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Curriculum Vitae (Academic)

LAURA COOK KENNA

Education

PhD, American Studies, George Washington University, Washington, DC

  • Dissertation: “Dangerous Men, Dangerous Media: Constructing Ethnicity, Race, and Media’s Impacts through the Gangster Image, 1959-2007.”
  • Co-directors: M. McAlister and T. Guglielmo. Committee: Gayle Wald, James Miller, Suleiman Osman, Chad Heap

BA, Political Science, highest distinction, Pennsylvania State University, State College, PA

  • Certificate of Specialization: Macroeconomics
  • University Scholars Program, Academic Excellence Scholarship
  • Evan Pugh Scholar (top 0.5% of graduating class), Phi Beta Kappa

Fellowships and Grants

Gaming Research Fellowship (archival research), Center for Gaming Research, University of Nevada Las Vegas University Libraries, 2009-2010

Postdoctoral Fellow in American Studies, George Washington University, 2008-2009

Scholarly Travel Grant, Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, GWU, 2006 and 2007

Excellence Fellowship in American Studies, George Washington University, 2006-2007

Graduate Research Award (for archival research at the Immigrant History Research Center, University of Minnesota), Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, GWU, 2006

Visiting Research Fellowship First Alternate (archival research), Balch Ethnic Studies Institute, The Historical Society of Pennsylvania, 2005-2006

University Fellowship, George Washington University, 2002-2003

Jacob K. Javits Fellowship ( 4 years tuition and stipend, one of 60 fellows across the social sciences, arts, and humanities), US Department of Education, 2000-2005

Scholarly Publications 

“Making Exploitation Black: How 70s ‘Blaxploitation’ Discourse Marginalized Industry History and Constructed Black Viewers’ Taste,” chapter in Beyond Blaxploitation. Gerald R. Butters, Jr. and Novotny Lawrence, eds., Wayne State University Press, 2016

“TV Gangsters and the History of the Italian American Anti-Defamation Movement,” (solicited) Italian American Review. special edition on Italian Americans and Television, Laura Ruberto and Jonathan Cavallero, eds,summer 2016

“The Promise of Gangster Glamour,” chapter 5 in Frontiers in Chance. David Schwartz, ed. UNLV Gaming Press, June 2013. 

“The Promise of Gangster Glamour: Sinatra, the Strip, and Alluring, Ethnicized Excess.”  Occasional Paper Series 6.  Las Vegas: Center for Gaming Research, University Libraries, University of Nevada Las Vegas, 2010. 

“Exemplary Consumer-Citizens and Protective State-Stewards: How Reformers Shaped Censorship Outcomes Regarding The Untouchables.” The Velvet Light Trap. 63 (Spring 2009) pp. 34-44.

Review of Empire, by Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri. American Studies International40:1 (February 2002) pp. 83-4.

Invited Lectures 

“Crabbers and Corporation Men: Pop Culture Negotiations of American Masculinity and American Capitalism.” American Studies Series, Western University, Ontario, January 2018

 “The Promise of Gangster Glamour,” Gaming Research Colloquium Series, Center for Gaming ResearchUniversity of Nevada, Las Vegas, May 2010

“Competing Understandings of Media in the History of Anti-Defamation,” Philip V. Cannistraro Seminar Series in Italian American Studies, John D. Calandra Italian American Institute, Queens College/City University of New York, October 2009

Academic Positions 

Faculty, Trinity Forum Academy, August 2013 -2017

  • Redesigned curriculum for thesis requirement, resulting in higher satisfaction of organizations’s Board of Directors and better reviews of experience from thesis writers
  • Oversaw 40+ theses from topic choice to final draft, giving feedback on intermediate drafts
  • Taught fellows to engaging culture appreciatively, critically, and conversationally through seminars, film discussions, and writing

Regular Guest Instructor, Foreign Service Institute,U. S. Dept. of State, March 2012 -2015

  • “Americana and U.S. Cultural Values” session, part of the Foundations of Public Diplomacy Course
  • Equipped 600 cultural attachés and press officers in-training with tools to analyze and explain American media culture and the forces shaping it 

Professorial Lecturer, American Studies, George Washington University, Spring 2014

  • “U. S. Media and Cultural history” lecture, Supervised two graduate students 

Visiting Assistant Professor of American Studies, George Washington University, 2009-2010

  • Taught :American Cinema, U.S. Media & Cultural History, Cultural Criticism (redesigned course)
  • Supervised four graduate teaching assistants in leading discussions, managing classrooms, and grading assignments

Professorial Lecturer of Film Studies, George Washington University, Fall 2008

  • Designed and taught Film Theory course

Visiting Assistant Professor of American Studies, George Washington University, Spring 2008

  • Designed and taught: American Cinema lecture, Research in The 1970s, Senior Thesis Seminar
  • Served as advisor on nine undergraduate senior thesis projects
  • Supervised two graduate teaching assistants in leading discussions, managing classrooms, and grading assignments

Lecturer in American Studies, George Washington University, Spring 2007

  • Designed and taught: “American Television” seminar

Freelance Consulting and Editorial Projects

Training and Development Projects:

Bellwether Communications, Washington DC, November 2018

Consulted with Content Director on developing a new, book concept to book proposal editorial service for the firm

Openfields Consulting, Greenville, SC, February-April 2018

Developed outline of custom learning experience for corporate leaders to develop and polish op-ed writing skills

Freelance Substantive Editing, 2010- 

Created project timelines, enforced deadlines, identified gaps in reasoning or research, suggested revisions to organization, gave challenging feedback diplomatically, advocated for reader-friendliness, edited for voice and style consistency 

  • “It’s Personal: Technology and the Public Good,” Stephanie Ricker Schulte, manuscript 
  • On the Threshold of Manifest Destiny: Gender and National Expansion in Florida.Laurel Clark Shire, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2016
  • “Feminists Against Facts, Fairness, and the Rule of Law,” Ch. 9 in The Silencing. Kirsten Powers, Regnery, 2015
  • Chronic Youth: Disability, Sexuality, and Rehabilitation in American Culture. Julie Passanante Elman, NYU Press, 2014
  • Cached: Decoding the Internet in Global Popular Culture. Stephanie Ricker Schulte, NYU Press, 2013

Conference Papers

“Contingency Plans: The Horizon for PhDs Beyond the Academic Marketplace,” Console-ing Passions Conference, Columbia, MO, April 2014

“An Ironic and (or?) Intimate Interface with Otherness: Grand Theft Auto IV’s Offers of Affective Engagement with Ethnic and Racial Difference,” Society for Cinema and Media Studies, Boston, MA, March 2012

“Out Italian-ing the Italians: Gangsterism as Ethnic Emulation and Racial Rivalry in Black Caesar,” American Studies Association, San Antonio, TX, November 2010

“Governmentality and Grand Theft Auto: Interacting with and Policing Racialized Criminality,” American Studies Association, Washington, DC, November 2009

Commentator, “9/11 Vernaculars Panel,” American Studies Association, Albuquerque, NM, October 2008

“‘I Can’t Turn the Other Cheek on This. … My Father Was a Knight of Columbus’: ‘Christopher’ and the Contested Construction of Italian-American Identity,” “The Sopranos: A Wake” Conference, Fordham University, New York, NY, May 2008

“The ‘New Ethnicity’ and the Auteur: The Discursive Rendering of Martin Scorsese,” Society for Cinema and Media Studies, Philadelphia, PA, March 2008

Session Organizer/Presenter.  Panel: “The Emergence of Las Vegas Culture at Mid-Century: Glamour, Organized Crime, and Performance,” 

Paper: “Frank Sinatra’s Rat Pack and the ‘Gangster Glamour’ of the Strip,” American Studies Association, Philadelphia, PA, October 2007

Chair/Presenter.  Panel: “Constructing the Television Viewer: Government Hearings, Viewer Characterizations, and the Public Good,” 

Paper: “The TV Viewer and the Juvenile Delinquent: The Senate Judiciary Committee Subpoenas The Untouchables,” Society for Cinema and Media Studies, Vancouver, BC, March 2006

Professional Development

  • “Section 508: What It Is and Why It’s Important” GSA course, certificate of completion
  • “Writing a Proposal,” Lynda.com,  3.85 CPE credits
  • “Writing a Business Report,” Lynda.com, 1.75 PDUs 
  • Project Management Foundations,” Lynda.com, 3.25 PDUs
  • “Intro to HTML/CSS: Build Your Own Website,” Thinkful code school 
  • “Copyediting,”University of California Berkeley Extension, 2 CEUs
  • “Grammar, Mechanics, & Usage for Editors”  University of California Berkeley Ext., 2 CEUs

General Interest Publications (as Laura Kenna)

“Charles Dickens Still Haunts Christmas.” ChristianityToday.com. December 17, 2017. https://www.christianitytoday.com/women/2017/december/charles-dickens-still-haunts-christmas.html

“The Moral Truths of Suburbicon.” ChristianityToday.com. November 3, 2017. https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2017/november-web-only/suburbicon-review.html

“Atomic Blond Delivers Female Action without a Hero.” ChristianityToday.com. August 4, 2017. https://www.christianitytoday.com/women/2017/august/atomic-blonde-delivers-female-action-without-action-hero.html

“The Beguiled Reveals the Cracks in Our Imagined Selves.” ChristianityToday.com. July 11, 2017. https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2017/july-web-only/beguiled-reveals-cracks-in-our-imagined-selves.html

“Farewell to TV’s Most Powerful Ladies.” ChristianityToday.com. February 9, 2017. https://www.christianitytoday.com/women/2017/february/farewell-tvs-most-powerful-single-ladies.html

“Big Little Lies Tells the Truth.” ChristianityToday.com. March 10, 2017. https://www.christianitytoday.com/women/2017/march/big-little-lies-tells-truth.html

“The Crown: Balancing Family and Calling is a Royal Pain.” ChristianityToday.com. December 2, 2016. https://www.christianitytoday.com/women/2016/december/crown-balancing-family-and-calling-is-royal-pain.html

“The Good Place Imagines an Eternity of Ethics Lessons.” ChristianityToday.com. October 27, 2016. https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2016/october-web-only/good-place-imagines-eternity-of-ethics-lessons.html

“Tom Clancy Wrote America Well.” USAToday. October 8, 2013. http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2013/10/08/tom-clancy-cold-war-jack-ryan-column/2948299/

“What The Americans Can Teach Us About Marriage.” Rare May 10, 2013

“Lost at Sea.” Rare April 23, 2013.

“The History of Gin.” Book Review. The Washington Times. December 13, 2012. http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/dec/13/the-history-of-gin/?page=all

Learning to Edit: A Love Story

Research writing is what started it all. I loved to edit things for my grad school friends. Need a pithier “call for papers?” I’m your gal. Want another set of eyes on that article draft? I’d love to read it! Your chapter draft just trails off because you lost your narrative thread and now you’re afraid you don’t have an argument? Ooooh, I’d really like to iron that out with you. Graduate school ended. My interest in editing continued.

Grammar books became beach reading.

In my years as a professor, I advised around 50 thesis writers through the process of choosing a topic, pacing their workflow, multiple drafts, and finished product. On the side, I also edited books and book proposals and journal articles. I enrolled in formal editing courses that I could complete while my children slept.

Recently, I consulted on how to teach op-ed writing to business leaders and, for another firm, how to put together a developmental editing service for first time authors. This new line of business would guide writers one-on-one from book idea to completed book proposal and sample chapter.

Still. Not. Sated.

These days, I’m hoping to edit more often than my moonlighting during jobs and between three pregnancies allowed. I have demonstrated strength in long-form non-fiction and would describe my approach as a blend of project manager and marathon coach.  I’m great at outlining–including outlining a handful of possible organizations for a chapter of a whole book. I break long-haul projects into discrete tasks and intermediate deliverables and plot those on a timeline that keeps work on track.

I’m also interested in work at the copy level. I enjoy editing short-form essays, making their argument tighter, their prose more concise. I can diplomatically query jargon, catch a slipped verb tense, and also help brainstorm a better opening hook.

I am most interested in growing. I thrive in fast-paced collaborative environments and am a quick study for picking up new content knowledge. I’ve begun training in technical and proposals writing, but know I could learn lots more if I worked in books or communications. Being part of creating excellent written products–as writer or editor– is my passion. Now it’s time to revise my professional context.