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Nancy J. Legge

Nancy J. Legge


Office: Frazier 401

(208) 282-3771


BA, Speech Communication, Wayne State University; MA, Speech Communication, Indiana University; PhD, Speech Communication, Penn State University



Courses Taught:

COMM1101: Principles of Speech; CMP2209: Persuasion; CMP3302: Image Management; CMP4483: Rhetoric of Popular Culture; CMP4487: Rhetorical Theory; CMP4488: Rhetorical Criticism; CMP6630: Graduate Seminar

“Speak out! Your voice should be heard.”
“Speak out and suffer the consequences!”
These opposing points of view reflect an important premise: democracy and rhetoric are intricately intertwined. As democracy thrives so, too, do opportunities for speaking (orally or in writing), also called “rhetoric.” Conversely, when democracy declines, so does rhetoric. Logically, then, when democracy is threatened, the need for rhetoric intensifies, but the risks inherent in speaking out also increase. These are foundational premises for my research and teaching. My work is characterized by the assumption that what’s relevant is inherently worth investigating and analyzing.
As a researcher, I am interested in investigating the rhetorical dimensions of issues in popular culture including sports, politics, and music. As a member of a research team in the CMP Department we are consistently engaged in understanding issues related to image, crisis, and persuasive attack in sports, organizations, and politics.   
As Journal editor for Relevant Rhetoric: A New Journal of Rhetorical Studies, I am dedicated to publishing scholarship that creates a bridge between “academics” and “community.” The Journal publishes essays on current issues analyzed from a variety of rhetorical perspectives that create new insights for both an academic and lay audiences. The Journal has a large international audience from diverse backgrounds with varying levels of education. The success and appeal of the Journal is due to its accessibility in language, its development of relevant and contemporary issues, and its free access.
As a teacher, I work to ensure that students understand three components of rhetoric: (1) Rhetoric is relevant. Understanding the relevance of rhetoric helps make people aware, tolerant, and willing to be analytical of the world around them. (2) Rhetoric is precious. That is, words should be spoken with care and reflection; there are consequences for speaking. Students come to appreciate that opportunities to speak should not be taken for granted and they should think strategically. (3) Rhetoric is honorable. That is, we should be thoughtfully critical of ideas and tolerant of others’ voices. Students have opportunities to both practice and analyze the art of rhetoric. Through analysis of rhetorical artifacts in history and in popular culture, students learn to evaluate beyond the standard “up/down” simplicity embedded in our culture to reach understandings about the complexity of audience, context, content, and layered meanings. The result is citizens who are critical citizens and critical consumers of messages.

Selected Publications:

DiSanza, J. R., Hartman, K. L., Legge, N. J., Gershberg, Z. (in press). Adding Narrative to the Situational Crisis Communication Theory: The Case for Crisis 'Narrative Management' in Sport. In Andrew Billings, W. Timothy Coombs, and Kenon Brown (Ed.), Reputational Challenges in Sport. New York: Routledge.

Gribas, J., Gershberg, Z., James, D. R., Legge, N. J. (2017). Finding Story in Unexpected Places: Branding and the Role of Narrative in the Study of Communication. In Brian Attebery, John Gribas, Mark K. McBeth, Paul Sivitz, and Kandi Turley-Ames (Ed.), Narrative, Identity, and Academic Community in Higher Education (pp. 91-110). New York: Routledge.

Gribas, J., DiSanza, J., Legge, N., Hartman, K. L., Santee, C. (2016). "Exploring the Alignment of Image Repair Tactics to Audience Type." In J. R. Blaney (Ed.), Putting Image Repair to the Test: Quantitative Applications of Image Restoration Theory (41-61). Lanham, MD: Lexington Books.

DiSanza, J. R., Legge, N. J. (2016). The Rhetoric of Persuasive Attack: Continuing the Development of a Taxonomy of Strategies and Tactics. Relevant Rhetoric: A New Journal of Rhetorical Studies, 7, 1-16.

Awards & Honors:

Master Teacher (2009)

Twice nominated for Carnegie Teacher of the Year

Journal Editor, Relevant Rhetoric: A New Journal of Rhetorical Studies