Kathryn Olson

Professor and Department of Communication Chair
 (414) 229-4261
 Johnston Hall 225


PhD, Communication Studies, Northwestern University
MA, Speech Communication, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
BA, Communication, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire

Research Interests

My research uses rhetorical criticism and argumentation to examine American texts, issues, movements, images, and debates with public consequences. I am interested in empowering critical citizens.

Teaching Interests/Courses Recently Taught

Commun 103 – Public Speaking
Commun 362 – Theory and Practice of Argumentation and Debate
Commun 667 – Great American Speakers and Issues (1945 – Present)
Commun 672 – Communication and Social Order
Commun 772 – Rhetorical Leadership and Ethics
Commun 800 – Proseminar: The Discipline of Communication
Commun 872 – Rhetorics of Constituting Communities and Social Controversy
Commun 882 – The Rhetoric of Kenneth Burke
Commun 973 – Topics in Rhetorical Research: Presidential Debates
Commun 973 – Topics in Rhetorical Research: Rhetoric of the 1960s

Selected Awards

Regents Teaching Excellence Award, awarded by the University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents, 2006
The Francine Merritt Award recognizes one individual annually who has made “outstanding contributions to the lives of women in communication,” awarded by the National Communication Association’s Women’s Caucus, 2006
Golden Anniversary Monograph Award for “the most outstanding scholarly monograph published during the previous calendar year … in any of the areas of the speech communication arts and sciences,” awarded by the National Communication Association, 1995 & 2005

Selected Publications

Olson, K. M. (2014). Unqualified Support: Joe Biden’s Disturbing Performance of Leadership, Loyalty, and Laughter in the 2012 Vice Presidential Debate. Palczewski, C. H. (Ed.). Disturbing Argument: Selected Works from the 18th NCA/AFA Alta Conference on Argumentation, 219-224.
Olson, K. M. (2013). Intransigence and Self-Justification as a Political Way of Life. Roundtree, J. C. (Ed.). Venomous Speech: Problems with American Political Discourse on the Right and Left, Vol. 1, 41-73. Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger.
Olson, K. M. (2013). Framing Silence and Absence Regarding Presidential Debates: Successful and Unsuccessful Performances of Democratic Leadership. Argumentation and Advocacy, 49, 167-194.
Olson, K. M., Pfau, M. W., Ponder, B., & Wilson, K. H., eds. (2012). Making the Case: Advocacy and Judgment in Public Argument. , 260. East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University Press.
Olson, K. M. (2011). ‘Get Motivated!’: How the New Prosperity Gospel Operates. Rowland, R. C. (Ed.). Reasoned Argument and Social Change, 617-623.
Olson, K. M. (2009). How Can We Address No Child Left Behind? The Importance of Inherency Analysis on Public Issues. Jacobs, S. (Ed.). Concerning Argument, 580-589.
Olson, K. M. (2009). "Rethinking Loci Communes and Burkean Transcendence: Rhetorical Leadership While Contesting Change in the Takeover Struggle Between AirTran and Midwest Airlines". Journal of Business and Technical Communication, 23, 28-60.
Olson, K. M. (2008). The Practical Importance of Inherency Analysis for Public Advocates: Rhetorical Leadership in Framing a Supportive Social Climate for Education Reforms. Journal of Applied Communication Research, 36, 219-241.