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Rebecca M. Townsend

Assistant Professor of Communication, University of Hartford

Rebecca M. Townsend is a scholar of rhetoric and culture of communication, often focusing on public memory and public deliberation in government. Her research focuses on the ways culture and rhetoric help shape people’s understandings of contemporary issues, those of the past, and how the ways people talk create boundaries for what is possible in democracy.

She is developing an understanding of uses of the past in Poland, where she frequently teaches graduate courses at the University of Social Sciences in Łódź and Warsaw, in collaboration with Clark University. Her work analyzing Polish views of the Brexit vote was conducted in summer 2016 and published in _Intercultural Communication: Adapting to Emerging Global Realities in 2018_. She has studied memory sites and developed an analysis of President Trump’s use of the Warsaw Uprising in his first European speech (available here:

At the local level, she studies public engagement in local governance and regional policy creation. Town meetings as sites for local self-governance is one area of research. Regional transportation planning and engagement of people who are traditionally under-heard in policy creation is another area, where she often integrates undergraduate students in research. Her current work develops public engagement in creation of policies on autonomous vehicles.

Dr. Townsend teaches courses in Communication, Persuasion, Public Speaking, Small Group Communication, Ethnic and Intercultural Communication, and Change Management. She is also a consultant and an elected town meeting moderator in her local government.


  • –present
    Assistant Professor of Communication, University of Hartford


  • 2004 
    University of Massachusetts Amherst, Communication
  • 1997 
    Indiana University Bloomington, Speech Communication


  • 2019
    Speaking for Another Polis, Iowa Journal of Communication
  • 2018
    Deval Patrick on the Power of Rhetoric, The Howard Journal of Communications
  • 2018
    Trump’s Warsaw Address, or How the “West” Was Widened, Journal of Contemporary Rhetoric
  • 2013
    Engaging ‘Others’ in Civic Engagement through Ethnography of Communication, Journal of Applied Communication Research
  • 2009
    Town Meeting as a Communication Event: Democracy’s Act Sequence, Research on Language and Social Interaction
  • 2006
    Local Communication Studies, Quarterly Journal of Speech
  • 2006
    Widening the Circumference of Scene: Local Politics, Local Metaphysics, KBJournal

Grants and Contracts

  • 2010
    Partnership for Inclusive, Cost-Effective Public Participation
    Principal Investigator
    Funding Source:
    Federal Transit Administration

Professional Memberships

  • National Communication Association
  • Eastern Communication Association
  • Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies
  • Communication Association of Eurasian Researchers


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