Kathleen McConnell

Kathleen McConnell

Associate Professor of Rhetorical Studies
Department of Communication Studies

I teach communication theory, rhetorical criticism, writing, and gender studies, and am the course coordinator for COMM 100W: Writing for Influence and COMM 41: Critical Decision Making. My courses, all of which build skills in writing and argumentation, are a good match for students interested in public policy work, social advocacy, cultural criticism, and education.

My scholarship explores the relationship between universities and invention. Joining others who have conceptualized higher education as a rhetorical practice, I extend an analogy between the rhetorical situation and the university to show how educational institutions prompt us to think in terms of situations and help us to practice situated invention. Arguing by analogy, I critique the reform efforts underway that threaten to consolidate resources at fewer institutions and erase differences between schools. Those efforts promise to dull the situational properties of universities and will deepen educational inequities by reducing the number of students who have the opportunity to navigate the uncertainties and impermanency of inquiry. 

I write about the university and invention in the essay, “Imbalances and Inequities: The Structure of Inquiry and Its Place in Rhetorical Studies,” (Rhetoric Society Quarterly, 2015), and the essay "In Appreciation of the Kind of Rhetoric We Learn in School," (Quarterly Journal of Speech, 2010). My book in progress, Nothing Beyond Us But Ocean: Invention at the Edges of Higher Education, is an ethnographic study of invention at two regional public universities.

In a second project, I draw on a queer ethics to re-imagine the professional conventions that govern academic life. The project began with the essay “Connective Tissue, Critical Ties: Academic Collaboration as a Form and Ethics of Kinship” (Liminalities: A Journal of Performance Studies, 2012), and continues in an essay-in-progress about the ethics of academic publishing.

This year I am serving as Chair of the Rhetoric and Public Address Interest Group for the Western States Communication Association 2016 Convention.

Ph.D., Rhetoric and Public Culture, Indiana University (2008)
M.A., Popular Culture, Bowling Green State University (2003)
B.A., The Evergreen State College (1997)


Preferred: kathleen.mcconnell@sjsu.edu


Preferred: (408) 924-5374

Office Hours

Tuesdays, 4:00 to 5:00 pm