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Debra Hawhee

Debra Hawhee

McCourtney Professor of Civic Deliberation
Senior Scholar, McCourtney Institute for Democracy
Professor of English, Communication Arts and Sciences, and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
Preferred Pronouns: she, her
(814) 863-8678
208 Burrowes Building
Mailroom: 430 Burrowes Building

Mailroom: 430 Burrowes Building

Spring 2024 Office Hours

Mondays, 12:30-2:00 pm (In person or via Zoom) Thursdays, 10:00-11:30 am (via Zoom only) or by appt.

Curriculum Vitae


PhD, Penn State University (2000)
MA, University of Tennessee (1994)
BA, University of Tennessee (1991)

Professional Bio

Debra Hawhee studies and teaches histories and theories of rhetoric, broadly defined as the art of effective communication. She writes about bodily and material theories of rhetoric with a special focus on sensation and feeling. Her fourth book, A Sense of Urgency: How the Climate Crisis is Changing Rhetoric, was published in 2023 by the University of Chicago Press. Rhetoric in Tooth and Claw: Animals, Language, Sensation, completed with the aid of a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities (2014-2015), received the Rhetoric Society of America's book award in 2018. She is also author of Moving Bodies: Kenneth Burke at the Edges of Language, which received the 2010 Diamond Anniversary Book Award from the National Communication Association, as well as Bodily Arts: Rhetoric and Athletics in Ancient Greece, also completed with the support of a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities. She is co-author, with Sharon Crowley, of Ancient Rhetorics for Contemporary Students. In 2020, she was named a Fellow of the Rhetoric Society of America. Her research has been recognized with the 2017 Douglas W. Ehninger Distinguished Rhetorical Scholar Award from the National Communication Association and the 2017 Distinguished Scholar Award from the Rhetorical and Communication Theory Division of the NCA. She has published articles in Rhetorica, Philosophy and Rhetoric, Quarterly Journal of Speech, College English, Rhetoric Society Quarterly, Advances in the History of Rhetoric, and College Composition and Communication and from 2018-2021 served as editor of the international journal Rhetorica. 

Areas of Specialization

Rhetoric and Composition

histories and theories of rhetoric (ancient and contemporary), climate rhetoric,  historiography, nonrational rhetorics (e.g., bodily rhetorics, material rhetorics, sensory rhetorics, animals and rhetoric).