Darlene Drummond appointed Assistant Professor of Speech

The Institute for Writing and Rhetoric is proud to announce that Darlene K. Drummond will join the faculty this fall as an Assistant Professor of Speech.

Drummond's research focus is on interpersonal communication, largely within the context of health and the experience of health care. In her published work on such issues, Drummond studies the communication experiences of individuals living with chronic illnesses such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension and breast cancer. Much of her work also examines the experiences of what she terms “co-cultures”; her "focus," she relates, is "on giving voice to muted groups particularly Blacks and Hispanics living in the United States and the maintenance of group identities in intercultural communication encounters."

Drummond's scholarship has been profoundly influenced by three remarkable social scientists—Alfred Schutz, Norman Denzin, and Erving Goffman—whose pioneering work in sociological phenomenology, interactionism, and ethnography form the foundation of her own work. "In my writing," she states, "I attempt to carefully describe the ordinary conscious experience of everyday life . . . . It is the internalized subjective consciousness of the perceptions, behaviors, evaluations, feelings, judgments, decision making, beliefs, and remembrances of others that I seek to describe."

A remarkable example of Drummond's mode of analysis may be found in a deeply personal book that chronicles her own decision to undergo gastric bypass surgery. The book, an autoethnography entitled A Diary of Gastric Bypass Surgery, carefully describes Drummond's agonizing experience of the death of her mother from complications related to obesity and the difficult decision to undergo a radical surgical procedure to avoid a similar fate. One of the book's reviewers states that Drummond's careful, vivid, and intimate portrayal of her experiences allow her readers to “become voyeurs into the life of someone struggling with obesity.”

While her past research has considered how gender, race, and ethnicity play crucial roles in effective interpersonal communication encounters, Drummond's future research will examine how these forms of culturally constructed identity intersect with issues of social class. In particular, Drummond is interested in how these "complex dynamics" affect "interactions between health professionals and consumers in the planning and construction of effective health regimens." Drummond also plans to explore "more concrete ways to feel comfortable in discussing issues of racism, sexism, classism, and other 'isms' in interpersonal, small group, and public speaking contexts."

Drummond is an active and award-winning scholar. She has published widely and presented papers at conferences all over the world, many of which have received prestigious awards. Recently, while attending the 2015 meeting of the World Communication Association's conference in Lisbon, Portugal, Drummond received the Myung-Seok Park Award for the best overall conference presentation—an award she also won six years earlier. Drummond has also won the Women’s Health Presentation Award for the highest ranked poster at the annual meeting of the Society of General Internal Medicine, a Top Paper Award in the Intercultural Communication Division of the Southern States Communication Association, and a Top-Three Paper Award for the Health Communication Division from the National Communication Association.

Drummond notes, "I am extremely excited about the opportunity to conduct research, teach, and serve such a great institution. The position will allow me to explore areas of personal and professional growth through experimenting with innovative approaches to conducting research, presenting research results, and making significant contributions to the Institute’s faculty development efforts.”

The faculty of the Institute share Drummond's excitement and offer the warmest of welcomes and good wishes.