Kelly Jensen

Rhetoric, Politics, and Culture



6067 Vilas Hall

Office Hours:

  • Thursdays 10:15 am-12:15 pm

Kelly is a PhD candidate in the Rhetoric, Politics, & Culture program in the Department of Communication Arts at the University of Wisconsin Madison. She holds a BA in Communication Studies from Gustavus Adolphus College and an MA in Curriculum & Instruction from the University of Colorado Denver. Prior to graduate school, Kelly spent five years as a public school teacher in a bilingual 5th grade classroom in Denver, CO and two years as a research analyst at Denver-based foundation dedicated to improving educational outcomes for low-income children in Colorado. Her research considers how power dynamics empower and disempower the ways certain groups participate in the public sphere and how K-12 education discourses influence unequal systems of privilege.

Kelly’s dissertation project “Positioned to Choose: Reckoning with Racial Privilege in Progressive White Parents’ School Choice Discourse” explores the tensions in the ways well-intentioned, progressive white parents with nominal commitments to educational equity reckon with their unearned racial privilege within the U.S. K-12 education system. Based on fieldwork with white, politically progressive, socioeconomically advantaged parents of school-aged children, her project considers the rhetorical maneuvers white parents employ to rationalize their school choice decisions and grapple with their complicity in racialized systems of oppression.


  • M.A. Communication Arts, University of Wisconsin Madison, 2019
  • M.A. Curriculum and Instruction, University of Colorado Denver, 2012
  • B.A. Communication Studies, Gustavus Adolphus College, 2010


  • CA 100 – Introduction to Speech Composition
  • CA 200 – Introduction to Digital Communication
  • CA 260 – Communication and Human Behavior
  • CA 262 – Argumentation and Debate
  • CA 370 – Great Speakers and Speeches


Kelly Jensen, “Localized Ideographs in Education Rhetoric: Polly Williams and a Justice-Driven Ideology of Choice,” Quarterly Journal of Speech 107, no. 3 (2021): 305-327.

Sue Robinson, Kelly Jensen, and Carlos Dávalos, “‘Listening Literacies’ as Keys to Rebuilding Trust in Journalism: A Typology for a Changing News Audience,” Journalism Studies 22, no. 9 (2021): 1219-1237.

Megan L. Zahay, Kelly Jensen, Yiping Xia, and Sue Robinson, “The Labor of Building Trust: Traditional and Engagement Discourses for Practicing Journalism in a Digital Age,” Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly (2020): 1-18.