Name Elizabeth Moore, '11
Major Art history
Minor Rhetoric and communication studies
Activities Speech Center consultant and fellow, GreenUR, Meditation Club, piano

Elizabeth Moore spent 10 weeks this summer traveling between California, Texas and Virginia closely studying how people communicate, and then used what she learned to write realistic short fiction pieces representing each locale. She’s detailing her findings in her blog.

Tell us about your project.

I traveled to three different parts of the country — Texas, California and Virginia — and observed how people communicate in each of those places. I paid attention to what subjects they discuss and how they speak, their expressions, mannerisms, slang, whether they speak bluntly or with euphemisms. I recorded some of conversations and posted snippets of them on a blog with my comments on communication, identity, and place. I’m writing a short story set in each state and am trying to capture the essence of place through capturing communication.

When did you become interested in communication styles?

I study communication both as a rhetoric minor and as a speech consultant. Communication style is crucial to how people perceive you. I became specifically interested in communication and how it can affect the impression of place when I went abroad last fall to Spain. My poor Spanish communication skills severely affected my ability to fully express myself.

I had previously explored communication through poetry in a creative writing course in Madrid and hoped to explore it further and in more depth through short stories, which, because of the added length, allowed more room to express what I wanted to express.

How will you use your findings?

I work with middle school students at Church Hill Academy, and we’ve been helping to incorporate a communication unit into their curriculum. I believe that communication can help break down educational and social barriers. Working with the students I’ve discovered that a lot of their communication styles stem from where they’ve grown up and the people they’ve been around. I hope to use my project to better understand how communication is tied to personal identity, and how I can use that in order to further someone’s ability to communicate with someone that may be outside his familiar zone.

What do you see yourself doing after graduation?

I have really enjoyed working as a fellow for the Speech Center and am thinking about taking a gap year to teach. Long term, I might pursue historic preservation or some sort of development work for a nonprofit organization in the arts or education.

A full day of research lies ahead of you. What’s on your iPod?