Emily's research and work are focused mostly on young people specifically around their identities (how they think about themselves and others), their relationships to popular culture, their roles as media creators/producers and consumers. She's an educator committed to social justice work and is passionate about working alongside young people while simultaneously facilitating spaces and opportunities for young people to tell their stories and share their experiences through multimodal media creation (e.g., digital stories, spoken word poetry, collage, music, still and moving images, etc.).


Bailin Wells, E. (2018). Un/tangling girlhood: Negotiations of identity, literacy, and place at an elite,
independent private all-girls school in New York City. Columbia University Academic Commons,

Bailin, E. (forthcoming). [Love] letters: Using multimodal inquiries as sites for critical reflection. Youth Media

Bailin, E. (forthcoming). Hip-hop education. The International Encyclopedia of Media Literacy Education.

Bailin, E. (2014). Review: Slam school: Learning through conflict in the hip-hop and spoken word classroom
(2011). Journal of Media Literacy Education, 6(1), 56-59.

Hobbs, R., Cipollone, M., Bailin, E., Moore, D.C. & Schlesinger, M. (2011, June). Young Audiences and New
Authors in a Multimedia Landscape. Philadelphia: Temple University.

Scholarship Highlights

Un/Tangling Girlhood: Negotiations of Identity, Literacy, and Place at an Elite, Independent Private All-Girls School in New York City

Abstract: All-girls schools are commonly framed as institutions meant to empower girls to be their best selves in an enriching environment that fosters learning, compassion, and success. In elite, private schools, notions of language, privilege, and place are often tethered to the school’s history and traditions in ways that are seamlessly woven into the cultural fabric of the institution, subsequently informing particular constructions of students. Therefore, a closer examination of the dialogic power of belonging and expectations between an institution and its members is required. Failure to interrogate language and power dynamics in privileged spaces can perpetuate systems and structures of exclusivity and prohibit the construction of authentically inclusive practices and place-making within educational institutions. This study, which took place at an elite, independent, private all-girls school (the Clyde School) on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, interrogates how ideations of girls and girlhood are constructed and promoted as part of a school’s institutional identity and, in turn, how members of the institution understand, negotiate, and reimagine ideals, expectations, and forms of membership within the Clyde School. Drawing on literature from sociocultural, sociolinguistic, and communications perspectives, and concepts of literacy, identity, and place as constructed, situated and practiced, this study highlights the importance of context and discourse when examining how young people understand themselves, others, and their socially-situated realities. Data collection included semi-structured interviews, multimodal media-making, and participant observations. The primary method of data analysis was a critical analysis of discourse—an examination of the language, beliefs, values, and practices that collectively work to construct a school’s institutional identity; and foster insight into how students perceive and challenge notions of what it means to be a student at the Clyde School. The findings of this case study offer analyses of individual, collective, and institutional identity/ies. It considers the discursive practices, critical literacies, and place-making processes that young people use to navigate and negotiate their experiences in a particular sociocultural ecology. This study contributes to understandings of girlhood, youth studies, and elite, private independent school settings and provokes further questions about the possibilities of disrupting storylines and re-storying pedagogies.

Download Emily's dissertation here.

Collective Dreams and Desires: Intergenerational Insight on Civic Participation and Media Literacy

In June 2017, NAMLE, The Alliance for Media Arts + Culture, and 14 Black Poppies convened over 60 emerging artists / filmmakers, students, educators, librarians, and organizers at Roosevelt University in Chicago, Illinois, for an intergenerational conversation on civic participation and media literacy.

This case study, Collective Dreams + Desires, generated from the Pre-Conference Workshop on Civic Participation and Media Literacy at the 2017 NAMLE Conference, is a meditation on the affordances of intentional creation of spaces and intergenerational dialogue around civic participation and media literacy. It is an academic, poetic, and visual report of that conversation and reveals three crucial insights:

  • We need more spaces / places that cultivate imagination and dreaming.

  • We need intergenerational approaches that facilitate equity between / among generations.

  • We need to honor both the whole person and the whole organization in order to deepen our collective impact.

The report is authored by Celi Tamayo-Lee, Dr. Emily Bailin Wells, and Jason Wyman along with all of the people who participated in the conversation.

Click here to download the full report.

TEDx Talk, "The Power of Digital Storytelling"

In May 2014, I delivered my first TEDx talk at the Solebury School in New Hope, Pennsylvania. In the talk I perform an original spoken word piece entitled, "Where I'm From," as a springboard to present my research on engaging a group of pre-service educators in multimodal storytelling practices as a form of identity work. 

[Love] Letters: An Inquiry Project

"...While these love letter are about experiences I've had this year, they are not about me. The purpose of writing them is for me to occupy hybridized spaces in which to engage with ideas and practices that up until this academic year, have been so far out of my realm of knowing. They're love letters--as opposed to theoretically-founded or empirically-based papers, because there is a level of humanity, humility and reflexivity that I would never be able to reach or call upon in more traditional academic and analytic spaces..."

Series of [Love] Letters