Joanne Gilbert is the Charles A. Dana Professor of Communication in the Department of Communication and New Media Studies at Alma College, where she teaches courses in Relational Communication, Intercultural Communication, Performance, Humor, and many other areas of the field.
Gilbert’s work staging marginalized voices includes Up from the Ashes: Michigan Holocaust Survivors Share Their Stories, a production scripted from interviews she conducted with Holocaust survivors in the Detroit area, performed by students in her 2006 “Performing Advocacy” spring term class.
In her 2009 spring term course, students traveled to South Dakota to perform Never Forget Your Dreams: The Creation of Crazy Horse Memorial, a production Gilbert scripted from interviews she conducted with members of the family of the late sculptor of Crazy Horse Memorial as well as Lakota living on and off of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.
Dr. Gilbert’s book, Performing Marginality: Humor, Gender, and Cultural Critique (Wayne State University Press, 2004, reprinted, 2008), has been featured on WCMU Public Television, WGVU Public Radio, KZSC Public Radio, and in The Chronicle of Higher Education and invited presentations at colleges and universities around the country.
Her scholarly work on gender and performance—focusing on the relationship between humor and power, autobiographical and cultural performance, and the discourse of marginalized groups—has appeared in journals and edited volumes such as Text and Performance Quarterly, Women’s Studies in Communication, Fan Girls and the Media, Standing Up, Speaking Out, and others.
Dr. Gilbert’s own performance background includes: acting, directing, and performing professional stand-up comedy. At Alma College, she directed You Can’t Always Get What You Want in 2005.
Additionally, in 2002, she directed The Vagina Monologues, a production that raised over $4,000 for the Women’s Aid Service of Gratiot County.
Serving as a communication consultant to groups and individuals nationwide, Dr. Gilbert also provides training in presentational and interpersonal communication skills.
Dr. Gilbert is the recipient of numerous awards, including: The Michigan Campus Compact Faculty Staff Community Service-Learning Award (2000),The Alma College Greek Community Outstanding Faculty Award (2002), The Alma College Posey Award for Faculty Excellence (2003), The Omicron Delta Kappa Faculty Excellence Award (2007), The Athena Award given by the Gratiot Area Chamber of Commerce (2009), the Charles A. Dana Professorship (2010), The Lilla A. Heston Award for Outstanding Scholarship in Interpretation and Performance Studies, from the National Communication Association (2015), and the Alma College Faculty Barlow Award (2017).
- Ph.D., Communication, The University of Texas at Austin (1994)
- M.A., Speech Communication, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (1986)
- B.A., English, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (1984)
My career at Alma began in
I'm an expert in
The author of Performing Marginality: Humor, Gender, and Cultural Critique, Dr. Gilbert’s work on advocacy and the discourse of marginalized voices has appeared in Women’s Studies in Communication, Text and Performance Quarterly, Fan Girls and the Media, Standing Up, Speaking Out, and other publications.
Gilbert, J. (2018). “My mom’s a cunt”: Bitches and bawds ride the fourth wave. In S.A.
Abrams (Ed.). Transgressive Humor of American Women Writers (pp. 203-231).
London, England: Palgrave Macmillan.
Gilbert, J. (2017). Laughing at others: The rhetoric of marginalized comic identity. In
M.R. Meier and C.S. Schmitt (Eds.) Standing Up, Speaking Out: Stand-Up
Comedy and the Rhetoric of Social Change (pp. 57-68). New York, NY:
Gilbert, J. (2015). Members of the tribe: Marginal identities and the female comedy
fan community. In A. Trier-Bieniek (Ed.) Fan Girls and the Media: Creating
Characters, Consuming Culture (pp. 57-71). Lanham, MD: Rowman &
Gilbert, J., & vonWallmenich, L.K. (2014). When words fail us: Mother time, relational
attention, and the rhetorics of focus and balance, Women’s Studies in
Communication, 37:1, 66-89, DOI: 10.1080/07491409.2013.867915
Gilbert, J. (2014). Lesbian stand-up comics and the politics of laughter. In P. Dickinson,
A. Higgins, P.M. St. Pierre, D. Solomon and S. Zwagerman (Eds.). Women and
Comedy: History, Theory, Practice (pp. 185-197). Lanham, MD: Farleigh Dickinson
Press, co-published with Rowman Littlefield.
Gilbert, J. (2014). Performing advocacy: Staging marginalized voices. In L.R. Frey and
D.L. Palmer (Eds.) Teaching Communication Activism: Communication Education
for Social Justice (pp. 231-261). Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press.
Gilbert, J. (2018, February). Valentine’s Blues: The importance of healthy relational
communication. Presentation to participants in monthly diversity dialogue.
Alma College, Alma, MI.
Gilbert, J. (2017, October). Valuing difference and making a difference: The campus and
community benefits of service learning. Presentation to community agency
leaders. Alma College, Alma, MI.
Gilbert, J. (2017, August). Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Opening Convocation
address to First Year students and their families. Alma College, Alma, MI.
Gilbert, J. (2017, August). Listen: The power of perspective taking. Alma College Resident
Assistant and First Year Guide Training. Alma, MI
Gilbert, J. (2017, April). Last laughs: Women comics and the performance of power. Keynote
Address to the History in the Making Conference at Concordia University. Montreal,
Gilbert, J. (2017, March). Last laughs: Women comics and the performance of power. Guest
Lecture in “Humor in 20th Century Literatures, Cultures, Identities” course. Michigan
State University. Lansing, MI.
Gilbert, J. (2017, March). Purim: Its history, implications and R-rating. First Presbyterian
Church. Alma, MI.
Gilbert, J. (2017, February). You had to be there: The benefits of experiential learning.
Alma College Scholars’ Summit Featured Presentation. Alma, MI.
Gilbert, J. & Piccolo, N. (2016, August). Discrimination, Harassment and Sexual Misconduct. Alma College Faculty and Staff Fall Conference. Alma, MI.
Gilbert, J. (2016, August). Listen: The power of perspective taking. Alma College Resident Assistant and First Year Guide Training. Alma, MI.
Gilbert, J. (2015, December). Listen: The power of perspective taking. Central Michigan 4-H Coordinator Professional Development Workshop. Alma, MI.
Gilbert, J. (2015, September). Listen: The power of perspective taking. Equity Grievance Panel member training, Alma College. Alma, MI.
Gilbert, J. (2015, July). The Holocaust: Language and legacy. Presentation for Tenth and Eleventh Grade Students, Michigan Future Schools Network, Detroit Edison
Public School, Detroit, MI.
Gilbert, J. (2015, February). A funny thing: What humor accomplishes. Guest presentation, Congregation Shaarey Zedek. East Lansing, MI.
Gilbert, J. (2014, March). Funny business: Women comics and the performance of power. Featured presentation, The First Presbyterian Church of Alma Women’s
Retreat. Higgins Lake, MI.
Gilbert, J. (2018, March). Laugh tracks: Gender and power dynamics in Modern Family and
The Big Bang Theory. Presented at the Michigan Academy of Arts and Sciences annual conference in Mt. Pleasant, MI.
Gilbert, J. (2017, November). My So-Called Enemy: How an award-winning documentary
Shapes artistic and activist agendas. Presented at the meeting of the National
Communication Association, Dallas, TX.
Gilbert, J. (2017, November). Team-Building through performance. Presented at the meeting of the National Communication Association, Dallas, TX.
Gilbert, J. (2016, November). Performing each other: An introductory exercise in Everyday Life Performance. Presented at the meeting of the National Communication Association, Philadelphia, PA.
Gilbert, J. (2014, November). Playing favorites. Performance presented at the 100th anniversary meeting of the National Communication Association, Chicago, IL.
Gilbert, J. (2013, November). Group scripting performance ethnography project.
Paper presented at the meeting of the National Communication Association, Washington, D.C.
Gilbert, J., & vonWallmenich, L. (2012, November). Mother time, other time: The rhetorical costs of focus and balance. Paper presented at the meeting of the National
Communication Association, Orlando, FL.
Other recent accomplishments:
Alma College Faculty Barlow Award, 2018
Alma College Great Scot Award, 2015.
2015 Lilla A. Heston Award for Outstanding Scholarship in Interpretation and Performance Studies, National Communication Association.
2015 Distinguished Edited Book Award for Teaching Communication Activism (to which I contributed a chapter) Applied Communication Division of the National Communication Association.