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College of Arts and Humanities

Megan Eatman

Megan Eatman

Associate Professor

Department of English
Office: 806 Strode

Ph.D. English (Concentration: Rhetoric), University of Texas at Austin; M.A. English, University of Texas at Austin; B.A. English and Spanish, University of North Carolina, Greensboro

Curriculum Vitae


Research Interests
Public Rhetoric, Visual Rhetoric, Digital Rhetoric, Disability Rhetorics, Composition Pedagogy

Dr. Eatman’s research centers on public rhetorics with a focus on structural and cultural rhetorics of harm and resistance. Her monograph, Ecologies of Harm: Rhetorics of Violence in the United States, analyzes how spectacular violence and its surrounding rhetoric construct and reinforce group identities. While interdisciplinary scholarship has long regarded acts of spectacular violence as communicative, Ecologies of Harm uses an expanded understanding of violence to better address its varied and pervasive cultural work. Dr. Eatman argues that rhetoric scholars should examine violence as constitutive across modes: that is, constitutive in the immediate physical harm it inflicts, but also through the cultural rhetoric that facilitates and excuses that physical harm. This model accounts for the complex ways in which violence forges identity, even for individuals who never commit constitutive acts of direct violence. While spectacles of direct violence receive more cultural and scholarly attention, subtler forms of violent rhetoric serve similar constitutive functions and have a more constant, oppressive presence. Ecologies of Harm thus rejects a distinction between “material” and “symbolic” violence, arguing instead that acts of cultural violence have a cumulative material force that is more challenging to describe, but no less significant than the force of a violent spectacle.

Dr. Eatman’s other publications and ongoing research approach questions of identity, harm, and resistance from different angles. “Who is Looking? Decentering the Distant Spectator in Visual Rhetorics of Violence” addresses how a structural focus on privileged spectators can negatively affect visual rhetoric pedagogy. Many discussions of violence and visual rhetoric focus on how and whether distant spectators can be persuaded to care about other people’s suffering. However, replicating this focus in the classroom is harmful to the many students for whom violence is never distant. Using Kristin and Adam Arola’s concept of “creative repetition,” Dr. Eatman argues for an approach to ethical multimodal assemblage that asks students to stage new and underrepresented ways of viewing violence. “Unsettling Vision: Seeing and Feeling with Machines,” published in Computers and Composition, extends Dr. Eatman’s research on quotidian violence and visual rhetoric into new areas. “Unsettling Vision” examines how public-facing applications of common image recognition algorithms shape relationships between users and algorithms and, by extension, users and corporations, arguing that these applications frame image recognition as a playful collaboration between user and algorithm, obscuring the technology’s many concerning uses. Dr. Eatman’s current research project builds on her work on violence and visual rhetoric to examine vernacular rhetorics of evidence, particularly nonspecialist use of scientific data and analytic frameworks.

Dr. Eatman teaches undergraduate and graduate classes in rhetorical theory, digital and visual rhetorics, and composition theory and pedagogy.


Selected Professional Works

Books (Published)

Ecologies of Harm: Rhetorics of Violence in the United States. The Ohio State UP, 2020

Journal Articles & Book Chapters (Published)

“Who is Looking? Decentering the Distant Spectator in Visual Rhetorics of Violence.” Constellations: A Cultural Rhetorics Publishing Space. 2020.

“Unsettling Vision: Seeing and Feeling with Machines.” Special Issue: “Composing Algorithms: Writing (with) Rhetorical Machines.” Computers and Composition, vol. 57, 2020.

“In This Place: Loss and Lived Memory at the Moore’s Ford Lynching Reenactment.” Advances in the History of Rhetoric (now Journal for the History of Rhetoric), vol. 20, no. 2, 2017,

College of Arts and Humanities
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