in the Encyclopedia of Gender, Media and Communication.


For questions on 2019 events please contact Prof. Grosse. For questions on the series itself and/or funding opportunities, please contact Prof. Kozma