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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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This book was made possible by the care, work, and dedication of many people. I’m grateful for Mary Savigar at Peter Lang who saw potential in an idea and encouraged me to transform it into a book project. I also am thankful to two of my graduate students at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, Kristina Godfrey and Amanda Pasierb, who supported this project by conducting interviews, transcribing data, and more importantly for reflecting on these ideas with me.

I wrote this book while serving as Interim Chair in a department outside of my discipline. During that time, I was blessed to have Rocio Roles, a doctoral student in Criminal Justice, working with me as my research assistant. Rocio’s positive energy, work ethic, attention to details, and support for this project was simply amazing: thank you Rocio.

I also have a great amount of gratitude for all of the communication professors who participated in the study. Spending time in conversation with all of them was a gift in itself. I hope to have done justice to the similarities that exist among them and our common desire to improve the way people communicate with one another. A special thanks goes to Carol Thompson, Michael Kleine, and Allan Ward; three colleagues I admire who got the interviews started. ← ix | x →

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