Areas of Expertise

Rhetorical theory and criticism, feminist movements, third wave feminism, environmental rhetoric, Kenneth Burke.


PhD, University of Kansas 2000
MA, Kansas State University 1997
BA, University of Notre Dame 1993


Associate Professor
Southwestern University
August 01, 2012 - present

San Diego State University
August 01, 2000 - August 01, 2012

Teaching Philosophy

I believe that the best teachers are engaged and interested in both their students and the content of their courses. In my quest to be an outstanding teacher, I have sought to embody a teacher-scholar model of education. My research agenda enhances my teaching because I am actively engaged in the same process of critical inquiry that I teach and my teaching informs my research by allowing me to see areas of interest to the students or areas that have been under theorized in the status quo. The research projects, journal articles, and conference papers that comprise my professional development are also useful to my students as examples of new directions in the field of rhetorical and communication theory. In other words, my research and teaching goals are reciprocal and serve to enhance one another. As a member of the Southwestern University faculty, I endeavor to be a notable teacher and scholar.

I fundamentally believe that the university experience should educate individuals in more than just the subject area of their courses. My goal as a teacher is to help our students to think critically about communication and the world around them. My courses are based on the idea that we must question tradition, convention, and popular wisdom to uncover its roots and assumptions. This critical posture is essential to the field of communication, but is also an important life skill. My teaching philosophy is rooted in the idea that a university education should equip students with critical thinking skills that will enable them to be concerned, interested, and active citizens. I seek to develop students’ critical thinking skills so that they can approach any problem with more intellect and finesse. My expertise in rhetorical theory, especially its dimensions of feminist, environmental, and critical theory allows me to empower students with the knowledge necessary to develop a more critical consciousness. I encourage students to look deeper, think more critically, and ask more questions about the things that often go unquestioned. If our students begin asking, “Why is that the way it is?” more often, I hope they will begin to see the ways in which communication plays a fundamental role in the establishment and reification of our culture. I also seek to invest students with the understanding that our culture is a product of our practice, and that activism is within their reach. Individual agency and a sense of empowerment stem from the understanding that our culture is malleable and has shifted substantially over time. Students who develop this sense of agency are then able to be actively involved in the creation of a more just, equitable, and humane society.

Previous Courses

Courses at Southwestern

Introduction to Communication Studies

Gender and Communication

Communication Studies Capstone

FYS: Oh The Places You’ll Go! The Rhetoric of Travel and Tourism.

Undergraduate courses taught previously

Argumentation and Debate

Classical Rhetorical Theory

Communication and Social Movements

Contemporary Rhetorical Theory

Critical/Cultural Research Methods

Ethical Issues and Communication


Intercollegiate Debate

Introduction to the Discipline of Communication

Interaction and Gender

Public Speaking

The Rhetoric of Tourism

Special Topics: The Rhetorical Theory of Kenneth Burke

Survey of Communication Theory

Graduate seminars taught previously

Critical/Cultural Research Methods

Introduction to Communication Theory and Methods

The Rhetoric of Tourism and Places of Public Memory

Seminar in Public Address

Seminar on the Rhetoric of Women’s Rights

Seminar in Rhetorical Theory

Special Study in American Pragmatism

Special Study in the Work of Kenneth Burke

Special Study in Queer Theory


My research is concerned with the role of rhetoric in shaping culture and fostering social change. I examine rhetorical artifacts and generate rhetorical theory that enable critical thinking and greater individual agency.


Refereed articles in academic journals (reverse chronological order)

Lowrey, Lacy, Valerie R. Renegar, and Charles E. Goehring. “‘When God Gives You AIDS…Make Lemon-AIDS’: Ironic Persona and Perspective by Incongruity in Sarah Silverman’s Jesus is Magic.” Accepted for publication by the editor of the Western Journal of Communication. Acceptance rate: 12-16%

Renegar, Valerie R. and George N. Dionisopoulos. “The Dream of a Cyberpunk Future? Entelechy, Dialectical Tension, and the Comic Corrective in William Gibson’s Neuromancer.” Southern Communication Journal. 79: 4 (2011): 323-341. Acceptance rate: 14%

Smerecnik, Karl, and Valerie R. Renegar. “Capitalistic Agency: The Rhetoric of BP’s Helios Power Campaign” Environmental Communication: A Journal of Nature and Culture. 4:2 (2010): 152-171. Acceptance rate: 20%

Renegar, Valerie R., and Stacey K. Sowards. “Contradiction in Third Wave Feminism: Self-determination, Transcendence, and Counter-imagination as Rhetorical Agency.” Hypatia. 24: 2 (2009): 1-20. Acceptance rate: 8%, lead article * 2010 winner of the OSCLG Anita Taylor Outstanding Published Article or Chapter in an Anthology Award

Martin, Paul “Pablo” and Valerie R. Renegar. “‘The Man for His Time’ The Big Lebowski as Carnivalesque Social Critique.” Communication Studies. 58:3 (2007): 299-313. Acceptance rate: 20.5%

Payne-Milliken, Susan and Valerie R. Renegar. “Buffy Never Goes It Alone: The Rhetorical Construction of Feminism in Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s Final Season.” Iowa Journal of Communication. 38: 1 (2006): 55-73. Reprinted in Buffy Meets the Academy: Essays on the Episodes and Scripts as Texts. Ed. Kevin K. Durand. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2009.

Sowards, Stacey K., and Valerie R. Renegar. “Reconceptualizing Rhetorical Activism in Contemporary Feminist Contexts.” The Howard Journal of Communications. 17: 1 (2006): 57-74. Acceptance rate: 20%

Sowards, Stacey K., and Valerie R. Renegar. “The Rhetorical Functions of Consciousness Raising in Third Wave Feminism.” Communication Studies. 55: 4 (2004): 535-52. Acceptance rate: 16%

Renegar, Valerie R., and Stacey K. Sowards. “Liberal Irony, Rhetoric, and Feminist Thought: A Unifying Third Wave Feminist Theory.” Philosophy and Rhetoric. 36: 4 (2003): 330-52. Acceptance rate: 20%

Invited essays in academic journals

Renegar, Valerie R. “Critical/Cultural Scholarship and the Responsibility for Building Theory: Enduring Criticism Revisited” Accepted for publication by the editor of the Western Journal of Communication.

Renegar, Valerie R. and Charles E. Goehring. “In (Further) Defense of Irony: A Response to Weber.” Accepted for publication by the editors of JAC.

Renegar, Valerie. “Relational Language and Post Round Disclosure: Pathways for Change.” The International Journal of Forensics. 2:1 (Winter 1999): 96-103.

Refereed chapters in edited books

Malkowski, Jennifer A., Valerie R. Renegar, and George N. Dionisopoulos. “The HPV Mandatory Vaccination Controversy: Creating a Frame of Perspective for Public HealthInitiatives” Contemporary Issues in Health Communication: Theoretical and Practical Case Studies. Ed. Maria Brann. Dubuque, IA: Kendall-Hunt. 2011. P. 271-284. Acceptance rate: 32%

Textbooks, chapters, and other published teaching materials

Renegar, Valerie and Jennifer A. Malkowski. “Rhetorical and Textual Approaches to Communication.” 21st Century Communication: A Reference Handbook Ed. William Eadie. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. 2009. P. 49-56.

Renegar, Val. “Gender: Implications for Effective Communication.” Speaker-Audience Communication Workbook. Ed. Gregory Shepherd, Stephanie Kelley, and Mary Hoffman. Dubuque, IA: Kendall Hunt. 1998.