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 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. More >>

Media and Culture


I am fascinated by the residue of American culture that is manifest in mediated environments and objects–the traces left in the wakes of our daily lives that, when taken collectively, produce intricate and compelling maps of the conditions of our living. More >>

Scholarly Publications



Beckham, J. N. (Forthcoming). The Value of a Pint: American Beer, Cultural Change, and the Stubborn Materiality of Contemporary Capitalism. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press.


Book Chapters

Beckham, J. N. (2017). Entrepreneurial Leisure and the Microbrew Revolution: The Neoliberal Roots of the Craft Beer Movement. In N. Chapman & J. S. Lellock (Eds.), Untapped: Exploring the Cultural Dimensions of Craft Beer. Morgantown, WV: University of West Virginia Press.

Beckham, J. N. (2014). Drinking Local: Sustainable brewing, alternative food networks, and the politics of valuation. In T. Conroy (Ed.), Food and Everyday Life (pp. 105-127). Lanham, MD: Lexington Books.


Journal Articles

Beckham, J. N. (2012). Food and Drink: Engaging the Logics of New Mediation. Explorations in Media Ecology, 10(1-2), 25-38.

Conference Activity and Speaking Engagements

Address at the 2017 Baccalaureate Service at Randolph College.

Upcoming Conference Activity and Speaking Engagements

  1. October 22, 2017: 26th Annual Helen Clark Berlind Symposium.
    Lecture – “Food Access and Incarceration”
  2. November 7 – 9, 2017: NC Craft Brewers Conference
    Plenary Address – “Diversifying Craft Beer”

If you are interested 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.

Past Conference Activity and Speaking Engagements >>



In the News – My research has been noticed by media sources both in an out of the academy.

Media Inquiries – More often than not, I am happy to chat with journalists about my areas of research expertise.  Please use the form in the footer of  this page to get in touch.

Faculty Consulting

I am occasionally available (particularly during the summer months) for consulting projects.  If you would like to talk about collaborating on projects that overlap with my areas of research expertise or require high-impact training, eLearning development, or curriculum designs, let’s talk! More >>

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.


Current Courses

I currently teach in the department of Communication Studies at Randolph College.  I am teaching three exciting classes this semester (fall 2017).

COMM 204: Communication Technology & Culture
COMM 432: Global Media and Communication
COMM 494: Senior Seminar

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 >>

Faculty Consulting

I am occasionally available (particularly during the summer months) for consulting projects.  If you would like to talk about collaborating on projects that overlap with my areas of research expertise or require high-impact training, eLearning development, or curriculum designs, let’s talk! More >>

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 -Since 2014, I have 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.

Public Research

Oasis Grocery Store Initiative – In the spring of 2016 I joined a group of Lynchburg community members to research the feasibility of developing a mixed-use residential/grocery store property targeted toward Lynchburg residents in need of affordable housing currently residing in the city’s downtown urban food desert.  I assisted a colleague in drafting, piloting, and executing a survey and community needs analysis.


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 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 _____ later, I have found my way back into the practice of creative writing and couldn’t be happier about it.

Creative Publications


Currently, I am creating a work of serialized fiction called WITHOUT LIGHT.   WITHOUT LIGHT is a work of serialized speculative fiction about a United States 250 years in the future.  The story is a dark and fantastic response to the question, “what would our country look like if current trends in our food system, media infrastructure, and social hierarchies were allowed to evolve to their (il)logial ends?” More >>

I Blog

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 …