placeholder image
  • Contact Info
Publications in VIVO

Simonson, Peter Professor


Research Areas research areas


research overview

  • Simonson's research is focused primarily on historical and contemporary thinking about rhetoric and mass communication, particularly in the U.S. since the 1850s; and secondarily about ethnographic approaches to rhetorical study. He takes a rhetorical and sociological approach to the history of ideas about communication, and puts rhetoric into conversation with the social sciences In addition to articles and books, he has also produced two documentary films on the history of the field of communication. Supplementing his work in intellectual history and theory, Simonson has also conducted studies of the grassroots rhetorical practices of political campaigns and civic rituals, for which he has used ethnographic field methods. He is also committed to rhetoric as a civic and educational art, and has applied it in assisting sustainable agriculture groups and teaching large lecture courses.


  • rhetorical and mass communication theory, the intellectual history of communication and rhetoric in the U.S. since the 1850s, ethnographic approaches to rhetorical studies, American pragmatism, American moral discourses, the work of Robert K. Merton, rhetoric and religion, the international history of the field of communication, the history of the sociology of media


selected publications


courses taught

  • CMCI 1010 - Concepts and Creativity 1: Media, Communication, Information
    Primary Instructor - Fall 2018
    Engages key principles and practices in the fields of media, communication and information. Emphasizes the analyses of new and old media, information technologies, verbal and visual literacies, communicative interactions and cultural practices through process-based learning and hands-on projects utilizing multiple modes of expression. First course in two semester sequence required for all first-year CMCI students. Requires a grade of C- or better to count toward degree.
  • COMM 2400 - Discourse, Culture and Identities
    Primary Instructor - Fall 2019
    Examines how aspects of talk (e.g., turn-taking, speech acts, narratives, dialect, and stance indicators) link with identities (e.g., ethnic and racial, age, gender, work-related, and personal). Considers how communication is central to constructing who people are and examines social controversies related to talk and identities.
  • COMM 4220 - Senior Seminar: Functions of Communication
    Primary Instructor - Fall 2019 / Spring 2020
    Topical seminar on the functions of communication across interpersonal, group, organizational, and public contexts. Reviews current theory and research on topics such as communication and conflict, persuasion, and ethical dimensions of communication practices. May be repeated up to 6 total credit hours on different topics. Same as COMM 5220.
  • COMM 4950 - Senior Thesis: Honors
    Primary Instructor - Spring 2018 / Spring 2019 / Spring 2020
    For exceptional communication majors who wish to graduate with department honors and receive credit for writing an honors thesis. Recommended prerequisite: COMM 4100 and overall GPA of 3.35 or higher and a COMM or COMN GPA of 3.50 or higher.
  • COMM 6200 - Seminar: Selected Topics
    Primary Instructor - Fall 2019
    Facilitates understanding of current and past theory and research on a selected topic in communication and the ability to develop new theory and research on that topic. May be repeated up to 9 total credit hours on different topics.
  • COMM 6320 - Rhetorical Theory
    Primary Instructor - Spring 2019
    Reviews current theory and research on topics such as contemporary rhetorical theory, rhetoric and public life, rhetoric as an interpretive social science, and rhetoric of social movements and political campaigns. May be repeated up to 6 total credit hours on different topics. Recommended prerequisite: COMM 5320.


International Activities

global connections related to teaching and scholarly work (in recent years)

Other Profiles