Jarvis, Sharon E. 1969–
Jarvis, Sharon E. 1969–
Born February 20, 1969. Education: University of California at Davis, B.A.; University of Arizona, M.A.; University of Texas at Austin, Ph.D., 2000.
Office—University of Texas at Austin, 1 University Station A1105, Austin, TX 78712. E-mail—[email protected]
University of Texas at Austin, assistant professor of communication studies and associate director of Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Participation, 2000—, research director of Office of Survey Research, 2004—.
Golden Key International Honour Society (honorary member).
Texas Blazers' Faculty Excellence Award, 2000; Texas Excellence Teaching Award, College of Communication at the University of Texas at Austin, 2001; Eyes of Texas Excellence in Teaching Award, 2001; College of Communication Outstanding Professor Award, University of Texas at Austin, 2003; Friar Centennial Teaching Fellowship, 2005; Presidential Speakers Award, California State University at Chico, 2005.
The Talk of the Party: Political Labels, Symbolic Capital, and American Life, Rowman & Littlefield (Lanham, MD), 2005.
Contributor to periodicals, including American Behavioral Scientist, Political Psychology, Journal of Communication, Communication Studies, Communication Quarterly, Rhetoric and Public Affairs, Journal of Computer Mediated Communications, and Howard Journal of Communications.
After completing a bachelor's degree in political science and public service and two graduate degrees in communications, Sharon E. Jarvis joined the faculty at the University of Texas at Austin, where she became an award-winning teacher, associate director of the Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Participation, and research director of the Office of Survey Research. Her research interests include "political communication, persuasion and research methods," according to a brief biography on the University of Texas at Austin Web site. She is also the author or coauthor of two books that analyze how certain politically charged English words have changed connotations and usage over time in American politics.
Political Keywords: Using Language That Uses Us, which Jarvis wrote with Roderick P. Hart, Deborah Smith-Howell, and William P. Jennings, examines the words "president," "government," "politics," "parties" (as in political parties), "promises," "media," "people," and "consultants." For example, when referring to government in political speeches, politicians, the writers note, have been attaching the adjective "big" more often since the 1980s; they also observed that the negative connotation of large government had nothing to do with actual government spending, which decreased during the last decades of the twentieth century.
In addition to examining the usages of specific words, the authors of Political Keywords remark on related subjects, such as the fact that politicians' references to political parties has increased as Congress has become more polarized, and the fact that Republicans tend to make promises to their constituents much more often than Democrats do, a fact that has nothing to do with how often those promises are kept. "The two major weaknesses of the book are the unevenness of analyses and shifting between different data sets," reported Mira Sotirovic in the Presidential Studies Quarterly. "These problems prevent more comprehensive comparisons and generalizations." The critic, however, called the work "an imaginative and insightful book that justifies their seriousness about little words."
The Talk of the Party: Political Labels, Symbolic Capital, and American Life is similar to Jarvis's previous book, though this time it is a solo effort. Here she discusses the usage of the words "conservative," "liberal," "Republican," "Democrat," "independent," and "party." "Jarvis argues that political labels are important because of their symbolic imagery and their ability to encapsulate key themes in public life," explained Darrell M. West in the Political Science Quarterly. "Naming something, in her view, frames political discussions. It is not just a rhetorical act, but a process that structures civic dialogue." Jarvis divides language usage in politics into four eras, ranging from the late 1940s through the 1950s, when political rhetoric regarding parties was relatively straightforward, through two periods of transition, and into the current climate of extreme partisanship. "For scholars interested in parties, campaigns, and political communications, this is an important book," concluded West.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, March 1, 2006, S.L. Harrison, review of The Talkof the Party: Political Labels, Symbolic Capital, and American Life, p. 1305.
Political Communication, April 1, 2005, Mary E. Stuckey, review of Political Keywords: Using Language That Uses Us.
Political Science Quarterly, June 22, 2006, Darrell M. West, review of The Talk of the Party, p. 344.
Presidential Studies Quarterly, December 1, 2006, Mira Sotirovic, review of Political Keywords, p. 772.
Reference & Research Book News, November 1, 2005, review of The Talk of the Party.
University of Texas at Austin Department of Communication Studies Web site,http://commstudies.utexas.edu/ (May 2, 2008), faculty profile.