PhD in Communication and Rhetoric

For more than thirty years, our Ph.D. graduates have been the leaders in the study of the relationship between communication and technology.

As new forms of technologically mediated communication emerge, research and scholarship are needed to describe their nature and account for their unique effects.

The mission of the Ph.D. in Communication and Rhetoric at Rensselaer is to enable students to make a contribution with rigor, depth, and creativity on issues related to communication in technologically mediated contexts. Our approach draws on the insights of rhetoric, technical communication, composition, communication studies, human-computer interaction, game studies, and graphic design.

We are uniquely positioned to provide an environment for graduate study in communication and technology. We combine the resources of a premier technological university with a faculty strongly grounded in theory and research as well as technology and media.


Current Graduate Students

NameContactResearch interests
Joshua Comer
New Media. Media History and Theory
Laquana Cooke
Gaming and Education
Nicholas Hanford New Media and Identity and Audience. Videogames. Data mining.
Gaines Hubbell    
Rhetoric and New Media. 20th -Century Rhetorical Theory, Pedagogy and Criticism.
Candice Lanius Data and Method. Rhetoric and Politics of Quantitative Analysis. Internet Culture.
Ray Lutzky Human-computer Interaction. Educational Technology. Cross-cultural Communication.
Marco Navarro  Writing Pedagogy. Rhetoric and New Media. Digital Humanities.
Britney Summit-Gil Media and Politics. Race, Gender, and Class. Textual Analysis.

Recent Dissertation Titles

Hilary Savoie “Sacred Journalism: Displaying Public Memory in This American Life”   
Lisa Litterio “Pedagogies, Processes, and Possibilities: Examining the Future of First-Year Composition through the Digital Expository Writing (DEW) Program” 
Eric Newsom “Participatory Storytelling and the New Folklore of the Digital Age” 
Michael Rancourt “Remembering the Iraq War: Public Memory and the Memory of the Publics” 
Marcy Szablewicz “From Addicts to Athletes: Youth Mobilities and the Politics of Digital Gaming in Urban China”  
Elia Desjardins “Small Stories for Learning: A Sociocultural Analysis of Children’s Participation in Informal Science Education” 
Jason Zalinger “Gmail as Storyworld: How Technology Shapes Your Life Narrative” 
Amber Davisson “I’m Not the President But I Play Her on YouTube: Public Address Online in Clinton’s 2008 Democratic Primary Campaign” 
Paul Booth “Fandom Studies: Fan Studies Re-Written, Re-Read, Re-Produced” 
Noah Shaffer “Verifying an Integrated Model of Usability in Games” 
Gabriele Bechtel  “Toward a Rhetoric of Participation: Monologue and Dialogue in the Context of an Intercultural Online Board” 
Shira Chess “License to Play: Women, Productivity, and Video Games” 

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"My studies in C&M not only provided the things I expected from a Ph.D. program- academic knowledge, research skills, professional connections and credentials—but made me ask important questions of myself and my world, and gave me the opportunity to build long-lasting personal relationships as well. Dialogue with colleagues on the material we studied resonated far beyond the boundaries of the classroom. As a result, my experience in C&M not only positively shaped me as a scholar, but as a human being as well."
Eric Newsom '13

"My years in C&M shaped me into the researcher and teacher that I am today. I consider myself an interdisciplinary thinker -- surely a result of the nature of C&M... Just as important to me are the personal and professional relationships that I formed at RPI and that I continue to form with RPI graduates from other years. I cannot imagine my career without these relationships, which keep me connected to the profession."
Beth Britt '97
Associate Professor of English
Northeastern University

"Much of my professional identity and success and many of my most cherished personal relationships reside in the growing community of people I joined when I began my studies in C&M."
Greg Clark '85
Associate Dean in the College of Humanities
Brigham Young University