Kathryn Olson

 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. (2020). Barry Goldwater’s 1981 Critique of Intolerance in American Public Policy Deliberations. Western Journal of Communication.
Olson, K. M. (2019). How Do/Might Debates Matter beyond Effects?: Forensic and Epideictic Dimensions at Work in the 2012 Presidential Debates. Televised Presidential Debates in a Changing Media Environment: Volume I: The Candidates Make Their Case. Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger.
Olson, K. M. (2018). Recovering Productive Pity to Motivate Americans to Corrective Action on Africa’s Ebola Crisis: Lessons from Kenneth Burke and Senator Christopher Coons. Randall A. Lake (Ed.). Recovering Argument. New York: Routledge.
Olson, K. M. (2017). The Refutational Power of Ad Personam and Tu Quoque Attacks in Advancing Trump’s "Change" Counter-Narrative During the 2016 General Election Presidential Debates. Denton, R. E. (Ed.). Political Campaign Communication: Theory, Method and Practice, 283-302. Lanham, MD: Lexington Press.
Olson, K. M. (2016). An Epideictic Dimension of Symbolic Violence in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast: Inter-generational Lessons in Romanticizing and Tolerating Intimate Partner Violence. Porrovecchio, M. J., & Condit, C. M. (Eds.). Contemporary Rhetorical Theory: A Reader, 2nd edition, 501-522.
Olson, K. M. (2015). Unqualified Support: Joe Biden’s Disturbing Performance of Leadership, Loyalty, and Laughter in the 2012 Vice Presidential Debate. Palczewski, C. H. (Ed.). Disturbing Argument, 219-224. New York, NY: Routledge.
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. (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.