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Lee M. Pierce (they/she)

Assistant Professor of Rhetorical Communication | Learn more at
Blake B 117 (online at
(585) 245-6333 (voicemail only)
pictures of lee

About Lee

I am a professor of rhetoric and communication at the State University of New York (SUNY) Geneseo. I am also a user of she/they pronouns, hostess with the mostess of the RhetoricLee Speaking podcast, and author of the forthcoming book Tense Times: Syntax and Surprise in U.S. Crisis Culture.

I am currently working on my second book, Black Rhetoric Matters: Reading a Politics of Disruption, which I plan to publish Open Access sometime in 2021. 

I write, teach, and speak about the importance of rhetorical literacy and the threat that cliches pose to our collective future. My areas of specialty include stylistics, close reading, critical studies of race and ideology, and U.S. popular and political culture and counterculture.

I also sometimes show up in the mainstream media as an expert on rhetoric, speech, and communication. Check me out in Her Campus, LinkedIn Pulse, Hello Giggles, and ABC7 News. You can also find my TEDx Talks analyzing Beyoncé’s”Formation” and Taylor Swift’s “Bad Blood” on YouTube (along with a few attempts at stand-up comedy). Connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, InstagramLinkedIn or wherever you see the hashtag #fightthecliche.

Join Lee on Tuesdays for new episodes of RhetoricLee Speaking 

If Ben Stein and the Kardashians had a baby that were raised by Janeane Garofalo in a recording studio, you’d have RhetoricLee Speaking. Listen every Tuesday for a whirlwind tour of banality across pop culture, political controversy, and whatever was on Netflix at 3 am.  Search "RhetoricLee Speaking" wherever you listen or visit

My Commitment to Students

I commit to a cliche-free classroom in which all policies are intentional, fair, and treat students as whole people with complex identities. We will aim for quality over quantity, deepening our understanding of a few core concepts through discussion and application. I commit to being accessible, reasonable, and the first to reach out. I commit to setting high expectations while preparing and supporting you to meet those expectations. 

I am faculty advisor to The Lamron student newspaper and Chromatic digital arts collective. I am also the intern supervisor for the SUNY Geneseo Communication Department’s social media interns as well as the thought leadership interns that work on my podcast, RhetoricLee Speaking.

Mentoring & Advising

I am faculty advisor to The Lamron student newspaper and Chromatic digital arts collective. I am also the intern supervisor for the SUNY Geneseo Communication Department’s social media interns as well as the thought leadership interns that work on my podcast, RhetoricLee Speaking.

In addition to advising and supervising internships, I also mentor individual students through directed studies and research assistantships. In 2018 and 2019, co-sponsored student projects received the Kyrwood Summer Research Fellowship Grant. I have sponsored undergraduate research presentations at the Eastern Communication Association’s Annual Conventions and the SUNY Undergraduate Research Conferences (SURC).

My aim as a mentor and advisor is that students are able to pursue projects of interest that contribute to the collective good while also cultivating a life-long long of learning and creativity.

Latest Publications

“For the Time(d) Being: The Form Takes Hate in The Hate U Give, Women’s Studies in Communication 43 (3), 2020

"Schadenfreude over Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis was more about cosmic justice than joy in another’s pain," The Conversation, October 14, 2020

Teaching Certifications

2019        Cultural Competency Certificate, SUNY Geneseo

2019        Effective Teaching Communication, Open SUNY

2018        Safe Zone Train-the-Trainer, OUT Alliance, Rochester, NY

2017        Safe Zone, SUNY Geneseo

2017        Diversity and Inclusion Certificate, University of Georgia

2015        Interdisciplinary Certificate in Undergraduate Teaching, University of Georgia

Office Hours Spring 2022

In-person, in Blake B 117 on Mondays and Wednesdays 2:45 pm to 3:45 pm
or by appointment

Classes Taught


COMN 102 Introduction to Public Speaking (offered every semester) (3 credits) Public speaking is the practical art of self-discovery and world-making through performances that derive from the creation and delivery of personal, professional, and civic presentations. Students will craft and critique rhetorical acts—strategic symbolic attempts to overcome the challenges in a given situation to connect with a specific audience on a given issue to achieve a particular end. The course will emphasize a rhetorical perspective, stylistic sophistication, thematic coherence, creative evidence and dynamic delivery. The classroom experience depends on a hands-on approach including guided rehearsal, self-assessment, and immediate feedback.

COMN 103 Interpersonal Communication (offered every semester) This course introduces students to fundamental theories of interpersonal communication in a variety of contexts (friendship, family, etc.) Students will learn and apply foundational communicative models and best practices to become increase competence. Topics include using verbal and nonverbal communication to improve relationships and derive maximum social rewards, introvert-extrovert communication, boundary setting, parental-acceptance-rejection theory, and intrapersonal communication. 3(3-0). Offered each semester. This course fulfills a social science general education requirement.

COMN 354 Visual Communication/Rhetoric (offered every Spring but currently suspended due to COVID-19 restrictions) Media comes in as many forms as one can imagine–from a Twitter feed perused in an upper-class living room to the news-propaganda that plays through static over a sweatshop radio. Every media event is fundamentally an act of communication, responsible for transmitting information among people, but not all media events are speech. Speech–the live and unpredictable translation of worlds–is the energy inherent in communication; speech is what makes messages make a difference and fail to act according to our intentions. This class asks after the possibility of media that speaks, rather than just communicates, and provides opportunities for students to engage that question as critics and producers of mediated texts. From Beyonce's "Formation" to Trump's syntax to your very own YouTube channel, this course will approach media as a site of convergence for power and privilege and consider the possibility of saying something else.

COMN 356 Rhetoric of Stand-Up Comedy (offered every Fall) Since it's Greek origins as a form of classical parrhesia or truth-telling, stand-up comedy has been a vibrant form of cultural criticism, uniquely capable of normalizing and disrupting social values under the guise of entertainment. We often think of stand-up comedy as a subjective speech act, whose meaning is decided by each of us, individually. However, stand-up comedy actually lives and dies by rhetorical principles and social science theories, from litotes (understatement) to expectancy violation. This class is part rhetorical theory (what makes stand-up work?), part rhetorical criticism (how does a particular stand-up act normalize or disrupt dominant social values?), and part advanced public speaking (how can foundational rhetorical principles of invention, disposition, style, memory, and delivery be applied to create excellent stand-up performances?).The course fulfills requirements in the Personal and Professional and Intercultural and Critical Studies Tracks.


COMN 102 Public Speaking (Intersession and Summer)

COMN 103 Interpersonal Communication (Intersession and Summer)

COMN 203 Professional Public Speaking (Summer)


COMN 356 Speech & Media (not currently offered) As we become fully immersed in the so-called "visual age," we need to be able to act as critical consumers and producers of the media that saturate our lives. This course engages in the visual age while pushing back against the assumption that "new" media cannot be studied through classic principles of style, composition, and design. We will engage visual communication as critics through critical scholarship that balances scholarly rigor with conversational style. We will also engage visual communication as producers through a personal brand project and short, no-dialogue narrative films. Throughout the course, we will approach visual culture as a site of convergence for power and privilege; images are not simply ideas or representations but forces that shape our consciousness.

COMN 356 The Rhetoric of Black Lives Matter
The resurgence of the movement for Black lives in the 21st century has brought with it a return of oratory, the practice and study of using speech to create reality. Mainstream manifestations of Black Lives Matter, in particular, have brought new energy and shifts in style to the practice of public speech. From Jesse Williams' 2016 BET Awards speech and Dave Chappelle's 8:46 to the aesthetic performances of Street Etiquette and the film trailer for the feature film The Hate U Give, Black protest speech is changing how we think of the norms of oratory and public speech. This class will explore this thing called "Black protest speech" in all of its fragmentation and disagreement while also trying to create a unified sense of what kind of speech characterizes the modern movement for Black Lives. Students will bring their own texts to discussion, engage a wide variety of counter culture and mainstream speech discourses, and read across two centuries of thought on what it means to do Black rhetoric and how to bridge the gap between speech about Blackness and the experience of being Black. Assignments will include reading and watching quizzes, a short analysis essay, and a multimedia project. 3 credits. Intercultural and Critical Studies Track (may be waived into other tracks upon completion of the course). Pre-requisites: COMN 160 and COMN 102.


Communication Department Social Media Interns (offered every Fall and Spring) (3 credits) Coordinate the interns who help foster relationships across social media for the department of communication
RhetoricLee Speaking Thought Leadership Interns (offered every Fall and Spring) (3 credits) Train interns in social media and podcast thought leadership, podcast production, promotion, pitching media outlets, and building an intellectual network