Jennifer and Eric Spiegel Book Award Winners

The Department of Communication is proud to host the annual competition for the Jennifer and Eric Spiegel Book Award. The purpose of the award is to encourage and foster scholarship in the department. In addition to the prestige that comes with the award, the winner will also receive a stipend, processed through Student Accounts. Featured here are some of the most recent winners.

2017-2018 Thomas Wick

"The Persuasive Procedural Rhetoric of Spec Ops: the Line"

Thomas's Essay explores the use of procedural rhetoric in the 2012 First Person Shooter Spec Ops: the Line. Set in the desert of Dubai, the narrative of the video game follows a squad of American soldiers tasked with investigating the city. They discover the city has been placed under martial law and the soldiers have to restore order to the city. Taking narrative influences from Heart of Darkness and Apocalypse Now, Spec Ops: the Line uses Ian Bogots concept of procedural rhetoric to persuade the player about the true terror about war and how often times soldiers are forced to commit heinous acts to achieve victory. Thomas's analysis incorporates various scenarios from the game, comparisons to other video games, as well as the tedious gameplay of Spec Ops: the Line to demonstrate the effectiveness of the games rhetoric, even more so then books, photographs, and films. 

2016-2017 Alexandra Misitano

"An Analysis of the Visual Rhetoric Exemplified in the Image “Raising the Flag at Ground Zero”"

In her paper, Alexandra takes a deeper look at the way a photograph can transcend into an iconic piece of rhetoric. She does this through analyzing one specific photo and identifying the elements that contribute to its success. The photo she chose was taken on September 11th, 2001, and depicts three firefighters raising the United States flag, surrounded by the dust and debris that encompassed ground zero. Her analysis develops through each element as she discusses the historical connection of the day that the photo was taken, the symbolism of the flag, the pathos and emotional effect the image has on its audience, the ethos portrayed by the firefighters, and finally the immediacy factor of the photograph. These factors combine to give the artifact strong visual rhetoric that appeals to its audience, not only in the United States, but also all over the world. 

2015-2016 Madeline Denison Budny

“Did I Fall Asleep?” Interpellation and Radical Subjectivity in Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse

Madeline's essay looks at Joss Whedon's 2009-10 television show Dollhouse, which tells the story of experiments done by a fictional corporation on memory and the human brain. In the show, wealthy individuals commission the Dollhouse, a subset of this corporation, to upload constructed personalities into the minds of volunteers whose own personalities have been removed and stored for a five-year period. Throughout the series’ two seasons, Dollhouse draws direct comparisons between the construction of personalities and the influence of market capitalism on identity. Using Louis Althusser’s theory of interpellation, Madeline's essay demonstrates that Dollhouse critiques this influence by juxtaposing it with literal brainwashing and by affirming a process of radical subject formation, wherein identity is created external to the interpellative processes of consumption and media.

2014-2015 Alexandra Corral Edmonds

“Spain’s 15-M Protestors: Recovering the Greek Agora in a Liminal Space.”

In her paper, Edmonds explores the utilization of Web 2.0 communication technologies by Spanish protest group 15-M in its 2011 encampments in Spain. 15-M’s protest tactics combined modern-day technology with a nuanced understanding of ancient Greek argumentation practices. Further exploring this interrelation, Edmonds examines how 15-M made use of live streaming to “bridge” physical and virtual landscapes, resulting in the creation of a liminal space for communication, wherein protestors deliberated and engaged in consensus-making in a space that was neither entirely physical nor virtual. This liminal space served to democratize access to 15-M’s Greek-inspired agoras, through allowing the attendance and active participation of protestors, regardless of their geographic location. As such, 15-M’s novel use of techniques, old and new, sets the stage for a new genre of interaction to occur among protestors, as similar organized protests continue to emerge worldwide.