Beth Waggenspack

Beth M. Waggenspack

Director of Graduate Studies, Associate Professor


147 Shanks Hall
181 Turner St. NW
Blacksburg, VA 24061




Department Membership


Research Expertise

  • American First Ladies
  • Women's Political Rhetoric
  • Adoption rhetoric

Teaching Expertise

  • Rhetorical History, Theory, and Criticism
  • Persuasion
  • Introduction to Communication Theory
  • Social Movement Rhetoric

Professional Activities

  • National Communication Association 
  • Eastern Communication Association
  • Central States Communication Association


  • Ph.D. The Ohio State University
  • M.A. Texas Tech University
  • B.A. Muskingum College

Research Interests


    Awards and Honors

    Member, Virginia Tech Academy of Teaching Excellence, 2000

    Virginia Tech Alumni Teaching Award, 2000

    College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences Excellence in Undergraduate Advising Award, 2007

    Selected Publications

    Book Chapters

    Waggenspack, B. (2019). Huma Who? Abedin’s Incomplete Narrative. In Sacco, J. (Ed.) Women of the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election. Landham, MD: Lexington.

    Waggenspack, B. and VanDyke, M. (2016).  Mountaintop Coal Mining: A Stain on the Conscience of America.   In B. Duffy and R. Besel, (Eds.). Green Voices: Defending Nature and the Environment in American Civic Discourse.  Westport, CT: Greenwood.

    Waggenspack, B.  (2013).  Media Depictions of Adoption Narratives. In D. Leoutsakas and S. Marrow (Eds.), More than Blood: Today’s Reality and Tomorrow’s Vision of Family. Dubuque, IA: Kendall-Hunt. 372-385.

    Waggenspack, B.   (2010). Deceptive Narratives in the 2008 Presidential Campaign.  In R. Denton, Jr. (Ed.),  Studies of Identity in the 2008 Presidential Campaign. Boulder, CO: Rowman & Littlefield. 155-200. 

    Waggenspack, B. (2006).  Eleanor Roosevelt: Social Conscience for the New DealIn T. Benson (Ed.),American Rhetoric in the New Deal Era, 1932-1945  (Volume 7 of A Rhetorical History of the United States). East Lansing: Michigan State University Press. 157-209.

    Waggenspack, B. (2005). Marian Wright Edelman. In Bernard Duffy and Richard Leeman, (Eds.),  American Voices. Westport, CT: Greenwood. 133-140.

    Waggenspack, B. (2004) Helen Herron Taft: Opportunity and Ambition. In M. Wertheimer and N. Gutgold, (Eds.), Inventing Their Voices: The Rhetoric of American First Ladies of the Twentieth Century. Rowman & Littlefield. 59-78.

    Waggenspack, B. (2004) Women's Role in Rhetorical Traditions (45-47); Aspasia of Miletus (48-50); Women's Rhetoric from Medieval to Enlightenment Times(112-117); Prelude to the Platform: Woman's Transition to the Public Sphere (137-145); Women Emerge as Speakers: Nineteenth-Century Transformations of Women's Role in the Public Arena (219-236); Into the Twenty-First Century: Contemporary Directions in Women's Rhetoric (459-469). In Golden, J., Berquist, G., Coleman, W. and Sproule, J. M. (Eds.), The Rhetoric of Western Thought, Tenth Edition. Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt.


    Wallace, S. P., Waggenspack, B. and Hubbert, K. (2008). Communication: Principles of Tradition and Change. Dubuque: Kendall/Hunt.

    Additional Information

    Dr. Waggenspack's scholarship generally focuses on women and their rhetorical voices. Recent critical essays include analysis of the persuasive communication of American First Ladies (Helen Herron Taft, Eleanor Roosevelt) to women who argue for social change, such as children's rights spokesperson Marian Wright Edelman, environmental activist Ashley Judd, and women's rights advocates Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucy Stone, and Lucretia Mott. Her analyses of the contributions of women to the span of rhetorical theory and history are featured in The Rhetoric of Western Thought.