Daena J. Goldsmith
Professor of Rhetoric & Media Studies and Department Chair
Professor Daena Goldsmith researches and teaches about how we enact identities and relationships through what we say and how we say it. Her work focuses on interactions from everyday life, including the conversations we have with a spouse or partner, the advice we give to friends and family, and the stories we tell face-to-face and online. Her courses address the intersections of interpersonal interaction, media, and rhetoric.
Didn’t you go to L&C as an undergraduate? How did you end up as a professor here?
I was an undergraduate here. I wanted to get back to a smaller college where I could develop relationships and work one-on-one with undergraduate students. Coming back to L&C was great because I have a fondness for the school. I’m really excited about the opportunity to come back and give back to the place that really transformed my life when I was a student.
All of our Lewis and Clark students are really smart I love learning I love it that RHMS students come to class and have done the reading and they want to talk about what they read and what it means.
I have also been able to work more intimately with students. I’ve worked on a couple of projects where I had interviews with couples that were coping with heart disease or couples who are coping with cancer. Students have helped me go through and look for patterns in those interviews. I’ve also written a couple papers with students about the concept of openness, and one of those students has become a counselor. Other students have worked with me on the data collection analysis for my blog project. I worked with a team students to experiment with different ways of archiving and coding the blogs.
You said your specialty is in interpersonal communication. How do you merge your research with the Rhetoric and Media components of the major?
Since the major name change from Communications to Rhetoric and Media studies, I have been trying to connect my work to both media and rhetoric. For media, I embrace social media. I’ve been getting up to speed on that literature, which is difficult because technology is changing rapidly and how people use it is also changing rapidly. It’s been fascinating to see how media becomes a part of interpersonal communication because our face to face communication is now mediated in different ways through technology.
As for rhetoric, I have always been asking if I am a rhetorician. In some ways, my work has been out of step with traditional interpersonal communication that was focused on the most frequent and causes and effects. I wanted to ask, what is most effective in communication? These questions about effectiveness and how people adapt to particular circumstances are in some ways rhetorical questions. Additionally, I have merged gender and rhetoric in many of my classes. Gender is such an omnipresent part of how we communicate and how other people communicate with us. So much of this theory about gender now is about performativity, which places you right smack dab in the middle of communication and rhetoric. I don’t know if it’s totally honest and say that I’m a rhetorician, but there are some interesting ways my work overlaps.
It sounds like you have found your place in the major! What are you up to when you aren’t grading papers?
I love being outdoors and I’m happiest when I’m near the water or the mountains. But I’m also kind of a homebody. I like pioneer-type activities: I have a huge garden and I like to freeze and can the things I grow.
Please see my Curriculum Vitae in “Related Content”
My recent research has examined couples in which one person is coping with a serious health condition such as heart disease or cancer. For example: How can you encourage your partner to exercise or eat a healthful diet without sounding like a nag? How do couples talk about fears related to illness and treatments? Under what conditions is social support from friends and family helpful in coping with illness? I am just beginning a new project that focuses on stories by mothers of children with autism spectrum disorder. For more information, please see Selected Publications in “Related Content”
B.S. Lewis & Clark College; MA., Ph.D. University of Washington