1 in 10 undergraduates in the US will study abroad. Extoled by students as personally transformative and celebrated in academia for fostering cross-cultural understanding, study abroad is also promoted by the US government as a form of cultural diplomacy and a bridge to future participation in the global marketplace.
In Documenting the American Student Abroad, Kelly Hankin explores the documentary media cultures that shape these beliefs, drawing our attention to the broad range of stakeholders and documentary modes involved in defining the core values and practices of study abroad. From study abroad video contests and a F.B.I. produced docudrama about student espionage to reality television inspired educational documentaries and docudramas about Amanda Knox, Hankin shows how the institutional values of "global citizenship," "intercultural communication," and "cultural immersion" emerge in contradictory ways through their representation.
By bringing study abroad and media studies into conversation with one another, Documenting the American Student Abroad: The Media Cultures of International Education offers a much needed humanist contribution to the field of international education, as well as a unique approach to the growing scholarship on the intersection of media and institutions. As study abroad practitioners and students increase their engagement with moving images and digital environments, the insights of media scholars are essential for helping the field understand how the mediation of study abroad rhetoric shapes rather than reflects the field's central institutional ideals
About the Author
KELLY HANKIN is a professor of film studies in the Johnston Center for Integrative Studies at the University of Redlands in California. She is the author of The Girls in the Back Room: Looking at the Lesbian Bar and numerous articles on the intersections between gender, sexuality, and media.
“This book offers an original and critical account of an influential domain of media practice—the “study abroad media culture” through which Americans learn about, experience, and document educational travel abroad. Through deft analysis of diverse types of travel media, including study abroad video contests, “homestay movies,” and student vlogs, Kelly Hankin traces how visions of the “globally engaged student” have emerged from a web of media histories, technologies, institutions, and stakeholders. Media, Hankin convincingly shows us, are central to understanding the fraught politics and transformative potential of international education.” — Katie Day Good
“Kelly Hankin’s wide-ranging and deftly argued analysis of the ‘study abroad gaze’ is a welcome addition to current debates about tourism, travel, and intercultural exchange. She expertly guides us through such diverse topics as theories of mediated travel, reality television and vlogs, the foreign homestay, and the risks and rewards of overseas experiences. The result is an innovative reading of how this formative, multi-layered educational experience for contemporary American students is continually reframed through film and television.” — Ben McCann
"Documenting the American Student Abroad is a cutting account of exactly how far off the study abroad industry is from forging a media culture, or what Hankin would call a collective visual grammar, that is ethically aligned with the many noble goals the educational field purports to promote. By placing study abroad practices under the scrutiny of analytical tools from media and cultural studies, Hankin renders the familiar unfamiliar: student-made youtube clips become avenues for fresh analysis of gender and race, and rote study abroad safety precautions become texts for questioning just how comfortable Americans really are with the ideals of global citizenship. For those with an interest in media studies, Documenting the American Student Abroad models the importance of close-reading visual texts as easily dismissed and as 'low brow' as an undergraduate's 'Vlog' sent home from abroad. For those concerned with improving the quality of international education, Hankin will provoke a full-on reckoning. Where institutions of study abroad typically see absence, Hankin finds voice. Where study abroad practitioners see accepted everyday communications strategies, Hankin finds troubling pedagogies and ideological presumptions that undermine the very premise of intercultural education. Documenting the American Student Abroad helps us to understand how it is that an educational practice that has been celebrated for an entire century as America's pathway to global redemption has ultimately done so little to shift some of the most stubborn imperialist ideals that underpin our nation's relationship to the world. " — Talya Zemach-Bersin
The American Minute podcast: Kelly Hankin, University of Redlands – The Personal is Professional: The Study Abroad Video Contest — The American Minute podcast
"NAB Podcast: Kelly Hankin on Media Cultures of Study Abroad in Higher Education" — The New American Baccalaureate Project