Pamela Pietrucci

Pamela Pietrucci

Assistant professor, tenure track

Member of:

    Education & Training

    I have been working as an Assistant Professor of Rhetoric in the Department of Communication at the University of Copenhagen since 2018. 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 and 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 and 2018. 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 rhetorical theory. Specifically, I have published 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 at 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 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 many edited peer-reviewed collections. I also write in public outlets like Retorisk Arena or the SERCC (Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective), and I also engage in public local-oriented public dissemination activities. 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 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. Topics of particular interest when considering me as your future advisor 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 (link To follow).

    ID: 200169617