Ashley A. Mattheis


I work at the intersection of cultural studies, media studies, and rhetorical criticism. My primary interests are intersectional feminist theory and the material effects of cultural production and consumption. My areas of inquiry include cultural infrastructure, digital propaganda, and gendered online communicative practices. Along with my PhD., I have completed a graduate certificate in Women’s and Gender Studies.

My dissertation, titled “Fierce Mamas: New Maternalism, Social Surveillance, and the Politics of Solidarity,” blends critical race, black feminist, and feminist informatics theory to analyze ways that motherhood works infrastructurally to (re)produce cultural hegemony. I use a variety of critical methods including critical media studies, cultural analyses, and visual rhetorical criticism to better understand how consent to hegemonic structures is produced through quotidian experience. An important finding of my research is that motherhood, as a mechanism of cultural hegemony, presents a locus for an essential tension between ‘traditional’ gendered norms and the seeming enablement of women’s ‘progress.’ This tension allows constructions of mothers to appear as ‘new’ configurations while also remaining reliant on historical structures of dominance. A primary contribution of my project is the development of a theoretical framework marrying feminist informatics theory with both cultural and intersectional theory to conceptualize motherhood as a ‘cultural infrastructure.’ I use this conceptual frame to analyze how gendered communicative practices work in popular media to engage consent to cultural hegemony by (re)producing specific and differential material effects among groups of women.

My independent teaching includes courses on Cultural Diversity; Gender, Communication, & Culture; Persuasion; and Interpersonal and Organizational Communication. I have also acted as the instructor of record and Graduate Student Coordinator for the Communication Department's Internships course.

In addition to my scholarship,  I have more than eight years of experience working with faculty research development and funding for academic research as well as more than a year of direct grant support on each of three major grant projects. 

PhD. Candidate in Communication


M.A. in Communication and a B.A. in Women’s and Gender Studies, both from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. 

Does the Institution Have a Plan for That? Researcher Safety and the Ethics of Institutional Responsibility
Centre for Analysis of the Radical Right, Virtual Event
January 2021
Techno-Imaginaries of “the People”: Manufacturing Grievance, Intimate Publicities, and (white) Identity Online
February 2021


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North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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