Areas of Specialization: Communication Studies; Film Studies; Rhetoric; Women's Studies
Office: JO 5.207
Mail Station: JO 31
Although a relatively new lecturer in Communication at UT Dallas, I've had a long career teaching a wide diversity of communication courses in many different institutions, engaging with large numbers of students of all types, ages, and backgrounds. I see my discipline—communication—as vital to understanding ourselves and the world around us, and I am happy I've been able to help students learn to be better communicators, whether that is having a better understanding of their relationships, or learning how to speak well in public, I've also been able to aid students in developing an understanding of diverse groups, to become literate in understanding media, and even to gain a better appreciation of movies. In addition, by teaching and conducting research at universities in two other countries (Wales and Mexico), I've also helped foster better understanding between peoples (giving me a chance to put theory into practice).
On a more personal note, I've traveled extensively throughout the United States and in several other countries, which has greatly broadened my outlook on life. I am a fan of science-fiction and fantasy, both written and visual, as well as certain types of mystery writing. Having studied film in graduate school, I also love all types of movies, from blockbusters to small independent films, classical films, and international films. Because I am not just a fan of movies, but also analyze film and other media as forms of rhetoric, I've been able to share new insights with other scholars, as well as enrich the classes I teach.
My main areas of research involve analyzing popular films from a rhetorical perspective. I took graduate courses in the University of Southern California film school, and while there I wrote my doctoral dissertation on the original Star Wars trilogy and the first two Indiana Jones films. It received an Outstanding Dissertation Award from the National Communication Association in 1991. While most of my research interests are in film and television criticism, I've also published or presented work in interpersonal communication, gender issues in communication, and media studies, much of which I have incorporated into my teaching. Still, my main interests continue to lie in popular science-fiction/fantasy film, and recently I began researching the latest Star Wars film, with the goal of extending some of my earlier work.
In all my teaching, no matter the size of the class or level, my goal is to facilitate not just the learning of new concepts or skills, but also to enable students to take what they've gained in my classes with them for the rest of their lives. Therefore I use discussion and experiential learning activities so that students can practically apply the subject material of the course. I enjoy interacting with all kinds of students, from undergraduates to graduate students. Seeing my students gain comprehension of an idea, or expressing themselves creatively, is exhilarating to watch. I'm always glad to have been part of that process, to see the light bulbs come on.
My teaching career spans many years. Prior to coming to UT Dallas, I taught a wide variety of courses for numerous colleges and universities, most recently Collin College in Plano and Frisco, TX. The bulk of my career was spent as a tenured Professor of Communication at the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg, Missouri. In 2011 I retired from UCM as Professor Emerita, but continued to teach online courses as a part-time adjunct professor.
During the years I spent at UCM, I taught undergraduate courses in film appreciation; film history; film genres (including courses in science-fiction/fantasy, comedy, and horror); religion and film; media literacy; women and minorities in media; introduction to mass media; contemporary rhetoric; gender communication; interpersonal communication; intercultural communication; small-group communication; public speaking; and communication research methods. I was the Graduate Coordinator for the department's master's program for many years and taught numerous graduate courses including introduction to graduate studies; qualitative research methods; theories of communication; and seminars in cultural studies and rhetorical theory & criticism. I also supervised over thirty graduate research projects. While at UCM I also was privileged to teach outside the U.S. on exchange at Tec de Monterrey, Campus Estado de Mexico, Mexico and the University of Glamorgan, Pontypridd, Wales, U .K. Prior to teaching at UCM, I taught part-time at several colleges and universities in the southern California area, and also was a graduate teaching instructor for both the University of Southern California (USC) and the University of North Texas (UNT).
Recent Courses: View courses taught by Barbara Baker
Work Samples and Publications:
- Baker, B. L. (Oct. 2015). Myth & Gender in Popular Film. Presented to the Feminist Research Collective, University of Texas at Dallas.
- Baker, B.L. (November 2010). Building Bridges Across Technology: Addressing the Influence on Gender in the On-line Learning Process. Presented to the Women's Caucus, NCA, San Francisco, CA.
- Baker, B.L. (November 2007). The Same Old Con of Man: Faux-feminism and the Reaffirmation of Patriarchy in "The Da Vinci Code." Presented to Religious Division, NCA, Chicago, IL.
- Baker, B. L. (1998). Using Controversial Media To Teach Issues About Gender. ERIC Document #416555.
- Baker, B. L. (May 1997). "It's La Croix, Sweetie": Comic Subversion and Reaffirmation of the 'Feminine' in "Absolutely Fabulous." Presented to the International Communication Association (ICA), Montreal, Quebec. Winner of a Top Paper Award, Popular Communication Division.
- Baker, B. L. (1996). The Star Wars Trilogy. "Magill's survey of science fiction and fantasy literature." Salem Press.
- Baker, B. L. & Benton, C. L. (1994). The Ethics of Feminist Self-Disclosure. In K. Carter & M. Presnell, Eds. "Interpretive Approaches to Interpersonal Communication" (pp. 219-245). N.Y.: SUNY Press.
- Baker, B.L. (August 1990). Reaffirmation and Transformation of Gender in Popular Film: A Feminist Approach to Mythic Rhetoric. Dissertation, University of Southern California. Recipient of an Outstanding Dissertation Award, National Communication Association, 1991.
Ph.D. Communication Arts & Sciences, University of Southern California, 1990
M.S. Speech Communication & Drama, University of North Texas, 1979
B.S. Education, Secondary Education (History & Drama), University of North Texas, 1972
Curriculum Vitae: Barbara Baker's CV