Ragan Fox, an associate professor of communication studies at Cal State Long Beach (CSULB), has been selected as the 2012 recipient of the Lilla A. Heston Award for Outstanding Scholarship in Interpretation and Performance Studies by the National Communication Association (NCA).
Fox will be recognized and receive the award during the NCA’s 98th Annual Convention, set for Nov. 15-18 in Orlando, Fla.
“Being named the winner of the Heston award is a tremendous honor. Some of my favorite performance scholars are previous recipients of the award, so the news is exciting,” said Fox, who is in his seventh year on the faculty at CSULB. “Peer recognition motivates me to continue intellectual studies of gay culture. In early 2013, I have two new pieces coming out - a critical investigation of my 2010 stint on CBS’s ‘Big Brother’ and a queer pedagogy essay. Winning the Heston award greases up the scholarly engine and drives me to keep writing.”
The award is given to authors of scholarship published during the previous three-year period. During that time, Fox published a collection of poetry titled “Exile in Gayville” and wrote six peer-reviewed essays. Two of those pieces—“Re-membering Daddy” and “Tales of a Fighting Bobcat”—were the focus of his contributions.
“Re-membering Daddy” chronicles the last years of the life of Fox’ father and explores the communicative and performative dynamics of providing familial care for an Alzheimer’s patient. The piece was awarded the distinction of being a lead article in Text and Performance Quarterly, the National Communication Association’s flagship performance studies journal.
In “Tales of a Fighting Bobcat,” Fox narrates and narratizes his reactions to systemic homophobia at Cy-Fair High School in Texas. The article won the Ethnography Division’s 2011 Best Article of the Year Award, was the explicit focus of a regional panel, and has been used as a theoretical frame for major assignments in performance studies courses.
“Scholars have already featured the work in their syllabi and course assignments,” Fox pointed out. “Dr. Charles Morris of Boston College recently wrote to tell me that students in his public memory seminar voted the paper as their favorite essay of the semester. The piece was also used in Marjorie Hazeltine’s fall 2011 Performance as Public Practice syllabus. In this class, Ms. Hazeltine has San Jose State University students read ‘Tales of a Fighting Bobcat’ and then construct a major presentation, in which they use auto-archaeology as a method of performative investigation.”
In 1987, Margaret Davidson contributed $4,500 to an NCA restricted reserve fund (with matching funds from NCA) for the purpose of creating an endowment for an award in the area of interpretation and performance, and carrying the name of Lilla A. Heston.
“The award was named for Lilla A. Heston because, despite her untimely death, she had a major impact in contributing to and even defining the field. She was teacher, scholar, performer, director, editor and administrator. In all of those roles, she made her professional and personal contribution on her own campus, in state and regional associations, and in the national association, both in her division and in the association as a whole. Her commitment and her accomplishments touched all of interpretation and performance studies.”
The NCA advances communication as the discipline that studies all forms, modes, media and consequences of communication through humanistic, social scientific and aesthetic inquiry. The organization serves the scholars, teachers, and practitioners who are its members by enabling and supporting their professional interests in research and teaching.