Meenakshi Gigi Durham, Ph.D.


What is Gigi’s story?

Meenakshi Gigi Durham is a distinguished scholar, teacher, and writer whose work centers on media and the politics of the body. Her research emphasizes issues of gender, sexuality, race, youth cultures, and sexual violence. She holds a joint appointment in Gender, Women's & Sexuality Studies and was Associate Dean for Outreach and Engagement in The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences from 2017-2019. She began serving as the University’s faculty ombudsperson in 2021.

Durham is the 2023 recipient of the Michael J. Brody Award for Faculty Excellence in Service and the 2019 recipient of the University of Iowa’s May Brodbeck Distinguished Achievement Award for Faculty. She also received the campus-wide 2017 President and Provost Teaching Excellence Award, the University of Iowa’s highest award for teaching.

She was named a CLAS Collegiate Scholar in 2012. She is also the recipient of a Faculty Scholar Award from The University of Iowa. She was the 2014 recipient of the International Communication Association's Teresa Award, the Feminist Scholarship Division's highest award for achievement in research. She won the University of Iowa’s honors thesis mentor award in 2015.

She held a Faculty Administrative Fellowship in the UI Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development from 2013-16.

Durham's work has appeared in leading academic journals, including Critical Studies in Media Communication, Communication Theory, Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly, and Women's Studies in Communication. She is the author of Technosex (Palgrave Macmillan 2016), The Lolita Effect (Overlook, 2008), and the co-editor, with Douglas M. Kellner, of Media and Cultural Studies: KeyWorks (Blackwell, 2001, rev. 2006, second edition 2012) and MeToo: The Impact of Rape Culture in the Media (Polity, 2021). Her work has earned her widespread public recognition, including media appearances on the BBC, Irish National Television, Iowa Public Radio, Illinois Public Radio, The Dr. Phil Show,

and the documentary "Miss Representation," which was aired on the Oprah Winfrey Network.

She serves on the editorial boards of a number of scholarly journals, including Feminist Media Studies and Critical Studies in Media Communication. She also served on the advisory board for the Encyclopedia of Children, Adolescents and the Media. Her essay, "Grieving," published in the Harvard Review in 2010, was selected for inclusion in the 2011 Best American Essays anthology.

She teaches classes in gender and media, critical theories of the media, and magazine writing. Her professional journalism experience includes reporting, editing, and design for various newspapers and magazines such as the Pensacola News-Journal, the Times of India, and Science Today. She coordinated a statewide public information campaign on family involvement in education for the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. She served as publications editor for the University of Wisconsin System from 1992–94.

Before coming to Iowa in the Fall of 2000, she taught magazine journalism at the University of Texas at Austin for six years, where she was the recipient of an honorable mention for the campus-wide Gilbert Teaching Excellence Award in Women's and Gender Studies.

  • JMC:2010 - Reporting & Writing
  • JMC:2700 - Media Ethics and Diversity
  • JMC:3175 - Gender and Mass Media
  • JMC:3410 - Magazine Reporting & Writing
  • JMC:3415 - Writing Across Cultures
  • JMC:6333 - Seminar in Media Communication, Gender and Media


  • Durham, Meenakshi Gigi. 2021. MeToo: The Impact of Rape Culture in the Media. Cambridge, UK: Polity. Translated into Turkish (Düşbaz Kitaplar, 2022).
  • Durham, Meenakshi Gigi. (2016). Technosex: Precarious Corporealities, Mediated Sexualities, and the Ethics of Embodied Technics. London: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • **Durham, Meenakshi Gigi, and Kellner, Douglas M. (Eds). 2011. Media and Cultural Studies: KeyWorks [second edition]. London and Malden, MA.: Blackwell Inc.  [First edition published in 2001.]
  • Durham, Meenakshi Gigi. 2008. The Lolita Effect: The Media Sexualization of Young Girls and What We Can Do About It. New York: Overlook Press. The book was widely reviewed and generated interviews in national and international media.

Journal Articles

  • Durham, Meenakshi Gigi. (2024). Decolonizing bodies and the ethics of care: On the significance of embodied vulnerability as the future of cultural studies. International Journal of Cultural Studies.
  • Durham, Meenakshi Gigi. 2023. “Napalm Girl” at 50: On photojournalism and the ethics of care. International Journal of Communication 17, 3865-3877.
  • Durham, Meenakshi Gigi. 2020. Subaltern voices and postcolonial schizophrenia: The political tensions of M.I.A.’s Kala, Journal of International and Intercultural Communication, DOI: 10.1080/17513057.2020.1735487
  • Durham, Meenakshi Gigi. 2018. “Resignifying Alan Kurdi: News photographs, memes, and the ethics of embodied vulnerability.” DOI: 10.1080/15295036.2017.1408958. Critical Studies in Media Communication 35(3), 240-258.
  • Durham, Meenakshi Gigi. 2018. “Grounded theory unbound: Fundamentals, fissures, and futures.” Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly 95(1), 18-22.
  • Durham, Meenakshi Gigi. 2016. “Children, the media, and the epistemic imperative of embodied vulnerability.” DOI: 10.1080/17482798.2015.1121895.  Journal of Children and Media 10 (1), pp. 115-122. Reprinted in D. Lemish, A. Jordan, and V. Rideout, Eds. (2016), Children, adolescents and media: The future of research and action. New York: Routledge.
  • Durham, Meenakshi Gigi. 2015. “Quvenzhané and the comedians: Black girlhood and sexuality at the ‘edge’ of comedy.” DOI: 10.1111/cccr.12099. Communication, Culture & Critique 8 (4), pp. 505-521.
  • Durham, Meenakshi Gigi. 2015. “Scene of the crime: U.S. news discourse of rape in India and the geopolitics of sexual assault.” Feminist Media Studies 15 (2), pp. 175-191.
  • Durham, Meenakshi Gigi. 2014. “Sexy girls, malevolent moms: Motherhood and the media sexualization of girls.” Media Report to Women, 42 (4), pp. 6-11.
  • Durham, Meenakshi Gigi. 2013. “Vicious assault shakes Texas town”: The politics of gender violence in The New York Times’ coverage of a schoolgirl’s gang rape. Journalism Studies 14(1), pp. 1-12.
  • Durham, Meenakshi Gigi. 2012.  Blood, lust and love: Gender violence in the Twilight phenomenon. Journal of Children and Media, 6 (3), pp. 288-299.
  • Durham, Meenakshi Gigi 2011.  Body matters: Resuscitating the corporeal in a new media environment.  Feminist Media Studies 11(1), 53-60. Reprinted in Lisa McLaughlin and Cynthia Carter (Eds.), Current Perspectives in Feminist Media Studies.  (New York: Routledge, 2012), pp. 47-54.
  • Durham, Meenakshi Gigi. 2008.  Media controversies around girls’ sexuality.  Journal of Children and Media, 2(1), 79-80.
  • **Schaefer, Peter and Durham, Meenakshi Gigi.  2007. On the social implications of invisibility: The iMac G5 and the effacement of the technological object. Critical Studies in Media Communication, 24 (1), pp. 39-56.
  • **Oates, Thomas P., & Durham, Meenakshi Gigi. 2004. The mismeasure of masculinity: The male body, race and power in the enumerative discourses of the NFL Draft.  Patterns of Prejudice 38 (3), 301-320.
  • Durham, Meenakshi Gigi.  2004.  Constructing the “new ethnicities”: Media, sexuality and diaspora identity in the lives of South Asian immigrant girls. Critical Studies in Media Communication 21(2), 140-161. Reprinted in Gail Dines and Jean Humez (Eds.), Gender, Race, and Class in Media: A Text Reader, pp. 389-398  (New York: Routledge, 2011).
  • Durham, Meenakshi Gigi.  2003.  The girling of America: Reflections on gender and popular communication. Popular Communication 1(1), 23-31.
  • Durham, Meenakshi Gigi. 2001. Displaced persons: Symbols of South Asian femininity and the returned gaze in U.S. media culture. Communication Theory 11(2), 201-217. 
  • Durham, Meenakshi Gigi. 2001.  Adolescents, the Internet, and the politics of gender: A feminist case analysis. Race, Gender & Class 8(4), 20-41.
  • Durham, Meenakshi Gigi. 1999. Girls, media, and the negotiation of sexuality: A study of race, class and gender in adolescent girls’ peer groups.  Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly 76 (2), 193-216.  Reprinted in Christine L. Williams and Arlene Stein (Eds.), Sexuality and Gender, pp. 304-320.  (Malden, Mass.: Blackwell, 2002).  Reprinted in Susan Shaw and Janet Lee (Eds.), Women’s Voices: Feminist Visions.  (New York: McGraw-Hill, 2006).
  • Durham, Meenakshi Gigi. 1999.  Articulating adolescent girls’ resistance to patriarchal messages in mass media.  Women’s Studies in Communication 22(2), 210-229.
  • Durham, Meenakshi Gigi. 1998. On the relevance of standpoint epistemology to the practice of journalism: The case for “strong objectivity.”   Communication Theory 8 (2), 117-140.
  • Durham, Meenakshi Gigi. 1998.  Revolutionizing the teaching of magazine design. Journalism & Mass Communication Educator 53 (1), 23-32.
  • Durham, Meenakshi Gigi. 1998. Dilemmas of desire: The representation of adolescent sexuality in two teen magazines.  Youth and Society 29 (3), 369-389.
  • Durham, Gigi. 1996. The taming of the shrew: Women’s magazines and the regulation of desire. Journal of Communication Inquiry 20 (1), 18-31.

Book Chapters

  • Durham, Meenakshi Gigi. 2018. “Girls, media, and sexuality: The case for feminist ethics.” In D. Harp, J. Loke & I. Bachman, (Eds.), Feminist approaches to media theory and research, pp. 83-91. London: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Durham, Meenakshi Gigi. 2013. Children’s technologized bodies: Mapping mixed reality.  In D. Lemish (Ed.), The Routledge Handbook of Children, Adolescents, and Media Studies, pp. 156-163 New York: Routledge.
  • Durham, Meenakshi Gigi. 2013.  The audience in the graduate curriculum: Training future scholars.  In R. Paramesawarn (Ed.), The international encyclopedia of media studiesVol. 3: Audience and interpretation in media studies, pp. 39-56.  Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.
  • Durham, Meenakshi Gigi. 2009.  Ethnic chic and the displacement of South Asian female sexuality in the U.S. media.  In Rhonda Hammer (Ed.), Media/Cultural Studies: Critical Approaches, pp. 501-515. New York: Peter Lang.
  • Durham, Meenakshi Gigi. 2007. Sex in the transnational city: Discourses of gender, body and nation in the ‘New Bollywood.’  In Corey Creekmur and Mark Sidel (Eds.), Cinema, Law and the State in Asia, pp. 45-62.  New York: Palgrave/Macmillan.
  • Durham, Meenakshi Gigi. 2007.  Myths of race and beauty in teen magazines: A semiological analysis.  In Pamela J. Creedon and Judith Cramer (Eds.), Women in mass communication (3rd ed.), pp. 233-246  Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
  • Durham, Meenakshi Gigi.  1999.  Out of the Indian diaspora: Mass media, femininity, and adolescence between two cultures.  In S. Mazzarella and N. Pecora (Eds.), Growing Up Girls: Popular Culture and the Construction of Identity, pp. 193-208. New York: Peter Lang.
Other Publications

Encyclopedia Articles

  • Durham, Meenakshi Gigi. 2010. Cultural studies.  In C. McIlwain and S. M. Callendo (Eds.), The Routledge Companion to Race and Ethnicity.  New York, NY: Routledge.
  • Durham, Meenakshi Gigi. 2007. The sexualization of children.  In J. J. Arnett (Ed.),  Encyclopedia of Children, Adolescents and the Media, pp. 768-769. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
  • Durham, Meenakshi Gigi.  2004. Sexuality and the subject.  In G. Ritzer (Ed.),  Encyclopedia of Social Theory.  Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.


  • Durham, Meenakshi Gigi. 2015. India’s Daughter and the limits of transnational feminist solidarity. E-International Relations.
  • Durham, Meenakshi Gigi. 2013. Mirror, mirror, on the wall: Struggling with body image. Your Teen 6(1), 22-23.
  • Durham, Meenakshi Gigi. 2012.  Hunger Pangs. Essay published in The Iowa Review 42 (2), pp. 1-9. Nominated for inclusion in Best American Food Writing 2012.
  • Durham, Meenakshi Gigi. 2010.  Grieving.  Essay published in The Harvard Review (under the pen name Meenakshi G. Venugopal), Issue 39, pp. 190-199. Reprinted in Edwidge Danticat (Ed.), The Best American Essays 2011.  New York: Houghton Mifflin, pp. 59-67.
  • Durham, Meenakshi Gigi. 2009, January 9.  X-Rated America. The Chronicle of Higher Education, pp. B14-15.
  • Durham, Meenakshi Gigi. 2008, July 12.  Lolita and the sexualization of childhood. Pajamas Media.
  • Durham, Meenakshi Gigi. 2006.  Response to Douglas Kellner.  In Journal of Interdisciplinary Crossroads, 2(2): 253-260.

Short Stories

  • Durham, Meenakshi Gigi.  2011.  Someone like you.  Short story published in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, 137:5, pp. 31-39.
  • Durham, Meenakshi Gigi.  2008.  Storm surge. Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, 133:3-4, pp. 83-89.
  • Durham, Meenakshi Gigi. 2004. The drum. Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, 124:6, 73-81.
Online Bibliography
  • Durham, Meenakshi Gigi. 2010.  Annotated Bibliography: Cultural and Critical Studies (7,500 words). Patricia Moy (Ed.), Oxford Bibliographies Online: Communication.  Oxford University Press.

For a complete list of publications, visit:
** Equal contribution

  • Michael J. Brody Award for Faculty Excellence in Service, 2023
  • May Brodbeck Distinguished Achievement Award for Faculty, University of Iowa, 2019
  • Honors Thesis Mentor Award, University of Iowa Honors Program, 2015
  • Teresa Award for the Advancement of Feminist Scholarship, Feminist Scholarship Division, International Communication Association, 2014
  • Nominee, Distinguished Achievement Award, Celebration of Women, University of Iowa, 2014
  • Collegiate Scholar Award, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, University of Iowa, 2012
  • Faculty Scholar Award, Office of the Provost, University of Iowa, 2009-2012
  • Obermann Scholar, Obermann Center for Advanced Studies, University of Iowa, Fall 2011, Fall 2006
  • Career Development Award, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, University of Iowa, Fall 2006
  • Society for Professional Journalists Chapter Award for Outstanding Faculty Member, School of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Iowa, 2003
  • Faculty Research Award, College of Communication, University of Texas at Austin, 1999-2000
  • Academic Excellence Award in Instructional Technology, College of Communication, University of Texas at Austin, Spring 2000
Gigi Durham
Ph.D., University of Florida, 1990
Contact Information

E338 Adler Journalism Building (AJB)
Iowa City, IA 52242
United States