Books Explore Portrayals of Heroines Across Comics, Films, Literature, Television

16 Apr

By Mary Rogers, COMM student

With media coverage and popular culture interest in women at an all-time high, two Kent State University graduate students decided to explore the new roles women take on in television and in the movies.

Norma Jones and Maja Bajac-Carter, doctoral students in the College of Communication and Information (CCI) at Kent State University, have co-edited a two-volume book set regarding heroines in popular culture.

Heroines of Film and Television: Portrayals in Popular Culture, and Heroines of Comic Books and Literature: Portrayals in Popular Culture, bothpublished by Rowman & Littlefield, features a wide selection of essays from noted authors who explore the shifting roles of heroic women. The contributors wrote about popular culture heroines such as Wonder Woman, Bella Swan, Sorsha from Willow, Lisbeth Salander in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Bride from Kill Bill, Buffy (the Vampire Slayer), Joan Harris in Mad Men, and Captain Janeway from Star Trek.

“Heroines may be portrayed like male heroes and extremely tough. These heroines include Xena, She Hulk, and Sorsha. At the same time, we also have heroic women that are different. For example, consider Bella from Twilight and Nancy Botwin from Weeds. We hoped to venture beyond the dichotomy of the damsels in distress and/or extremely strong warrior women to explore new ways of understanding, perceiving and thinking about women in a broader sense,” Jones said.

Jones added, “In other words, we are not just weak or strong, but as women, we exist across the board.”

After sending out the initial call, and receiving almost 80 proposals from award-winning authors across a variety of disciplines, Jones and Bajac-Carter realized that this topic sparked an interest that was far beyond expected. “The amazing thing about having two volumes with multi-disciplinary contributors is that we have a wide spectrum of ideas to consider, think about, debate and continue the research,” Bajac-Carter said, “The books facilitate discussion for both academic and broader audiences.”

Backgrounds represented by the contributing authors include English, history, women’s studies, gender communication studies, popular culture studies, comic book writers and many others.

“We hope to extend the conversation in communication and CCI through collaboration. We hope the books help to explore what it means to be female, what it means to be a heroine, as well as connecting different folks and getting them to talk,” Jones said.

The collaborative freedom fostered in the CCI doctoral program helped make this project possible, according to Jones. In fact, this theme of heroic women is also popular among the communication studies community at Kent.

Contributors from the School of Communication Studies include COMM Assistant Professor Suzy D’Enbeau, Ph.D., as well as Rekha Sharma and Carol Savery, doctoral candidates and instructors.

D’ Enbeau’s chapter is titled “The Erotic Heroine and the Politics of Gender at Work: A Feminist Reading of Mad Men’s Joan Harris.” This section critically examines Mad Men’s Joan Harris as an “unlikely heroine,” who manages the strain between workplace power and sexuality.

Sharma and Savory explored the cinematic portrayals of marriage in their chapter titled “Bollywood Marriages: Portrayals of Matrimony in Hindi Popular Cinema.”

Information on the companion volumes, Heroines of Comic Books and Literature: Portrayals in Popular Culture and Heroines of Comic Books and Literature: Portrayals in Popular Culture may be found on

CAREERS: Grads can search

9 Apr

Recent college graduates entering the job market can face a variety of challenges, especially with a recovering economy.

Graduates can use any edge they can get when tackling today’s job market. And the World Wide Web has quite a few good places to pick up some useful job-hunt tips.

Here is a sampling:

Campus Explorer:

• Breaks down the job search into a planning timeline that begins six months before graduation. Site:


• Provides articles on a variety of job search subjects for new graduates. Site:

Spotlights nine steps in developing a strategy for a first-job hunt. Site:

Quintessential Careers:

Offers job search advice for recent graduates. Site:

Lays out job search strategies for employment after college, including tips on succeeding in that first job. Site:

— By Chuck Myers, McClatchy-Tribune News Service

Student Media Boards Propose Restructuring of Student Media Business Operations, Oversight

2 Apr

Two proposals to restructure the operations of JMC’s Student Media Business Office and the student media policy boards for the first time in more than a decade have been approved by the Student Media Policy Committee (SMPC) and the JMC Media Board (JMCMB).

The proposed restructuring would maintain the independence of student media content creation in all of Kent State’s print, online and digital outlets but would modernize the organizational structure and some functions of the Student Media Business Office.

The restructuring is driven by three key objectives: to make all student media more relevant to audiences and advertisers, to make student media more responsive to the transformative changes affecting the external media landscape and to make student media more self-sustaining.

Traditionally, student media were primarily supported through advertising sales, but as advertising dollars have waned, student fee allocations have begun to provide most of the funding — a trend the restructuring seeks to stem, according to JMC professor and JMCMB Chair Tim Roberts.

Both proposals require the approval of Kent State’s Board of Trustees. The Board could review the proposals as early as May.

The first proposal would create a new full-time position, the Director of Student Media, to improve the guidance and support to student media advisers and oversee the business office.  The university would seek a candidate experienced in the business and production aspects of media. This position would replace the current position of Manager of Student Media.

The new director, like the existing manager position, would report to the Director of JMC and have fiduciary responsibilities to the board.

The second proposal would merge the now independent SMPC and JMCMB to provide a less cumbersome oversight process. The JMCMB selects student leaders and provides oversight for co-curricular student media, including the Daily Kent Stater, TV2,, Black Squirrel Radio and The Burr. The SMPC provides guidance and budgetary oversight for extra-curricular publications, including A Magazine, Fusion, Luna Negra and Uhuru.

The merging of both boards was initially proposed in 2010, but the proposal never advanced through approval to implementation.

If approved now, the new board structure would provide equal representation from inside and outside JMC. Both the Director of JMC and the Director for the Center for Student Involvement would be members.

“These changes are a step, not a total solution, to make Student Media more nimble,” Roberts said. “We know that students are eager for change and want to help lead the way. Students involved with Student Media know what is happening in the external media landscape, and they know they must master the necessary skills to keep pace.  Our student audiences want to access media on platforms that are relevant to them to meet their news and information needs.”

As the Boards considered these proposals, Roberts said all members emphasized a guiding principle:  “In everything we are doing, the independence of students creating content is paramount.”

Frank Ryan, chair of the SMPB and an associate professor of philosophy, said a commitment to diversity also must be a basic tenet of a restructured student media.

“The prevailing perception is that KSU student media has not kept up with changes made by similar institutions elsewhere. But if so, that’s largely because the sound leadership and wise fiscal practices of the business manager have allowed us to postpone adopting the radical measures others have had to impose. For example, our ability to publish a daily newspaper and maintain five magazines is virtually unheard of anymore. Changes are needed, of course, but I hope they’re made in the spirit of student media’s excellent track record.  In particular, we should maintain our stellar national leadership in promoting voices of diversity,” Ryan said.

JMC Director Thor Wasbotten also emphasized the need for agility. “The proposed restructuring is not reactive; it has been considered with great care and deliberation by both boards. The Boards recognize the tremendous work done by Lori Cantor, staff and faculty who have contributed greatly and sacrificed greatly to create and sustain student media,” he said.  “At the same time, it’s important to recognize the industry itself has fundamentally changed, and our operations have not. We need a new model for managing student media outlets and for generating revenue for student media. We must ensure we are using student fee dollars judiciously.”

The proposals would provide more guidance, support and oversight to student media advisers.

“Advisers are also operating in a rapidly changing environment, where greater attention must be paid to digital media, without sacrificing the caliber of traditional media. We’ve got to give them adequate support,” Wasbotten said.

Open meetings with students, faculty and staff to discuss the proposed changes are underway.

AnnMarie LeBlanc Named Interim Dean of Kent State’s College of Communication and Information

21 Mar

Posted Mar. 21, 2014

AnnMarie LeBlanc has been chosen to serve as interim dean of Kent State University’s College of Communication and Information, starting July 1. Todd Diacon, Kent State’s senior vice president for academic affairs and provost, made the announcement today.

Photo of AnnMarie LeBlancLeBlanc currently serves as director of Kent State’s School of Visual Communication Design, one of the four schools in the College of Communication and Information. She succeeds Stan Wearden, Ph.D., who announced last month that he will retire on June 30 after 30 years of service to Kent State and also will pursue a new opportunity at Columbia College Chicago as its new senior vice president and provost. A search for a permanent dean will begin later in the year.

“We are very fortunate that Professor LeBlanc has agreed to serve in this important capacity,” Diacon said. “She brings a wealth of experience within the college combined with a keen knowledge of the important issues in higher education today.”

LeBlanc joined Kent State’s School of Visual Communication Design as its director in 2007. Previously, she taught at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, where she served as chair of the Department of Visual Communication and Design and associate dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts. While in Indiana, she was the recipient of the university’s Outstanding Teacher Award. She also received an SBC/Ameritech Fellowship and was honored with an Individual Artists Fellowship from the Indiana Arts Commission. LeBlanc also has instructed in summer and semester-long sessions at the University of Michigan, Purdue University and the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

LeBlanc’s areas of expertise include color theory and traditional and digital illustration. In the past, her images have focused on ethnobotanical studies of her home region of the Louisiana Delta, the relationship of environment to folklore, and cross-cultural mythology. Her work has been included in more than 50 national and international adjudicated exhibitions, a dozen solo or two-person exhibitions and is in more than 300 private and corporate collections in the United States and abroad.

She holds a Master of Fine Arts from Bowling Green State University, a Master of Arts from Purdue University and a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Louisiana State University.

LeBlanc resides in Aurora, Ohio.

For more information about Kent State’s College of Communication and Information, visit

# # #

Media Contact:
Emily Vincent,, 330-672-8595

Visual Communication Design, Advertising Students Try Out for American Idol

12 Mar

By Nicole Gennarelli
nancy_wilsonSinging in front of Jennifer Lopez, Harry Connick, Jr., and Keith Urban started as a dream and quickly became a reality for sophomore Visual Communication Design (VCD) student Nancy Wilson when she tried out for American Idol last summer.

Wilson auditioned in Detroit, Mich., last summer where she made it through the intimidating first screening round and received two call backs, one during fall semester and one over winter break.

“The process is very lengthy and based on luck most of the time,” she said. “The first screening rounds are the hardest, because they cut almost everyone; out of the thousands of people who auditioned in Detroit, around 40 made it through to the celebrity judge rounds. There are three audition rounds that people go through before the celebrity auditions and some spend years trying to get there. This was my third year auditioning.”

Wilson has been singing since she was two years old, so being nervous while singing is not usual for her.

“Singing in front of the judges was so nerve wracking,” said Wilson. “And that’s crazy coming from me because I usually don’t get nervous.”

Once Wilson sang in front of the celebrity judges, Jennifer Lopez and Harry Connick, Jr. agreed to pass her through to the Hollywood auditions, but Keith Urban disagreed. Wilson then flew to Los Angeles to sing again for the celebrity judges. Unfortunately during this round, she got sent home, but is thankful for the experience she had.

“This experience has been phenomenal for me,” she said. “The actual competition was a bit frustrating and a lot of waiting, but it’s nice to be surrounded by people who love the same thing you do.”

Wilson says that everyone who has a passion for music and singing should try out because you have nothing to lose.

“Don’t take what happens in the auditions to heart; it’s very hard to get through on these shows,” she said. “But go and meet people with your same dream; go make connections and friends and jam out with people who love what you do. If nothing else, it’s a day well spent with music.”

Andy_LovrakAlthough he didn’t get to sing in front of the American Idol celebrity judges, Andy Lovrak’s audition process is one he will also cherish forever.

Lovrak, a junior advertising major, decided to try out for American Idol when auditions came to Detroit, Mich., this past summer. Singing has always been a passion of his, so he jumped at the opportunity of making his dreams come true.

“I have always wanted to try out. I have been watching the show since I was 10 years old, and every kid dreams of being some sort of celebrity,” he said. “I always knew that I was eventually going to try out, but I didn’t want anyone to know. This year ended up being perfect because it was a close location, and I could just sneak away for a few days, so I went for it.”

Lovrak left Kent at 4 a.m. on a Saturday morning, arrived in Detroit around 8 a.m. and waited in line to audition for six hours. Once Lovrak and his friend made it through the line, they went through a quick registration process and were told to be back at 5 a.m. the next day.

“We then woke up the next morning and drove out to the stadium,” he said. “The exit to get to the stadium was so backed up it was crazy. We finally got in line and just waited. There were cameras everywhere, but I kind of hid from them, because if I didn’t make it I didn’t want anyone to know I tried out. Waiting in line had to be one of the most miserable things I have ever done. There were a lot of parents there who were living through their kids mixed with people who were willing to do anything to get noticed. A 15-year-old girl sneezed on me seven times, and I almost got out of line right there.”

After waiting in line for what seemed like forever, Ryan Seacrest came out and gave the audience a pep talk, Lovrak said.

“They had ten tables set up on the football field with two producers at each,” he said. “You went up in lines of 4, sang, and then most everyone got cut. The ones who made it through got to cross the field, wave their golden ticket in the air, and then went into a tunnel. Everyone else just walked up the stairs.”

Around 4 p.m., Lovrak finally got his chance to audition. Lovrak and his friend wound up at different audition tables and he was the first in his line to sing.

“Most people got cut off around 15 seconds and that was all they got. I started singing and realized that I was singing way longer than expected,” Lovrak said. “When I finished I was asked to sing a second song. I did and then got back in line. The three other girls in my line went and then they called us all up. The producer started with, “Thanks for coming out, you all did great.” I just kind of figured that this was their nice way of cutting us. He then said, “Girls I am sorry but it is a no for now, but Andy if you could stay back.” I don’t think I have ever had my heart beat so fast. He looked at me and said, “You didn’t think you were going to make it, did you?” I said no and he told me to have some confidence in myself. So I got the golden ticket and went across the field. It was the craziest moment of my life, walking across a football field, holding up a golden ticket as thousands of people cheered for me. There were 8000 of us that tried out and about 200 made it.”

After receiving his golden ticket at the Detroit auditions, Lovrak’s call back audition was September 13 in a Detroit hotel. The producers made everyone sing “Sign, Sealed, Delivered” many times as a group and then gave them a pep talk.

“The head producer walked in and said, “We are judging you on your voice, your looks and your personality. If you don’t like it go try out for The Voice,”” he said. “I will never forget it.”

After another four hours of waiting, it was finally Lovrak’s turn to audition in front of the producers.

“I went into a room with the producers and started singing. About 10 seconds in the girl and guy in the middle started arguing because the guy wanted to put me through and the girl did not,” Lovrak said. “They were arguing very loud which made it really hard to concentrate. The girl then waved her hand in the air and said ‘It’s a no for now. You just aren’t there yet.’ That was the end for me.”

Although Lovrak didn’t make it to Hollywood, there isn’t a thing he would change about his audition experience.

“I never in a million years thought I would make it through, and I did,” he said. “The thing I kept telling myself was that if I never tried then I would never know. At least if I tried I couldn’t regret it later. Getting that first golden ticket was the best moment of my life, but it took a lot out of me. I wouldn’t change a thing about it though.”

Kent State Wins Big at the 2014 Akron ADDY Awards

5 Mar

Four creative groups across Kent State University earned 10 awards at the 2014 Akron ADDY Award ceremony, hosted by the American Advertising Federation-Akron (AAF-Akron).

Kent State’s University Communications and Marketing; Glyphix, a student-staffed design studio within the School of Visual Communication Design; Type High Press, a creative studio for experimental-student work in printmaking and graphic design also within the School of Visual Communication Design; and IdeaBase, a student-run integrated marketing communications firm in downtown Kent, all took home awards for their superior work submitted to AAF-Akron.

Kent State’s University Communications and Marketing department won two Gold ADDYs for its work on the Fashion School’s show book and app in the categories of Advertising for the Arts and Sciences and Digital Advertising.

“It is important to me that people understand the level of work we are capable of doing,” said Nick Moore, graphic design coordinator at University Communications and Marketing. “It is really rewarding when we gain a client’s trust and receive an award for the work we have produced for them.”

Glyphix won three Silver ADDYs for its promotional posters for the School of Visual Communication Design, Kent State’s Wick Poetry Center and Rough’s promotional postcards.

“It’s very meaningful to have the work of our students recognized, alongside work of professionals, by the AAF-Akron judges,” said Sarah Rutherford, creative director for Glyphix and associate professor in Kent State’s School of Visual Communication Design. “This recognition speaks to the high-caliber talent produced by the School of Visual Communication Design.”

The Kent State Type High Press won Gold and Silver ADDYs for promotional posters, both in the Collateral Material category.

“Anything I can do to publicize Type High Press is gratifying work, and getting awards for my efforts is a bonus,” said Bob Kelemen, instructor in Kent State’s School of Visual Communication Design. “It was fun to share the night with many current and former students whose work was also recognized.”

IdeaBase received Gold and two Silver ADDYs for its work done for the Kent State’s College of Communication and Information. The awards were won in the Collateral Material and Digital Advertising categories.

“This is a huge honor,” said Ian McCullough, creative director of the three awarded works by IdeaBase and graduate student in Kent State’s School of Visual Communication Design. “I think the greatest part is giving students an opportunity to get recognized for the work they produce. Even though IdeaBase is student staffed, the talent that is brought in can obviously compete at a highly professional level.”

The AAF-Akron is the local chapter for the national AAF Trade Association. The association recognizes incredible creativity, writing, design and project management in all forms of advertising across various types of mediums.

Here is a complete list of the 2014 Akron ADDY Award winners from Kent State:

University Communications and Marketing:

Gold in Advertising for the Arts and Sciences Category
FS2 Fashion Show Book
Nick Moore- Graphic Design Coordinator
Dan Karp – Executive Director, Creative Services
Susan Menassa – Senior Editorial Specialist
Elizabeth Henry – Assistant Director, Marketing Strategy and Research
Dennis Roliff – Photographer
Jason Noble – Photographer

Gold in Digital Advertising Category
Fashion School App
Nick Moore – Graphic Design Coordinator
Dan Karp – Executive Director, Creative Services
Susan Menassa – Senior Editorial Specialist
Elizabeth Henry – Assistant Director, Marketing Strategy and Research
Dennis Roliff – Photographer
Jason Noble – Photographer
Bob Christy – Coordinator of Photography
Jon Jivan – Video Production Supervisor
Dustin Lee – Video Production Supervisor


Silver in Collateral Material Category
School of Visual Communication Design Promotional Posters
Larrie King – Designer
Tyler Federico – Designer
Emily Rabatsky – Designer
Valora Renicker – Creative Director
Oliver Printing Company- Printer

Silver in Public Service Category
Traveling Stanzas Poetry Bus Posters
Brent Carlson – Designer/Illustrator
Megan Bush – Designer/ Illustrator
Anthony Jandrokovic – Designer/ Illustrator
Alison Farone – Designer/Illustrator
Valora Renicker- Creative Director
David Hassler – Editor/Client
Nicole Robinson – Wick Poetry Center Coordinator/Editor
Jessica Jewell – Project Coordinator
Digital Color International- Printer

Silver in Elements of an Advertisement Category
Roughs Promotional Postcards
Alicia Jordan – Illustrator/ Designer
Vanessa Port – Illustrator/Designer
Sarah Rutherford – Creative Director

Type High Press:

Silver in Collateral Material Category
Dead Wood Revival
Bob Kelemen – designer and printer

Gold in Collateral Material Category
Best Use of Paper
Tiny Pieces
Bob Kelemen – writer, designer and printer


Silver in Collateral Material Category
College of Communication and Information Undergraduate Brochure
Ian McCullough – Creative Director
Alanah Timbrook – Graphic Designer
Danya Dargham – Graphic Designer
Isaac Versaw – Copywriter/Account Manager

Silver in Digital Advertising Category
School of Communication Studies Website Redesign
Larrie King – Creative Director
Ian McCullough – Creative Director
Shelby Muter – Graphic Designer
Alex Herbers – Graphic Designer
James Lightcap – Graphic Designer
Maren Dickey – Account Manager
Christopher Hallahan – Interactive Designer and Developer
Seth Wehr – Copywriter
Gwendolyn Gill – Copywriter

Gold in Digital Advertising Category
College of Communication and Information Commons Website Redesign
Ian McCullough – Creative Director
Shelby Muter – Graphic Designer
Chris Hallahan – Interactive Developer and Designer
Maren Dickey – Account Manager

# # #

Photo Captions:

Photo of Kent State’s Akron ADDY winners – Glyphix and IdeaBase
Glyphix, a student-staffed design studio within Kent State University’s School of Visual Communication Design, and IdeaBase, a student-run integrated marketing communications firm in downtown Kent, took home awards for their superior work submitted to Akron ADDY Awards.

Photo of Kent State’s Akron ADDY winners – University Communications and Marketing and the Fashion School
Kent State University’s Communications and Marketing department won two Gold Akron ADDYs for its work on the Fashion School’s show book and app in the categories of Advertising for the Arts and Sciences and Digital Advertising.


26 Feb

Stan Wearden of the College of Communication and Information to retire in June, assume new role July 1

Wearden2Kent, OH – Feb. 26, 2014 – Stanley T. Wearden, Ph.D., dean of the College of Communication and Information at Kent State University, has been named senior vice president and provost of Columbia College Chicago, effective July 1. Wearden will retire on June 30, 2014, after 30 years at Kent State, five serving as dean.

He began his career at Kent State in August 1984 and spent 20 years on the faculty of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, rising from assistant professor to professor. During that time, he also served for 11 years as coordinator of graduate studies, served as chair of the Institutional Review Board, and won the Distinguished Teaching Award in 2002. Immediately prior to becoming dean, Wearden served for five years first as interim director and then as director of the School of Communication Studies. He has been an active scholar with more than 30 publications and two Ohio Board of Regents Research Challenge Grants.

Some key successes during his tenure as dean of the College of Communication and Information include:

  • - Increasing college graduate enrollment by 27 percent in four years.
  • - Growing international graduate enrollment by 160 percent and international undergraduate enrollment by 287 percent.
  • - Forming a college-wide, integrative Ph.D. program.
  • - Creating education-abroad scholarships and programs and increasing education-abroad participation in the college by more than 1,500 percent.
  • - Opening a student-operated integrated marketing communication firm, IdeaBase, that serves both university and external clients from off-campus commercial space in downtown Kent.

Wearden holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Wheeling College (now Wheeling Jesuit University), Wheeling, W.Va. His graduate work includes a Master of Science Journalism from West Virginia University, Morgantown, W.Va., and a doctorate in mass communication research from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Columbia College Chicago is an international leader and recognized pioneer in arts and media education. With more than 120 years of deep experience teaching creative students to develop authentic voices and meaningful skills, Columbia graduates are fully prepared to launch sustainable careers in the visual, performing, media and communication arts.

Columbia College Chicago is located in the South Loop area of the city. It has an enrollment of more than 10,000 students. It occupies more than 25 buildings, mostly on Michigan and Wabash Avenues. Wearden described Columbia College Chicago as “an amazing institution with a passionate, engaged faculty, staff, administration and student body.”

He also said, “I am inspired by the vision, intelligence and commitment of Dr. Kwang-Wu Kim, who will be my new president at Columbia. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me, and I enthusiastically look forward to working with Dr. Kim and his team to make a very special institution even greater than it is now.”But Wearden also will miss his colleagues and friends at Kent State University.

In an email he sent to colleagues, he said: “I am excited about this new opportunity, but of course that excitement is tinged with sadness because I have loved, and will continue to love, Kent State University and all the people here with whom I have had the privilege of working. I will miss you, and I hope you will stay in touch with me in the future.”


About the College of Communication and Information at Kent State University

Four academic programs united in July 2002 to establish the College of Communication and Information at Kent State University. The Schools of Communication Studies, Journalism and Mass Communication, Library and Information Science and Visual Communication Design joined in one college to create a unique learning community and to begin a pioneering effort in integrative research and professional practice. The College of Communication and Information continues to build its reputation for collaborative, applied and theoretical research while providing a first-class education for the next generations of communicators and leaders.

Contact: Jennifer Kramer,, 330-672-1960330-672-1960 (o), 330-714-8302330-714-8302 (c)


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