Michelle Scollo, College of Mount Saint Vincent


  • What one piece of writing was most inspirational to you as an LSI researcher?

There are so many pieces of LSI writing that have been and continue to be a source of inspiration and wonder for me. While it is difficult to select one, the one that has been most inspirational and foundational to my research and career is W. Barnett Pearce’s (1994) text, Interpersonal Communication: Making Social Worlds. This was the textbook for my first communication course at the University of New Hampshire, “Introduction to Interpersonal Communication,” taught by Jack Lannamann. The text had just come out and Jack was excited to be using it for the first time in our class. The ideas in the text and the course were a revelation for me, broadly speaking, that communication creates our social worlds. At UNH, the interpersonal concentration took a social constructionist approach to the importance and study of ordinary language, which is the foundation of my research to this day. At UNH, we were fortunate to have several courses offered in language and social interaction, interpersonal communication, and culture and communication taught by Jack, John Shotter, and Sheila McNamee in which we read many primary sources (e.g., Nofsinger, E.E. Sampson, Shotter, O. Sacks, R. Rosaldo, Gergen; Bakhtin, Volosinov, Vygotsky, Harré, Wittgenstein and Vico were de rigueur in class discussions). The ideas they spoke of in class, many of which they were working through in their own scholarship, were just as inspirational and significant to my work as an LSI researcher today as Pearce’s text, if not more so.

  • What question you are currently trying to explore? How?

The question I am currently trying to explore is, “How are identities, relationships, and community produced step-by-step in the contingent co-production of media references in social interaction?” A precursor to this question is a set of questions that I have been working on for some time: “What is the sequential structure, the component parts, functions and meanings of media references in social interaction in different cultures?” and “Do these vary cross-culturally?” In graduate school at the University of Massachusetts Amherst I focused on the Ethnography of Communication, thus my work today is blend of social constructionist and EC approaches to the study of ordinary language and interaction in particular cultures and in cross-cultural perspective. For the questions above, I am using an eclectic theoretical and methodological orientation. My data includes transcriptions and field notes from observations, video and audio recordings of people interacting in everyday contexts (at home, at diners, in cars, on the phone, on TV) as well as transcribed interviews. My theoretical orientation is housed broadly within the Ethnography of Communication, using Carbaugh’s “cultural discourse analysis,” with a heavy dose of additional constructs to help explain the practice of media referencing (e.g., Goffman’s frame analysis, Bauman’s work on performance, Bauman and Briggs’ work on intertextuality, Basso’s work on intertextual joking performances and mini-max forms of communication, Bakhtin’s and Volosinov’s work on reported speech, Sherzer’s work on verbal play and joking, Sacks’ work on joking – the list goes on!)