Dr. Melissa R. Meade is Visiting Assistant Professor of Communication at Villanova University. She earned her Ph.D. in Media and Communication at the Lew Klein College of Media and Communication at Temple University. Her dissertation uses data from ethnographic fieldwork gathered while living in the Anthracite Coal Region of Northeastern Pennsylvania, from virtual fieldwork through a researcher created and maintained multi-year digital project, and from the researcher’s life as a lifelong resident of the region. The project examines the cultural and lived experiences of economic abandonment in deindustrialized zones by exploring how residents of a former single industry economy negotiate this process via communicative constructions of class, social memory, ethnic and racial identity. As this work examines conflicts about economic decline, identity, and memory that inform the predicament of the residents of small towns within Appalachia and beyond, it contributes to ethnographies of deindustrialization in advanced capitalist societies, in zones of mass mineral and environmental extraction, as well as to other work on the Appalachian Region.
Dr. Meade’s research has won multiple awards. In 2020, she received two awards for her work on her research project: the Constance Coiner Award in Working Class Studies and the Best Dissertation in Ethnography from the National Communication Association. The Ethnography Division at the National Communication Association promotes the understanding and depiction of the human experience of communicating in a cultural context with a particular interest in how people use symbol systems that organize their collective knowledge, beliefs, and values. The Constance Coiner Dissertation Award is given annually to scholars from the Working-Class Studies Association (WCSA) who have produced a dissertation that “provides insightful and engaging depictions of working-class life, culture, and movements, which addresses issues related to the working class, and which highlights the voices, experiences, and perspectives of working-class people.”
Dr. Meade is the author of the essay “In the Shadow of the Coal Breaker: Place and Landscape in the Anthracite Coal Mining Region,” which was winner of the Donald P. Cushman Memorial Award from the National Communication Association, 2015. This paper also was named a Top Competitive Paper in Ethnography as well as John T. Warren Top Student Paper in Ethnography, also from National Communication Association, 2015. Her research won both “Journal Article of the Year” in American Studies and “Top Journal Article” in Ethnography from the National Communication Association in 2017.
Dr. Meade’s research has been published in a number of places. “In the Shadow of the Coal Breaker: Cultural Extraction and Participatory Communication in the Anthracite Mining Region” is published in Cultural Studies. Her work has also been published in Discourse & Communication, CineJ Cinema Journal, and International Encyclopedia of Communication Research Methods. Dr. Meade is the recipient of numerous research grants including the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research Dissertation Fieldwork Grant and the Waterhouse Institute for Communication and Society Grant, an award that recognizes a project’s focus on communication’s significance for ethics, social justice, and social change. She has been a University Fellow at Temple University and was selected as a Graduate Associate Fellow at the Center for Humanities at Temple [CHAT]. She was a HASTAC Digital Humanities Scholar. Meade’s research also has been funded by the Charlotte Newcombe Foundation, and the Philadelphia Mayor’s Commission, among others.
Dr. Meade presents regularly at peer-reviewed learned association conferences including the National Communication Association, the International Communication Association, the American Anthropological Association, the Southern States Communication Association, and Global Fusion. She also frequently serves as a panel chair, organizer, respondent, and moderator. She served as the Early Career Representative of the Language and Social Interaction Division at the International Communication Association and has been a reviewer for the Global Fusion Conference, the International Communication Association Convention, and the National Communication Association. She has been quoted in the national and local media.
Dr. Meade’s research sits at the intersection of media, culture, and identity with a specific focus on the experiences of marginalized people and their cultural production. Her interests include social memory, labor, community-based media, post-industrial communities, communication and the environment, marginalized citizenships, ethnography, discourse analysis, community-based media, disability, gender and sexuality, immigration, race, and ethnicity, and autoethnographic writing.
Before pursuing a career in academia, Dr. Meade garnered variety of industry experience. Prior to coming Villanova University, she taught an array of communication and liberal arts courses at Temple University, the University of the Arts and Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey (ITESM), Querétaro, Mexico. In addition to a Ph.D. in Media and Communication from the Lew Klein College of Media and Communication at Temple University, she holds a Master’s degree in Educational Linguistics and Intercultural Communication and a Graduate Certificate in Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies from the University of Pennsylvania and a Postgraduate Diploma in Intercultural Studies from the University of the Basque Country located in Donostia-San Sebastián, Spain where she was a Rotary Foundation Ambassadorial Scholar. She speaks fluent Spanish.