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2013 RSA Candidate Statements

RSA is pleased to offer the following candidates for election to the Board. You may click the candidate's name to review his or her statement for election or continue scrolling down the page to view all statements.

Position #1 (four-year term)

Robert Asen, University of Wisconsin
Vanessa Beasley, Vanderbilt University

Position #2 (four-year term)

Pat Gehrke, University of South Carolina
Ned O’Gorman, University of Illinois

Position #3 (four-year term)

Michael Bernard-Donals, University of Wisconsin
Shirley Wilson Logan, University of Maryland

Position #4 (four-year term)

Jenny Edbauer Rice, University of Kentucky
Thomas Rickert, Purdue University

Student position #1 (two-year term)

Erica Fischer, University of South Carolina
Sarah Frank, University of Texas

Student position #2 (two-year term)

Christopher Fischer, University of Pittsburgh
Katherine (Katie) Lind, Indiana University


Candidate for Position 1:

Robert Asen, Professor, Communication Arts Department, affiliate in the Institute for Research on Poverty, University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The Rhetoric Society of America plays a distinctive and important role in the academic lives of rhetorical scholars: it provides us with an intellectual home where we may engage others who share an interest in exploring the ancient tradition and contemporary theory and practice of rhetoric.  I am honored to have been nominated for a position on the RSA board of directors.  My involvement with the organization dates back to the early 2000s, when I attended the ARS conference in Evanston, IL.  Since then, I have attended RSA conferences and I have been fortunate to facilitate a seminar on rhetoric and public policy at the 2013 summer institute at the University of Kansas.  I also will participate in planning efforts for the 2015 summer institute to be held in Madison, WI.  In addition, I have regularly reviewed manuscripts for Rhetoric Society Quarterly.  My scholarly interests address the relationship between public discourse and socioeconomic inequality.  I am presently working on a book titled Democracy, Deliberation, and Education that examines school-board deliberations in Wisconsin and has been supported by a grant from the William T. Grant Foundation.  My goals for RSA are: (1) to facilitate regular conversations on sites like the Blogora about intellectual matters and public affairs related to our scholarship and inquiry; (2) to enrich increasingly strong connections among rhetorical scholars in Communication, English, and other disciplines; (3) to raise awareness of rhetorical scholarship among non-academic audiences, including policymakers and funding agencies.
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Candidate for Postion 1:

Vanessa B. Beasley, Associate Professor, Communication Studies; Director, Program in American Studies, Vanderbilt University

When I attended my first RSA conference in Memphis in 2006, I knew immediately I had discovered gold: a professional association that was a near-perfect fit for my interests but would also stretch my thinking in productive ways.  Since then, the prospects have only grown brighter as I have become more involved.  I have led or co-led sessions at the RSA Summer Institutes three times: a workshop “Rhetoric, Nationalism, and Post-Nationalism” in 2009 at Penn State, a seminar on “Critical Genealogies” in 2011 at the University of Colorado, and a seminar on “Rhetorical Approaches to the 2012 Campaign” in 2013 at the University of Kansas.  Additionally, I have served as a member of the RSA Dissertation Award Committee, the Kneupper Book Award Committee, and the editorial board for Rhetoric Society Quarterly. 

My research area is presidential rhetoric and its symbolic functions within U.S. democracy.  The author of You, the People: American National Identity in Presidential Rhetoric and editor of Who Belongs in America? Presidents, Rhetoric, and Immigration, I am currently completing a book on how presidents from LBJ to Obama have talked about racial inequality within an increasingly (and allegedly) “post-racial” political culture.  If elected, my priorities as a board member would to be to support three things that make RSA shine: the Summer Institutes’ unique programming; the association-wide commitment to interdisciplinary conversations; and the availability of resources for professional development across career stages.
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Candidate for Postion #2:

Pat J. Gehrke, University of South Carolina

As it approaches its fiftieth anniversary (2018), RSA carries forward a rich multi-disciplinary history of advancing the scholarship and teaching of rhetoric. As an associate professor in the Speech Communication and Rhetoric Program and the Department of English at the University of South Carolina, I have lived for over a decade in precisely such a multi-disciplinary space. The majority of my undergraduate and graduate courses, including classical rhetoric, contemporary rhetorical theory, rhetoric and ethics, rhetoric and democracy, and rhetoric of science and technology, have been cross-listed between Communication and English, with students attending from not only these disciplines but also Political Science, Education,  Philosophy, and Classics. My scholarship takes a similarly broad view of the political and ethical dimensions of rhetorical theory and education, including my 2009 book, The Ethics and Politics of Speech: Communication and Rhetoric in the Twentieth Century (SIU), but also the many journal articles, essays, and book chapters I have published across a range of fields associated with rhetoric . Currently, my colleague Byron Hawk and I are collaborating to map the convergences between English and Communication over the past century to better understand today's interdisciplinary efforts. As a member of the Board I hope, in advance of the 2018 anniversary, to contribute to building and making widely accessible RSA's archives and histories (both formal and informal), as I believe that they offer resources for our shared futures. More information on my teaching and scholarship may be found at http://www.PatGehrke.net
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Candidate for Postion #2:

Ned O’Gorman, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign; Associate Professor and Associate Head in the Department of Communication; Core Faculty in the Center for Writing Studies of the Department of English; and Core Faculty in the Program for Arms Control, Disarmament, and International Security.

 I have been active in RSA since my days in graduate school, where RSA provided a vibrant and welcoming means of enculturation into the field of rhetorical studies. Since then, I have served as faculty advisor for the RSA student group at the University of Illinois, served on the editorial board of RSQ, been a member of the RSA Kneupper Award committee, been a leader of an RSA Summer Institute workshop, and served as president of the RSA-affiliate American Society for the History of Rhetoric. Like many members in RSA, my research and teaching interests are relatively broad—the history of rhetoric, political theory, aesthetics, technology studies, the digital humanities, and the Cold War—but in all my work I have brought a distinct rhetorical sensibility, one that various members of RSA have helped shape in significant ways. As such, my main goal as a RSA board member would be to cultivate further the intellectual vibrancy and scholarly esprit de corps of RSA. I would focus these efforts on three main areas: (1) further developing forms of graduate student participation and leadership in RSA functions, (2) expanding the international horizons of RSA, and (3) cultivating strong publishing venues for rhetoric scholarship.
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Candidate for Postion #3:

Michael Bernard-Donals, Nancy Hoefs Professor of English and Director, Mosse/Weinstein Center for Jewish Studies, at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

I’ve been a regular at three academic conferences since early in my career:  the Modern Language Association, the Conference on College Composition and Communication, and the Rhetoric Society of America.   My conference calendar reflects my intellectual interests – as a teacher and scholar of writing, my disciplinary range moves across contemporary literatures, the practices of written language, the structure of memory and forgetting, and the ethical and political stakes of public writing.  I’ve published my work in RSQ, but also in PMLA, College Composition and Communication, and JAC.  But what holds my work together is rhetoric, and my intellectual and disciplinary home has long been the RSA:  its journal is the one I find myself reading most regularly, and I think of my colleagues as the people I engage with at the biennial conference (and, more recently, at the summer institute), and whose work I read on encountering it there.  The RSA reflects the richness of scholarship in rhetoric – historical, theoretical, empirical – and it has always endeavored to be inclusive of the work of younger scholars at the cutting edge of the field, while building bridges between English, Communication Studies, and across the disciplines where rhetoric moves.   I hope to serve the RSA by ensuring that it continues to reflect the best and most forward-looking teaching and scholarship in the field, that it is inclusive of the field’s emerging voices, and that it makes the consequences of rhetorical practice available to the broadest possible public.
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Candidate for Postion #3:

Shirley Wilson Logan, University of Maryland

The Rhetoric Society of America has provided a welcoming space for rhetoric and composition scholars like me.  My research has always sought to highlight the converging concerns of composition and rhetoric.  From my early ethnographic work on college students composing on computers to my recent studies of nineteenth-century sites of rhetorical education, my interest has always centered on how rhetors employ language to construct meaning.  My various professional affiliations have also been situated at this juncture, including the Conference on College Composition and Communication, the Alliance of Rhetoric Societies, the MLA Division on the History and Theory of Rhetoric and Composition, and the Coalition of Women Scholars in the History of Rhetoric and Composition. I have served the RSA specifically as co-leader of an RSA Summer Institute workshop, member of the RSA Committee on Awards,  conference luncheon plenary speaker, frequent conference presenter, and RSQ manuscript reviewer. Currently, I am Professor and Associate Chair in the English department at the University of Maryland and Chair of the Campus Writing Board.  I am author of With Pen and Voice; We are Coming: The Persuasive Discourse of Nineteenth-Century Black Women; Liberating Language: Sites of Rhetorical Education in Nineteenth-Century Black America and numerous articles and book chapters, including essays and teaching materials on Frances Harper and Ida B. Wells for the NEH Voices of Democracy Project. I am also co-editor of the SIUP series Studies in Rhetorics and Feminisms.  If elected to the Board, I will work to support cross-disciplinary ties and to increase collaborative research among the members of RSA and with members of other rhetoric organizations.
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Candidate for Postion #4:

Jenny Edbauer Rice, Associate Professor, Writing, Rhetoric, Digital Studies, University of Kentucky

After my first experience at the RSA biennial conference, I knew that this was exactly where I wanted to be: surrounded by people who are focused on rhetoric as praxis. Today, RSA is my home base. For several years, I have been actively involved with RSA by serving on the editorial board of RSQ and as editor for the RSQ 2012 special issue (“Regional Rhetorics”). More recently, I led a summer workshop on “Placemaking” during the 2013 RSA institute. My scholarly work centers on issues of public rhetorics, place-based discourse, vernacular pedagogies, and affect.  Some of this work has appeared in College Composition and Communication, Quarterly Journal of Speech, Postmodern Culture, Pre/Text, among others. Issues of public discourse and place are the focus of my recent book Distant Publics: Development Rhetoric and the Subject of Crisis (2012). I currently serve on the Executive Committee of the Conference on College Composition and Communication, and I am on the editorial board of QJS. As Director of Composition in the Writing, Rhetoric, and Digital Studies program at the University of Kentucky, I helped to develop a hybrid writing-public speaking course for first year students. As a board member of RSA, I look forward to: (1) continuing conversations about how to expand RSA’s public reach, (2) supporting the RSA summer institutes that bring together new and established scholars from different disciplines, and (3) expanding RSA’s presence on social media. I am honored to serve the organization that sustains me as an interdisciplinary scholar.
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Candidate for Postion #4:

Thomas Rickert, Purdue University

When I was a new English MA student unfamiliar with rhetoric, I was peer-pressured into attending the fourth RSA conference at the University of Texas at Arlington in 1990. It was smaller then, but its striking energy was important to my shift to rhetoric. Today, the RSA conference remains my favorite, for its intellectual values, its cross-disciplinarity, and as always its energy. Its great expansion since then also reflects rhetoric's growing fortunes. Currently, I am an Associate Professor in Rhetoric and Composition at Purdue University. My most recent book, Ambient Rhetoric: The Attunements of Rhetorical Being, argues for a more materialist, ecologically attuned rhetoric, while my first book, Acts of Enjoyment: Rhetoric, Zizek, and the Return of the Subject, addresses rhetorical agency and performance in cultural studies-based pedagogies. My essays and reviews have appeared in journals such as Philosophy and Rhetoric, JAC, RSQ, and QJS. Recently, I conducted an RSA Summer Institute workshop on Materialist Rhetorics. At Purdue I teach many rhetoric courses, including seminars on Burke, postmodern and posthumanist rhetorical theory, classical rhetoric, and public rhetorics. My current book project brings moral psychology and brain science into conversation with ancient rhetorics as a way to illuminate issues of moral and religious conflict. This project, like all my work, is grounded in my belief that rhetoric's reinstantiation as a central feature of the liberal arts can help alleviate their plight. Opportunities for such resurgence continually surround us. I would be honored to contribute in some way to RSA's bright future.
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Candidate for Student Postion #1:

Erica K Fischer, University of South Carolina

Erica is a Ph.D. candidate in the Rhetoric and Composition program at the University of South Carolina. Her research examines the intersection of contemporary poetics with rhetorical practice and pedagogy. Her current project rereads the role of modernist experimentation in histories of rhetoric.

A committed mentor, Erica is currently serving her second year as an Assistant Director of the University of South Carolina’s first-year writing program where she helps instruct and support incoming graduate students. This past May she was the recipient of the Dr. William Richey Mentor Award. A member of South Carolina’s student branch of RSA, Erica appreciates the immeasurable value of a strong professional network, and if elected as student representative, her primary responsibilities will be to communicate the opinions and concerns of the graduate community at board meetings and uphold RSA’s commitment to graduate student development and collaboration.
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Candidate for Student Position #1

Sarah Frank, University of Texas, Austin

I'm a second year doctoral student at the University of Texas at Austin in the Department of Rhetoric and Writing. My research uses a deconstructive lens to attend to issues in feminist histories of rhetoric, and I've presented this research, along with papers on feminist composition theory, at national conferences such as RSA, CCCC, and NCA. In addition to these scholarly affiliations, I teach a course in Rhetoric and Writing at UT-Austin, and I represent both the Department of Rhetoric and Writing and the English Department in the Graduate Student Assembly. I'm currently appointed to the Digital Writing and Research Lab, and I've also had an appointment in the Undergraduate Writing Center. These diverse identifications inspire two broad goals for RSA, both aimed at widening our interdisciplinary community: first, as a historiographer of rhetoric, I would like to see RSA foster further inquiry into digital archiving practices and apply that research to RSA's own archive. By utilizing online archival spaces, we may increase access (especially among new members) to interdisciplinary knowledge and methods. Second, as a graduate student member of the community, I'd like to invent strategies to encourage networking (both face-to-face and digital) among graduate members across disciplines. When student members and student chapters are able to share their work, we strengthen our broad community of graduate students, many of whom will constitute the future leadership of this organization.
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Candidate for Student Postion #2:

Christopher J. Fischer, University of Pittsburgh

As a second-year doctoral student in Communication at the University of Pittsburgh, I remain dedicated to contributing to the rhetorical tradition. In the broadest sense, my interests reside in the study of the history of rhetoric. My most recent research includes work on Ralph Waldo Emerson and transcendentalism’s relationship to rhetoric. Further, this summer I visited the Kenneth Burke papers in order to research Burke’s involvement with early modernist writers. If elected, I would help to foster and promote a curriculum based on the rhetorical tradition and its potential for future research.

The RSA election presents an opportunity to expand beyond research and into service. On this note, I am committed to fostering a career of disciplinary and university service that this election would help to launch. The membership and organization of RSA should allow us to reach and affect the communities that constitute our various educational institutions. This begins with fostering education within and beyond the university classroom, with the goal of a communicatively and critically well-equipped community. Furthermore, my time with RSA would be committed to upholding the study of rhetoric. By encouraging the exceptional research of our scholars, and fostering the educational resources of our teachers, we can maintain and promote the study of rhetoric within the university curriculum. Truthfully, I do not know what to expect as an RSA board member, but I know that my commitment to the study of rhetoric would translate excellently into this role.
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Candidate for Student Postion #2:

Katherine (Katie) Lind, Indiana University

            I would be honored and excited to serve as student representative for RSA as I am dedicated to active participation in the rhetoric community. Currently in my second year of Ph.D. at Indiana University in the department of Communication and Culture, I focus on the visual representations of memory and advocacy within environmental documentary films. Having served as a graduate representative at Syracuse University during the 2010- 2011 academic year, I have practice with relaying information and being the liaison between faculty and graduate students. At Indiana, I am currently a co-chair for the Landscape Studies Program conference in spring 2014. This position will further my experience working with a budget and eliciting paper proposals and panels from multiple departments across campus. While at Syracuse University, I facilitated workshops on argumentation and debate for the Leaders for Democratic Fellows, a program that brings Middle Easterners to the U.S. to discuss international relations. In regards to the current RSA board, there are many important projects currently underway that I would like to continue to foster such as the online projects linking graduate students and faculty on the RSA website. Encouraged by the enthusiasm and rigor of scholars at the RSA Summer Institute this past June 2013, along with the energy expressed on the Facebook page for the RSA conference in San Antonio in 2014, I would like to help propel this momentum toward productive connections and future discussions.
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