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Shauna M. MacDonald, PhD - Villanova University. Villanova, PA, US

Shauna M. MacDonald, PhD Shauna M. MacDonald, PhD

Associate Professor, Communication; Co-Director, Gender and Women's Studies | College of Liberal Arts & Sciences | Villanova University


Shauna MacDonald, PhD is an expert in cultural performance, women's issues, storytelling, as well as lighthouses and cultural memory.


Areas of Expertise (6)

Cultural Performance

Women's Issues

Lighthouses and Cultural Memory


Technology and Society

Mindfulness in Higher Education


At the core of Shauna MacDonald’s eclectic range of expertise is communication and the many modes through which it can be expressed. Storytelling and performance are two aspects of particular focus in her research and teaching that explores how we communicate. Whether commenting on a host of contemporary topics from women’s issues to technology and society, lighthouses and cultural memory to mindfulness in higher education, MacDonald offers a unique perspective on the way we interact as individuals and as a society to create memories and achieve understanding.

Education (3)

Southern Illinois University, Carbondale: PhD, Speech Communication; Performance Studies 2011

Southern Illinois University, Carbondale: M.A., Speech Communication; Performance Studies 2007

Cape Breton University: B.A., Communication 2005

Select Accomplishments (6)

Top Performance Contribution (professional)

April 2018
Interpretation & Performance Studies Interest Group, Eastern Communication Association

Outstanding Feminist Teacher/Mentor Award Nominee (professional)

2016 & 2017
Organization for the Study of Communication, Language and Gender

Top Contributed Paper Award (professional)


Performance Studies & Theatre Interest Group, Central States Communication Association .

Top Paper Panel, Performance Studies & Theatre Interest Group, Southern States Communication Association Conference (professional)


The Marion Kleinau Theatre Award (personal)

Southern Illinois University, Carbondale

Governor General Academic Silver Medal (personal)

Awarded to the graduating student who achieves the highest academic standing on the courses listed for the degree, Cape Breton University.

Affiliations (3)

  • National Communication Association
  • Organization for the Study of Communication, Language, and Gender
  • Eastern Communication Association

Select Media Appearances (4)

Changing perception: People who struggle with body image shouldn't fear beach vacations

KYW News Radio (Philadelphia)  radio


Beach vacations are a welcome respite from the summer heat. But they can create anxiety in many people who struggle with weight or body issues.
Shauna MacDonald is professor and co-director of Villanova University's Gender and Women's Studies Program. She says focusing too much on what your body looks like takes away from what your body actually can do, including when you are on vacation.
"Your body is getting you there, it's allowing you to play in the sand, or hang out in the waves, or do whatever it is you want to do," MacDonald said. "Play with your children, have children in the first place. Your body has allowed you to do all of those things."

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Column: Time’s up for cheerleaders/dancers at NFL, NBA games

The Associated Press  online


“It is called cheerleading because their role is to lead the crowd in cheering for the team,” said Shauna MacDonald, assistant director of the Gender & Women Studies Program at Villanova University. “This, I think, can still be a positive and interesting purpose. Cheering is part of the ritual of sport, especially in North America, and having people to pep up the crowd and lead the cheers is a good thing.
“We know that this doesn’t require cheerleading to look exactly as it does, because bands and pep squads also serve in these roles. In order for the culture of cheerleading to change, however, there would have to be some sweeping cultural shifts.”

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Race and the beauty counter: What a greater selection of hues says about culture

The Christian Science Monitor  online


Traditionally, cosmetics producers have focused mainly on creating products for white women who, until recently, made up a majority of their market.
“Because we live in a society where white and/or light-skin is still considered the norm (or at least is associated with power, privilege, and positions of authority), the mainstream beauty industry has focused primarily on products for women who fit this category,” writes Shauna MacDonald, director of programming for the gender and women’s studies program at Villanova University in Villanova, Penn., in an email.

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Laura Ingraham, Shannon Bream Kick Off Post-O’Reilly Era at Fox News

Variety  online


There have been other changes, too. Fox News has in recent weeks extended its morning “Fox & Friends” franchise so that it starts at 4 a.m.; given new hours to Harris Faulkner and Dana Perino; and added Sandra Smith as co-host of “America’s Newsroom.” In all cases, female anchors have been given new spotlights. “While having more women represented at Fox News, and in news more generally, is absolutely a positive development, the extent to which this will result in substantive content change remains to be seen,” says Shauna MacDonald, a gender-studies professor at Villanova University.

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Research Grants (1)

"Sentinels by the Sea: Keeping the Lights Through Performances of Public Memory and Care"

Waterhouse Family Institute for the Study of Communication and Society 


Select Academic Articles (4)

Sentinels by the sea: keeping as an alternative tourism performance Text and Performance Quarterly

Shauna M. MacDonald

April 2018
In this essay, I examine how people in a preservation community perform and articulate performances of modern lighthouse keeping. I argue that keeping presents an alternative approach to metacultural agent performances and constructions of cultural memory. Keepers perform lighthouse tourism strategically in relation to heritage tourism to keep lighthouses and lighthouse culture alive, and in so doing, provide a window into tourism as performance, a critique of the heritage tourism frame, and a possibility for rethinking theorizations of authenticity, heritage, and tourism in performance studies. Keepers’ performances provide a model for theorizing the production of heritage and tourism performance.

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“Composing an Autoethnographic Cartography of Blue: Becoming a Pharologist in and of the Academy.” Cultural Studies  Critical Methodologies

Shauna M. MacDonald


In this autoethnographic cartography, I argue for the need for alternative embodied maps for academic life. Using my experiences as a budding pharologist (someone who studies lighthouses), I bear witness to my cultural experience of academia through a collaged autoethnography of mapping and composing space. I bring together autoethnography, theories of cartography, as well as my experiences researching lighthouses as sites of public memory performance, to demonstrate that there is a need in the culture of academia for real discussions about anxiety and similar issues—among faculty and students—and that autoethnography, cartography, and pharology provide an entry into such a discussion. In fragmented sections designed to highlight the ways experiences intertwine, I move through four phases of feeling “blue”: the deep blue of confusing academic anxiety and depression; the search for a methodology to lead me to a brighter, more pleasant kind of blue; the research journey that moved me forward; and the “blue sky” blue it led me to. Through autoethnographic writing and stylistic experimentation, I map my experience of journeying through academic anxiety, providing an example of working toward alternative mappings, compositions, and visions of academic life.

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Listening to a Lighthouse A Researcher's Prologue Departures in Critical Qualitative Research

Shauna M. MacDonald

Summer 2015
In this “researcher's prologue,” I story my experiences performing as and about a lighthouse, sharing how this experience served as a catalyst for a new research trajectory. Narrating my writing, rehearsal, and performance as processes of inquiry, I share how this work generated critical questions about lighthouses as technologies, the dynamics of technoscientific care, and performative storytelling as a potential local communicative strategy. I draw upon performance studies’ theorizations of listening, writing, rehearsing, and performing, to present, by way of example, a methodological strategy for attending to the liminal research time between inspiration and systematic research study.

Foundation, Fiber, and Future Form American Communication Journal

Shauna M. MacDonald

Winter 2015 (Volume 17, Issue 1)

In this essay, I frame the performance of literature as foundation, fiber, and future form to provide a conceptual map for understanding the diffracted landscape of literature and performance through which communication and performance educators might move . Reflecting on my own experiences in performance studies and communication classrooms, I narrate the various ways we can locate performance of literature in our pedagogy. Ultimately, I argue that viewing our work as occurring within a diffracted landscape opens possibilities for pedagogical change and growth.

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