Debra Hawhee to receive NCA Distinguished Rhetorical Scholar Award

September 29, 2017

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The National Communication Association (NCA) recently announced that Debra Hawhee, McCourtney Professor of Civic Deliberation and professor of English and communication arts and sciences at Penn State, will receive the organization’s 2017 Douglas W. Ehninger Distinguished Rhetorical Scholar Award.

NCA advances communication as the discipline that studies all forms, modes, media and consequences of communication through humanistic, social scientific and aesthetic inquiry. The organization presents the Ehninger Distinguished Rhetorical Scholar Award annually to honor a scholar who has executed research programs in rhetorical theory, rhetorical criticism and/or public address studies.

“The communication discipline has a long tradition of exceptional scholarship,” said NCA Executive Director Paaige K. Turner. “Debra Hawhee’s contributions are noteworthy, and we are proud to honor her with this award.” An award announcement from NCA added that Hawhee’s “trailblazing scholarship on rhetoric and the body/sensorium, and most recently inclusive of the posthuman, exhibits dazzling inventiveness and intellectual creativity.”

“The list of previous recipients of this award includes people who are legendary in the field of rhetoric,” noted Denise Solomon, liberal arts research professor and head of the Penn State Department of Communication Arts and Sciences. “Debra Hawhee’s addition to this roster is both wonderful and well-deserved. It is especially gratifying when someone who devotes considerable time and service to the University community is recognized for outstanding scholarly achievements.”

Hawhee studies and teaches histories and theories of rhetoric with a particular focus on rhetoric’s “less-than-rational” elements. She is the author of numerous publications, including “Moving Bodies: Kenneth Burke at the Edges of Language,” which received NCA’s 2010 Diamond Anniversary Book Award, and “Bodily Arts: Rhetoric and Athletics in Ancient Greece.” Funding provided through a National Endowment for the Humanities fellowship allowed Hawhee to complete her third book, “Rhetoric in Tooth and Claw: Animals, Language, Sensation,” which was recently published by The University of Chicago Press.

Hawhee also is a senior scholar in Penn State’s McCourtney Institute for Democracy and director of graduate studies for the Department of English. In addition to the Ehninger Distinguished Rhetorical Scholar Award, she recently received the 2017 Distinguished Scholar Award from NCA’s Rhetorical and Communication Theory Division.

Hawhee will receive her award during NCA’s 103rd Annual Convention, which will take place Nov. 16-19 in Dallas. For more information about NCA and its awards program, visit

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated September 29, 2017