ASU professor wins National Communication Association book award

October 14, 2020

Benny LeMaster, assistant professor of critical/cultural communication and a performance scholar in the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication at Arizona State University, was awarded the 2020 Best Book Award from the National Communication Association (NCA) ethnography division for "Gender Futurity, Intersectional Autoethnography: Embodied Theorizing from the Margins."

LeMaster co-edited the book with friend and colleague Amber Johnson, an associate professor of communication and social justice at Saint Louis University. They will receive the award at the NCA virtual conference in November.  ASU professors Benny LeMaster and Amber Johnson on the ASU Tempe Campus in 2019 with Johnson’s pop up museum Professors Benny LeMaster and Amber Johnson on the ASU Tempe campus in 2019 with Johnson’s pop-up museum designed to engage community members in discussions and activities around bias, social justice and empathy. Download Full Image

The book is aimed at undergraduate, postgraduate and professional degree students in the humanities and social sciences, such as communication and gender studies, that utilize qualitative methods. 

“Their work represents an important milestone as it helps give individuals voices and vocabularies from which to explain, enact and embody their identities," said Hugh Downs School Professor and Interim Director Paul Mongeau. "It foregrounds important concepts and lessons that have been largely ignored in communication scholarship.”

LeMaster says they created the book after receiving requests for classroom activities that affirm trans students. 

“Because there wasn’t much trans-affirming content, we decided to fill this need,” said LeMaster.

Johnson says their goal is to replace all other gender communication textbooks with this one: “The gender communication textbooks with new editions, where the authors mention ‘trans,’ think that they did their job. But they didn’t.”

LeMaster, who uses they/them pronouns, adds that most gender communication books rely on “science” to justify people’s gender rather than a person’s sense of self.  

“It’s frankly insulting for those of us who are outside of the normative sort of understanding of gender, and it can be really frustrating as an academic trying to enter into a space that’s clearly exclusionary by design,” they said.

Reviewers have called the book "spectacularly diverse" and an "intimate, nuanced and cutting-edge" collection that "fills a void in ethnographic research." They noted that "there was a revelation with every turn of the page," with writing that prompts self-reflexivity and challenges readers to examine themselves to "expose places of bias." Overall, reviewers noted, this book "exemplifies the tremendous promise of autoethnography to do critical and pathbreaking work."

cover of ASU professor's book

"This award recognizes the cutting-edge value of Professor LeMaster's co-edited collection, including its capacities to touch readers, through narrative and autoethnography, with a wide range of voicings, embodied experiences and critical reflections,” said Daniel Brouwer, an associate professor at the Hugh Downs School.

“Professors LeMaster and Johnson envisioned a project that questions what we think we know about gender and its intersections — via discourses, institutions and structures — and they set an agenda for imagining and mapping new gender futures. Working with 25 different contributors on more than 20 distinct entries, they have created a series of creative meditations, in multiple styles and genres of composition, on repression and violence as well as play, joy and survival.”

LeMaster says the book is about “understanding gender through lived experience, as opposed to something reductive like a predetermined identity category.

“The book covers all kinds of gender expressions and embodiments, not just variant ones. We also have cisgender people in the book. I am really proud of what we did.”

Manager, Marketing and Communication, Hugh Downs School of Human Communication


Study Abroad Week: A week of virtual events to explore study abroad at ASU

October 14, 2020

Looking to learn more about study abroad at ASU? Well, you’re in luck. Study Abroad Week is coming to a computer near you!

With over 300 programs ranging from one week to a year offered in 65 different countries, on every continent in the world, students are sure to find the right study abroad program to meet their personal, professional and academic goals. Even though international travel may be on hold for a bit, now is the time for students to get a head start on planning, so they’re ready to jump on that plane when it's safe to do so.  ASU student holds up a pitchfork at Machu Picchu ASU student Sherry Ruffy holds up a pitchfork on Machu Picchu during her study abroad to Peru. Photo by Sherry Ruffy. Download Full Image

Study Abroad Week is the ASU Study Abroad Office’s inaugural large-scale, virtual event. The week is geared toward helping Sun Devils explore their study abroad options for spring 2021 and beyond.

Students will have the opportunity to learn about various programs that are offered at ASU, explore faculty-directed programs while talking to the faculty who lead them, meet Study Abroad Office staff and attend information sessions ranging from financial aid and scholarship planning to specific program sessions. 

A virtual event makes attending Study Abroad Week a great option for students on all campuses, students taking classes remotely, ASU Online students and even Sun Devil parents and families to learn more about study abroad. ASU staff and academic advisers are also invited to get a taste of study abroad program options and learn how they can best support their students in their journeys abroad.

Held from Oct. 26 to 29, this four-day event is sure to get your travel senses tingling. With sessions offered at various times throughout the week, on top of a virtual expo from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Tuesday through Thursday, students should come ready to learn and explore study abroad program options that allow them to earn ASU credit while expanding their global perspectives. Students are encouraged to stop in for a few minutes between classes or stay on for the entire event to get their questions answered about how to get started on planning their study abroad.

Students are encouraged to invite their families to come along and start the conversation about study abroad by attending the Parents and Families: Study Abroad and Your Student information session offered on both Monday and Thursday. Be sure to take a look at the full schedule to see which sessions spark your interest and register to join in on the fun.

 Lindsay Lohr

Communications and marketing management intern, Study Abroad Office