Department of Communication Professor Wins Prestigious National Award for Outstanding Article

Meredith Neville-Shepard, clinical assistant professor of communication.
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Meredith Neville-Shepard, clinical assistant professor of communication.

Meredith Neville-Shepard, clinical assistant professor in the Department of Communication at the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences, has received the Daniel Rohrer Memorial Outstanding Research Award from the American Forensic Association.

Each year, the award recognizes one monograph for its outstanding contribution to the field of argumentation. At this year's National Communication Association conference hosted in Baltimore, Maryland, the full body of the American Forensic Association endorsed Neville-Shepard's article, "Disciplining the Female Student Body: Consequential Transference in Arguments for School Dress Codes," as the 2019 winner. 

The essay, which was published as the lead article in a 2019 issue of Women's Studies in Communication, analyzes pro-dress code arguments in popular news coverage. Neville-Shepard illustrates how a reliance on the strategy of pragmatic argument unfairly places negative outcomes on the shoulders of female students, thereby justifying a need for their regulation and punishment. Neville-Shepard terms this process "consequential transference" and concludes that it functions as a serviceable mechanism for underwriting discrimination against women and other marginalized groups.

Kristen Hoerl, the Editor of Women's Studies in Communication, praises Neville-Shepard's essay for making an important contribution to feminist communication. Hoerl explains, "The essay illustrates how such arguments are widespread in the US and have deeply troubling consequences as they perpetuate a misogynist culture that prioritizes the education of boys and men and contributes to rape culture." Hoerl emphasizes that Neville-Shepard's study has wide appeal, noting, "It should be of strong interest to K-12 educators, argument scholars, and to anyone invested in promoting the lives of girls and women."

About the American Forensic Association: The American Forensic Association, which is an affiliate of the National Communication Association, provides services for educators teaching the skills and values of citizenship and critical thinking through interscholastic and intercollegiate debate competition. For more information, visit


Margaret Butcher, clinical assistant professor
Department of Communication


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