Author: Megan Fisher
Date: November 15, 2017
Categories: Alumni|Communications|Political Science

Houghton College graduate Elizabeth Gardner has received the 2017 Outstanding Dissertation Award from the American Society for the History of Rhetoric (ASHR).

After graduating from Houghton in 2007 in communication and political science, Gardner pursued both a Master of Arts and a doctorate in communication studies at the University of Maryland. She completed her doctoral dissertation in 2016 with a study titled “The Child Labor Movement’s Night Messenger Service Campaign: Rights and Reform in the Progressive Era.” The award-winning dissertation examined the ways in which the reform campaign to regulate child labor in the night messenger service from 1906 to 1915 led to the creation of legislation that left a state government, rather than the family, as the primary overseer of an adolescent’s work hours and moral education.

Gardner’s dissertation was judged on significance of the work’s contribution to the history of rhetorical theory, practice, and/or pedagogy; quality of archival or primary research and contribution to historiographic practice; and quality of writing.

Each year, ASHR gives out only two student awards: one for a dissertation and the other for an outstanding student paper. To qualify for the 2017 Dissertation Award, Gardner had to defend her work during the September 11, 2016 to September 10, 2017 timeframe.

“For my dissertation, I was able to consider questions like what rights should individuals - particularly children - have, how have these guarantees of protection and security shifted over time, and what strategies have activists used to lobby for new policies,” Gardner commented. “There's a lot to be learned by looking back at how others have spoken about and responded to the challenge of community in a context of rapid change.”

Gardner currently serves as assistant professor of communication studies at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, California.