Christa J. Olson

Christa Olson
Associate Professor
6187d Helen C. White Hall
(608) 263-3822
E-mail Christa J. Olson
Rhetorical history, theory, and criticism; visual rhetoric; Latin America

Degrees and Institutions

Ph.D. English & Writing Studies, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, 2010

M.A. Performance Studies, New York University, 2001

B.A. Arts & Social Justice, The Paracollege, St. Olaf College, 2000

Selected Publications

  • Constitutive Visions: Indigeneity and Commonplaces of National Identity in Republican Ecuador. Penn State University Press, 2014.
  • “‘But in regard to these (the American) continents:’ U.S. National Rhetorics and the Figure of Latin America,” article in “La Idea de la Retórica Americana / The Idea of American Rhetoric,” a special issue of Rhetoric Society Quarterly. June 2015.
  • Hawhee, Debra, and Christa Olson. “Pan-Historiography: The Challenges of Writing History across Time and Space.” Chapter 6 in Michelle Ballif, ed. Theorizing Histories of Rhetoric. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 2013.
  • “Places to Stand: Mapping the Terrain of Rhetorical History.” Article in “Practicing Histories,” a special issue of Advances in the History of Rhetoric 15.1 (February/March 2012): 77-100.

Research Interests

19th and 20th century visual cultures in the Americas; historical methods and methodological pedagogy; publics, democracy, nationalisms, & transnationalism; coloniality and post-colonialism.

Teaching Areas

I teach courses in visual rhetoric, research methods, and the history of rhetoric. I enjoy working with students as they encounter, provide context for, and analyze persuasive artifacts of all types (images, speeches, texts, performances, etc.).

Recent Books

  • Constitutive Visions

    Christa J. Olson

    Penn State University Press


    In Constitutive Visions, Christa Olson presents the rhetorical history of republican Ecuador as punctuated by repeated arguments over national identity. Those arguments--as they advanced theories of citizenship, popular sovereignty, and republican modernity--struggled to reconcile the presence of Ecuador's large indigenous populations with the dominance of a white-mestizo minority.