Alumna earns award for dissertation

December 19, 2008

A Penn State alumna who earned her doctorate in mass communications from the University in 2007 has earned the “2008 Outstanding Dissertation Award” from the Critical and Cultural Studies Division of the National Communication Association (NCA).

Miranda Brady, now a visiting assistant professor at the University of Minnesota School of Journalism and Mass Communication, will receive a plaque and a check for $200, recognizing her dissertation titled “Discourse, Cultural Policy, and Other Mechanisms of Power: The National Museum of the American Indian.”

“Its primary focus is the intersection of communication, media and the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) in Washington D.C.,” Brady said. “My current work follows a longer trajectory tracing the relationship between media, culture and entrance into political public discourse.”

The NCA awards committee was “very impressed” with the theoretical sophistication of Brady’s dissertation and said, “Because of its elegant navigation through many disciplines (art history, anthropology, communication, sociology, political science, etc.), this project fulfills the promise of cultural studies to work in these fields in ways that surpass their hermetically sealed practitioners. It is extremely well-researched, detailed, nuanced, and engagingly written.”

Brady focused on critical and cultural studies while at Penn State from 2003 to 2007. She took courses relating to the political economy of the mass media and qualitative research methods, while also completing a minor in social thought.

Matt McAllister, an associate professor in the Department of Film-Video and Media Studies, served as co-chair of Brady’s dissertation committee.

“I believe her dissertation has the potential to be the definitive work on NMAI and has added important insights about all museums involving indigenous groups,” he said. “While her committee was conferring at her oral defense, another committee member said, ‘This isn’t one dissertation. It’s three dissertations.’ ”

Other members of Brady’s dissertation committee were: co-chair Jeremy Packer, an associate professor of communication at North Carolina State University; and Dennis Davis, a professor in the Department of Film-Video and Media Studies.

Brady earned a master’s degree in mass communications from San José State University in 2003 and a bachelor’s degree in communication from Saint Mary’s College of California in 1999.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated March 19, 2009