The National and Cosmopolitan Dimensions of Disciplinarity: Reconsidering the Origins of Communication Studies

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Using the first five years of the Quarterly Journal of Speech as a record of Communication Studies' founding, I contend that the discipline began with a tension between contrasting sets of affect and reasoning. In the initial volumes of QJS, one reads many recommendations designed to establish the discipline's academic sovereignty and self-determination, but, at the same time, other essays suggest a commitment to cross-disciplinary inquiry and citizenship. I interpret this tension through contemporary theories of nationalism and cosmopolitanism. These concepts highlight the implications of competing visions for the discipline's future, but they also reveal how cosmopolitan and nationalist processes complemented one another in the early years of “Speech.” I argue, finally, that this tension provides opportunities for Communication Studies in the twenty-first century.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)244-257
Number of pages14
JournalQuarterly Journal of Speech
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2 2015


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Education

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