Curriculum Vitae

Melina A. Sherman

PhD Candidate

16177 Alcima Avenue, Pacific Palisades, CA, 90272



PhD Candidate in Communication Studies

  • University of Southern California, Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism [to be conferred in May 2018]

Bachelor of Arts in Communication, Magna Cum Laude

  • Northwestern University [June 2013]



  • Communication studies
  • Science, technology, & society [STS]
  • Cultural studies
  • Political economy
  • Feminist theory
  • Discourse analysis
  • Biopolitics
  • Institutional and historical forms of analysis
  • Youth culture, subcultural politics



My dissertation develops a cultural analysis of addiction through the lens of the ongoing U.S. opioid epidemic. In particular, this project is focused on unpacking the historical, cultural, and political economic conditions underlying the development of the field of pain management and the uptake of opioids as the best (if not only) solution for the problem of pain. My approach to the epidemic is interdisciplinary and multi-faceted – focusing on key domains such as media representation, pharmaceutical branding, the genealogy of pain medicine and addiction science, institutional analyses of U.S. drug regulation, and the critical analysis of the re-production of race and technologies of whiteness in drug policies, law, and rehabilitative technologies (such as the use of privatized medication-assisted treatments and the popularization of problem-solving “treatment courts”).

In the next iteration of my project, which I envision as the final step toward transforming my dissertation research into a book, I will conduct ethnographic research within the digital spaces where patients, addicts, and other individuals come together – combining their own experiences, lay expertise, and familiarity with the technicalities of U.S. drug law and regulation to construct a space where they can safely discuss and engage in self-medication practices. The ways in which individuals engage with and manipulate recent innovations in biotechnology and digital technology raises questions about how the world of contemporary drug use is changing – veering more toward more potent, synthesized molecules and genetic formulations that mimic familiar pharmaceutical biotechnologies (i.e., fentanyl) and that, despite the sophisticated nature of their development and distribution, are discussed, re-configured, and made legible in new ways by the individuals who make, sell, discuss, and use them.. These “new opioids” have become central to the community of practice that constitutes digitally-based drug culture – a culture which exists in constant tension with the legal, regulatory, and corporate logics that seek to govern and exploit it.


Following the publication of the book, I envision a future research project at the intersection of critical cultural studies and STS – one that is not limited to the North American context. Because I have extensive experience traveling in Latin America (and am a fluent Spanish speaker), I plan to conduct comparative research there in the near future. Specifically, I am interested in studying the cultural and historical development of traditional drug cultures in Bolivia, where I would conduct field work to examine the history of these drugs in traditional and Western medicine and culture and how cultural understandings surrounding the use of coca leaves are transformed as their exchange moves into new digital terrains, traverses international boundaries, and enters the commercialized spaces of the U.S. drug economy.



Sherman, M. (2017a). Opiates for the Masses: Constructing a Market for Prescription (Pain)killers. Journal of Cultural Economy, 1-13.

Sherman, M. (2017b). How to Train Your Opioid Consumer: Branding Painkillers in the Opioid Epidemic. Communication, Culture and Critique. 10(17), 593-608. doi:10.1111/cccr.12181

Sherman, M. (2015). The Cultural Production of a Pharmaceutical Market: The Making of ADHD. International Journal of Communication, 9, 1-20. doi:1932-8036/20150005

Sherman, M. (2017). Review of Addicted. Pregnant. Poor., by Kelly Knight. Medicine, Anthropology, Theory. Available at

Sherman, M. (2014). Review of Venture Labor: Work and the Burden of Risk in Innovative Industries, by Gina Neff. International Journal of Communication, 8, pp. 8-10.

Sherman, M. (2015). Review of Chronic Youth: Disability, Sexuality, and U.S. Media Cultures of Rehabilitation by Julie Passanante Elman. International Journal of Communication, 9, pp. 8-10.

Glabau, D., Fiereck, K., & Sherman, M. (2017 February 27). Biofinance: Speculation, Risk, Debt, and Value from Bios: A conference report. Somatosphere. Available at



Sherman, M.A. (2017). Branding Pain Relief: Restoring the Neoliberal Self in the Ongoing Opioid Epidemic. American Anthropological Association. Washington, D.C.

Sherman, M.A. (2017). Understanding the Opioid Epidemic: A Genealogical Analysis of Pain Management. Society for the Social Study of Science (4S). Boston, MA.

Sherman, M.A. (2016). When a Cure Becomes a Poison: Discourses of Consumption in the U.S. Opioid Epidemic. Society for Applied Anthropology. Santa Fe, NM.

Sherman, M.A. (2016). Biofinancial Investments and Disinvestments: Examining the U.S. Opioid Epidemic. American Anthropological Association. Minneapolis, MN.

Sherman, M.A. (2015). Mother’s Little Helper: On the Cultural Production of a Market for Anti-Depressants. National Communication Association. Las Vegas, NV.

Sherman, M.A. (2015). Methylphenidate Moms: The Problem with Speed. Society for the Social Study of Science (4S). Denver, CO.

Sherman, M.A. (2015). The Cultural Production of a Pharmaceutical Market. Cultural Studies Association. Riverside, CA.

Sherman, M.A. (2015). The Cultural Production of a Pharmaceutical Market: The Making of ADHD. Popular Culture Association Conference. New Orleans, LA.

Sherman, M.A. (2013). Dancing Alone, Together: Agency and Remediation inside a ‘Music Scene for Bros’. Graduate Communication Forum Conference. Pennsylvania State University, PA.

Sherman, M.A. (2013). Dancing Alone, Together: A Gendered and Sexual Politics of Visibility inside a ‘Music Scene for Bros’. Cultural Studies Association Conference. Chicago, IL.




Communication, Technology, and Culture [COMM 339]

  • University of Southern California [Fall 2017]

Teaching Assistant:

Communication and Culture. [COMM 206]

  • University of Southern California [Spring 2017]

Sound Clash: Communication and Popular Music [COMM 307]

  • University of Southern California [Fall 2016]

Communication and Technology [COMM 202]

  • University of Southern California [Spring 2016]

Sports, Communication and & Culture [COMM 383]

  • University of Southern California [Fall 2015]

Communication and Culture [COMM 206]

  • University of Southern California [Fall 2014]



Spanish language intensive course

  • Universitat de Barcelona  [Summer 2016]

English 33000, Professional Writing Seminar

  • University of Chicago [Summer 2013]

Writing for Publication Seminar

  • University of Southern California [Spring 2014]

Annenberg Summer Inter-School Seminars in digital ethnography and discourse analysis

  • University of Southern California [Summer 2014]



Vice-President, Annenberg School of Communication Graduate Association [2014-2015 Term]



Magna Cum Laude, Northwestern University

Departmental Excellence in Communication Studies, Northwestern University

Lambda Pi Eta, Northwestern University



English: Native language

Spanish: Fluent (speaking); proficient (reading, writing)