Author: Ashley Brannan

Pillow Talk Studies

Denes Pillow Talk blogProfessors in UConn’s COMM Department are constantly conducting innovative studies, but Professor Amanda Denes’ research proves that there’s a lot more to research than goggles and test tubes.  Professor Denes joined the UConn community as an Assistant Professor in the fall of 2012. During her time here, she’s been focusing on interpersonal communication, gender in communication and sexuality studies in both her classes and research.

 

Professor Denes’ latest research is focused on self-disclosure in relationships—more specifically post-sex pillow talk. In her Pillow Talk Studies she observed the level of relational satisfaction in coorelation to pillow talk. Her interest in hormones and their role in communication inspired the study.  Denes recalled stories from her friends of disclosing things post-sex that they did not truly feel, such as telling someone they loved them. She questioned the relationship between the amount of hormones released during sex and over-disclosure to partners after sex.

 

The findings of the study were very interesting, Denes found that disclosure of positive feelings after sex is linked to more satisfied relationships. The studies also had a connection to orgasms, where Denes found that orgasm was a large predictor in relationships because they release a significant amount of oxytocin which is a hormone that makes people feel happy. They also found that the more alcohol people consume, the less they disclose. Though many might think that alcohol would increase the likeliness of disclosure, it is believed that that the depressants in the alcohol counteracts the oxytocin, thus resulting in less disclosure and relational satisfaction.

 

Professor Denes feels that this study is important because people rarely think about what happens after sex. Communication doesn’t end after sex, the time afterwards matters, and in certain aspects she feels that it can be more important than sex itself.

 

Although it took a while for her to become comfortable with speaking to people about such an intimate topic, she has learned to view it as a scientific process in which she feels “immune” to it. The more comfortable she is discussing it, the more comfortable her subjects will feel about disclosing information. “It’s good for people’s sex lives to talk about it,” says Denes, “People want to tell you stories”.

 

In the future Professor Denes hopes to research social support in communication, and more specifically how social support can buffer difficult situations. In instances such as presence of hate speech, she wants to see if providing supportive communication can help people deal with stressful events.
In the 2017 spring semester, Professor Denes will be teaching a new hybrid version of COMM 3200 Interpersonal Communication, as well as finishing up her research.

Behind the Lense

When it comes to building a schedule for the upcoming semester there are things that every student looks for: new courses and classes that only meet one time a week with no textbooks. If I’m being honest, that was why I enrolled in Digital Production. Little did I know I enrolled in an incredibly enriching applied course that would allow me to unleash my creativity in ways I’ve never been able to before.

Walking into the first class of Digital Production I was concerned because there were only 35 people in a 150 person lecture hall, and I assumed no one even bothered to show up. I later learned that the course was designed to use a big lecture hall so we could use class time to collaborate. As Professor Stifano walked in, it was clear that something was going to be different about this course as the first thing he said was “I’m Professor Stifano, but you can call me Steve. If I could be wearing sweatpants I would be.” The course is presented in a very relaxed manner, allowing every student to feel comfortable sharing ideas and thoughts about projects they are making. The greatest part about a small class size setting is that you get to develop a strong bond with your classmates to create things that are more than just a group project. We created stories, we created movements, we created news, collectively.

With equipment provided by the Communication Department, the only thing that we had to worry about was coming up with ideas, and making them come to life through photo essays and short films.  While many courses that are required for the Communication major stress theoretical approaches, this course allows us to test out those theories. Professor Stifano gave us complete freedom to turn our passions into visions.  By pushing us to ask ourselves what we’re afraid of, what we care about, what we believe in, we could exemplify those things in our images and films.

Initially my classmates and I were nervous about operating equipment, coming up with new ideas, and editing films. It’s one thing to read about how to do these things, but to actually get our hands dirty and develop those skills allowed us as students and artists to build off of each other and create really amazing projects. Every single group developed friendships that continued outside and after the class.

Communication is a lot more than just learning how to speak to one another. This class explores the way that we can communicate through different types of media. Communication becomes an art in this course because of the way the we carefully design each message. We learn about media bias, hypodermic needle model, and decoding messages in every communication course that we take, but this class allowed us to experiment with them in our own projects.

Professor Stifano’s passion for the class and respect for all of our projects and ideas makes COMM 2940 an environment where students can thrive.

 

 

COMM Society Field Trip

Last mocomm-tripnth, the Communication Society took a trip to New York City to attend a live taping of The Harry Show. Award-winning actor and singer Harry Connick Jr., who is best known for his roles in the films Independence Day, Hope Floats, and P.S. I love you is the host of the show.

Connick Jr. began the show with an interview with actress Lily Collins, promoting her new film Rules Don’t Apply where she spoke about her role in the film, as well as what it is like to be the daughter of famous singer Phil Collins.

The next guest was Ta’Rhonda Jones, who plays Porsha in the hit television series Empire. Jones discussed her role on the show and told the audience about her overnight transition from a normal girl working at a nursing home to a celebrity, as her role in Empire was her first professional acting job.

The show ended with an amazing performance by some of the cast of Cirque de Soleil. The audience marveled at the incredible balance and flexibility of the performers.

During the breaks in the show, Harry Connick Jr. sang to, danced with, and invited the audience members to ask him questions.

Following the taping, an employee from NBC spoke to the Communication Society about working in the television industry. She talked about her background in the industry and her incredible internship on The Late Show with David Letterman. The woman explained that her internship experience was extremely helpful in guiding her towards what direction she wanted to go in with her career. She said that although she had almost no free time due to balancing her internship and her classes, she had no regrets because she was so passionate and excited about the work that she was doing. She emphasized that getting real world experience in the television industry through her internship was extremely important in helping her to land a job and become successful after graduation. The woman advised the group about the importance of getting any kind of internship experience during college and insisted that the best interns are those who work hard, want to learn new things, and do not treat any task as too small. She continued by speaking about the other roles that she has had throughout her career, and informed the group about how most young people entering the television industry will not stay in the same position or with the same company for their entire career, and that it is okay to move around and work in different roles. Hearing from someone with a lot of experience in the television industry was both an informational and motivational experience.

Overall, this trip was both a fun and educational one for the members of the Communication Society. Having an inside look and seeing how material from courses at UConn are applied in the television industry was a great learning experience for the group.

 

By Julie Pyrcz, COMM Society PR Chair

Professor Shardé Davis

photo of Sharde DavisThis fall the UConn Department of Communication has welcomed three new professors to the Department, each bringing something new and unique to the already existing faculty, students, and staff. Among the newest members of the faculty is Dr. Shardé Davis who is bringing fresh ideas and perspectives to our research labs and classrooms.

Davis earned her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Communication and Feminist Studies from University of California Santa Barbara and went on to receive a Ph.D. in Communication with a Doctoral Certificate in Gender, Women’s, and Sexuality Studies from the University of Iowa. Her work in these two topics has led her to focus her studies on something new to the UConn COMM Department.

After participating in research and critiquing studies, Davis found that there was a lack of black women in the research representation. Upon finding this, Davis harnessed the phrase “research is me-search” and began to focus her studies on the interpersonal relationships of black women. With a goal of making her own narrative as a black woman heard, her research observes how black women communicate when they gather together in groups, by studying race and gender influences in group level context.

In the upcoming semester, Spring 2017, Professor Davis will be teaching two sections of COMM 4220W Small Group Communication. With the belief that “everyone’s opinion has a place,” she has discussion-based classes where she centralizes everyone’s voice. While creating a dynamic learning environment, Davis teaches concepts in ways such that students can can apply them to their own lives.

With high hopes for the future, the UConn Department of Communication welcomes Professor Davis and the unique perspectives she brings to the department.

 

Students Become Activists

comm-3100Every semester UConn students enroll in COMM 3100- Persuasion with the intention of gaining 3 credits and a few new tricks to convince their friends to do things for them. This course does not teach students how to control the minds of others, but it does teach them how to use persuasion skills to impact causes that they are passionate about. The course assigns students a group project in which they create activist campaigns to carry out through the course of the semester. Students then promote their movement and present it to their peers at an event towards the end of the course. Some of the previous campaigns have consisted of clothing drives, campaigns against texting and driving, and organizations to promote diversity and confidence around campus.

The course gives opportunities to apply the theories that students read in textbooks to real world scenarios. Within the campaign, students hone in on their design and public relations skills by designing videos, flyers, social media accounts, and websites. Professors are not holding any hands in this course, students are given the freedom to harness their own creativity to design a campaign that they are passionate about. Each project is unique in many ways, allowing students to not be bound by their rubric, but rather set free by an assignment.

One of the professors teaching the course this semester, Professor Thomas Meade, stated that Persuasion is special because students can “leave the class with a sense of pride”. The course allows students to be involved with an organization on campus that they create, giving students a voice and an opportunity for that voice to be heard.

The outcomes of these projects have been phenomenal, consisting not only of the persuasion skills that the students gain, but also the impact that the campaigns make themselves whether they raise awareness, money, or supplies. Each campaign has a measurable outcome, meaning the students can see the direct impact they make on their cause. By encouraging students from other departments to come and join their efforts, they are showing the importance of the field of Communications to their peers. It is easy to see the effects of nurses, accountants, and engineers, and with this project, it is easy to see the impact that communication professionals have on the world.

Show your support for the students at their Project Showcase on December 7, from 5-7 pm in the Dodd Research Center.