Rhetoric, Politics, and Culture

Graduate work in Rhetoric, Politics, & Culture focuses on three interrelated areas:

  • Discourse
  • Theory
  • Method

Whether speaking from the podium or chatting on Facebook, people use discourse to craft identities, enact social change, and form a shared sense of community. Seeking to better understand this social force, the study of discourse explores significant themes, trajectories, and transformations in politics and society while considering particular individuals and groups, cultures, eras, genres, and topics. Courses in this area explore issues of power, digital media, citizenship, gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, globalization, religion, inclusion and exclusion, social status, and marginalization.

Theory functions as a way of seeing, allowing us to understand familiar objects in new ways while helping us make sense of the unfamiliar. By applying theoretical concepts to specific examples from discourse, theory helps us understand discourse practices and foster positive social change.  Courses in this area explore a range of perspectives from critical theory, gender theory, feminist theory, public sphere theory, and queer theory, to theories of performance, culture, technology, and globalization.

Method mediates between theory and practice, allowing us to appreciate the particularities of specific discourse practices as well as their larger implications. Using a range of cutting edge methodologies from textual-analysis and ethnography to network mapping, we gather, document, organize, catalog, and analyze the discourse that is the focus of our studies. Courses on methodology investigate tools such as textual criticism, ethnography, archival research, and Internet-based methods.

All three areas of study in Rhetoric, Politics, & Culture are united by a common commitment to understanding the role of discourse in society as we act together to engage in culture and politics. Students are encouraged to investigate a wide range of discursive phenomena as they develop expertise that will empower them to conduct significant research and to take an active role in scholarly communities.

Andrew Peck (2017)
“The memetic vernacular: everyday argument in the digital age”
Miami University

Olivia Conti (2017)—Independent Scholar
“Advocacy on the electronic frontier: vernacular legal expertise in the discourse of digital rights”
Independent Scholar

Elizabeth Barr (2017)
“Queer traces: counterpublic memories of scientific AIDS activism”
Towson University

Ling Yang (2016)
“Soong Mayling’s 1943 American speech tour: a study in the rhetoric of public diplomacy”
Ginling College, China

Emily Sauter (2016)
“A modern miracle: South African national identity and transnational discourses of democracy”
Minnesota State University-Mankato

Casey Schmitt (2015)
"The Hiker and the Trail: Rhetoric and Implacement in Designated Natural Areas"
Lakeland College

Ashley Hinck (2015)
"Fan-based Performances of Citizenship: Fandom, Public Engagement, and Politics"
Xavier University

Jennie Keohane (2014)
"The Ladies in Red: U.S. Citizenship, Feminism, and Communism during the Early Cold War"
University of Maryland – Baltimore

Kelly Jakes (2014)
"Popular Music and Resistance in Occupied France, 1940-1944"
Wayne State University

Ryan Solomon (2012)
"Sticks, Stones, and Other Supernatural Objects: Rhetoric, Ethics, and the AIDS Controversy in South Africa"
Colgate University

Michelle Murray Yang (2011)
"Cultural Obstruction and Transformative Possibilities: Western Media Coverage of US-Sino Relations during the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games"
University of Maryland

Pamela Katherine Conners (2011)
"The Purchase of Home: Ownership and Citizenship in the US Housing Policy Debates"
Gustavus Adolphus College

Michelle LaVigne (2010)
"Rhetorical Moves: A Study of Aesthetic Dance(s)"
University of San Francisco