After graduation, senior Claire Noppenberger hopes to work for an organization dedicated to empowering women. Her thesis has been one of the first steps for her realizing her dream.  

Noppenberger’s thesis is entitled “Rhetorics of Women’s Reproductive Healthcare” and is a meta-rhetorical analysis focusing on rhetorics in women’s reproductive healthcare. The introduction to Noppenberger’s thesis was accepted to the James C. McCroskey and Virginia P. Richmond Undergraduate Scholars Conference, held in conjunction with the Eastern Communication Association’s 111th Conference, “Harboring Innovation.” 

“The introduction largely focuses on my methodology, which centers on Hayden White’s idea of ‘tropes,’ or how discourses can turn our attention in different ways,” Noppenberger said. “Through the metaphor of an ultrasound, I hope to show rhetoric as an active experience in which we have a direct effect in its creation, dissemination, and reception.” 

Dr. Mari Lee Mifsud, Professor of Rhetoric and Noppenberger’s advisor, has known Noppenberger since her first advising meeting in the department of Rhetoric & Communication Studies and says that her thesis approach is quite inventive. 

“To study reproductive health discourses through the lens of feminist rhetorical theory and criticism, seeing how attention is being turned or ‘troped’ to constitute cultural meaning, norms, attitudes, actions, and material consequences from the personal to political,” Mifsud said. “Her work brings to light, for example, how rhetorics of violence, shame, comfort, joy, and critique operate in women’s reproductive health.” 

At the conference, Noppenberger will present her paper ideas in a session that will consist of other competitive papers focused on gender presentation and social experiences entitled “Communication, Gender Representation, and Social Issues.” 

Noppenberger said she is excited to attend the conference and believes it is a good opportunity for her to learn even more from professors in her field of study. She also hopes that her paper will help enlighten others about the power and importance of rhetoric and communication. 

“I hope my thesis serves as a model for other self-reflexive rhetorical analyses and media audits for the purpose of understanding the rhetorics which surround us.”