Catalina M. de Onís

Hola Bearcats!

I am delighted to join Willamette University’s Department of Civic Communication and Media! You offered me such a warm welcome during my campus visit, and I look forward to the many exchanges and experiences we will have in the years ahead.

I believe that struggling for social change and justice requires collaboration, creativity, and caring. In my teaching, research, and advocacy work, I am drawn to and re-energized by rhetorical efforts that engage challenging, controversial topics and that foreground marginalized perspectives and non-dominant discourses. I study social movement rhetoric, including intersectional struggles for environmental, climate, and energy justice, sovereignty, racial and migrant justice, economic justice, and reproductive justice. I also am interested in the role that linguistic differences and translation play in various communication contexts. My interdisciplinary focus resonates with many of the topics, questions, and critiques studied by members of the American Ethnic Studies, Latin American Studies, and Women’s and Gender Studies programs.

Students! Given these academic interests, when you enroll in a course with me, three interrelated assumptions and approaches will guide us:

We will experience the course and learning process together, not as “mine,” but as “ours.” As a teacher and continuing student of rhetorical studies, I strive to learn with you, while facilitating our experiences. For this collaborative endeavor to be effective, we all share co-ownership of the course and accept the individual and collective responsibilities this acknowledgement entails. We will investigate case studies and perform scenarios, co-facilitate class discussions, and check in with each other regularly to discuss the course’s direction, impact, and possibilities. To strive for more sustainable, just communities, integrating our different abilities, expertise, and interests will help to synergize our social justice engagement (and make it more fun!).

We will explore the importance of place, bodies, and experiential learning. Reflecting on our relationships with multiple communities, contexts, and controversies offers opportunities for fusing theory and practice. This praxis-based approach seeks to create a space for advancing course objectives and class member interests in a variety of ways, including service-learning on and off campus, guest speaker visits, tours, and critically engaging our bodies as integral parts of the learning process. (We are more than floating brains!) Whether you leave our class sessions as better informed community members or have an added fervor to advocate for a particular issue, experiential learning will challenge all of us, as we continue to become better-informed, civically-engaged, and caring human beings. While these experiences often are not easy, they will transform who we are as individuals and as community members.

We will select, evaluate, make, and circulate rhetorical materials using diverse methods. Inside and outside of class, we will study different rhetorical materials and how they help and hinder the creation of flourishing communities. We will encounter and experiment with “live” rhetoric in interviews, participant observation/advocacy, and other fieldwork practices. This approach will help us to study dissenting perspectives, differing power dynamics, and deliberating about dominant and non-dominant discourses and their effects. Presenting our critiques will take many forms, including autoethnographic writing, critical essays, poetry, and other genres. We also will share our findings with different audiences using diverse multi-media formats and public presentations.

For more about my teaching, research, and advocacy work, please visit:

¡Estoy deseando reunirme con ustedes! I look forward to joining you!

Saludos/Best wishes,

Catalina M. de Onís

Journal Articles and Book Chapters

de Onís, Catalina M. “For Many in Puerto Rico, ‘Energy Dominance’ is Just a New Name for U.S. Colonialism,” The Conversation (August 21, 2017).

Pezzullo, Phaedra C., and Catalina M. de Onís. “Rethinking Rhetorical Field Methods on a Precarious Planet,” Communication Monographs 85.1 (2017): 1-20.

de Onís, Catalina M. “Critiquing Utopia, Ubiquity, and Pressure in Fossil Fuel(ed) Rhetoric,” Communication Theory 27.4 (2017): 409-410.

de Onís, Catalina M. “What’s in an ‘x’?: An Exchange about the Politics of ‘Latinx.’” Chiricú Journal: Latina/o Literatures, Arts, and Cultures 1.2 (2017): 78-91.