Susan Zaeske

Associate Dean for Advancement, Arts & Humanities


0301C South Hall

Associate Dean for Advancement, Arts & Humanities Sue Zaeske

Office Hours:

  • To make an appointment, please call 608-263-7221.


Expertise and Activities

My scholarship focuses on rhetoric, gender, and political culture. My first book, Signatures of Citizenship: Petitioning, Antislavery, and Women’s Political Identity (University of North Carolina Press, 2003) explores how American women who petitioned against slavery not only contributed to the abolitionist movement, but also renegotiated their status as citizens. In my present book project, Encountering Esther: Appropriations of the Jewish Queen, I am collecting and analyzing examples of appropriations of the Old Testament heroine Esther in order to explain why this tale possesses such enduring appeal. I will approach the Book of Esther not as biblical literature, as it is usually read, but rather as an instance of rhetorical theory which, though conveyed in narrative form, recommends persuasive strategies and rhetorical ethics for peoples struggling to survive within structures of oppression.

Watch and Listen to Professor Zaeske


  • Ph.D. Communication Arts – Rhetoric, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1997
  • M.A. Communication Arts – Rhetoric, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1992
  • B.A. Double Major in Journalism and Communication Arts, Certificate in Women’s Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1989


  • Hamel Family Faculty Fellowship 2008-, College of Letters & Science, 2013
  • Visiting Professor and Research Fellow, 2004-, Women’s Studies in Religion Program, Harvard University, 2005
  • James A. Winans-Herbert A. Wichelns Memorial Award for Distinguished Scholarship in Rhetoric and Public Address, National Communication Association, 2004
  • Marie Hochmuth Nichols Award, National Communication Association Public Address Division, 2004
  • Vilas Research Fellowship, UW Graduate School, 2004
  • Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching Award, UW Chancellor’s Office, 2003
  • Mark H. Ingraham Distinguished Faculty Award, College of Letters and Science, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2002
  • Golden Anniversary Monograph Award, National Communication Association, 2001
  • Karl R. Wallace Award (outstanding young public address scholar),National Communication Association, 2001
  • Cheris Kramarae Dissertation Award, Organization for the Study of Language, Communication and Gender, 1998


  • 2010. “Hearing the Silences in Lincoln’s Temperance Address: Whig Masculinity as an Ethic of Rhetorical Civility”. Rhetoric & Public Affairs, (Fall): 389-420.
  • 2009. “The South Arose as One Man’: Gender and Sectionalism in Congressional Debates over Slavery, 1835-.” Rhetoric and Public Affairs, 12:3 (Fall 2009): 341-368..
  • 2002. “Signatures of Citizenship: The Rhetoric of Women’s Antislavery Petitions.” Quarterly Journal of Speech 88:2, 147-168.
  • 2000. “Unveiling Esther as a Pragmatic Radical Rhetoric.” Philosophy and Rhetoric 33:3, 193-220.
  • 1995. “The ‘Promiscuous Audience’ Controversy and the Emergence of the Early Woman’s Rights Movement.” Quarterly Journal of Speech 81:2, 191-207.


  • 2003. Signatures of Citizenship: Petitioning, Antislavery, and Women’s Political Identity. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.


  • 2010. “Archival Research of Women Political Activists (with Sarah Jedd)”. The Handbook of Rhetoric and Public Address, Shawn Parry-Giles and J. Michael Hogan Blackwell.
  • 2008. “Little Magic: Martin Van Buren and the Politics of Gender”. Before the Rhetorical Presidency, Martin Medhurst College Station, Texas: Texas A & M Press, 44-62.


  • CA 675 – The Rhetoric of Women’s Social and Political Discourse, 1635-1850
  • CA 576 – Principles of Rhetorical Criticism
  • CA 570 – Classical Rhetorical Theory
  • CA 270 – Great Speakers and Speeches
  • CA 263 – Advanced Speech Composition
  • CA 260 – Introduction to Human Communication
  • CA 181 – Honors Public Speaking
  • CA 976 – Seminar in Rhetorical Criticism
  • CA 667 – Rhetoric of Twentieth-Century Social Movements: Student Left, Civil Rights, Women’s Liberat
  • CA 610 – Freedom and Responsibility: Discourses of Belonging in 19th-Century America
  • CA 378 – Rhetoric of African American Discourse
  • CA 667 – Freedom and Responsibility: Discourses of Belonging in the United States from the Civil War

Curriculum Vitae