Debra Merskin

Primary tabs

Share This...
Associate Professor
236 Allen Hall
(541) 346-4189
Communication Studies, Communication Theory & Criticism, Ethics & Persuasion, Mass Media & Society, Media and Diversity


PhD, Syracuse University, 1993

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



Merskin's professional advertising experience includes positions as media director at Ellis, Diaz/Bozell, Jacobs, Kenyon & Eckhardt, at Cedar Hames & Associates and at W.B. Doner & Co. She recently completed coursework for a second PhD in Depth Psychology with an emphasis on ecological psychology.


Merskin’s 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. Merskin’s research appears in several journals, including Action Research, Sex Roles, Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, American Behavioral Scientist, Journal of Communication Inquiry, Feminist Media Studies, and the Howard Journal of Communication. She has written chapters for several books including Dressing in Feathers: The Construction of the Indian in American Popular Culture; Growing Up Girls: Popular Culture and the Construction of Identity; Sexual Rhetoric;The Girl Wide Web; and Bring ’em on: Media and Politics in the U.S. war in Iraq. Her 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.


"The Show for Those Who Owe: Normalization of Credit on Lifetime’s Debt"

(pdf, 70k)

"Winnebagos, Cherokees, Apaches, and Dakotas: The Persistence of Stereotyping of American Indians in American Advertising Brands"

(pdf, 190k)

"Sending up Signals: A Survey of Native American Media use and Representation in the Mass Media" (pdf, 218k)