Dr. Lilly Boxman-Shabtay

Lillian (Lilly) Boxman
Academic Head, B.A Studies
office hours: Monday 12:00-13:00 By appointment only

I am a lecturer (Assistant Professor) in the Department of Communication and Journalism at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. I joined the department in July 2020, after earning a PhD from the Media, Technology, and Society program at Northwestern University.

My research examines meaning-making at the intersection of media producers, texts, and audiences. Placing a special emphasis on the phenomenon of polysemy (meaning multiplicity), my research probes questions such as: Why do we interpret the same content in diverging, at times contrasting, ways? What makes media messages open to different interpretations? How do media producers interpret the content they create? What are the social, economic, cultural and political ramifications of meaning multiplicity? Theoretically, my work presents an interdisciplinary approach that synthesizes competing theories of meaning and interpretation in the social sciences. Methodologically, I utilize a mixed-method approach that merges qualitative (e.g., semiotic analyses, interviews) and quantitative (e.g., content analyses, surveys) research designs. My research has focused on various arenas of cultural production that are rife with polysemy: popular culture on the internet, with an emphasis on humor and parody in user-generated-content, journalistic storytelling, with a focus on the coverage of income inequality and Corporate Social Responsibility, and the negotiation over meaning in the context of protest and social movements.

I teach BA and MA courses about digital culture and new media, media audiences, interpretation and meaning multiplicity, media representations of economic inequality, media criticism, and the concept of framing.


Research Interests

  • Corporate social responsibility
  • Digital culture
  • Economic inequality
  • Globalization
  • Framing
  • Humor
  • Interpretation
  • Media audiences
  • Media theory, mixed-method research
  • News
  • Participatory culture
  • Political polarization, polysemy
  • Social identity
  • Social media


Selected Publications

  • Boxman-Shabtai (2021) Encoding polysemy in the news. Journalism.  Advance online publication 
  • Boxman-Shabtai, L. (2020) Meaning multiplicity across communication subfields: Bridging the gaps.  Journal of Communication 70(3), 401-423
  • Boxman-Shabtai, L. (2019) The practice of parodying: YouTube as a hybrid field of cultural production. Media, Culture, & Society 41(4), 3-20
  • Boxman-Shabtai, L. (2018). Reframing the popular: A new approach to parody. Poetics 67, 1-12
  • Boxman-Shabtai, L & Shifman, L. (2016). Digital humor and the articulation of locality in an age of global flows. HUMOR: International Journal of Humor Research 29(1), 1-24
  • Boxman-Shabtai, L & Shifman, L. (2015) When ethnic humor goes digital. New Media & Society 17(4), 520-539
  • Boxman-Shabtai, L. & Shifman, L. (2014). Evasive targets: Deciphering polysemy in mediated humor. Journal of Communication, 64(5), 977-998


Awards and Prizes

  • 2021: Top poster award, Journalism Studies division of the International Communication Association
  • 2016 Doctoral Honors Seminar, National Communication Association
  • 2015 Top student paper, Association of Internet Researchers
  • 2013 Ruth Gilutz Award for Outstanding MA Thesis, Truman Institute for the Advancement of Peace
  • 2012 Don and Alleen Nilsen Award for Young Scholars, International Society for Humor Studies