Hi There

Flake. Renaissance person. Waffler. Polymath. Dilettante. Multipotentialite. There are a lot of words for people who have a hard time settling into a single life calling.

My name is J. Nikol Jackson-Beckham and I have been called all of these things–though, I prefer to be called “J.”

The notion that every person has one true calling (and that if one isn’t 100% content in what one is doing, then this activity must not be one’s true calling) has been a source of genuine anguish for much of my life. It was not until I gave myself permission to unapologetically do all the things I feel passion for, that began to be truly happy and productive.

Today, I am contentedly a scholar, a teacher, an activist, an author, a maker, a blogger and probably a few more things that I haven’t discovered yet.

Thanks for stopping by.

News and Updates >>

I Think

My scholarly research examines popular manifestations of power and inequality within contemporary cultural economies and mediated environments. I work in two areas of interdisciplinary scholarship: critical food studies and cultural studies of media.

Critical Food Studies

I am interested in bringing culturally attentive theories of valuation to the exploration of what might be called an ‘everyday politics of food and drink.’  In recent years, I have extensively researched the American brewing industry, examining the relationships between the economic valuation of beer and a range of cultural phenomena, including: industrial histories as they pertain to race, class, and gender relations; discourses evoking ‘sustainability’ and ‘the local’; subcultural politics; entrepreneurship; the logics of new mediation; and affect and sensation.

Media and Culture

I am fascinated by the residue of American culture, the traces left in the wake of our daily lives that, when taken collectively, produce intricate and compelling maps of the conditions of our living. I choose the subjects of my research in attempts to answer the following,

  1. How are relations of power manifest in the material conditions of everyday life?
  2. How might more complex understandings of everyday life  lead to more nuanced awareness of the power implicit in racist, sexist, homophobic, classist and other intolerant acts?
  3. How does one methodologically cultivate, as bell hooks writes in Postmodern Blackness, “habits of being that reinforce awareness that knowledge can be disseminated and shared on a number of fronts”?

Efforts to answer these questions—which unite and animate a series of projects that have engaged artifacts as varied as The Simpsons, the Roland TR‐808 Rhythm Composer, a disposable camera snapshot taken of visual artist Nikki Lee, and beer advertising and packaging—have pushed my research beyond the disciplinary boundaries of communication studies. As a result, I have found inspiration and success as a practitioner of critical, interdisciplinary, cultural studies scholarship interrogating artifacts, cultural practices, and discourses at the intersection of media studies, popular material culture, and cultural economy.

Conference Activity and Speaking Engagements


  • PANELIST – Who Doesn’t like Free Beer?”: Altruism and Diversity and Inclusion in the Craft Brewing Industry” | To be Presented at the Annual Conference of the Cultural Studies Association | May 30  | New Orleans, LA


  • INVITED PANELIST – From Brewing Outlaws to State Blue Laws: How the 18thAmendment Continues to Shape American Craft Beer. | Presented at the Association of American Law Schools Annual Meeting | January 2019 | New Orleans, LA
  • PAPER – “Don’t get me wrong, I love white guys with beards…”: Reconciling blackness and craft beer culture |  Presented at the joint annual conference of the Popular Culture Association and the American Studies Association | April 2017 | San Diego, CA
  • PAPER –  From Corner Store to Commissary: Placing Correctional Food Systems in the Food Justice Movement | Presented at the Annual Conference of the Cultural Studies Association | June 2016 |  Villanova, PA

More >>


Featured In…

Quoted In..

If you are interested in having me speak at your event, to your class, or with your organization, please get in touch!
**There is a simple contact form in the footer of this page.

I Apply

I am firmly committed to praxis–committed action in pursuit of positive social change that is informed by my scholarly research, creative activity, and other intellectual endeavors.

Diversity and Inclusion in Craft Beer

On April 24, 2018, I was announced as the first-ever Diversity Ambassador for the Brewers Association, the non-profit professional association for the craft beer industry. In this role, I travel around the country to state guild and other craft brewing community events to speak on best practices for diversifying both customer bases and staff and to listen to current challenges in this area. More>>


Featured In…

Craft Beer Looks Beyond ‘Young White Dudes With Beards’
New York Times 
January 2019

No pink beer – how brewers can improve diversity without pandering
Columbus Business First
January 2019

GBH Signifiers 2018
Good Beer Hunting
December 2018

Quoted In..

Time Magazine

I Teach

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.

Courses Taught

I have had the privilege of teaching college courses in a range of educational environments: from large state institutions to small private liberal arts institutions, and in community colleges and trade schools.  I have taught basic undergraduate courses in communication studies, advanced courses in media and cultural studies, various topical electives, and research-based seminars.

Full Course List>>

Pedagogical Approach

Learning, or more specifically, learning how to learn, has been of vital importance in my experiences as a black woman negotiating limited and limiting expectations for what I might be capable of achieving. I teach, then, always with the hope of igniting a love of learning and I take seriously a commitment to make each of my students a more successful learner—firmly believing that the confidence that one can learn well, translates to greater adaptability and ambition in all aspects of life.  More >>

I Write

I started my academic career at Virginia Tech in the English Department as a writer or poetry and short fiction.  After graduation, however, I abandoned the practice of creative writing in favor of more applied pursuits.  Two advanced degrees, four states, and a wife and stepchild later, I have found my way back into the practice of creative writing and couldn’t be happier about it.

Creative Publications

I Care

Service to the institutions with which I am affiliated, to my peers, and to the larger communities of which I am part has been, and will continue to be, a significant part of my personal and professional missions. I am social justice activist and firm believer that radical compassion can change the world.

Community Service

Lynchburg Daily Bread – I currently sit on the board of directors of Lynchburg Daily Bread.  For 35 years, Lynchburg Daily Bread has provided a hot meal 365 days a year to the needy residents of the city of Lynchburg and surrounding counties. In 2016, the organization served 60,485 meals to the homeless and hungry of our community.  In my capacity as a board member of Lynchburg Daily Bread, I work on a subcommittee tasked with producing a feasibility analysis that assist the organization in deciding if and how to extend its mission to include food-based job training.

Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women -From 2014 – 2017, I joined the faculty at Piedmont Virginia Community College in teaching college courses at the Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women.  The “Sunshine” program allows residents of Virginia’s highest security correctional facility for women to earn Associate Degree’s while incarcerated.

Institutional Service


I developed and organized Teaching Innovation Practices & Strategies (TIPS) at Randolph College in January 2017. TIPS is a faculty-to-faculty professional development initiative–a response to current trends in higher education, to challenges facing liberal arts institutions, and to the changing needs of Randolph College students. TIPS is an effort to share pedagogical successes across divisions and disciplinary boundaries.  Most importantly, TIPS is an acknowledgement that we already hold the solutions to many of the problems we face as a faculty – we simply need time and space to share them. After the success of the inaugural TIPS workshop, TIPS received support as part of grant funded by the Endeavor Foundation, and will continue to be held twice a year into the foreseeable future.  More>>

Co-Curricular Advising

Lambda Pi Eta – I currently serve as the faculty advisor for the Omicron Omega chapter of Lambda Pi Eta, the undergraduate honor society of the National Communication Association.  Lambda Pi Eta represents what Aristotle described in The Rhetoric as three ingredients of persuasion: logos (Lambda), meaning logic; pathos (Pi), relating to emotion; and ethos (Eta), defined as character, credibility, and ethics.

NCAA Faculty Liaison – I currently serve as the faculty liaison to the Randolph College Women’ Basketball Team. As a faculty liaison, I promote the intellectual, physical and personal development of student-athletes.

NCAA DIII Women and Minority Grant – In the spring of 2017, the Randolph College athletics department was awarded a DIII Women and Ethnic Minority Internship Grant from the NCAA.  As part of this grant program, I serve in the role of mentor to Randolph College’s grant recipient.

Randolph College Zymurgy Team – I currently serve as the faculty advisor (aka “coach”) for the Randolph College Zymurgy Team, an official student organization at and Randolph College.  The Zymurgy Team works to foster an appreciation and understanding of the art, science, and cultural histories of fermented beverages by competing in informal and American Homebrew Association (AHA)/Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP)-sanctioned homebrew competitions; providing interdisciplinary liberal arts education to the Randolph College community through the lens of fermented beverages; and informing and educate the community about responsible alcohol consumption.

WWRM – I currently serve as the faculty advisor for WWRM, the Randolph College Radio Station.

I Blog

No More Resolutions

I’m not making resolutions this year. I’m making habits. I’ve read that you need about 30 days to give a new habit good footing. So, I’m going to tackle 12 new habits this year, one each month. I’m spending today choosing the line-up and order of some rad habits, big and small.

50 Days Happier: Day 8 – Dreaming for a Fermentation Studio

In the last two 50 Days Happier posts, I wrote about my multitasking kitchen and adjacent laundry room.  This (unfortunately, REALLY ineffective multitasking) is 99% a product of the fact that much of my homebrewery lives in and around our kitchen.  In the last couple of weeks, I’ve finally gotten frustrated enough to move most …