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College of Arts and Humanities

Michelle Smith

Michelle Smith

Associate Professor, Rhetoric and Composition

Department of English
Office: 606 Strode

Ph.D. English (emphasis in Rhetoric and Composition), Pennsylvania State University; M.A. English, Pennsylvania State University; B.A. English, University of Richmond

Curriculum Vitae


Rhetorical Theory, Feminist Rhetorics and Methodologies, Material Rhetorics, Utopian Literature

Research Interests
Feminist rhetorics, historiography, women’s work, archives, utopianism

My research centers on rhetorical historiography and rhetorics of gendered labor. As a scholar, I am motivated by questions such as: What rhetorical patterns account for the consistent designation of certain kinds of work as feminine or masculine? What affordances allow for the regendering of a profession or workspace? To what extent can individuals, groups, and institutions productively intervene in the gendered dynamics of work? More broadly, what historiographical research methods can assist feminist scholars in understanding the lived experience of gender in different times and places?

My monograph, Utopian Genderscapes: Rhetorics of Women’s Work in the Early Industrial Age (Southern Illinois UP, 2021), is a feminist history of rhetoric mapping constructions of gendered labor in the mid-nineteenth century U.S. Specifically, my chapters explore domestic, professional, and reproductive labor in three intentional—or utopian—communities: Brook Farm, MA; Harmony, PA; and Oneida, NY. By articulating work as a crucial node in the rhetorical construction of gender, I identify rhetorics of teleology, tokenism, and choice as central to historical and contemporary ecologies of gender.

In addition to my work on utopian communities and rhetorics of gendered labor, I have written about Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, Kenneth Burke’s rhetorical theory, Rosie the Riveter and WWII recruitment rhetoric, and feminist historiography.

Professional/Research Links

Winifred Bryan Horner Outstanding Book Award (honorable mention), Coalition of Feminist Scholars in the History of Rhetoric and Composition, 2022; National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Stipend, 2012; Center for Communal Studies Prize, 2007; Donald Durnbaugh Starting Scholar, Communal Studies Association, 2006.


Selected Professional Works

Books (Published)

Utopian Genderscapes: Rhetorics of Women’s Work in the Early Industrial Age. Southern Illinois UP, October 2021.

  • Honorable mention, Winifred Bryan Horner Outstanding Book Award, Coalition of Feminist Scholars in the History of Rhetoric and Composition

Ed. The Responsibilities of Rhetoric: Selected Papers from the 2008 Rhetoric Society of America Conference. Waveland Press, 2009, 317+ix pp. (with Barbara Warnick)

Journal Articles & Book Chapters (Published)

“Feminist Rhetorical Questions and the Broadening Imperative.” Invited review essay (23 ms pages), College English, vol. 82, no. 3, 2020, pp. 326-41.

“In Rosie’s Shadow: WWII Recruitment Rhetoric and Women’s Work in Public Memory.” Women at Work: Rhetorics of Gender and Labor, edited by David Gold and Jessica Enoch, University of Pittsburgh Press, 2019, pp. 186-208.

“‘Indoor Duties’ in Utopia: Archival Recalcitrance and Methodologies of Lived Experience.” College English, vol. 80, no. 6, 2018, pp. 517-38.

“Add Women and Stir: Female Presidents in Pop Culture, 2012-2016.” Seneca Falls Dialogues Journal, vol. 2, 2017. (with Angela Laflen, Kristin Bayer, Riana Ramirez, Jessica Recce, and Molly Scott)

“Responding to Student Writing Online: Tracking Student Interactions with Instructor Feedback in a Learning Management System.” Assessing Writing, vol. 31, 2017, pp. 39-52. (with Angela Laflen)

“Mapping Topoi in the Rhetorical Gendering of Work.” Peitho, vol. 17, no. 2, 2015, pp. 200-25. (with Sarah Hallenbeck)

“Authenticity, Authority, and Gender: Hard Choices as Professional Writing and Transnational Feminist Manifesto.” Hillary Rodham Clinton and the 2016 Election: Her Political and Social Discourse, edited by Michele Lockhart and Kathleen Mollick, Lexington Books, 2015, pp. 77-99.

“English Majors are Professionals, Too: Liberal Arts and Vocation in the English Writing Major.” Composition Studies, vol. 43, no. 2, 2015, pp. 193-96. (with Michelle Costello)

“The Dramatism Debate, Archived: The Pentad as ‘Terministic’ Ontology.” Burke in the Archives: Using the Past to Transform the Future of Burkean Studies, edited by Dana Anderson and Jessica Enoch, University of South Carolina Press, 2013, pp. 143-59.

“Containment Rhetoric and the Public Sphere: Imagining Amana, Inscribing America.” Rhetoric Society Quarterly, vol. 40, no. 2, 2010, pp. 128-45.

“Painting the Living Scenery of Amana: A Case Study of a Rhetoric of Containment.” Communal Societies, vol. 27, 2007, pp. 27-46.

College of Arts and Humanities
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