Jessica Benham, MA

1438 CL
Office hours: By appt.
412-624-6760
412-624-1878

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Education

BA, Political Science, Bethel University

BA, Communication, Bethel University

MA, Communication Studies, Minnesota State University, Mankato

Biography

Jessica is a doctoral student in Communication and a master’s student in Bioethics at the University of Pittsburgh. She holds a master’s degree in communication studies from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Her primary research interests lie in investigating the rhetorical and ethical constructions of disability in society. Her thesis, Proud to be Autistic: Metaphorical Construction and Salience of Cultural and Personal Identity in #StopCombatingMe, presents research on Autistic self-advocacy through a neurodiversity perspective.

A firm believer in the value of Autistic culture, Jessica is also an advocate for Autistic rights, interested in creating sensory friendly spaces in educational settings, increasing access to IEPs for Autistic children in public schools, helping parents, teachers, and healthcare professionals better understand Autistic people, and reducing barriers to employment for Autistic adults. Heavily involved in Pittsburgh disability advocacy, Jess is the Director of Public Policy at the Pittsburgh Center for Autistic Advocacy, serves on the board of Autism Connection of PA, and works in an advisory capacity with a number of disability organizations in the Pittsburgh area and nationally.  She was recognized in 2016 as an Autistic Scholars Fellow by the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network. 

 

Areas of Interest

Rhetoric of science, Disability studies, Autism, Bioethics, Gender, Media

Conferences

Benham, J. L. (2015, November). Saving the “mad man” in a box: A critical analysis of the role of female companions in Doctor Who. Paper presented at the annual convention of the National Communication Association, Las Vegas, NV.

Benham, J. L. (2015, October). Disability in the X-Men films: A cultural lens. Paper presented at the annual convention of the Midwest Pop Culture Association, Cincinnati, OH.

Benham, J. L. (2014, November). Discovering the reason behind my difference: An autoethnographic examination of autism as identity. Paper presented at the annual convention of the National Communication Association, Chicago, IL. 

Benham, J. L. (2016, November). The new “R-word”?: The language of Autistic self-advocacy. Panel to be conducted at the annual convention of the National Communication Association, Philadelphia, PA.

Benham, J. L. (2016, November). Consumerism, voyeurism, and medicalism: Turning a critical rhetorical lens to the commodification of non-normative bodies. Panel to be conducted at the annual convention of the National Communication Association, Philadelphia, PA.

Benham, J. L. (2016, November). Intersectional neurodiversity: Building intersectionality in activism, scholarship, and pedagogy. Panel to be conducted at the annual convention of the National Communication Association, Philadelphia, PA.

Benham, J. L. (2016, November). Argumentative discourse in the regulation of medicine and health services. Panel to be conducted at the annual convention of the National Communication Association, Philadelphia, PA.

Benham, J. L. (2016, April). Stereotyped agency: Cripping up perceptions of communication technology use by (dis)abled rhetors. Panel conducted at the annual convention of the Eastern Communication Association, Baltimore, MD.

Benham, J. L. (2015, November). Intercultural readings of the X-Men film series. Panel conducted at the annual convention of the National Communication Association, Las Vegas, NV.

Benham, J. L. (2015, November). Adapting public speaking classes to support students on the Autism Spectrum as an opportunity to improve all students' learning experiences. Panel conducted at the annual convention of the National Communication Association, Las Vegas, NV.

Benham, J. L. (2015, November). Stereotyping, objectification, and stigmatization of the polyamorous female body, or No, I won’t date you and your husband. Panel conducted at the annual convention of the National Communication Association, Las Vegas, NV.

Benham, J. L. (2015, June). Autism advocacy and communication: Reclaiming “Autistic”. Panel conducted at the annual convention of the Society for Disability Studies, Atlanta, GA.

Benham, J. L. (2015, April). When theories converge, which do we choose? Juxtaposing feminism and crip theory. Panel conducted at the annual convention of the Central States Communication Association, Madison, WI.

Benham, J. L. (2014, November). Don’t call me doctor: Negotiating credibility as a graduate teaching assistant. Panel conducted at the annual convention of the National Communication Association, Chicago, IL.

Benham, J. L. (2014, November). Pulling from our past while building for the future: Training resources and techniques in the individual events. Panel conducted at the annual convention of the National Communication Association, Chicago, IL. 

Benham, J. L. (2016). Xavier as Marvel’s super-crip: Reframing disabled masculinity in the X-Men films. In C. Bucciferro (Ed.) The X-Men films: A cultural analysis. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.
Benham, J. L. (Spring 2016). Limited time: Meeting judge expectations and pedagogical standards in Rhetorical Criticism. National Forensics Journal.
Benham, J. L. & Kizer, J. S. (Fall 2016). Aut-ors of our experience: Interrogating intersections of Autistic academic identity. Canadian Journal of Disability Studies, 5(3), 77-113.

Courses Taught

  • Communication Process (COMMRC 0300)
  • Public Speaking (COMMRC 0520)

Awards

Arts and Sciences Summer Research Fellowship, Department of Communication, University of Pittsburgh, Summer 2016

Autistic Scholars Fellowship, Autistic Self-Advocacy Network, Spring 2016 

Distinguished Thesis Award for Minnesota State University, Mankato, 2015