Joshua L. Comer, Ph.D.

JOSHUA L. COMER

Joshua Comer is a communication educator and researcher. His scholarship focuses on the communication of technological changes, consumer adoption of new media, and the speech communities of professional communicators.

This site is currently undergoing a redesign.

EDUCATION

2015

Ph.D., Communication and Rhetoric

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Dissertation: Updates: Technologies of media change

2010

M.A., Media and Cinema Studies

DePaul University

Thesis: Palimpsests: Salvage, sacrifice, and the subject of truth in photographs

2008

B.S., Journalism

Bowling Green State University

PUBLICATIONS

Book

In preparation

Accept all changes: The diffusion of responsibilities in social media

My book proposal seeks to analyze updates in social media to understand the continued success of those enterprises across changes that should deter users according to prominent communication theories. Commonly encountered as notifications about the activities of software developers and users, updates comprise sets of changes that vary in scale from personal edits to system-wide modifications. Through case studies of Facebook, Hulu, and Twitter, I find that updates consult and inform users about developments in ways that frame the acceptance of change as a matter of accounting for past behaviors. Understanding how social media link current and planned developments with responsibilities for former actions and embed users in those relationships provides explanations for the continued use of those technologies despite changes that seem to break with the past and routines. By focusing on the communication between users and technologies, my research identifies patterns that contrast with the accounts provided by theories of habit-driven media consumption while addressing many of the same trends. Throughout the book, I position my research in respect to those communication and media theories and compare my findings to their descriptions and predictions.

Download

Articles

In preparation

Team-based learning in the communication classroom

Article in preparation

2014

By the numbers: California in world literature

Boom: A Journal of California, 4(1), 46-53

Co-authored with David L. Ulin

This article presents two preliminary views of California as revealed through quantitative corpus analysis. My portion of the article analyzes and visualizes the use of “California” and associated phrases in the nine languages collected in the Google Books corpora since 1525. For those new to computational corpus analysis, I introduce the techniques and concepts of corpus analysis, explain the strengths and weaknesses of large-scale, longitudinal studies of language, and describe the specific methods I applied in my analysis before describing the results. My co-author, a literary critic, reflects on the interpretations of California made possible by my visualizations of the trends found in the corpus.

Access journal

2011

Elocution and feminine power in the first quarter of the twentieth century: The career of Carolyn Winkler (Paterson) as performer and teacher

Rhetoric Review, 30(4), 387-405

Co-authored with Merrill Whitburn, Gaines Hubbell, Lisa Litterio, Raymond Lutzky, and Michael Rancourt

In this article, we examine how the professional life of elocutionist Alvina Winkler Paterson suggests that previous views about women being excluded from rhetorical activities in the earlier twentieth century need to be revised. Like many other contemporary women, Winkler Paterson was able to avail herself of private instruction in elocution and become a highly successful performer and educator in the Northeast. Her career casts considerable light on the nature of elocutionary performance, the course of elocutionary education, and feminine access to public arenas and power at the time.

Access journal

2008

Tracing sea-change: From The Tempest to The New York Times

Quidditas: Journal of the Rocky Mountain Medieval and Renaissance Association, 29, 137-149

My article approaches the changing uses of the Shakespearean phase “sea-change” in journalism as a case study in the long-standing power and evolving meaning of Shakespeare’s language. I use a mixture of computational and traditional content analysis methods to investigate the use of the phrase over a 150-year history of The New York Times. While not all sea-changes today are as major as those of which Ariel sang in The Tempest, my findings show the phrase has acquired a significant role in the newspaper.

Access journal

Book Chapter

2014

Another time: Novelizing history after the canon in Matheson

In C. Mathews and J. Haedicke (Eds.), Reading Richard Matheson: A critical survey. Lanham, MA: Rowman & Littlefield, 225-238

My chapter investigates the relationships between media, memory, and time manifested in Richard Matheson's writing. Matheson's body of work as a screenwriter and novelist as well as the efforts undertaken by characters within his works often focus on rescuing the past by transforming memories into something tangible. Entrusting memories to paper, celluloid, or circuitry promises a refuge for memory from the ravages of time for Matheson and the protagonists of his stories. However, committing memories to media creates new threats in Matheson's work as the past sbecomes ubject to manipulation and archives of memories threaten to overwhelm people.

Link to publisher

Book Review

2011

Review of Enemyship: Democracy and counter-revolution in the early republic by Jeremy Engels

Rhetoric Society Quarterly, 41(5), 499-502

My review of Jeremy Engels' Enemyship considers the book in the context of the current nationalist rhetoric being used by U.S. politicians. Engels provides a history of nationalism as a concept used in speeches, writings, and monuments to discipline the American traditions of democracy and revolution.

Access journal

AWARDS

2009–2010

Media and Cinema Studies Graduate Fellowship

DePaul University

Awarded one of two $10,000 fellowships awarded by the College of Communication's graduate program in media and cinema studies for thesis research

2008

President's Award for Outstanding Academic Achievement

Bowling Green State University

Award from the office of the university president for undergraduate academic contributions.

PRESENTATIONS

Conference Papers

2014

Masses of media: Sorting through media history in reality television

Popular Culture Association and American Culture Association Joint National Conference. Chicago, IL

2012

Mature content: Making and breaking ethical conventions in games

Language, Literature, and Communication Graduate Student Conference. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Troy, NY

2012

Gaming persuasion: The categorical imperative of moral and political mechanics in games

Popular Culture Association and American Culture Association Joint National Conference. Boston, MA

2011

Cache in the attic

Popular Culture Association and American Culture Association Joint National Conference. San Antonio, TX

2010

Playing in the past: Ghosts of a golden age of digital games

Popular Culture Association and American Culture Association Joint National Conference. St. Louis, MO

Guest Lectures

2013

Online journalism in international contexts

Internet and Law. Lecture conducted from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY

2012

Educational games

Social and Psychological Effects of Games. Lecture conducted from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY

EXPERIENCE

Teaching Experience

Spring 2012–Spring 2015

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Graduate Teaching Assistant

Introduction to Communication Theory

Co-designed and taught undergraduate courses on communication theory and research methods

Utopian Literature

Assisted teaching an undergraduate course on utopian themes in film, literature, and television

Fall 2007–Spring 2008

Bowling Green State University

Undergraduate Teaching Assistant

Introduction to International Studies

Facilitated courses on global development in an international studies-focused learning community

Administrative Experience

2011

Assistant Director

Communication Internship Program

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Researched communication internship policies and drafted revised departmental guidelines based on findings

Production Experience

2011

Consultant

Center for Communication Practices

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Coached students on speaking, writing, and visual design

2005–2008

Staff Writer

The Advertiser-Tribune

Reported on crime and government for a daily newspaper

Professional Service

2013—

Editorial Board and Book Review Editor

Journal of Games Criticism

Co-founded an open-access journal, established book review guidelines, and reviewed submissions

2012

Panel Chair and Organizer

The rhetorical dynamics of character, competition, and cooperation in games

Popular Culture Association and American Culture Association Joint National Conference. Boston, MA

Organized and responded to a panel on rhetoric and games studies

2005–2006

Student Assistant

Partners For Change

Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio and Manouba University, Manouba, Tunisia

Led workshops on internet-based reporting in a cultural and technological exchange program with Tunisia funded by the U.S. Department of State