Erin McClellan

Communication, Rhetoric (PhD)

  • Kroghstræde 3, 2-215

    9220 Aalborg Ø



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Research profile

I focus on micro-uses of language (and the communities that engage them). By examining both the official and vernacular (everyday) ways that language functions to constitute meaning within larger systems of power, governance, and socio-cultural norming, I seek to provide insight into the opportunities and limitations that language presents in social, governmental, intercultural and organizational practices. I have worked directly with people "in everyday life" as they work to constitute meaning in various ways. 

I have focused on sense-making in public places and spaces as a way to inform city planning efforts, respond to public protest, and otherwise actively engage in public urban life. I have conducted hundreds of hours of qualitative interviews and actively been involved in the movement within rhetoric and communication studies to implement a move toward "rhetorical fieldwork" --  a method by which we can examine "rhetoric in action" as it lives in the world around us -- in addition to analyzing more traditional mediated texts, performances and displays of meaning.

Beyond my work in the areas of rhetorical fieldwork and urban communication studies, I am currently involved in research  projects focused on environmental discourse, climate justice, and the rhetorical constitution of conservation practices like recycling. Adopting a central focus on how relational enactments of power and control work together with communal and individual strategies of environmental care work(ers) has provided an intriguing opportunity to (re)conceptualize "care" as a politic, ethic and practice in relation to the people who engage in such work in everyday life.

My work seeks to critically examine the language of community, identity, social movements, politics and political relations at all levels. I focus on the relational dynamics between what we know, how we come to know it, and our ability to (re)imagine possible future(s) together.

Recent publications have focused on how we might teach sustainable discourse in compulsory education to "manage" the ill-effects of climate anxiety (Javnost, 2023) and the multi-vocal tensions of sustainable discourses that idealize "green is good" messaging (Speaking with One Voice: Multivocality and Univocality in Organizing, 2022). And current grant project work is underway focusing on environmental care work(ers) in an effort to better understand both the category of work(ers) and ways that such work(ers) are (under)valued, (under)supported, and/or (mis)understood as (non)essential care work(ers) in contemporary discourses. 

I am interested in continuing this focus on the role of communicating care, particularly in relation to issues of social justice and community welfare.

Education/Academic qualification

Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) Certification, 120-Hour Certificate, Boise State University

27 Jan 20201 May 2020

Award Date: 1 May 2020

Communication (Rhetoric), PhD, “Place and Space in the Public Square: A Theoretical and Critical Framing of Platial Vernacular Rhetoric”, University of Colorado Boulder


Award Date: 15 Aug 2007

Communication (Rhetoric), Master of Arts (M.A.), “Narrative as Vernacular Rhetoric: Constituting Community Among Transients, Tourists, and Locals”, University of Colorado Boulder


Award Date: 15 Dec 2004

Communication, Bachelor of Arts (B.A.), DePauw University


Award Date: 15 May 2000

External positions

Visiting Scholar (6 month research sabbatical), University of Copenhagen


Associate Professor, Department of Communication, Boise State University


Visiting Assistant Professor/Assistant Professor, Department of Communication, Boise State University


Visiting Assistant Professor, Department of Communication, Denison University


Research Assistant/Teaching Assistant/Graduate Teaching Instructor, University of Colorado Boulder


Organization & Human Performance Analyst, Accenture Global Consulting



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