By Robyn Vincent
A professor with passion for the subjects she teaches, Dr. Ashley Muddiman recently landed at University of Wyoming by way of Austin, Texas.
“I love teaching,” Muddiman said, “because it’s a way to get undergrads as excited about a topic as I am.”
During her four-year stint in the Lone Star State, the COJO professor taught at the University of Texas at Austin, while receiving her Ph.D. in communication there, with a concentration in rhetoric and language studies. Muddiman also holds a master of communication from Wake Forest University and a bachelor of art in strategic communication from Miami University.
COJO assistant professor Dr. Kristen Landreville said Muddiman’s diverse academic background made her a very attractive candidate to the COJO Department.
“One of Ashley’s biggest strengths is her versatility,” Landreville said. “She can bring a lot to both journalism and communication courses, and she is a very positive and happy person who the students are going to like.”
Focused on political communication and specifically political incivility, Muddiman’s dissertation investigates how the media’s portrayal of tense conflict in the American political process affects public perception. She said this is relevant subject matter among both politicos and citizens.
“People have been throwing around the term ‘incivility’ a lot in recent years,” she said. “A couple years ago Obama said we should return to civility, and that word means so many different things so I decided to look at what media portrays as being uncivil in the political sense.”
Muddiman noted that this topic highlights the media’s integral role portraying politics to the masses. “Most people tend to experience politics through the media, so it’s important to look at how journalists and other politicians are talking about politics,” she said.
What she uncovered is that people tend to feel an aversion to politics based on the media’s portrayal of incivility. “Partisanship also plays a big role,” she added. “We tend to think that politicians on our side who yell are in the right while those on the other side are displaying incivility.”
When Muddiman isn’t dissecting the nuances of political communication and theory, the art aficionado likes to paint, read fiction, explore the outdoors and travel.
Her transition from the culturally rich corridors of Austin to Wyoming’s quietude has been relatively painless. “Everyone is so nice and willing to help you out,” she remarked. “I’ve had a really good experience so far. Moving from a bigger town it’s been nice to feel welcome.”