Pamela Pietrucci

Pamela Pietrucci

Associate Professor

Education & Training

I am an Associate Professor of Rhetoric in the Department of Communication at the University of Copenhagen. I received my BA (2005) and MA (2007) in Communication Theory from the University of L’Aquila in Italy, and my Ph.D in Communication (2014) from the University of Washington in Seattle, where I worked between 2008-2014 as an International Fulbright Fellow. Before moving to Denmark, I also worked as a Post-Doctoral Fellow and then as Lecturer in Communication Studies at Northeastern University in Boston, between 2014-18. My positioning and training as a south European scholar trained in the USA and working in Scandinavia enables me to build bridges between different communities of rhetoric scholars and different approaches to rhetorical studies. My international training also translates into my commitment to foster a diverse, inclusive, and multilanguage learning environment in my teaching as well as in my advising and supervision.


I am a critical-rhetoric scholar studying public discourse and controversies emerging at the nexus of science, politics, and publics. In my research, I engaged with rhetorics showcasing the potential to bridge publics across media platforms, locales, and discursive spheres, but I have also carefully unpacked prominent public cases where rhetoric failed in that task, engendering high-profile public communication breakdowns. Overall, I work with case studies at the crossroads between rhetoric of science, political rhetoric, and activism, my three main areas of specialization in rhetorical studies. I am also interested in the rhetoric of space of place, material rhetoric, rhetorical fieldwork, and new materialisms in rhetorical studies. My scholarship, as is typical of rhetorical criticism, generally illuminates case studies while also building novel rhetorical theory. Specifically, I publish in these areas:

  • political rhetoric, exploring discursive strategies of argumentative ambiguity of populist and right-wing politicians (such as Silvio Berlusconi, Matteo Salvini, Giorgia Meloni);
  • rhetoric of science, exploring the rhetorical failures and successes of scientists when they transition from the technical to the public sphere (such as the L’Aquila 7, Roberto Burioni, and the Italian scientists communicating Covid-19 during the pandemic);
  • public engagement and activism, analyzing modes of public protest and civic engagement in response to political, scientific, and local controversies (such as the citizens’ committees, art-based and creative modes of activism, or the public protests of anti-vaxxers and neofascists during the pandemic);
  • local and place-based rhetorical theory, conceptualizing theories and methods to study local and material rhetorics from an ecologic and polythetic perspective and through fieldwork engagement.

In these last years of global pandemic and climate crises, I have been focusing on studying the challenges to discourses of scientific expertise in contexts of crisis, exploring the emergence of science-related populism and its relations to far-right populist rhetoric, as well as the public work of scientists (scientist-citizenship, scientist-activism, and scientist-rhetors) and the lay publics’ engagement with science-based discourse and advice. I’m currently working on a book project about science, politics, and activism exploring the intersections of all these interconnected threads with the goal of improving the public communication and public understanding of science.

I publish in international rhetoric, argumentation, and communication journals, such as Rhetoric and Public AffairsPoroi: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Rhetorical Analysis and Invention, The Journal of Argumentation in Context, Interface: A Journal for and about social movemenetsComunicazione Politica, Javnost: The Public, Res Rhetorica, well as in numerous edited peer-reviewed collections. I also often write in public outlets like Retorisk Arena or the SERCC (Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective), and I engage in public local-oriented public dissemination activities or in social media science communication. Finally, I regularly present my research in international academic conferences including the Rhetoric Society of America, Rhetoric Society of Europe, and Nordisk Retorikksforening biennial conferences or the National Communication Association, International Communication Association annual conventions, and also specialized academic events such as the SECAT (Scientific Expertise Communication and Trust) conference and many others.


I have been teaching undergraduate courses in communication and rhetoric for fourteen years and graduate courses in the last five years. In the Section of Rhetoric, I regularly teach the following courses:

  • at the bachelor level: Introduction to Rhetorical Theory & Analysis, Rhetorical Criticism, Rhetoric in Society, (I also guest lecture in: Disinformation and Democracy).
  • at the master level: Modern Theoretical & Methodological Perspectives, Debate Culture & Rhetorical Citizenship, Dissent in Democracy.

In my past teaching experience in public and private American Universities, I also taught for many years courses in: Public Speaking, Argumentation & Debate, Persuasion & Rhetoric, Contemporary Rhetorical Theory, Visual Rhetoric, Rhetoric & Popular Culture, Introduction to Communication.

Advising & Supervision

I regularly supervise bachelor projects and master thesis, working closely with students in the Section of Rhetoric. I also participate in Ph.D advising and committee work. Topics of particular interest when considering me for advising include but are not limited to:

  • ideographic criticism, critical rhetoric, critical orientations to rhetorical criticism 
  • political rhetoric, populist rhetorics, strategic maneuvering of composite audiences 
  • activism, protests, counterpublics, social movements, rhetorical citizenship and dissent 
  • rhetoric of science, scientist-citizenship, science-activism, science-related populism 
  • rhetoric of space and place, material rhetoric, rhetorical fieldwork methods 

Public Pedagogy Projects

With Kristine M. Berg, I coordinated the Rhetoric & Activism pedagogy project website

Selected publications

  1. Published

    Neofascist “Thugs,” Pandemic Protests, Populisms: Giorgia Meloni’s Cerchiobottismo and the Rise of Fratelli D’Italia During the Pandemic

    Pietrucci, Pamela, 2023, In: Javnost - The Public. 30, 1, p. 51-66 16 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

  2. Published

    Muzzling Science? Cultivating Scientists’ Rhetorical Awareness in the Public Communication of Expertise for an Era of Pandemic Fatigue

    Pietrucci, Pamela, 2023, Rhetorical Argumentation: The Copenhagen School. Kock, C. & Lantz, M. (eds.). Windsor: University of Windsor, Vol. 13. p. 434-458 25 p. (Windsor Studies in Argumentation, Vol. 13).

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapterResearchpeer-review

  3. Published

    Inventing Local Rhetorics: Towards a topographic critical praxis

    Pietrucci, Pamela, 24 Dec 2022, In: Res Rhetorica. 9, 4, p. 4-28

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

  4. Published

    Voltagabbana Rhetorics: Turncoating as a Populist Strategy in Pandemic Times

    Pietrucci, Pamela, 1 Jan 2022, Populist Rhetorics: Case Studies and a Minimalist Definition. Springer Nature Switzerland, p. 49-80 31 p. (Rhetoric, Politics and Society).

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapterResearchpeer-review

  5. Published

    Where Did the Rhetoric of Science Go? A Double Review of Landmark Essays on Rhetoric of Science, Case Studies and Issues and Methods, a Two Volume Edited Collection by Randy Harris.

    Pietrucci, Pamela & Gruber, D. R., Dec 2021, In: POROI. 16, 2, p. 1-25 24 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalLiterature reviewResearchpeer-review

  6. Published

    Blasting for science: rhetorical antidotes to anti-vax discourse in the Italian public sphere

    Pietrucci, Pamela, 2020, The Routledge Handbook of language and Science. London and New York: Routledge, p. 319-332 13 p. (Routledge Handbooks In Linguistics).

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapterResearchpeer-review

  7. Published

    Scientist Citizens: Rhetoric and Responsibility in L'Aquila

    Pietrucci, Pamela & Ceccarelli, L., 2019, In: Rhetoric & Public Affairs. 22, 1, p. 95-128 34 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

  8. Voices from the Seismic Crater in the Trial of The Major Risk Committee: A Local Counternarrative of the "L'Aquila Seven"

    Pietrucci, Pamela, 2016, In: Interface: a journal for and about social movements. 8, 2, p. 261-285 25 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

  9. YES WE CAMP! Protest Rhetoric in Times of Disaster

    Pietrucci, Pamela, 1 Apr 2015, In: Comunicazione Politica. 1, p. 43-65 23 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

  10. Rhetorical Topographies of Post-Earthquake L'Aquila: Locality, Activism, and Citizenship Engagement

    Pietrucci, Pamela, 2014, ProQuest. 233 p.

    Research output: Book/ReportPh.D. thesisResearch

  11. Strategic maneuvering through shifting ideographs in political discourse

    Pietrucci, Pamela, 2012, In: Journal of Argumentation in Context. 1, 3, p. 291-311 21 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

  12. Published

    Ricucire una comunità. Arte pubblica post-disastro come impegno civile.

    Pietrucci, Pamela & Baldini, A., Dec 2022, Street Art tra Estetica e Legge . Baldini, A. (ed.). Milano: Edizioni ETS, p. 101-116

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapterResearchpeer-review

Selected activities

  1. Deliberation, dissent and norms of argumentative engagement

    Villadsen, Lisa S. (Organizer), Bengtsson, Mette (Organizer), Pietrucci, Pamela (Organizer) & Kock, Christian Erik J (Organizer)

    26 Oct 202129 Oct 2021

    Activity: Participating in an event - typesParticipation in workshop, seminar, course

  2. Science Citizenship, Science Activism and the Public Creation of Expertise

    Pietrucci, Pamela (Organizer)

    25 Mar 2023

    Activity: Participating in an event - typesParticipation in workshop, seminar, course

Selected prizes

  1. 2020 Article of the Year Honorable Mention by ARSTM

    Pietrucci, Pamela (Recipient), 19 Nov 2021

    Prize: Prizes, scholarships, distinctions

ID: 200169617