Faculty & Staff

Deb Merskin

Debra Merskin


123 Franklin Building

Debra Merskin’s professional experience in advertising includes work for Bozell, Jacobs, Kenyon & Eckhardt, and at W.B. Doner & Co., where she was a media buyer and media director. She earned her first PhD in public communication from the Newhouse School at Syracuse University, and she recently completed coursework toward a second PhD in depth psychology with an emphasis on ecological psychology.

Merskin’s first book, Media, Minorities, and Meaning: A Critical Introduction (Peter Lang, 2010), is an examination of how American mass media, including advertising, presents Otherness—anyone or anything constructed as different from an established norm—in terms of gender, race, sex, disabilities, and other markers of difference. Her second book, Sexing the Media: How and Why We Do It, explores how and why media and other social institutions use sex and sexuality to advance economic and ideological interests. Her third book will explore the intersectionality of race, gender, sexuality, and species through an examination of the representations of animals in media.


  • PhD, Syracuse University, 1993
  • MA, Pacifica Graduate Institute, 2010
  • MLA, University of South Florida, St. Petersburg, 1989
  • BA, University of South Florida, Tampa, 1983

Areas of Expertise

  • Communication studies
  • Gender, race, and media
  • Media and society


Merskin’s research interests focus on the representation of marginalized groups  in media content on the basis of race, gender, sexuality, and species. Her theoretical focus is representational ethics. Her research appears in several journals, including the Journal of Trauma & DissociationAction Research, Sex Roles, Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, American Behavioral Scientist,  Journal of Communication Inquiry, Feminist Media Studies, and the Howard Journal of Communication.