Faculty & Staffarrow_forward
Jacob Dickerson
Dr. Jacob A. Dickerson
Assistant Professor of Communication; Chair of the Communication Department|Communication
Photo of Dr. Jacob Dickerson holding a large pumpkin
Office Location
Draper Building, 222A
Office Hours
  • Mon/Wed/Fri: noon – 1 p.m. In-person
  • Tue/Thur: 1 p.m. – 3 p.m. In-person
  • Or by appointment
Class Schedules
  • COM 105 (Mon/Wed/Fri: 10:40 am – 11:50 am) COM 312 (Mon/Wed/Fri: 9:20 am – 10:30 am) GSTR 410 C (Mon/Wed/Fri: 2:40 pm – 3:50 pm)
  • COM 105
  • COM 312
  • GSTR 410 C

I am a member of the gap generation born somewhere between 1978 and 1983. I am hopelessly nostalgic, generally skeptical about those in charge, and alternatingly terrified of and optimistic about a world full of computers. I identify with Mikey Walsh, the optimistic outsider of The Goonies, and think Back to the Future is the greatest movie of all time. Perhaps that shows how we are a product of the media that surround us. But we are also a product of the places that surround us.

I grew up in Western New York (which is NOT “Upstate New York!”). The grandson of Pennsylvania farmers, I spent my youth in the rural hills of the Twin Tiers. It’s a beautiful place that shaped my perspective on the world. While growing up, I spent most of my time reading and helping out in my dad’s auto-body shop. I was in the band (french horn) and played high school football (defensive back) and track (sprints). When it was warm, most of my time was spent outdoors. Since leaving Western New York in 1998, I have lived in Central Pennsylvania, where I attended Juniata College and met my wonderful wife. I played rugby there, worked in the video production department and for WKVR, Juniata’s radio station. I majored in Multimedia Communication and ended up on a career path that took me to Boulder, Colorado to earn my M.A. After earning my Master’s, I spent 3 years as an adjunct instructor teaching speech at a community college and 4-year college in Denver. My wife and I were married in 2006 in the beautiful Rocky Mountains.

We moved next to Raleigh, NC, where I earned my PhD. at North Carolina State University and my wife worked as a nurse. While there, we adopted our wonderful lab-pit bull mix, Lou. Also known as the Lou Machine, The Loumeister, or Mr. Loujangles, he provides us with endless entertainment and we can’t imagine our lives without him.

We moved to Lexington, KY in 2012 and settled into the Bluegrass State. Our first child was born on St. Patrick’s Day, 2014. He shows every sign of being as stubborn as his namesake, my grandfather, but we cherish (nearly) every minute with him and can’t wait to see who he will become. My main hope is that he loves Back to The Future as much as I do.

  • PhD, Communication, Rhetoric and Digital Media, North Carolina State University, 2012
  • MA Communication, University of Colorado, 2005
  • BA, Multimedia Communication, Juniata College, 2002
Publications & Works
  • Current Research

    My current research projects are quite varied, reflecting the interdisciplinary nature of my background as well as the field of Communication more generally.

    One stems from my dissertation work and examines the “memory ecology” of the sinking of the USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor. A memory ecology is made up of the collection of many remembrances of a particular event. Anything that influences our understanding of the past, and anything that influenced those influences, makes up a memory ecology. You can think of it as the environment of our memory. I argue that by attempting to reconstruct and analyze a memory ecology, we can better understand how a particular event fits into our sense of national identity.

    Another project is examining the construction of group identity online. I argue that we exhibit different parts of our identities as members of groups. And that group identity is formed when certain aspects of our identity exhibitions overlap with those of others. This shared exhibition space — what we might imagine like a Venn diagram of identity — is where group identity emerges. To study this topic, I examined expressions of identity by EMTs and firefighters on Facebook.

    A third project involves the study of popular music and art, taking a critical perspective toward the dismissal of recent pop music. You might think of the classic Bob Seger line, “Today’s music ain’t got the same soul.” I argue that new production and distribution technologies, along with the influence of rap and hip-hop in contemporary pop music, give power to minority and amateur voices. This power threatens the traditional structure of popular music. This has given rise to a popular backlash against pop music and artists as lacking in quality, originality, and talent. My goal for the project is to explore this backlash as not merely an expression of taste, but rather masking a more serious discourse about race, technology, and power.