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How Communication Scholars Think and Act

A Lifespan Perspective


Julien C. Mirivel

Every great scholar begins as a student. But what does it take to get there? And what is the journey like? This book explores the lifespan development of some of the best-known communication scholars in the United States. Grounded in 30 in-depth interviews, personal stories, and communication theory, the book reveals the nature of human development, the curvature of disciplinary thinking, and the values that drive communication professionals. With powerful examples from great thinkers and teachers such as Robert Craig, Valerie Manusov, and Gerry Philipsen, the book shows that communicating well is a slow, gradual awakening toward others. How Communication Scholars Think and Act is designed to inspire students and faculty alike to persevere in the face of setbacks, to learn about communication more deeply, and to improve human relationships across contexts. This is an ideal text for courses in communication theory, interpersonal communication, and introductory courses to the field. It is a must-read for anyone who wants to become a communication professional.

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Chapter 6. What Do Communication Professors See and Hear?


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A few years ago, I met a colleague on campus whose expertise was in birds. I found it fascinating that he could be walking on campus, hear a bird call and be able to identify the species, the sex, and the function of various calls. His knowledge enabled him to experience a different reality than I would. All I could do, I thought to myself, is enjoy the singing. This conversation inspired me to do some research on a red bird I see frequently outside my home: the red robin.

When I searched to understand more, I first found that my description was inaccurate; the bird is actually called a Northern Cardinal. Its colors, the flashing red on the body, the little bit of black around the eyes, and the purple on its tail, mark that it is a male rather than a female. The female, in fact, is smaller and colored with grays and browns. Northern Cardinals have a variety of calls, some for mating and some to protect their territory. For example, if the whistle sounds like, “cheeeer-a-dote, cheeer-a-dote-dote-dote, purdy, purdy, purdy … whoit, whoit, whoit, whoit, what-cheer, what-cheer … wheet, wheet, wheet, wheet,” then it is designed to warn other birds that they are encroaching on an existing territory. I also discovered, to my surprise, that Northern Cardinals often find a single mate for life. Of course, my knowledge of Northern...

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