Communication Studies master’s student Emily Krebs stirred things up at last year’s DURAPS (yes, her’s was the one with “Motherf***ing” in the title). In her 2016 DURAPS presentation she discussed the transgressive qualities of Kanye West’s Monster video and highlighted the representations of the ways Black men are (mis)treated in modern society. Since her title catching presentation Emily has moved on to shake things up in the quantitatively dominated health communication sphere. She’s complicating the field biomedicine by peering into sucidality through a “theories of the flesh” lens and uncovering notions of societal abjection. This line of inquiry was made possible by the GSSW suicidologists she met at DURAPS! Take a look at what she’s doing now and what she learned at last year’s summit.
Researcher: Emily is a second year master’s student in Communication Studies.
Current Research: My interest in health topics is rooted in personal experiences with illness and how others in my life respond[ed] to these roadblocks. In terms of the critical perspective on this topic, I took a really awesome class with Dr. Bernadette Calafell called “Monsters in Popular Culture” as an undergrad. Dr. Calafell taught me how to view horror differently—how it could be critically analyzed to reveal a society’s fears and how they intertwine with privilege and oppression. Suicide and mental health issues are huge aspects of horror, so I wanted to dive deeper into notions of societal abjection with those topics.
I’m working on several projects focused on bringing a critical edge to health communication. Most traditional research in this arena is quantitative, which reflects notions of unbiased science—the most valid (and often only) way of knowing in biomedicine. To complicate this, I focus on more experiential ways of knowing that honor personal narratives and theories of the flesh (term coined by Chicana feminists Cherríe Moraga and Gloria Anzaldúa). After all, science is deeply intertwined with history, identity, and sociocultural morality. My research goal is to highlight this while elevating marginalized voices and perspectives.
My thesis explores this medical-social blend in terms of suicidality, and I’m co-authoring papers on endometriosis and eating disorders as well. I also work with The Scraps of the Heart Project (SOTHP): a community/art-based research collective centered around baby loss that’s led by Dr. Erin Willer, my awesome advisor.
Collaborators: I’m lucky to have tons of AMAZING people who work with me on these projects. Many of them took me under their wings even as an undergrad. (I was a huge nerd.) Drs. Erin Willer, Christy-Dale Sims, and Beth Suter, as well as fellow grad students Kelsea Kohler, Antonia Alvarez, Nivea Castaneda, and Shadee Abdi, plus the SOTHP Crew…This list could go on for days.
DURAPS Presentation: Last year I presented a paper about Kanye West and his controversial “Monster” music video. The video was filled with gruesome, rape-implied portrayals of female corpses, which many white audiences jumped to critique as horrifically misogynistic. My paper argued that the video could also be read as a satirical critique of the way Black men are (mis)treated in modern society—that, based on the lyrics, West was very much aware of his transgression and performed in that matter in order to highlight the racism he faces as a Black man in our society. For those of you who attended the conference or received emails about the awards, this paper was the one with “Motherf***ing” in the title. It’s a great claim to fame. Jokes aside, it’s currently under review for journal publication; I’m super excited about that!
Most of the time in grad school we’re stuck in our own departments. DURAPS is an amazing way to find other people across campus doing similar work. For me, this was huge because no one in my department explicitly studies suicide, and it’s one of my core academic interests. By attending DURAPS, I made connections with suicidologists from the Graduate School of Social Work and the Iliff School of Theology. These people have been central to my research, and there’s no way I would’ve connected with them without this conference.
Research Advice: If you love what you research (which you should!), share that passion with your audience. And don’t be afraid to show enthusiasm for other students’ work too. There’s this weird taboo in academia surrounding showing emotion. It’s silly. Don’t be afraid to get stoked.
Want to present your research at DURAPS? GSG welcomes complete or work-in-progress submissions. Be sure to submit your abstract by 2/27!