Dr. Eric KramerDr. Eric Kramer

Presidental Professor, Communication
University of Oklahoma

Office: 405-641-1911
Fax: 405-325-7625
email: Eric Kramer

About MeSakai

Born and raised in northern Ohio.  As a teenager I spent a couple of summers working fishing camps in northern Ontario. There I learned very valuable lessons about hard work, quietude, and solitude. I went to university in 1975. I studied pretty much as hard as I could, wrestled, fenced, and played rugby.  Rugby was a club sport and doable.  As for my year of wrestling, well, collegiate level competition was too much for me.  I graduated Cum Laude with a dual major in sociology and philosophy in 1978 from Ohio University. In 1980 I accepted a graduate appointment in the Department of Sociology at the University of Chicago, but had to leave due to financial reasons. Two of my mentors at Ohio lured me back for my Ph.D. in telecommunications. I finished my Ph.D. in 1988. For the curious I have attached the table of contents (pdf) and full text (pdf) of my dissertation. I became Vice President of Ohio University’s Graduate Student Senate.  Because of that I sat on a couple of important university-wide committees as the student representative, which gave me some experience with how universities work. We got stipends raised and improved housing during my time. 

I have two magnificent sons both National Merit Scholars and graduates of Johns Hopkins.  Alex is an avid guitarist, computer expert, scuba diver, and former Tae Kwon Do Champion who has worked at Bloomberg, Goldman Sachs, and Pivotal Labs.Alex

Preston is an award-winning violinist, award-winning playwright (from the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences) who is now finishing up at Cornell Weill College of Medicine. Preston

Professor Elaine Hsieh is my partner in all things.  She is also a Fulbright Scholar, grant recipient from the National Institutes of Health, author of multiple books in English and Chinese, journal editor (Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health), and Graduate Liaison for the Department of Communication at the University of Oklahoma, among other things.  She received her Masters from the Monterey Institute and her Ph.D. from the University of Illinois.  She was selected as one of the top ten teenagers in Taiwan (the year is a secret) and as such appeared on television and travelled to many places representing the country.Elaine

I like to try to paint and take photos. Herein are modified studies I did of Magritte’s Empire of Light and a whimsical family portrait of some pets from the past. You will also find a link to my Picasa Web Albums. It is best to view it as a slide show because then Picasa features are operable.  I find shifting from one medium (writing) to another affords me a valuable chance to expand and recharge. 

I am currently a Senior Editor for the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Communication, Associate Editor of Journal of International Communication Research (2011-present), book series editor for Communication and Comparative Civilizations (Hampton Press), and so forth. I have been granted the title Second Century Presidential Scholar at the University of Oklahoma. I am a Founding Member and Director, The EU Institute for Studies in Comparative Civilizations. 

I’ve taught, done research, and lived in each of the following places: Boston, Seattle, Virginia, Xalapa Mexico, Belize, Italy, Guatemala, Taiwan, Kyoto and Tokyo. I have lived and worked for a year or more in Sofia Bulgaria as a Fulbright scholar, and in Taiwan as a visiting fellow at Feng Chia University. I was the first “western” academic elected to faculty status in the prestigious school of journalism and mass communication at the National University Saint Kliment Ohridsky, Sofia. I have been blessed to work with scores of doctoral students over the years.  Each one unique, each one a special bond, each one with a fascinating research agenda. I cannot ask for more. Thank you. 

Besides being a full time tenured graduate faculty at the University of Oklahoma for the past quarter century!!! (scary), I have also regularly taught graduate seminars in international communication/global networking, cross-cultural communication, media at war, and so forth on several NATO and US bases. A few places include: SHAPE (Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe), Belgium; Heidelberg (US Army European Headquarters – now in Wiesbaden), Stuttgart, Geilenkirchen, Ramstein, and Vilseck, in Germany; Aviano, Italy; Lakenheath and Mildenhall in England; Washington, D.C. (at the Pentagon and later in Crystal City – in fact I was going into the Pentagon when it was hit and one of my students was injuried), San Diego, Tinker AFB, Fort Sill, Hickam/Pearl, Hurlburt (Special Ops Base)… As I get older the wear and tear of global travel has slowed me down. Jet lag can take it out of you.  I want to say thank you to the students.  They have been diverse and fascinating.  They have included US citizens, foreign nationals, military, civilian, diplomatic corps, and various agencies. Many are academy grads and more than a few have been inspiring.  It has been my privilege to have a flag officer/admiral for the Pacific Fleet Command, the Commander for USAF Space Command, Europe, Special Operations Commanders, and many others over the years in my seminars – even a Whitehouse Chef and a personal aid to a Vice President. I have learned more from them than they from me.  San Diego

I had the very good fortune of Professor Hal Himmelstein (later of Fordham and chair at City U, New York) as my doctoral committee chair.  Hal ignited my interest in Roland Barthes’ small but lucid works and Raymond Williams’ writings. These integrated perfectly with my studies of Greimas with whom my mentor in philosophy Algis Mickunas was collaborating at the time, and my years of study in sociology focusing mostly on the Frankfurt School and environmental sociology. I was very lucky to take the last seminar on the Chinese revolution taught by Dr. Lee just before retiring (1977).  He lived through it.  Because of my background in quantitative methods in sociology, I worked as a research assistant in the Audience Research Center with Professor James Webster (later Dean at Northwestern) who taught me the value of clarity and simplicity in quantitative research design. Two others I want to mention in this public letter; Dr. Eric Wagner who taught me a great deal about preparation, patience, and organization in teaching, and Dr. Susan Rogers (now at Holy Cross) who helped me immensely to learn how to do good social science research and without her letter of recommendation I would have never been accepted to the University of Chicago. 

I have a Masters in sociology.  My thesis was on the social impact of large-scale strip mining.  I spent a summer interviewing everyone over 15 years of age in a small town in southeastern Ohio that was completely surrounded by massive dragline operations.  Drs. Rogers and Wagner were essential.  Professor Mickunas arranged for Jürgen Habermas to be a reader of my sociology thesis.  For a Masters in philosophy I wrote a thesis on Ch’an Buddhism with Professor Troy Organ but I decided it was anathema to “Zen” to “defend” it.  So I let it go.  I was invited to attend the Collegium Phaenomenologicum, in Perugia, Italy where I had the distinct pleasure of participating for five hours each day in seminars led by Hans-Georg Gadamer, Paul Ricoeur, Thomas Seebohm, Pina Moneta, Karl Schuhmann, and others.  Along with Eiichi Shimomissé, Hiroshi Kojima and Keiichi Noé, I was elected to select invitees and organize two Japanese—Western Joint Conferences on Phenomenology that featured many prominent scholars such as John Murphy, Joe Pilotta, Don Ihde, David Carr, Richard Lanigan, Tadashi Ogawa, Rudolf Makkreel, Lester Embree, and Burt Hopkins.  I also spent a year studying neuropsychology with Karl Pribram at his Brain Research Center and a year studying symbology and comparative civilizations with Detlef Ingo Lauf of the Carl Jung Institute, Geneva.  I studied Russian formalism with the Russian émigré poet Tomas Venclova. I came of academic age at a time when the linguistic turn was confronting the New Criticism and the so-called post-positivistic structuralism. I just wanted to acknowledge my debt to these and other teachers and to express my appreciation for their help.  No one does it by him- or herself.  

The older I get the wiser some in my past become and the less wise others. One of my favorite people of all in my experience was Mr. Ken Click, for four years my cross-country coach at Pleasant High School.  He had more common sense than any 10 other coaches combined.  He kept everything in proper perspective. I include here six others I remember fondly; Mr. John Kyle (HS math and science), Mr. Robert Gucker (HS biology), Ms. Sally George (HS art -- she used to let me hang out in the art room and work on projects when I was skipping lunch to make weight for wrestling), Mrs. Drollinger (HS English – she helped me get on the air at WMRN), Mr. Shorer (HS mechanical drafting sent one of my works to the GM design scholarship competition), and Mr. Smith (HS history). Most are now probably gone but the dedication they showed was phenomenal especially given the utter lack of motivation some kids exhibit.      

While being a member of the Department of Communication at Oklahoma, I am also an affiliate faculty of the SIAS Institute and Department of International and Areas Studies and I am also on the faculty of Film and Video Studies.  I am the coordinator for the University of Oklahoma’s Advanced Programs graduate studies in International Relations, which offers seminars toward a Masters Degree in International Relations in Europe and Asia, and I am liaison between the Department of Communication and the Health Sciences Center of the University of Oklahoma School of Medicine in Oklahoma City.  I am a Fellow in The Communicology Institute, and I am a founding director of the European Union Institute of Comparative Cultures.  I serve on the review and editorial boards of many journals and have reviewed for several journals including; The Harvard International Journal of Press/Politics, The Journal of Communication, Communication Studies, The Journal of Applied Communication, The Journal of Intercultural Communication, The Howard Journal of Communications, and so forth. 

I have directed over 40 doctoral dissertations and my former doctoral students now teach at many places including New York University, Hofstra University, Rice University, University of Incheon, Korea, University of Richmond, Virginia Commonwealth University, International Christian University in Tokyo, Dunbar Middle School Lubbock Texas, Air Command & Staff College, Maxwell AFB, Montgomery Alabama, California State University, Sacramento, The University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire, Brigham Young University, Tokyo Denki University, University of Jyväskylä, Finland, Linköping University, Sweden, Department of Pediatrics, University of Oklahoma-Health Sciences Center, Masryk University, Brno, Czech Republic, Okinawa Christian University, Claflin University, Bowling Green University, Fukuoka University of Education, University of Central Florida, John Carroll University, Ohio University, Daegu University, Korea, Kyoto University College of Medicine, Northern Iowa U, Aiichi University, Nagoya, Japan, Wenzao Ursuline University, Kaohsiung University Taiwan, and so forth.  A couple of former graduate students who studied semiotics with me took jobs on Madison Avenue in major advertising agencies. I told you semiotics is practical! I also have former doctoral students in positions at places like the FBI Counter-Terrorism Unit. 

Just for a taste, three of my favorite old friends are The Ever-Present Origin by Jean Gebser, Technics and Civilization by Lewis Mumford and The Responsive Chord by Tony Schwartz. Though not so highly regarded as the others, the last book has insights in it that are quite provocative. Much of my research centers on what is broadly called medium theory and also civilizational studies/intercultural communication. Highlights of my teaching other than helping students realize their own research agendas include having team-taught a class for a semester with the late Steve Allen, who was very bright, funny, talented, and who knew everyone in American arts and show business it seemed, and having fun helping students write and perform radio dramas on WVRU, in Virginia. I had my first radio show on WMRN in Marion, Ohio when I was 15 (where Rod Serling got his start by the way after college at Antioch in Yellow Springs, Ohio where he met and married a one of my Dad’s cousins, Carol Kramer) and another one at Ohio University. I was the media coordinator for the Red Cross during the Murrah Federal Building bombing in Oklahoma City. I structured and coordinated all media access to the families of victims at the First Christian Church of Oklahoma City who gathered for counseling and notification for the first 2 weeks after the attack.

What I believe: Freedom is what you do with what has been done to you.  The only people who can truly hurt you are people you love.  Don’t love anything that can’t love you back.  The real question is not, what is the meaning of life, but how to make life more meaningful.  Satisfaction comes from helping others.  And the older I get the more I realize that rarely are things (or people) as bad as we think they are, or as good as we think they are. No one is perfect. 

"Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity."    --Horace Mann