Gwendolyn Pough, Dean Professor of Humanities and Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies at the College of Arts and Sciences (A&S), will serve a six-year term as president-elect, president, and past president of the Rhetoric Society of America. (RSA), beginning July 2022. Pough, who has served on the RSA Board of Trustees since 2018, is the second Syracuse University faculty member to serve as RSA President, joining Kendall Phillips. , a professor at the College of Visual and Performing Arts, who served as president from 2014 to 2015.
The RSA was established in 1968 and is made up of scholars from a variety of disciplines who study the history of rhetoric and explore new areas within the field of rhetoric where research is particularly needed. The aim of the RSA is to encourage experimentation in the teaching of rhetoric, to facilitate professional cooperation between its members and to organize meetings where members can exchange discoveries and ideas.
“To be elected to serve the Rhetoric Society of America in this capacity is an honor and a privilege,” says Pough. “I attended my first RSA conference in 1998 while still in college and organizing has been a huge part of my speaking career ever since. As the second black person and first black woman elected to Leading this organization, I will do my best, with the help of the dynamic and hardworking Board, to lead RSA into the bold and diverse future we are building.
A citation distributed by the nominating committee reads, “Dr. Pough was selected based on her accomplishments and her belief that she is the right leader at the moment. The letter continues: “(Dr. Pough) has been a strong voice in Board deliberations and has played a crucial role during a period of internal transformation and external challenges… We look forward to the influence and Dr. Pough’s continued leadership in the Rhetoric Society of America.”
Pough is a renowned scholar of feminist theory, African American rhetoric, women’s studies, and hip-hop culture. Her book, “Check It While I Wreck It” (Northeastern University Press, 2004), explores the relationship between black women, hip-hop, and feminism. A faculty member since 2004, Pough is currently the William P. Tolley Professor Emeritus of Humanities at A&S. Through this platform, she has helped shape conversations about classroom instructional practices with a focus on diversity, inclusion, social justice and activism.
Pough will assume the role of RSA Chairman with extensive administrative experience. She has served as Deputy President, Associate President, and President of the Conference on College Composition and Communication; President of the Third Wave Feminisms Group of the National Women’s Studies Association; and as an elected representative on the boards of the Coalition of Feminist Scholars in the History of Rhetoric & Composition and the Association of Rhetoric and Writing Studies. At Syracuse, Pough served as chair of the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies from July 2011 to June 2014, and again from January 2018 to June 2021.