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Undergraduate Communication Research Conference

The annual Undergraduate Communication Research Conference is a celebration of undergraduate research in all areas of the communication discipline, bringing together students from colleges and universities from across the upper Midwest.

The event offers a unique opportunity for students in all areas of communication (e.g. interpersonal, rhetoric, journalism, media studies, production, etc.) to showcase their scholarship, receive constructive feedback, and network with students and faculty from dozens of local and regional institutions.

2023 Keynote Address

Public Woman: Women's Rhetoric from the 19th Amendment to the 2020 Presidential Campaign

The 30th anniversary of the Undergraduate Communication Research Conference offers a fitting moment to reflect on history -- of the discipline, of communication, of women's activism. Women's historic public advocacy offers insights into contemporary challenges; just as suffragists had to navigate the accusation they were "public women" (a synonym for prostitute), contemporary public women have to respond to accusations they are nasty or hypersexual. And, just as women's advocacy has changed across time so, too, has the way the discipline of communication researches advocacy evolved. Whom we study, how we study them, and the questions we ask as researchers have been expanded by attention to intersectionality: the way race, class, citizenship, sexuality, and sex intersect.

The 1913 D.C. woman suffrage parade; the 1917-1919 pickets, protests, and arrests of the Silent Sentinels; and the 1919 Prison Special are complex discursive and presentational arguments in which women enacted their citizenship while simultaneously exposing their vulnerability to the state and to ostensible male protectors. The National Woman’s Party’s rhetorical actions in parades, pickets, and imprisonment constitute eloquent verbal and visual responses to the complex set of arguments levied against suffrage.

Woman from the suffrage movement 1917-1919

Dr. Catherine Helen Palczewski

Dr. Catherine Palczewski teaching interests include gender, argumentation, social protest, political communication, public memory, and visual rhetoric. Her work tends to focus on how marginalized groups rhetorically construct their messages to gain access to, and be legible in, the dominant public sphere. She has co-authored two significant books in her field, Gender in Communication (Sage, 2019) and Rhetoric in Civic Life (Strata, 2016), and is the Editor of Disturbing Argument (Routledge, 2015), a selection of essays that explore “the disturbing prevalence of violence in the contemporary world” and “the potential of argument itself, to disturb the very relations of power that enable that violence.” Other examples of Palczewski’s scholarship on gender, public argument, social protest, public memory, and visual rhetoric also appear in a number of edited volumes. She has given several keynote and featured lectures at various institutions and received a number of teaching awards, including the 2019 Graduate Faculty Teaching Award.

Dr. Palczewski teaches at the University of Northern Iowa in the Communication & Media Department.