In a special weekly series, the College of Liberal Arts is featuring a faculty member from one of our 13 departments. We asked questions about why they are passionate about the subjects they study and teach, and how they found their path to CSU. See all “Faculty Friday” features here.
Associate Professor, Department of Communication Studies
1. Why do you research Ruth Bader Ginsburg (RBG)? What inspired your interest in her and her role in the Supreme Court?
I research Ruth Bader Ginsburg because I am especially interested in voices of dissent. My forthcoming book, Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Legacy of Dissent: Feminist Rhetoric and the Law, argues that RBG’s remarkable legal legacy rests upon her consistent and direct challenge to the law’s traditional voice. From her advocacy on behalf of women’s rights in the 1970s through her tenure on the US Supreme Court, my research demonstrates how Ginsburg’s voice of dissent has reshaped how the Constitution speaks to gender equality and has carved out a space for citizens who are often excluded and silenced by the traditional voice of the law.
While it’s been exciting to see a growing number of people inspired by RBG’s voice of dissent today, my research demonstrates that Ruth Bader Ginsburg has long articulated a sharp and strategic voice of dissent. I believe Justice Ginsburg is one of the most skilled and significant voices in the history of American rhetoric and I hope that my work encourages a greater appreciation of her rhetorical legacy.
2. Which class is your favorite to teach and why?
My favorite class to teach is Rhetoric and Social Movements (SPCM 401). I love this class because it looks at our nation’s rhetorical history from the perspective of the dissenters and draws attention to people who are often overlooked by our history books.
While much of the class looks to the past, my students find that the content is especially relevant to what they see happening in the world today. They are eager to apply course concepts and theories to real world protests and contemporary voices of dissent and these connections create a classroom learning experience that is lively and meaningful.
I also love to teach this class because it emphasizes the central role of rhetoric in the process of social change and my students leave the class with an appreciation for the rhetorical skill of those who have pushed our nation forward and urged us toward a more just world.
3. What did you want to be when you were little? When did you know you wanted to go into higher education/research?
I really loved school as a kid. I had my pencils sharpened and my backpack by the door weeks before the school year began, much to the annoyance of my siblings. I was like this all the way through college—I was always energized by a new classroom and eager to begin a new semester.
I did consider a career in journalism while I was in college and I had an internship in a newsroom that taught me a lot—but my love for education led me to Pennsylvania State University to pursue a Ph.D.
Looking back now, I am not surprised that I ended up in higher education and I feel quite fortunate to be a part of the Department of Communication Studies at Colorado State University.
4. What is one thing students would be surprised to learn about you?
Students might be surprised to learn that I recently bought a guitar and I am teaching myself to play. I promised myself that I would reward myself with a new hobby when I finished my book. I am still pretty terrible but I am enjoying the new challenge and my kids are still young enough to enjoy singing along with me which is really fun.
Students from my Rhetoric and Social Movements class might not be surprised to learn that one of the first songs I learned to play was Buffalo Springfield’s “For What it’s Worth, (Stop, Hey What’s that Sound).” The message of the song is enduring, and perhaps even better, it’s only two chords.