• Research History

  • I am proud to have earned my undergraduate and graduate degrees at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in the Department of Communication. My areas of focus included interpersonal and family communication, culture and communication, and discourse analysis. My graduate minor is in Women’s Studies. My master's thesis is a discourse analysis of the implications of parental discourse for children's developing sense of self-esteem. My doctoral thesis focused on the interrelationships among discourses of feminism and religiously-identified women's decisions regarding marital last name changing. My doctoral advisor was Dr. Andrea Press currently at the University of Virginia

    I continue to study discourses in and about identities, relationships and the family. Historically, I have focused on discourses of nationalism, racism, monomaternalism, biological normativity, feminism, and heteronormativity. I tend to study implications of these discourses for the subjectivity of families navigating racial, national, and sexuality differences. For instance, I have studied intersections of these discourse in the private lives of non-biological mothers (e.g., adoptive mothers, non-biological lesbian mothers); transracial, international adoptive families; lesbian co-mothers parenting in politically conservative states; and U.S. White, cisgender women.

    Theoretically, I identify as a critical social constructionist. The social constructionist identification signals that I study individual identity, relationships, and families as social constructions. I theorize private lives as politicized; I depart from the feminist assumption that the personal is political. Critical signals that I study individuals, relationships, and families as simultaneously public and private, as entities and institutions, and as impacted by and reflective of their larger socio-cultural discursive, material, and political contexts. 

    Recently I developed a heuristic, which I labeled Critical Interpersonal and Family Communication or CIFC to stimulate the emergent critical turn in interpersonal and family communication studies. At its heart, CIFC calls for centering issues of power and praxis in contemporary studies of relationships and families. I identified four shifts toward realizing a critical turn in the area, namely a turn toward: issues power; the public and private; use of research as means to critique, resist, and transform the status-quo towards social-justice ends; and researcher reflexivity.

    More broadly, I mentor undergraduate and graduate student work related to discourses in and about individual identities, relationships, and families. Many of the students I mentor depart from a critical orientation, centering issues of discourse, power, and subjectivity. Others depart from a more qualitative, interpretive perspective. I am open to mentoring students of either orientation or who seek to combine these perspectives in their research. I currently center my teaching around Family Communication, Critical Interpersonal and Family Communication, Research Methods, and Relational Dialectics Theory 2.0 (a critical theory focused around theorizing and studying the interpretation of the public in private relational lives).

    Recent publications that seek to articulate my current perspectives include articles in Communication TheoryCommunication Monographs, the Journal of Family Communication. Service to the discipline includes serving as the current past Chair of the Family Communication Division of the National Communication Association (NCA), and on the editorial boards of Communication Monographs, Women's Studies in Communication, Communication Quarterly, and the Southern Communication Journal, and the Journal of Family Communication, where I recently co-edited a special issue on "Critical Approaches to Family Communication Research and Praxis" with Sandra Faulkner of Bowling Green State University. Service to the University of Denver includes serving as the current Director of Graduate Teaching Instructors for the Department of Communication Studies. Community-engaged research and teaching partners include Chinese Children Adoption International and Heritage Camps for Adoptive Families. Additionally, I co-edited the 2018 edition of Engaging Theories of Family Communication published by Routledge with Drs. Dawn O. Braithwaite and Kory Floyd.

  • Book Chapters

  • Suter, E. A. (2015). Traversing racial and national boundaries: Adopting transracially and internationally.  In D. O. Braithwaite & J. T. Wood (Eds.), Interpersonal communication: Case studies in personal and social relationships, 2nd edition (pp. 55-60). Dubuque, IA: Kendall Hunt.

    Suter, E. A. (2014). The adopted family. In L. A. Baxter (Ed.), Remaking “family” communicatively (pp. 137-155). New York: Peter Lang.

    Suter, E. A. (2014). Communication in lesbian and gay families. In L. H. Turner & R. West (Eds.), The Sage handbook of family communication (pp. 235-247). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

    Suter, E. A., & Strasser, D. S. (2013). Lesbian and gay families and communication. In K. Floyd & M. T. Morman (Eds.), Widening the family circle: New research on family relationships, 2nd edition (pp. 133-170). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

    Suter, E. A. (2009). “Why are there so many girls”?: Talking gender and adoption in a lesbian family. In E. Kirby & M. C. McBride (Eds.), Gender actualized: Cases in communicatively constructing realities (pp. 61-66). Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt Publishing.

    Suter, E. A., Bergen, K. M., & Daas, K. L. (2008). The social context of lesbian family identity. In L. B. Arnold (Ed.), Family communication: Theory and research (pp. 307-313). Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

    Suter, E. A. (2006). He has two mommies: Constructing lesbian families in social conversation. In J. T. Wood & S. Duck (Eds.), Composing relationships: Communication in everyday life (pp. 119-127). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

  • Encyclopedia Entries

  • Suter, E. A. (2016). Naming practices. In A. E. Goldberg (Ed.), The SAGE encyclopedia of LGBTQ studies (pp. 807-808). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

    Suter, E. A., & Strasser, D. S. (2012). Heterosexism and the Media. In W. Donsbach, (Ed). The international encyclopedia of communication. Blackwell Reference Online. http://www.communicationencyclopedia.com/subscriber/tocnode?id=g9781405131995_yr2012_chunk_g978140513199513_ss17-1>

    Suter, E. A. (2008). Heterosexism and the media. In W. Donsbach (Ed.), The international encyclopedia of communication (pp. 2115-2118, Vol. 5).Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.


  • Lesbian Family Brochures for the Public

  • Books

  • Edited Book

    Braithwaite, D. O., Suter, E. A., & Floyd, K. (Eds.) (2018). Engaging theories of family communication: Multiple Perspectives (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Routledge.


    Authored chapters within the book

    • Braithwaite, D. O., Suter, E. A, & Floyd, K. (2018). Introduction: The landscape of meta-theory and theory in family communication research. In D. O. Braithwaite, E. A. Suter, & K. Floyd (Eds.), Engaging theories in family communication: Multiple perspectives (2nd ed., pp. 1-16). New York, NY” Routledge.
    • Suter, E. A., & Seurer, L. M. (2018). Relational dialectics theory: Realizing the dialogic potential of family communication. In D. O. Braithwaite, E. A. Suter, & K. Floyd (Eds.), Engaging theories in family communication: Multiple perspectives (2nd ed., pp. 244-254). New York, NY: Routledge.
  • Edited Special Issues

  • Suter, E. A., & Faulkner, S. L. (Eds.). (2016). Critical approaches to family communication research: Representation, critique, and praxis [Special issue]. Journal of Family Communication, 16.

    Introduction to the Issue

    • Suter, E. A. (2016). Introduction: Critical approaches to family communication research: Representation, critique, and praxis. Journal of Family Communication, 16, 1-8. doi: 10.1080/15267431.2015.1111219
  • Peer Reviewed Publications

  • Suter, E. A., Schoenbauer, K. V., & Qiu, P. (2022). Producing superior quality children to modernize China: Implications for the Western discourse of Chinese international adoption. Journal of Family Communication. https://doi.org/10.1080/15267431.2022.2097235

    Morr Loftus, M. C., Suter, E. A., Hanna, M. D., & Strasser, D. S. (2022). Parents’ management of privacy turbulence surrounding private, adoption-related information in transracial, internationally adoptive families. Journal of Family Communication22(1), 55-70. https://doi.org/10.1080/15267431.2021.2005068

    Morr Loftus, M. C., Suter, E. A., Strasser, D. S., & Hanna, M. D. (2021). Catalysts and motivations for change in privacy coordination: Transracial, internationally adoptive parents’ coordination of adoptees’ private, adoption-related information. Communication Quarterly, 69(1), 1-22. https://doi.org/10.1080/01463373.2020.1864428

    Suter, E. A. (2018). The promise of contrapuntal and intersectional methods for advancing critical interpersonal and family communication research. Communication Monographs. Advance online publication: 10.1080/03637751.2017.1375131 

    Suter, E. A., & Norwood, K. (2017). Critical theorizing in family communication studies: (Re)Reading relational dialectics theory. Communication Theory, 27, 290-308 doi: 10.1111/comt.12117

    Suter, E. A., Koenig Kellas, J., Webb, S., Allen, J. (2016). A tale of two mommies: (Re)storying family of origin narratives. Journal of Family Communication. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1080/15267431.2016.1184150

    Suter, E. A., Seurer, L. M., Webb, S., Grewe, B., &; Koenig Kellas, J. (2015). Motherhood as contested ideological terrain: Essentialist and queer discourses of motherhood at play in female-female co-mothers’ talk. Communication Monographs, 82, 458-483. doi: 10.1080/03637751.2015.1024702

    Baxter, L.A., Suter, E. A., Thomas, L. J., Seurer, L. M. (2015). The dialogic construction of “adoption” in online foster adoption narratives. Journal of Family Communication, 15, 193-213. doi: 10.1080/15267431.2015.1043431

    Suter, E. A., Seurer, L. M., Webb, S., Grewe, B., &; Koenig Kellas, J. (2015). Motherhood as contested ideological terrain: Essentialist and queer discourses of motherhood at play in female-female co-mothers’ talk. Communication Monographs, Advance online publication. doi: 10.1080/03637751.2015.1024702

    Suter, E. A., Baxter, L. A., Seurer, L. M., & Thomas, L. J. (2014). Discursive constructions of the meaning of “family” in online narratives of foster adoptive parents. Communication Monographs, 81, 59-78, doi: 10.1080/03637751.2014.880791

    Koenig Kellas, J., & Suter, E. A. (2012). Accounting for lesbian-headed families: Lesbian mothers’ responses to discursive challenges. Communication Monographs, 79, 475-498. doi: 10.1080/03637751.2012.723812

    Suter, E. A. (2012). Negotiating identity and pragmatism: Parental treatment of international adoptees birth culture names, Journal of Family Communication, 12, 209-226. doi: 10.1080/15267431.2012.686940

    Suter, E. A., Reyes, K. L., & Ballard, R. L. (2011). Adoptive parents’ framing of laypersons’ conceptions of family. Qualitative Research Reports in Communication, 12, 43-50. doi: 10.1080/17459435.2011.601524

    Suter, E. A., Reyes, K. L., & Ballard, R. L. (2011). Parental management of adoptive identities during challenging encounters: Adoptive parents as "protectors" and "educators". Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 28, 242-261. doi: 10.1177/0265407510384419

    Suter, E. A., & West, C. L. (2011). Modeling and performing theories of relational communication. Communication Teacher, 25, 51-55. doi: 10.1080/17404622.2010.528000

    Suter, E. A. (2010). Validity in qualitative research on personal relationships. Kentucky Journal of Communication special issue on The Future of Relational Communication, 28, 77-96. Available: https://www.academia.edu/10127576/Validity_in_qualitative_research_on_personal_relationships

    Suter, E. A., & Ballard, R. L. (2009). “‘How much did you pay for her?’”: Decision-making criteria underlying adoptive parents’ responses to inappropriate remarks, Journal of Family Communication, 9, 107-125. doi: 10.1080/15267430902773253

    Dodge, P. S-W., & Suter, E. A. (2008). “It’s okay to have a girl”: Patronymy and China’s one-child policy, Women and Language, 31, 13-22.

    Suter, E. A. (2008). Discursive negotiation of family identity: A study of U.S. families with adopted children from China, Journal of Family Communication, 8, 126-147. doi: 10.1080/15267430701857406

    Suter, E. A., Daas, K. L., & Bergen, K. M. (2008). Negotiating lesbian family identity via symbols and rituals, Journal of Family Issues, 29, 26-47. doi: 10.1177/0192513X07305752

    Suter, E. A., & Daas, K. L. (2007). Negotiating heteronormativity dialectically: Lesbian couples’ display of symbols in culture, Western Journal of Communication, 71, 177-195. doi: 10.1080/10570310701518443

    Suter, E. A., & Toller, P. W. (2006). Gender role and feminism revisited: A follow-up study, Sex Roles, 55, 135-146. doi: 10.1007/s11199-006-9065-4

    Suter, E. A., Bergen, K. M., Daas, K. L., & Durham, W. T. (2006). Lesbian couples’ management of public-private dialectical contradictions, Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 23, 349-365. doi: 10.1177/0265407506064201

  • Suter, E. A., Lamb, E. N., Marko, M., & Tye-Williams, S. (2006). Female veteran’s identity construction, maintenance, and reproduction, Women and Language, 29, 10-15.

    Bergen, K. M., Suter, E. A., & Daas, K. L. (2006). “About as solid as a fishnet”: Symbolic construction of a legitimate parental identity for nonbiological lesbian mothers, Journal of Family Communication, 6, 201-220. doi: 10.1207/s15327698jfc0603_3

    Oswald, R. F., & Suter, E. A. (2004). Heterosexist inclusion and exclusion during ritual: A “straight vs. gay” comparison, Journal of Family Issues, 25, 881-899. doi: 10.1177/0192513X04267278

    Toller, P. W., Suter, E. A., & Trautman, T. C. (2004). Gender role identity and attitudes towards feminism, Sex Roles, 51, 85-90. doi: 10.1023/B:SERS.0000032316.71165.45

    Suter, E. A. (2004). Tradition never goes out of style: The role of tradition in women’s naming practices, The Communication Review, 7, 57-88. doi: 10.1080/10714420490280198

    Suter, E. A., & Oswald, R. F. (2003). Do lesbians change their last names in the context of a committed relationship? Journal of Lesbian Studies, 7, 71-83. doi: 10.1300/J155v07n02_06

    Suter, E. A. (2000). Focus groups in ethnography of speaking: Expanding topics of inquiry beyond participant observation, The Qualitative Report, 5(1/2). Available: http://www.nova.edu/ssss/QR/QR5-1/suter.html

This portfolio last updated: 28-Jul-2022 8:50 AM