Eric S. Jenkins, a student at the University of Georgia, is the 2008 winner of the Donald P. Cushman Memorial Award. Jenkins’ paper, The Towers of Babble and the Passage of the USA Patriot Act, is the highest ranked student-authored paper at the 94th Annual Convention of the National Communication Association.
"I am excited to have my essay be highest ranked amongst all the student essays," said Jenkins. "This award is an honor."
The winning paper, a rhetorical analysis of Congressional debate on the USA Patriot Act (enacted just 45 days after September 11, 2001), demonstrates that the debate was dominated by a restricted "emergency" time frame and a restricted view of the public—limiting the potential for democratic deliberation. “Towers” makes an original contribution to a rhetorical theory of publics and public spheres and contributes to our understanding of a significant episode in American rhetorical history.
Eric S. Jenkins identifies an important problem: Conditions under which communicatively rational critique can fail even given pluralism. He insightfully discusses the central theoretic tradition addressing this issue, making significant progress in identifying and demonstrating the relevance of troubling limiting conditions for communicatively rational deliberation.
This award was created to honor Dr. Donald P. Cushman, an influential figure across the field of communication. The award is designed to recognize Dr. Cushman’s mentorship of students, which centered around excellence in scholarship, as well as their socialization as scholars in the communication discipline. The award honors the top-ranked student-authored paper from all NCA units that competitively rank papers for programming at the NCA Annual Convention
Jenkins accepts his award at the Annual Convention of the National Communication Association, the oldest and largest association dedicated to the communication discipline. This year’s convention is being held at the Manchester Grand Hyatt, in San Diego, California and is bringing together over 5,500 communication scholars and professionals to help further the discipline.