Debra Merskin, PhD

Dr. Merskin is a teacher and scholar who is committed to removing the veil from representations of any and all beings who are shown in limited and limiting ways. She has published multiple journal articles, book chapters, and encyclopedia entries on media representations of constructed “Others” in American media. This includes animals other than human. Her theoretical emphasis is stereotypes, representational ethics, and speciesism. Her first book, Media, Minorities, & Meaning: A Critical Introduction (Peter Lang, 2010) looks below the surface of media content to explore the psychological, social, and economic underpinnings of a system of beliefs that result in prejudice, discrimination, and oppression. Designed to raise awareness of the foundations of historically-based inequities in the American social, cultural, and economic milieu, the book illustrates how inequalities are maintained, at least in part, by mass media, popular culture, and advertising representations.

Her second book, Sexing the Media: How and Why We Do It (Peter Lang, 2014) explores how media and other social institutions use sex and sexuality (the capacity to have erotic experiences and responses) to advance economic and ideological interests. Cinema, music, music videos, television programs, advertising, and the Internet are discussed as carriers of deliberately constructed messages that contribute to and support a master narrative that privileges heterosexuality and monogamy. Dr. Merskin’s latest book explores the intersectionality of species, race, and sex. See her work at

In addition to an earlier career in advertising, Dr. Merskin is active in studying animals and psychology. She has completed coursework for a second PhD in ecological psychology at Pacifica Graduate Institute. She is active in the animal welfare community.