Melissa L. Curtin

Adjunct Assistant Professor

Office Hours

Tuesdays and Thursdays right after class outside the classroom GIRV 2108 (1:45pm-2:00pm)
Thursdays 2:00-2:45pm
And by appointment
Winter 2018

Office Location

South Hall 3523


Intercultural communication; ethnography and communication; theories of cultural adjustment; social semiotic processes of identification; language ideologies and linguistic landscapes; language and globalization


My research and teaching are broadly interdisciplinary, drawing upon the fields of communication and culture, linguistic anthropology, sociocultural linguistics, cultural studies, and cultural geography.   The common denominator of most of my work concerns “identity and the politics of belonging” as I investigate ways in which language and other social semiotic processes are used (i) in processes of identification and differentiation, (ii) in the social construction of place, and (iii) in the positioning of sociocultural groups within frames of “differential belonging.”  As a critical interpretivist, I conduct ethnographic research that is informed by critical and cultural theory; that is, when investigating interactions within any setting or social group, I draw upon broader discourses as well, as I believe that all social phenomena are best apprehended when analyzed within a field of relations of power as these exist in highly situated economic, historical, and political contexts.  My appointment at UCSB involves the Department of Linguistics and the Department of Communication, as well as Language, Interaction, and Social Organization (LISO), an interdisciplinary research focus group and Ph.D. emphasis. 


2007 Ph.D., University of New Mexico, Albuquerque (Communication & Culture; minor in Linguistic Anthropology)
1998 M.A., Indiana University, Bloomington  (Linguistics)

Current Projects

  • Language and identity in Taiwan
  • Theorizing “cosmopolitanism” in linguistic landscape research
  • Authenticity and innovation in Zapotec weavers’ discourse
  • Visualizing race and nation in environmental communication
  • Critical theorizations of cultural adjustment/acculturation 


  • Ethnography and Cultural Studies (research focus group)
  • Language, Interaction, and Social Organization (LISO)
Professional Organizations
  • American Anthropological Association (AAA)
  • International Communication Association (ICA)
  • International Environmental Communication Association (IECA)
  • National Communication Association (NCA)
  • Western States Communication Association (WSCA)


“Mapping Cosmopolitanisms in The Linguistic Landscape of Taipei: Toward a Theorization of Cosmopolitanism in Linguistic Landscape Research,” International Journal of Sociolinguistics of Language (forthcoming, Spring 2013).

“Coculturation: Toward A Critical Theoretical Framework of Cultural Adjustment,” in T. K. Nakayama & R. T. Halualani (eds.), Handbook of Critical Intercultural Communication (pp. 270-285), Wiley-Blackwell, 2011. 

“Indexical Signs, Identities and the Linguistic Landscape,” in E. Shohamy & D. Gorter (eds.),  Linguistic Landscape: Expanding the Scenery (pp. 221-237), LEA/Routledge Press, 2009.

“Differential Bilingualism: Vergüenza and Pride in a Spanish Sociolinguistics Class,” in N. M. Antrim (ed.), Seeking Identity: Language in Society (pp. 10-31).  Cambridge Scholars Press, Newcastle, UK, 2007.


Courses Taught at UCSB

  • Ling 50: Language & Power
  • Ling 149: Intercultural Communication
  • Comm 107: Interpersonal Communication
  • Comm 160CL: Culture & Language

Courses Taught at Other Institutions

  • SPCM 301: Communication Across Cultures (SIU-Carbondale)
  • SPCM 341: Introduction to Intercultural Communication (SIU)
  • SPCM 541: Studies in Intercultural Comm: Paradigmatic Approaches (SIU) 
  • SPCM 506: Ethnography of Communication (SIU)
  • SPCM 507: Ethnographic Fieldwork (SIU)
  • C&J 221: Interpersonal Communication (UNM-Albuquerque)
  • C&J 314: Intercultural Communication (UNM)
  • C&J 318: Language, Thought & Behavior (UNM)
  • C&J /WMST 326: Gender & Communication (UNM)
  • CA 236: Language, Identity & Communication (UW-Madison)