Dr Susan Yell

Position: Adjunct Senior Research Fellow
Study Area: Institute of Education, Arts & Community
Location: Gippsland Campus, Bldg1E, Rm 229
Phone:  5122 6442
Email: sue.yell@federation.edu.au


Doctor of Philosophy - University of Sydney - 1994
Bachelor of Arts (Hons) - University of Sydney - 1983


Susan is a communications and media scholar. She gained her PhD (in systemic-functional linguistics and social semiotics) from the University of Sydney in 1994. Her teaching and research career has spanned four institutions. She began her career at the University of Sydney, where she held a tutorship from 1986-1989, then was appointed to a lectureship at Central Queensland University in 1991. She took up a position at Monash University in late 1999, before joining Federation University in 2014 as a result of the merger with Monash’s Gippsland Campus. Susan taught in media and communication studies, focusing specifically on media audiences, linguistics, semiotics, and foundational skill building in reading, critical thinking and digital literacy. At the end of 2021 she retired from her role as a full-time academic and took up the position of Adjunct Senior Research Fellow, to focus on research projects such as the Hazelwood Health Study.

Areas of expertise

Susan brings a background in linguistics, social semiotics and discourse analysis to a range of research topics including the relationships between discourse and affect; communication technologies and literacies; and media and the public sphere.  She is interested in the role of communication technologies in enabling (or hindering) social connection. She has published a co-authored book with Tony Schirato (Communication and Cultural Literacies, Allen & Unwin/Sage, 2000) and a number of research articles on these topics. From 1997 to 2007 she edited the annual special issue of the A-ranked media and cultural studies journal Southern Review: Communication, Politics, Culture. Her recent publications have focused on the reporting of historical and contemporary bushfires, media coverage of national versus international disasters, historical shifts in the emotional response to disasters, and social media use during disasters. As lead researcher in the Community Wellbeing stream of the Hazelwood Health Study (a long-term study of the health and wellbeing impacts of the 2014 Hazelwood mine fire), she is researching community wellbeing and resilience, media and social media use in disaster recovery, and effective disaster communication.

Research interests

  • Affect theory and emotions, the relation between discourse and affect
  • Systemic-functional linguistics and social semiotics (especially interpersonal meaning and evaluation)
  • Communication technologies and social connection
  • Media and the public sphere
  • Disasters and news reporting
  • Disaster communication
  • Social media use during and after disasters
  • Community wellbeing, resilience and disaster recovery
  • Neurodivergence and inclusive pedagogy


Susan has supervised 14 PhD students to successful completion. Recent completions include:

  • Meghan Hopper (Monash), ‘Here we are now, represent us: Women’s media and political representation in Australian election reporting, 1984-2010’ (Associate supervisor)
  • Mary Randall (Federation), ‘Engagement with voluntary family services in Inner Gippsland by families experiencing vulnerability’ (Main supervisor)
  • Kay Lancefield (Federation), ‘Early intervention to reduce young peoples’ contact with the criminal justice system’ (Associate supervisor)



Schirato, T. & Yell, S. (2000) Communication and Cultural Literacy: An Introduction, Allen & Unwin, Sydney/Sage, London

Book chapters

Yell, S. (1990) ‘Text, process and product/ion: Gender and Power in Strindberg's Miss Julie’ in Feminine/Masculine and Representation, ed. Terry Threadgold and Anne Cranny-Francis, Allen & Unwin, Sydney, pp.190-210.

Yell, S. (2005) ‘Critical discourse analysis and social semiotics: Re-thinking text and discourse in media and communication research’, in Kwamena Kwansah-Aidoo (ed.), Topical Issues in Communication and Media Research, Nova Science Press, New York, pp.9-23.

Duffy, M. & Yell, S. (2014) ‘Collective grief and Australian natural disasters’, in David Lemmings and Ann Brooks (eds), Emotions and Social Change: Historical and Sociological Perspectives, Routledge (New York), pp. 159-184

Duffy, M., Wood, P., Yell, S., Carroll, M. & Whyte, S. (2016) ‘Why isn’t there a plan? Community vulnerability and resilience in the Latrobe Valley’s open cut coal mine town’, in Michele Companion & Miriam Chaiken (eds), Understanding Vulnerability, Building Resilience: Responses to Disaster and Climate Change, CRC Press (Boca Raton), 207-217.

Smith, N. & Yell, S. (2019) ‘The dynamics of place-based virtual communities: Social media in a region in transition’, in Michelle Duffy, Angela Campbell and Beth Edmondson (eds), Located Research: Regional places, transitions and challenges, Palgrave Macmillan, 203-222.

Refereed journal articles/reports/reviews

Yell, S. (1990) ‘Control and conflict: dialogue in prose fiction’, Narrative Issues, AUMLA 74 pp.136-153.

Wallace, A. & Yell, S. (1997) ‘New literacies in the virtual classroom’, Southern Review 30.3, pp.333-344.

Yell, S. (1998) ‘Implicature’, Encyclopedia of Semiotics, ed. P. Bouissac, Garland, London & New York, pp. 302-304.

Schirato, T. & Yell, S. (1999) ‘The “New” Men's Magazines and the Performance of Masculinity’, Media International Australia Incorporating Cultural Policy No. 92 (August 1999) pp.81-90.

Schirato, T. & Yell, S. (1999) ‘Contemporary Discourses and the Politics of Childhood’, Southern Review 32.3, pp.282-291.

Bright, P., Schirato, T. & Yell, S. (2000) ‘Communication Meta-Literacies and Tertiary Graduates’, Australian Journal of Communication 27.2 pp.99-110.

Yell, S. (2001) ‘Email and Public Debate in Universities’, Southern Review 34.1, pp.22-31.

Yell, S. (2003) ‘New for Old? Converging Media and Email Practices in the Workplace’, Australian Journal of Communication 30.1, pp.93-108.

Yell, S. (2003) ‘The Unruly Space of Email’, Southern Review 36.2, pp.52-67.

Atkinson, P. & Yell, S. (2006) ‘Affect, Time and the Enunciative Body’, Southern Review 38.2, pp.40-57

Yell, S. (2007) ‘Theorising Text as Practice in the New Media Age’, New Zealand Journal of Media Studies, 10.1, pp.14-23.

Yell, S. (2010) ‘“Breakfast is now tea, toast and tissues”: affect and the media coverage of bushfires’, Media International Australia 137, (November), pp. 109-119.

Fletcher, M. & Yell, S. (2011) ‘Airgraphs and an airman: the role of airgraphs in World War II family correspondence’, History Australia 8.3, pp.117-138.

Yell, S. (2012) ‘Natural disaster news and communities of feeling: the affective interpellation of local and global publics’, Social Semiotics 22.4, pp.409-428.

Morrissey, B. & Yell, S. (2016) ‘Performative trolling: Szubanski, Gillard, Dawson and the nature of the utterance’, Persona Studies (April 2016).

Yell, S. & Duffy, M. (2018) ‘Community empowerment and trust: Social media use during the Hazelwood mine fire’, Australian Journal of Emergency Management 33(2): 66-70.



Australian & New Zealand Communication Association (ANZCA)