Laura L. Ellingson

Associate Professor, Communication and Women’s & Gender Studies

Phone: (408) 551-7056

Current Work


Aunting: Cultural Practices that Sustain Family and Community Life
By Laura L. Ellingson and Patricia J. Sotirin
Baylor University Press

Whether related by biology, marriage, circumstance, or choice, aunts embody a uniquely flexible familial role. The aunt-niece/nephew relationship—though often overlooked—is critical and complex, one that appears at the core of a resilient, healthy family life.

In this engaging book, Laura Ellingson and Patricia Sotirin construct a consideration of “aunts” that moves from noun to verb. “Aunts” is more than a group of people or a role; instead, “to aunt” is a practice, something people “do.” Some women “aunt” as second mothers, friends, or mentors, while others play more peripheral roles. In either case, aunts nonetheless significantly impact their nieces and nephews’ life choices.

Drawing on personal narratives that represent a rich cross section of society, Ellingson and Sotirin construct a cohesive story of the diversity of aunting experiences in the contemporary United States. Skillfully written, Aunting recovers the enormous potential of this dynamic kinship relationship and offers a model for understanding and supporting the variety of families in society today.

Representative Publications

Ellingson, L. L., & Buzzanell, P. M. (1999). Listening to women’s narratives of breast cancer treatment: A feminist approach to patient satisfaction with physician-patient communication.Health Communication, 11, 153-183.

Ellingson, L. L. (2000). Style, substance, and standpoint: A feminist critique of Bernie Siegel’s rhetoric of self-healing. Women’s Studies in Communication, 23, 63-90.

Ellingson, L. L. (2004). Women cancer survivors: Making meaning of chronic illness and alternative medical practices. In P. M. Buzzanell, H. Sterk, & L. Turner (Eds.), Gender in Applied Communication Contexts (pp. 79-98). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Buzzanell, P. M., & Ellingson, L. L. (2005). Contesting narratives of maternity in the workplace. In L. M. Harter, P. Japp, & C. Beck (Eds.), Narratives, health, and healing: Communication theory, research, and practice (pp. 277-294). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Ellingson, L. L., & Sotirin, P. (2006). Exploring young adults’ perspectives on communication with aunts. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 23, 499-517.

Ellingson, L. L. (2006). Embodied knowledge: Writing researchers’ bodies into qualitative health research. Qualitative Health Research, 16, 298-310.

Sotirin, P., & Ellingson, L. L. (2006). The “other” woman in family life: Aunt/niece/nephew communication. In K. Floyd & M. Morman (Eds.), Widening the family circle: New research on family communication (pp. 81-99). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Sotirin, P., & Ellingson, L. L. (2007). Rearticulating the aunt: Feminist alternatives of family, care, kinship, and agency in popular performances of aunting. Cultural Studies <=> Critical Methodologies, 7, 442-459.

Ellingson, L. L. (2009). “Do we need to make it look good?”: Form, function, and femininity for women with disabilities. In E. Kirby & C. McBride (Eds.), Gender actualized: Cases in communicatively constructing realities (pp. 69-70). Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt.

Ellingson, L.L. & Sotirin, P. (2008). Academic aunting: Reimagining feminist (wo)mentoring, teaching, and relationships. Women & Language, 30(1), 35-42.

Ellingson, L. L. (2009). Engaging crystallization in qualitative research: An introduction. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Ellingson, L. L., & Sotirin, P. (2010). Aunting: Cultural practices that sustain family and community life. Waco, TX: Baylor University Press.

Sotirin, P. J., & Ellingson, L. L. (in press). Aunts in popular culture. Waco, TX: Baylor University Press.