Dr. Jamie Capuzza Co-edits Book with Former Student

March 16, 2015

ALLIANCE, Ohio — University of Mount Union faculty member Dr. Jamie Capuzza ’85 recently co-edited a textbook with former student Leland G. Spencer ’07.

Capuzza, professor of communication and coordinator of the gender studies program, and Spencer ‘07, affiliate faculty member at Miami University, co-edited their first book, “Transgender Communication: Histories, Trends and Trajectories.” The book was published by Lexington Books and is one of the first to discuss transgender issues from a human communication, media and rhetorical perspective.

The idea stemmed from Capuzza’s sabbatical research. Two years ago, she noted more frequent news coverage of transgender lives. She wanted to bridge the gap between gender studies and communication and address both subjects. Capuzza then attended a national conference to present an article about her research. At the conference, a Lexington Book representative approached Capuzza and asked her to write a book about it.

After the conference, Capuzza went to lunch with Spencer to celebrate the completion of his doctoral degree, and told him about the book representative’s request. At that point, the two decided to do co-edit the book. They submitted a proposal to Lexington, which was accepted immediately.

According to Capuzza, things fell into place very easily with the book. She and Spencer worked well together and had complementary strengths.

"It was fun working with Leland as co-editors on the book,” said Capuzza. “Both he and I are alums of Mount Union and he was my advisee in the Department of Communication. It's interesting how time unfolds and paths cross again.  It means a lot to me that our professional relationship has matured over the years."

“I'm excited about this book and the contribution it makes to the fields of communication and transgender studies,” Spencer said. “I hope the work in each chapter inspires students and scholars of communication to continue exploring questions about gender identity. Working with Dr. Capuzza has been an absolute delight. She continues to inspire me as she did when I was her student, and I treasure the experience of collaborating with her on such a meaningful project.”

When Capuzza and Spencer approached potential writers, they sought out individuals from diverse backgrounds to write the individual chapters. The book includes perspectives of transgender individuals as well as international scholars. The writers also have varied levels of experience in the field.

In each chapter, the writers summarize what is already known in the field, offer a new study and then suggest a direction for future research. The book is intended to be used as a textbook at the graduate level or as a supplement in an undergraduate course.

Capuzza is still interested in the topic and has a journal article coming out soon in the International Journal of Transgenderism and one in the Newspaper Research Journal. She is currently working with two students, sophomore communication major Abbie Fox of Alliance, Ohio and senior Japanese and German major Kelsey Foegen of Stow, Ohio, on an article about how transgender individuals are depicted in comedies and dramas.

"I think the timing of the book was very important to the field of communication. We are at a critical juncture in that we have a foundation in place for this line of inquiry, but we need to take stock of where we are and where we should go in the future,” said Capuzza. “I believe the field is positioned to make meaningful contributions that matter both to scholars in this area as well as to transgender people and their allies."

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