Foss, Sonja K. 1950-

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Foss, Sonja K. 1950-


Born January 26, 1950, in Portland, OR; daughter of Lyle and Hazel Foss; married Anthony Radich, 1972. Education: University of Oregon, B.A., 1972, M.A., 1973; Northwestern University, Ph.D., 1976.


Office—Department of Communication, University of Colorado, Campus Box 176, P.O. Box 173364, Denver, CO 80217-3364; fax: 303-355-6325, 303-556-6018. E-mail—[email protected]


Writer and academic. Banta West (book manufacturer), Sparks, NV, customer service representative, 1976-77; Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, assistant professor, 1977-78; Norfolk State University, Norfolk, VA, instructor, 1978-1980; University of Denver, CO, assistant professor, 1980-86, associate professor, 1986, senior research associate, 1996-97; University of Oregon, Eugene, assistant professor, 1986-88, associate professor, 1988-89; Ohio State University, Columbus, associate professor, 1990-96; University of Colorado, Denver, professor, 1997—. University of Georgia, Athens, visiting professor, 1985; St. Louis University, St. Louis, MO, visiting associate professor, 1989-1990.


Phi Beta Kappa.


Earl Bradley Award for best dissertation, Northwestern University, 1976; Faculty Research Award, University of Oregon, 1988; Faculty Member of the Year, Ohio State University, 1992; Francine Merritt Award for contributions to women in communication, Speech Communication Association Women's Caucus, 1993; Gender Scholar of the Year (with Karen A. Foss), Southern Communication Association, 2005; Outstanding Book Award, Organization for the Study of Communication, Language, and Gender, for Feminist Rhetorical Theories, 2000.


Rhetorical Criticism: Exploration and Practice, Waveland Press (Prospect Heights, IL), 1988, 2nd edition, 1996, 3rd edition, 2004.


(With sister, Karen A. Foss, and Robert Trapp) Contemporary Perspectives on Rhetoric, Waveland Press (Prospect Heights, IL), 1985, 2nd edition, 1991, 3rd edition, 2002.

(With Karen A. Foss) Women Speak: The Eloquence of Women's Lives (also see below), Waveland Press (Prospect Heights, IL), 1991.

(With Karen A. Foss) Inviting Transformation: Presentational Speaking for a Changing World, Waveland Press (Prospect Heights, IL), 1994, 2nd edition, 2003.

(With Karen A. Foss and Cindy L. Griffin) Feminist Rhetorical Theories, Sage (Thousand Oaks, CA), 1999.

(Editor, with Karen A. Foss and Robert Trapp) Readings in Contemporary Rhetoric, Waveland Press (Prospect Heights, IL), 2002.

(With Karen A. Foss) Inviting Transformation: Presentational Speaking for a Changing World, Waveland Press (Prospect Heights, IL), 2003.

(Editor, with Karen A. Foss and Cindy L. Griffin) Readings in Feminist Rhetorical Theory, Sage (Thousand Oaks, CA), 2004.

(With William Waters) Destination Dissertation: A Traveler's Guide to a Done Dissertation, Rowman & Littlefield (Boulder, CO), 2007.

Contributor to books, including Women Communicating: Studies of Women's Talk, edited by Barbara Bate and Anita Taylor, Ablex Publishing (Norwood, NJ), 1988; Research on Women's Communication: Alternative Perspectives in Theory and Method, edited by Carole Spitzack and Kathryn Carter, Ablex Publishers (Norwood, NJ), 1989; Essays to Commemorate the 75th Anniversary of The Speech Communication Association, edited by Gerald M. Phillips and Julia T. Wood, Southern Illinois University Press (Carbondale, IL), 1990; Rhetorical Movement: Studies in Honor of Leland M. Griffin, edited by David Zarefsky, Northwestern University Press (Evanston, IL), 1993; The Rhetoric of American Women: Critical Studies andSources, edited by Karlyn Kohrs Campbell, Greenwood Publishing Group (Westport, CT). Editor of "Feminist Perspectives on Communication," series, Sage Publications (Thousand Oaks, CA), 1994-98. Member of editorial board, "Ablex Communication and Information Science Series," Ablex Publishing (Norwood, NR), 1990-91. Contributor to academic journals, including Women's Studies in Communication, Communication Quarterly, Central States Speech Journal, and Communication Education.

Associate editor of scholarly journals, including Western Journal of Speech Communication, 1984-86; Quarterly Journal of Speech, 1989-1991; Women's Studies in Communication, 1990-98, 2000—; Text and Performance Quarterly, 1991-93; Communication Studies, 1991-98; Communication Monographs, 1992-95; Discourse & Society, 1995—; Southern Communication Journal, 1995—; Coeditor, Women's Studies in Communication, 1981-88.


Sonja K. Foss is a writer, educator, and researcher who works in the area of contemporary rhetorical theory and criticism. Within this area, she focuses on feminist perspectives on communication and visual rhetoric. Foss states in a biographical sketch that she was extremely shy as a young person. An experience as a camp counselor helped Foss to gain confidence, which she attributes to the female setting and the encouragement she received from the women around her. Later, in college, Foss and her twin sister, Karen, (with whom Foss would go on to coauthor many future books) majored in languages and planned to become foreign language teachers. However, upon graduation, the sisters did not relish the prospect of facing students every day as they struggled to master a new language, so they decided to attend graduate school and major in communication. The combination of these early circumstances provided the genesis for what would become Foss's career interest in communication and, more specifically, feminist perspectives on communication.

Through her research in feminist perspectives on communication, Foss explores and assesses the methodological and ideological boundaries in communication by studying the communicative practices of women and visual rhetoric. Foss has been able to incorporate what she has learned into general theories of communication. The results of her research can be found in the numerous books she has written, coauthored, and edited on these topics.

Feminist Rhetorical Theories, written with Karen A. Foss and Cindy L. Griffin, explores the feminist theories of such noted scholars as bell hooks, Paula Gunn Allen, and Trinh T. Minh-ha, to name a few. Jessica Brow, writing for Women's Studies in Communication, found the authors' "writing to be clear" and their clarification of new terms to be "excellent." The book gives "the reader a good taste of the theorists's ideas and writing styles" and introduces "revolutionary new voices into the study of rhetorical theory," Brow concluded. Reviewing the same book, Jacqueline Bacon, writing for the Southern Communication Journal, found that the authors "presented enlightening critiques and applications of the theories" of the feminist writers included in this book. One of the significant aspects of Feminist Rhetorical Theories, according to Bacon, is its "invitation to conceive more broadly of the field of rhetorical theory."

Taking a slight turn in topic, Foss wrote Destination Dissertation: A Traveler's Guide to a Done Dissertation with William Waters. In this book, Waters and Foss lead students through twenty-nine steps that are needed to complete a dissertation, which the authors claim can be completed in six to nine months. "Using travel as a metaphor," wrote a reviewer for Reference & Research Book News, Foss and Waters describe "the process as a trip." Noting that the authors provide "a plethora of real-life examples that illustrate all aspects of the dissertation writing process," Frustrated Writer Web site contributor Herbert White observed that Destination Dissertation can be used as a "guide on crafting any scholarly publication, making this book equally useful to both graduate students and academicians."



Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, July 1, 2004, T.B. Dykeman, review of Readings in Feminist Rhetorical Theory, p. 2038.

Food Technology, winter, 1992, review of Contemporary Perspectives on Rhetoric, 2nd edition.

Quarterly Journal of Speech, August, 1988, Christine Oravec, review of Contemporary Perspectives on Rhetoric, p. 370.

Reference & Research Book News, February, 2005, review of Rhetorical Criticism: Exploration and Practice, 3rd edition, p. 254; August, 2007, review of Destination Dissertation: A Traveler's Guide to a Done Dissertation.

Southern Communication Journal, fall, 1993, Mary Anne Trasciatti, review of Women Speak: The Eloquence of Women's Lives; summer, 2001, Jacqueline Bacon, review of Feminist Rhetorical Theories, pp. 353-354.

Women's Studies in Communication, spring, 1995, Angela McCaskill, review of Inviting Transformation: Presentational Speaking for a Changing World.; spring, 2000, Jessica Brow, review of Feminist Rhetorical Theories, pp. 261-267.


Frustrated Writer, (August 15, 2007), Herbert White, review of Destination Dissertation, p. 370.

Sonja K. Foss Home Page, (January 31, 2008).