Broadly speaking, I am a scholar trained to interrogate how rhetoric shapes public culture. My research primarily focuses on how visual texts shape the tastes and values of culture, often by engaging the work of rhetorical form, style, and argument. I believe that such research helps us to better understand the ways rhetoric moves audiences and the formation of public sensibilities. My work has appeared in numerous communication outlets, including Argumentation & Advocacy, Critical Studies in Media Communication, The Quarterly Journal of Speech, Rhetoric & Public Affairs, and Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies.
I teach a number of different courses at Baylor including Advanced Public Speaking, Introduction to Rhetorical Theory and Criticism, Persuasion and Communication, Rhetoric and Contemporary Culture, Introduction to Visual Culture, and Visual Rhetoric. On my view, the college classroom should be a place where students are encouraged to think for themselves. My own approach to teaching is to promote critical interrogation of rhetorical messages while simultaneously teaching students how to be compelling rhetors. I find that once students learn how to analyze and create rhetorical texts, they are able to think in new ways and find an outlet for their own advocacies. Sometimes this work can feel quite challenging, but the payoff is worth it.
When I am not working, I love to spend time with my husband, Dr. Scott Varda, and our daughter, Kennedy. I also adore long-distance running, experiments in the kitchen, and reading as many books as I can devour.
Baylor is such a unique and wonderful university. Life as a Baylor bear emphasizes connections among and support for students, faculty, and staff. This is a place where community and ethics come together to create a commitment to bettering the world and to caring for one another. Baylor is an incredible place that I am proud to call home.