My name is Janel, but my friends and colleagues know me as "J." I am an Assistant Professor of Communication Studies at Piedmont Virginia Community College.
I currently live in Charlottesville, VA and I am an avid homebrewer, gardener, art-maker, music-lover and sports fan.
I am currently completing a doctoral dissertation entitled The Value of a Pint: A Cultural Economy of American Beer. To compliment/complicate this interdisciplinary research project, I am creating a series of mixed-media artwork, entitled PINT. Though created to stand independently, the projects together tell multi-layered story about contemporary American culture, capitalism, power, everyday material artifacts, and the subjectivities that emerge in relation to such fraught and overdetermined formations.
I am scholar, college instructor, and communications professional. I pride myself on producing work that integrates these three skill sets, maximizing results for my students and clients.
Over the past 8 years, I’ve taught undergraduate courses as a graduate student, Lecturer, and full-time Assitant Professor in two large state universities, three community colleges, and a small private fine arts college. Each day I have the opportunity to interact with students, whether in the classroom, in our shared community, or electronically, I work to accomplish three goals—to emphasize the importance of learning, to concretize the connections between academic knowledge and students’ lived experiences, and to foster critical awareness of social injustice.
For more than a decade, I've worked in the marketing communications industry. I have created a range of web sites, newsletters, advertisements, corporate identities and logos, press releases, blogs, multimedia presentations, signage, instructional technology and more. In each of these applications, I strive to differentiate my work by applying theory-based and market-proven strategies that deliver measurable results.
The ability to speak in public is essential to civic engagement in a democratic society. Engaged citizens are able to make a difference in their own lives, in the lives of their peers, and in their communities through effective public communication. This course applies the theory and principles of public speaking with an emphasis on preparation and delivery. While addressing the unique challenges of contemporary public speaking, students are guided through topic selection, organization, preparation, and delivery in both formal and informal speaking contexts.
This course is an intensive introduction to Cultural Studies, an interdisciplinary tradition that emerged primarily from the UK and US in the 1950s and 1960s. Students are encouraged to take a conjunctural rather than disciplinary approach to academic work, as the course mirrors the evolution of cultural studies over the last 5-6 decades, organizing around central problematics, themes, or crises in the contemporary world that seem to require more than simplistic explanations.
In this course students examined the communication processes and cultural significance of popular media. The course was structured as a dialogue between mainstream American popular culture and associated sub-cultural responses across a number of traditional and emerging media forms.
I independently designed this course to provide students with a comprehensive understanding of communication practices in online media with emphasis on content, editing, usability, and design. Students, most with no web design or scripting experience, created websites as a final project for this course.
In this course, students discovered how gender is constructed and performed in our society and the implications of those constructions. We focused on the ways in which gender is created, established, communicated, and reified through rhetoric and rhetorical interaction.
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
*Expected Spring 2014
San Diego State University
American InterContinental University
I'm taking a bit of time off traveling to conferences in order to complete my dissertation research.
Beckham, J. N. (2011, November). Subcultures as Regimes of Valuation. Presented at the annual convention of the National Communication Association, New Orleans, LA.
Beckham, J. N. (2010, June). Food and Drink: Engaging the Logics of New Mediation. Presented at the annual meeting of the Media Ecology Association, Orono, ME. ** Recipient of Linda Elson Scholar Award for Top Student Paper
Beckham, J. N. (2008, November). From Subcultures to Micro-networks: Revising the Modern Narrative of Progress. Presented at the annual meeting of the National Communication Association, San Diego, CA.
Beckham, J. N. (2008, November). Ideological Crystal Lattice or Machine Gun Critique?: The Simpsons' Itchy and Scratchy Land. Presented at the annual meeting of the National Communication Association - San Diego, CA.
Beckham, J. N. (2008, November). De-coloniality and Domestic Resistance: Everyday Life inside/outside the Academy. Presented at the annual meeting of the National Communication Association - San Diego, CA.
Beckham, J. N. (2007, February). There's No 'I' in Token: Resistance, Complicity, and the Activist Potential of Tokenism. Presented at the annual meeting of the Western States Communication Association – Seattle, WA.
Beckham, J. N. (2006, December). Communicating Art-work: Queering the Construction of Feminine Gender Identities. Presented at the annual meeting of the National Communication Association - San Antonio, TX.
Beckham, J. N. & Condon, T. C. (2006, May). Discord and the Academy: An Interdisciplinary Artistic Dialogue on Identity and the Future of Qualitative Research. Presented at the 2nd International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry – Champaign-Urbana, IL.
Beckham, J. N. (2006, February). When ‘Queer' is not: Subverting the Subversive through Binary Identity Construction. Presented at the annual meeting of the Western States Communication Association – Palm Springs, CA.
As a material commodity beer has remained surprisingly unchanged since it's invention—composed of roughly the same ingredients, combined in roughly the same proportions, to achieve roughly the same product. What has been in dramatic flux, particularly over the past 100 years, is how beer is valued. This study considers the complex and numerous weavings of beer into the fabric of contemporary American life. Changes in the valuation of beer (for instance beer valued as a means of supporting US troops during WWII, as a racialized social ill, as emblematic of American masculinity, as a touchstone of activism advocating sustainable practices of producing, distributing, and consuming food and dink) and subsequent changes in pricing and profit are most often seen as products of "economic" change or products of "cultural" change. This project endeavors to understand such changes as a complex articulation of the two.
I am creating a series of visual artwork as a companion piece to this research project >>
I am broadly interested in the various intersections of cultural economy, popular material culture, media studies, and visual culture. Currently, this hybrid intellectual space is finding expression in research in critical food studies. I am fascinated by everyday cultural practices, how they are implicated in relations of power–how racism, classism, sexism, heteronormativity and religious intolerance, for example, exist as particular expressions of power that are often subtle, mutable, complexly interrelated, easily justified and seemingly innocuous.
Given to the graduate student whose work in teaching her or his own class or assistance with a large lecture section is characterized by excellence. 2011
Recognizes the student, group of students, or student organization responsible for initiating projects or activities of a special or continuing nature that contribute substantially to the life and well-being of the Department of Communication Studies. 2010
Given to the graduate student who provides direction, coordination, personal initiative, and service to the graduate students, the department, and the discipline. 2007
Competitive, UNC-wide, 5-year fellowship. $20,000 annual stipend, fees, tuition, and health insurance. 2006
First Place, Poetry for Yesterday You Called for Your Sweater. University-wide literary competition. 2000
Second Place, Poetry for Blues Bar. University-wide literary competition. 2000
Awarded to a graduating senior for demonstrated excellence in creative writing. 2000
Cash award provided to a graduating senior demonstrations “love of learning, appreciation of English, commitment to community, and high personal and academic goals.” $1,500
Beckham, J. N. (2000, Fall). Giving it Back [Poem]. Silhouette Literary Magazine.
Beckham, J. N. (2000, Spring). threehundredsixty [Poem]. Silhouette Literary Magazine.
Beckham, J. N. (2000, Fall). Tuto [Short Fiction]. Silhouette Literary Magazine.
Beckham, J. N. The Answers to All Your Questions [Poem]. HazMat Literary Review
Beckham, J. N. (2003). Blues Bar [Poem]. Exit 13 Magazine, 11
Beer ActivismYou get range of responses when you tell someone that you are intellectually, professionally, artistically, politically and recreationally into beer. But as someone once told me, these kinds of things are just entry points for thinking about and engaging the contemporary moment. Whether this is true or not, beer is a passion I take seriously.
From 2009 - 2012, I worked as the Homebrewing and Winemaking Supply Manager for Supply Fifth Season Gardening Company, purchasing inventory for five "brew and grrow" retail locations throughout NC and VA.
The Pink Boots Society was created to inspire, encourage and empower women to advance their careers in the Beer Industry through networking and education. As a member, I work to:
Big Girl Brewing Company is a “concept brewery” on a mission to restore the place of women in the world of brewing by creating ass-kicking, consciousness-raising craft beers. Thought not a traditional venture in any sense, my concept brewery has become a enjoyable way to see myself as a homebrewer in a culture that is dominated by white men. It's been a great way to share information and to bring a side of feminism to the table when I pour the fruits of my labors at homebrew festivals.
September 10th, 2011- Top of the Hops - Charlottesville, VA
I gave a talk for Fifth Season on homebrewing in the Greatbrewers.com Brew University Area of the festival.
September 22nd, 2012- The Science of Brewing - Durham, NC
I did a demonstration with co-worker Ethan Johnston for Fifth Season about the science behind brewing ingredients at the North Carolina Museum of Life and Science's Science of Brewing Event. We got some press in the Independent Weekly.
October 8th, 2012- World Beer Festival - Durham, NC
I again served on the "Brew Crew" for the 16th Annual World Beer Festival in Durham, NC. I was on the festival site all day hauling kegs, moving ice, dumping slop buckets and generally insuring that the event went smoothly for brewers and visitors alike.
November 12th, 2012- Homebrew for Hunger - Chapel Hill, NC
I have been working hard since late summer, planning Homebrew for Hunger a fundraiser sponsored by Fifth Season benefiting the Food Bank of Eastern and Central North Carolina. More >>
In the course of researching and writing my dissertation, I found there to be a number of paths, back alleys, tangents, obsessions, and problem spaces to which I simply could not attend within the finite space of the research project. I decided to develop a series of mixed-media artwork, through which I can explore some of what my dissertation cannot take up due to limitations on length, time, and need for coherence…but perhaps more so because some stories are better told in the conceptual space of expressive creative work.
I am currently working on two pieces for the series. The first piece takes up the historically messy interconnections between the brewing industry, baseball, American identity, and black masculinity in a installation of deconstructed and recontextualized baseball cards. The second piece explores beer consumption as a site of meaning with reference to urban blackness. It introduces rarely posed questions about gendered interaction in these sites of meaning making through formal explorations of the brown paper bag and 40oz beer bottle..
As an undergraduate student in the English Department at Virginia Tech, I specialized in Creative Writing. I was the very grateful recipient of instruction and mentoring from a bevy of talented writers, poets, and critics including Nikki Giovanni, Lucinda Roy, Tom Gardener, Bonnie Soniat, and Jeff Mann. Though creative writing is no longer the center of my intellectual efforts, it is a creative practice that will continue to inform all aspects of my life.
Tuto (coming soon)
In fall 2010 I bought a 1980 Honda CX500 with the intention of rebuilding it into a vintage cafe racer. The bike was bought without a tank or headlight, but with all other parts in tact.
Currently I am working on major elements of the body before I tackle the electrical and mechanical systems. The process has been slow--as I have to teach myself a set of new skills every time I have a chance to work on the project--but a ton of fun.