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Jessica A. Kurr

Jessica A. Kurr

Lecturer, Communication Arts & Sciences

229 Sparks
University Park , PA 16802

Curriculum Vitae

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


Jessica A. Kurr is primarily interested in how political leaders deliberate economic problems and policies. Her dissertation project, When the Fed Speaks: A Rhetorical History of the Federal Reserve, examines the strategies used by a succession of prominent Fed 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 serves as an advisory board member for the Federal Reserve Archival System for Economic Research (FRASER) 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 White House engages 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, forthcoming with the Penn State Press. The volume continues her earlier work on teaching speech, highlighted by a Eastern Communication Association white paper that she co-authored with J. Michael Hogan called The Future of the Basic Course in Communication.

Advisor: Dr. J. Michael Hogan.