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Three BYU Communications Professors to Present at International Conference

Kevin John
Miles Romney

Research topics include religious memes, how social media drives conservation and how media can be used to promote sun-safe behaviors

School of Communications professors Kevin John, Scott Church and Miles Romney will each present research papers at the 69th Annual International Communication Association (ICA) Conference. For decades, the association has worked to advance the scholarly study of human communication by encouraging and facilitating excellence in academic research worldwide.

John says presenting at the conference is a great opportunity to show the research community BYU’s high caliber of research.

“ICA attracts scholars from around the world, so the conference always provides a fresh perspective on national and international issues,” said Jon. “I’m grateful to be able to present my research to this group, and I’m thrilled to join my colleagues there. Now we just need to get it done and show the research community what BYU has to offer.”  

Church’s paper — which is titled “Synecdoche, Aesthetics, and the Sublime Online: Or, What’s a Religious Internet Meme?” — focuses on how a religious institutions, particularly the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, can use memes to evoke meaningful feelings. Church said he is excited to present the topic at the conference’s media ecology panel.

“ICA is kind of the premier conference for communications scholarship,” said Church. “Acceptance rates are typically lower, so it’s an honor to be accepted to it and to present just because the caliber of scholarship and the people who go.”

Romney echoed Church’s feelings. His paper, titled “‘It’s Funny to Hear a Female Talk About Routes’: Online Reaction to Cam Newton’s Comments About a Female Reporter,” focuses on how individuals can drive conversation through social media, using Newton’s comments making fun of a female reporter as a case study.

“Social media has the power to drive a lot of really good conversation, but it also has the power to drive a lot of negativity,” said Romney. “This is an example of people reframing the discussion, not about the original idea but attacking the person and their ideas through racist, misogynistic discourse and dialogue.”

John will be presenting a paper entitled “Overload, Reactance, and Avoidance: Discriminant Validity and Relationship to Sun Safe Behaviors.” His paper looks at how media campaigns can promote sun-safe behaviors.

All three professors will travel to Washington, D.C. from May 24-28 to present their research.