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Dr. Mari Boor Tonn
Associate Professor of Rhetoric and WGSS

Professor Mari Boor Tonn researches and teaches on historical and contemporary events shaping social culture with an eye towards symbolic rhetorical dimensions spanning the oral, written, and visual. Her scholarship and courses traverse elective politics and civic engagement to various social movements, including early women’s rights and abolition in the U.S., myriad legal and other resistances of the 1960s, and early labor reform efforts featuring women orators and constituencies. Her scholarly inquiries emphasize ways economic conditions intersect with race and gender.

Best Essay of the Year.  Organization for the Study of  Language, Communication, and Gender

Karl Wallace Memorial Award for Rhetorical Scholarship.  National Communication Association

 Kenneth Burke Society Scholar of the Year.  Southern Communication Association

Distinguished Research Fellow Award, Eastern Communication Association

Distinguished Teaching Fellow Award. Eastern Communication Association

Donald and Carolyn Drummond Ecroyd Teaching Excellence Award.  Eastern Communication Association

Past Presidents’ Award (Scholarship and Service).   Eastern Communication Association

University Excellence in Teaching.  University of New Hampshire

Keynote.  William A. Kern Communication Conference.  Rochester Institute of Technology

Keynote.  Annual Fall Football Day for State Legislatures, President’s Council and Alumni.  University of New Hampshire

Wil A. Linkugel Distinguished Lecture, University of Kansas.

"'From the Eye to the Soul': Industrial Labor's Mary Harris 'Mother' Jones and the Rhetorics of Display", National Communication Association's 12th Biennial Public Address Conference, University of Pittsburgh, October 1, 2010.

Hope Institute.  Undergraduate Communication Honors Conference. DePauw University.  National Communication Association   

U.S. Commission on Presidential Debates.  Washington DC.

National Communication Association
Rhetoric Society of America
Modern Language Society
Southern Communication Association
Kenneth Burke Society
Community Service

Editorial board member of among the following professional journals: Quarterly Journal of Speech, Rhetoric & Public Affairs, Critical Studies in Media Communication, Communication Quarterly, Western Communication Journal, Southern Communication Journal, Women’s Studies in Communication, KB Journal, Rhetoric Review, Argumentation & Advocacy

Chair, Public Address Division.  National Communication Association

Chair of  following Interest Groups: Rhetoric and Public Address, Political Communication, and Kenneth Burke..  Eastern Communication Association.

Chair and/or member.  Marie Hochmuth Nichols Book Award and Kohrs-Campbell Book Prize.   National Communication Association

Chair. General Education  Committee.  University of Maryland

University Senate Executive Committee.  University of Maryland

Legislative Council.  National Communication Association (multiple terms)

Executive Committee.  Eastern Communication Association

Graduate Director.  University of Maryland

Consultant: U.S. Commission on Presidential Debates, Government of Norway

Analyst: Boston Globe, BBC, Christian Science Monitor, Public Radio


Tonn, Mari Boor. “Wil Linkugel and Gifting 101,” Rhetoric & Public Affairs 15  (2012): 605-706.

Tonn, Mari Boor. “’From the Eye to the Soul’: Industrial Labor’s Mary Harris ‘Mother’ Jones and the Rhetorics of Display.”  Special Issue.  Eds. Lester Olson and Araballa Lyon.  Rhetoric Society Quarterly. 41 (2011): 231-249.  (reprinted)

Tonn, Mari Boor. “Looking Under the Hood and Tinkering with Voter Cynicism: Ross Perot and ‘Perspective by Incongruity.’” Rhetoric & Public Affairs 4 (2001): 281-308.

Tonn, Mari Boor. “Princess Diana and Baseball: Encouraging the Critics of Culture to Play Fair.”  Women’s Studies in Communication 22 (1999): 112-119.

Tonn, Mari Boor. “Donning Sackcloth and Ashes: Webster vs. Reproductive Health Services and Moral Agony in Abortion Rights Rhetoric.”  Communication Quarterly 44 (1996): 265-279.

Tonn, Mari Boor. “Militant Motherhood: Labor's Mary Harris ‘Mother’ Jones.”  Quarterly Journal of Speech 82 (1996): 1-21. (reprinted multiple times in anthologies)

Tonn, Mari Boor. “Elizabeth Gurley Flynn's Sabotage: The Economic ‘Scene’ as Both Controlling and Catalyzing Workers' ‘Acts.’”  Special Issue. Ed. James F. Klumpp.  Southern Communication Journal 61 (1995): 59-75.

Tonn, Mari Boor. "’Feminine Style’ and Political Judgment in the Rhetoric of Ann Richards.”  Quarterly Journal of Speech 79 (1993): 286-302. (reprinted multiple times in anthologies).

Tonn, Mari Boor.  “Co-Constructed Oratory: Speaker-Audience Interaction in the Labor Union Rhetoric of Mary Harris ‘Mother’ Jones.”  Text and Performance Quarterly 13 (1993): 313-330.

Tonn, Mari Boor. "Hunting and Heritage on Trial in Maine: A Dramatistic Debate over Tragedy, Tradition, and Territory.”  Quarterly Journal of Speech 79 (1993): 165-181.  (reprinted multiple times in anthologies)

Tonn, Mari Boor. “Taking Conversation, Dialogue, and Therapy Public.” Rhetoric & Public Affairs. 8 (2005): 403-430.

Tonn, Mari Boor. “Fighting Feminism: Exploring Triumphs and Obstacles in Feminist Politics and Scholarship.” Women’s Studies in Communication 27 (2004): 337-95.

Tonn, Mari Boor. “Miss America Contesters and Contestants: Media Discourse about Social ‘Also-Rans.’” Rhetoric & Public Affairs. 6 (2003): 150-160.


Tonn, Mari Boor. “Making and Unmaking Mischief: ‘Trickster’ Political Humor in the Rhetoric of the 1960s.”   Ed. Richard Jensen. Rhetoric and Public Address Series.  East Lansing: Michigan State UP.  Forthcoming.

Tonn, Mari Boor. “The Una, 1853-55: The Premier of the Feminist Press”. A Voice of Their Own: The Women Suffrage Press. Ed. Martha Solomon. Tuscaloosa: U of Alabama P, 1991.  48-70.  [Outstanding Book, Gustavus Myers Center for the Study of Human Rights in the U.S.]

Tonn, Mari Boor.  “Radical Labor in a Feminine Voice: The Rhetoric of Mary Harris ‘Mother’ Jones and Elizabeth Gurley Flynn.” Rhetoric of Reform in the Nineteenth Century. Ed. Martha Solomon Watson. Rhetoric and Public Address Ser. East Lansing: Michigan State UP, 2008.  224-253.

Tonn, Mari Boor. “Colin Powell’s Life Story as a ‘Good Black’ Narrative.’” The Rhetorics of Display. Ed. Lawrence J. Prelli.  South Carolina UP, 2006. 344-373.

Endress, Valerie A. and Mari Boor Tonn. “H. Ross Perot.”  Contemporary American Orators. Eds. Bernard K. Duffy and Richard W. Leeman. Westport, CT: Greenwood , 2005. 360-367.

Ph.D., University of Kansas
M.A., Pittsburg (KS) State University
B.S., Pittsburg (KS) State University
Contact Information
402G Weinstein Hall
(804) 289-1773
Areas of Expertise
Political Rhetoric
Rhetoric of Social Movements
First- and Second-Wave Feminism
Women in the Industrial Labor Movement