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. Meade’s research combines insights that inform theory, and methods, but also the applied dimensions of media culture, as well as the preservation of media artifacts, memories, and historical narratives of marginalized communities. Through a multi-sited/multi-year ethnography of the Anthracite Coal Region of Northeastern Pennsylvania and its diaspora, her research investigates the many ways that global capitalism reorganizes social difference through its regimes of resource extraction, labor displacement, and environmental classism. She is working on a scholarly monograph that focuses on these systems of inequality and the experiences of inhabitants of areas of extraction. The analysis of these constructions is based on three sets of data: material gathered during several years of offline fieldwork in the Anthracite Coal Region of Northeastern Pennsylvania, autoethnographic stories (as a Coal Region resident and a family member of miners), and the collaboration with local participants vis-à-vis a multi-modal and multi-sited public digital humanities collaboratory that she created and continues to maintain called “the Anthracite Coal Region of Northeastern Pennsylvania Digital Project” (the latter, a term she developed to expand the theoretical vocabulary), and to which community members contributed through digital forums about their lived experiences. Residents document how they come to terms in contradictory ways with the effects of environmental inequality: They acknowledge how extractive sites continue to generate values as abandoned lands “rented” for toxic waste disposal and they also attest to the place-based identities that emerge from these experiences of inequity. Her research offers a breakthrough by highlighting the shift from the industrial to what is now the service economy in Rust Belt communities. This shift has created a new national working-class in the wake of de-industrialization.
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..
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.