COMM graduate student, Jonathan Foland, wins award for excellence in teaching

Jonathan Foland (Department of Communication), was one of five graduate students at UNC-CH selected to receive the 2016 Tanner Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching by Graduate Teaching Assistants.  Congratulations, Jonathan!

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For more about the University’s Teaching Awards, visit here.

WSS application period runs 2/1 to 2/28

**NOTE: interested students must be of sophomore or junior standing by fall 2016 **


2/5 & 2/6: “I Was Never Alone”

February 5th, 7:00pm
Post-show discussion with playwright, actors, and director
February 6th, 2:00pm
Post-show discussion with a panel of scholars

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The Department of Communication in partnership with Arts at the Core is excited to present I Was Never Alone, a new play that focuses on the personal narratives of seven adults with disabilities living in contemporary Russia, presented as a series of monologue-portraits.  The narratives are drawn nearly verbatim from translations of interviews with Russians with a range of disabilities during playwright Cassandra Hartblay’s dissertation fieldwork.

Performance ethnography is an important genre of research because it focuses on opening a space for discussion and dialogue, says Cassandra Hartblay, playwright and ethnographer of I Was Never Alone. So often researchers summarize what they’ve learned in the field in text, and there is little room for audiences “back home” to engage with the work in a way that changes it. Holding the staged reading and talk back sessions at UNC will be an exciting moment for me as an ethnographer because I will get to hear what people are hearing in, and taking away from, the stories that I get to tell.

For US audiences, the play sheds light on assumptions about what daily life is like in contemporary Russia, and asks the audience to contend with discrimination against people with disabilities in their own lives. For Russian audiences, it represents a key emergence of disability-theater, in a culture and society where people with disabilities are still rarely depicted outside of the role of charity-seeking needy poor. And for all audiences, it resonates with universal themes of love, relationships, coming of age, and a sense of belonging.

The event is co-sponsored by Performance Studies, Arts at the Core, and the Moral Economies of Medicine working group in Medical Anthropology.

All events will be held in the Black Box Studio Six Theater in Swain Hall on the UNC-CH campus. There is no charge for tickets, with a $5 recommended donation at the door.

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About the Artist

Cassandra Hartblay is an interdisciplinary scholar with a focus on ethnographic praxis and disability studies. Her work centers on the voices and perspectives of adults with disabilities in Russia and the former Soviet Union. Cassandra’s research in Russia takes a critical perspective to trace the way that disability acts as a global category of legal, medical, and social significance, with specific implications for sociality, citizenship, person-hood, and notions of access and justice in post-socialism. Her work draws on theoretical insights from cultural and medical anthropology, infrastructure studies, queer/crip theory, digital studies, design anthropology, and performance studies. During her time as a Post-doctoral Fellow in Ethnographic Design, Cassandra will be working on her book project, an ethnography of local and global able-isms in contemporary Russia, and developing an ethnographic play script based on the personal narratives of adults with a range of disabilities living in community settings in a small Russian city. Cassandra’s work on these and related subjects has appeared in a variety of publications, including Disability Studies Quarterly, the Canadian Journal of Disability Studies, Brown Journal of World Affairs, and the interdisciplinary blog Somatosphere. She was the 2013 recipient of the Zola Award for Emerging Scholars in Disability Studies, and, most recently, a research fellow at the Kennan Institute at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars in Washington DC.

1/8-31: “Veterans and Their Families”, a festival of new works

** NOTICE: (new time!) Due to the snow, a performance of An Loc has been re-scheduled for Sunday, January 31st at 2:00 p.m. in Swain Hall **

** NOTICE (1/23/16): Saturday evening’s performance of An Loc has been cancelled due to inclement weather **

** NOTICE (1/22/16): Friday evening’s performance of An Loc has been cancelled due to inclement weather **


This January, UNC’s Department of Communication – Performance Studies Program is excited to collaborate with StreetSigns Center and the UNC Process Series to present three new works about Veterans and their families.

The festival includes new works by Elisabeth Lewis Corley, Mike Wiley and Gregory DeCandia, and will be directed by Joseph Megel.  Also produced in partnership with the Office of the Dean of Students’ student veterans’ affairs, each piece is “locally grown,” and was inspired by the stories and experiences of members of our community.  The festival includes the reading of a screenplay, a new play, and the workshop performance of a new documentary solo piece. Each performance will conclude with a “talk-back” with the creative team, as well as volunteers from UNC student veterans’ groups.



“For too many of us, for too long, Americans have distanced ourselves from the costs of war—impact on soldiers, veterans, their families, the civilians in the line of fire in places where our wars are fought,” says Joseph Megel, director of Veterans and Their Families. “The financial costs, yes, are always high but exponentially more important is the cost in human suffering. Wiley, DeCandia, and Corley have created work that takes us way past comfortably abstract notions of ‘American Interests’ as they weigh the moral, ethical, and human dimensions of American wars on foreign soil and in the process perhaps bring us a little closer to understanding something about war and the toll it takes.”

Tickets can be reserved through the Carolina Union by clicking here 

Veterans and Their Families Poster

 Tickets can be reserved through the Carolina Union by clicking here 


Downrange: Voices from the Homefront (by Mike Wiley)

            ⇒ Jan 8, 9 and 14

A new play about the impact of deployment on military families based on interviews conducted by Hidden Voices. A New Work Commissioned by the Cape Fear Regional Theatre, Downrange will premiere in Fayetteville in March. January’s reading will be an opportunity to hear an early draft of this new work.

Mike Wiley’s most recent works include a one-man play based on Tim Tyson’s memoir Blood Done Sign My Name and The Parchman Hour, an ensemble production celebrating the bravery and determination of the Freedom Riders who risked their lives to desegregate Southern interstate bus travel in 1961. Mike Wiley has a Masters of Fine Arts from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and is the 2010 Lehman Brady Visiting Joint Chair Professor in Documentary Studies and American Studies at Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In addition to his numerous school and community performances, he has also appeared on Discovery Channel, The Learning Channel and National Geographic Channel and has been featured in Our State magazine and on PBS’ North Carolina Now and WUNC’s The State of Things.

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 Silhouettes of Service (performed and written by Gregory DeCandia)

            ⇒ Jan 10, 15, 16 and 18

A new documentary theatre piece that illuminates the true stories of soldiers from the shadows of WWII to current cadets. This staged workshop will be performed by MFA Acting Candidate Gregory DeCandia and is based on interviews with veterans across the country. More information on the Silhouettes of Service Project can be found at

Gregory DeCandia is an MFA candidate at UNC Chapel Hill and a member of PlayMakers Repertory Company. He holds a BFA in Acting from Emerson College and served as the Producing Artistic Director of BCKSEET Productions from 2000-2011. He has performed in over 40 productions, directed 15 plays and musicals, and a guest artist at UVA, Temple University, and is teaching Drama 135 at UNC this year. He was the head of the Theatre Department at Colegio Interamericano in Guatemala and most recently at Boys’ Latin of Philadelphia. While at Boys’ Latin DeCandia developed and directed two documentary theatre pieces about gun violence and violent teen flash mobs.

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 An Loc (by Elisabeth Lewis Corley)

            ⇒ Jan 17, 22 and 23

A reading of a screenplay. One decision by one person caused an avalanche of consequences in a small hamlet sixty miles north of Saigon in the spring of 1972. An Loc is a story of what happens to individuals in extremity—who rises, who falls, and who might be impacted by any given explosion. Written by local writer and performer Elisabeth Lewis Corley, An Loc is a fictional account based on the true story of her father’s military service during the battle of An Loc late in the Vietnam War, and its effect on the families in its wake.

Elisabeth Lewis Corley was founding artistic director of the Atlanta Shakespeare Company. In New York she worked as an actor and producer for Signature Theatre Company in its first four seasons and produced and performed in plays by Jim Grimsley for Harland’s Creek Productions. Corley’s poems have appeared in Southern Poetry Review, Hyperion, Carolina Quarterly, Feminist Studies, BigCityLit, MahMag, and other publications. She wrote the screenplay for John David Allen’s short film Love and Roadkill, seen internationally in its award-winning festival rounds. Her short film About Time, directed by Joseph Megel and produced by Harland’s Creek Productions made the festival rounds last year. She holds an MFA in poetry from the Warren Wilson Program for Writers and a B.A. with Highest-Honors-in-Poetry from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she has taught screenwriting. Corley is a member of the Dramatists Guild, Actors’ Equity Association, and SAG/AFTRA.

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  About the UNC Department of Communication Performance Studies Branch

Performance Studies focuses on performance as a method of textual study, as an aesthetic event, and as a social and rhetorical act. Exploring how performance operates as a way of knowing, of being, and of acting in our world, this area of the department offers a broad range of courses concerned with performances that occur in classroom spaces, theatre spaces, everyday spaces, and social spaces.

About StreetSigns Center for Literature and Performance

StreetSigns is an award-winning professional performing arts and educational center. Founded in Chicago in 1992, StreetSigns has presented more than fifty productions in its twenty-plus year history. StreetSigns has worked in partnership with Northwestern University, the Department of Communication at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Georgetown University, always dedicated to the development and presentation of new literary adaptations, company created theatrical works, innovative new plays, and bold re-imaginings of classics

About the UNC Process Series

Dedicated to the development of new and significant works in the performing arts, The Process Series (Joseph Megel, founding artistic director) features professionally mounted, developmental presentations of new works in progress. The mission of the Series is to illuminate the ways in which artistic ideas take form, to examine the creative process, to offer audiences the opportunity to follow artists and performers as they explore and discover, and by so doing to enrich the development process for artists with the ultimate goal of better art and a closer relationship between artists and audiences.

Prof. Waltman talks with The Fix about hate speech

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An interview with COMM Professor Michael Waltman was featured in the Washington Post on December 12th, 2015.



“The Fix wondered if, in the attempt to describe a range of political events, comments and proposals that have shocked even long-time presidential election watchers, political insiders might be drawing a highly similar but excessively dramatic set of conclusions.

So, The Fix thought it might be wise to check in with an expert. This time, the context our expert provides may itself frighten you. You have been warned.

The Expert

Michael Waltman is an associate professor of communication at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is the author of Hate on the Right: Right Wing Political Groups and Hate Speech, published this year. In 2011, a book he co-authored with John Haas, The Communication of Hate, also hit bookstores. Waltman’s research centers on the way that hate can be an effective tool when used to pursue a variety of social and personal goals.” (to read the full article, go here)

COMM featured in “For the Record” post

For the Record, the blog of the University Archives & Records Management Services team at UNC-CH, in an October post turned its focus to “The Creation of the Department of Communication Studies” (circa 1993).

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{excerpt} University Archives recently acquired records from the Department of Communication, located in Bingham Hall. The records highlighted one of the many departmental reorganizations that have shaped the university: the 1993 merger of the Department of Radio, Television, and Motion Pictures (RTVMP) and the Department of Speech Communication. The merger resulted in the Department of Communication Studies, which this month became the Department of Communication. 
To read the full piece, visit For the Record.
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12/3-19: “The Tramp’s New World”, directed by Joseph Megel


Created and performed by Rob Jansen, who says, “This play asks us how we respond when our world comes to an end.  While Agee’s 1949 screenplay was a direct response to the dropping of the atomic bomb, the Tramp’s story of survival amidst ultimate destruction and his ability to find laughter in the darkest of places is universal in its relevance to any time.”

Director Joseph Megel says, “Given the volatility of the world we live in, with its ever- present existential threat from endless warfare and environmental degradation, Rob uses the poetry of Agee to connect us with our own humanity through the character of Chaplin’s Tramp — urging us to find what is worth saving, what is valuable about being human in the face of so much grief and loss.”



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Reviewed by Byron Woods in the Independent Weekly: Charlie Chaplin and James Agee after the nuclear apocalypse in The Tramp’s New World


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“The Emotions of Normal People”, Dec 3-19

white space (for blocking needs)Little Green Pig presents,

in association with the UNC Department of Communication

co-directed by COMM Professor Tony Perucci

with sound design by COMM Professor Michael Palm


“One family feels the agony and ecstasy of life under the experiment-in-living that was the German Democratic Republic. Love affairs, betrayals and sex with Stasi-agents populate this originalmovementtheaterwerk by Durham’s bad kids of contemporary performance.”

Tickets;  (919) 452-2304;  $15/$12/$8

Location: Swain Hall, 101 E Cameron Ave, Chapel Hill, NC 27514

Dates: December 3-19 {Thursday- Saturday each week}

For more information and to watch a trailer, click here.

Five COMM undergraduates inducted into Phi Beta Kappa, Fall 2015

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Congratulations to the following COMM undergraduates, members of the Fall 2015 induction class, Phi Beta Kappa – Alpha of North Carolina Chapter

Andrew Allen (COMM/ART; minor: Writing for the Screen & Stage)

Mason Allen (COMM/MUSIC)

Carol DeSalva (COMM/MEDIA & JOURNALISM; minor: Dramatic Art)

William Foos, Jr. (COMM; minor: Chemistry)



Phi Beta Kappa is the oldest and most distinguished of all collegiate honorary societies. For more than two hundred years, election to membership has been a recognition of academic excellence achieved in the course of completing an education in the liberal arts and sciences at the undergraduate level. The objectives of humane learning encouraged by Phi Beta Kappa include intellectual honesty and tolerance, a broad range of intellectual interests, and a lifelong commitment to the pursuit of learning.  For more, check out this brief history.

COMM Ph.D. students organize FEMINISM HERE & NOW: An Interdisciplinary Conversation

Feminism Here and Now: An Interdisciplinary Conversation seeks to spark a critical conversation about what feminist praxis may look like in the first half of the 21st century and what role feminism may continue to play in critiquing and intervening in a broad range of social, cultural, and political issues.



The conference has been arranged by Ph.D. students in the Department of Communication, and will highlight cutting edge research from faculty, graduate, and undergraduate students from a variety of disciplines.

For more information, and a schedule of events, please visit the conference’s webpage.



Co-Chairs: Mary Domenico & Erin Arizzi

Digital Media Coordinator: Heather Woods

Graphic Design Coordinator: Megan Wood

Organizing Committee:
Lucy Burgchardt
Jonathan Foland
Margaret Franz
Marie Garlock
Evan Litwack
Ashley Mattheis
Elizabeth Melton
Ali Na
Maximilian Spiegel



Thank you to our sponsors at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: Art Department, Carolina Women’s Center, The Center for Global Initiatives, The Center for the Study of the American South, Communication Graduate Student Association, The Curriculum in Global Studies, Department of Asian Studies, Department of Classics, Department of Communication, Department of Geography, Department of History, Department of Political Science, Department of Religious Studies, Department of Romance Studies, Department of Women’s and Gender Studies, English and Comparative Literature, The Graduate School, Global Studies, The James M. Johnston Center for Undergraduate Excellence, Provost Committee on LGBTQ Life, School of Library and Information Science, School of Media and Journalism, Southern Oral History Program, UNC Chapel Hill Program in Sexuality Studies, University Program in Cultural Studies.