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Jessica A. Kurr

Jessica A. Kurr

Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow, Communication Arts & Sciences

234 Sparks (mail)
204 Willard (office)

University Park , PA 16802

Curriculum Vitae

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  1. B.S.B.A., Finance, University of Pittsburgh, 2011.
  2. M.A., Communication, Baylor University, 2013.
  3. Ph.D., Communication, Penn State University, 2017.


Jessica A. Kurr is interested in the rhetorical and argumentative interactions between individuals and institutions, primarily when discussing economic, political, or LGBTQ issues. Her book project, When the Fed Speaks, examines the strategies used by a succession of prominent Federal Reserve chairs to position the central bank as an authoritative, nonpartisan voice at the center of major economic debates. Her recent essay, “Skotison: The Dark Rhetorical Style of Fedspeak,” received the top paper award from the American Society for the History of Rhetoric at the 2015 NCA convention. She was named a Samuels Young Scholar by the History of Economics Society and previously was a Fellow with the Center for Democratic Deliberation at Penn State and an Adam Smith fellow with the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. Her secondary interests concern how the president, and other politicians, engage with the public using digital media, a rhetorical strategy she calls the "Digital Presidency" and explores in her book chapter, "Going Digital: Rhetorical Strategies in the Enhanced State of the Union," in Rhetoric Across Borders (Parlor Press, 2015). Previously, she was the Director of Debate for the Penn State Speech & Debate Society, helping organize public debates with visiting teams from Britain, Japan, and Rwanda and with partnerships from the Center for Infectious Disease Dynamics, Penn State Reads, and the Rock Ethics Institute at Penn State. She helped plan and host the Speech & Debate as Civic Education Conference at Penn State on March 5-7, 2015 and is the second editor of Speech & Debate as Civic Education (University Park: Penn State University Press, 2017). The volume continues her earlier work on teaching speech, highlighted by a Eastern Communication Association white paper that she co-authored called The Future of the Basic Course in Communication. She also serves on the Curricular Integration Committee within the Penn State Commission on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Equity.

Advisor: Dr. Michele Kennerly.