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University of Colorado Denver College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

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Faculty & Staff Directory

Lisa Keränen, PhD

Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies

Curriculum Vita​​
E-mail: Lisa Keranen
Web site:
Office Location: 3006
Phone: 303-315-1916
Areas of Expertise: 
Rhetoric Studies, Rhetorics of Science, Medicine, Health Care, Bioethics, Qualitative Health Communication

Education & Degrees

PhD, Communication/Rhetoric of Science, University of Pittsburgh
MA, Bioethics, University of Pittsburgh
MA, Communication Studies, University of Maine


Dr. Lisa Keränen studies and teaches rhetorical theory and criticism with an emphasis on the rhetoric of medicine, health care and bioethics. Her first book, Scientific Characters: Rhetoric, Politics, and Trust in Breast Cancer Research (University of Alabama Press, 2010), chronicles the contests over trust, truth and character in a high-flying breast cancer research misconduct controversy. Dr. Keränen's essays concerning rhetoric, medicine and terrorism appear in places such as Academic Medicine, Argumentation & Advocacy, Journal of Applied Communication Research, Rhetoric & Public Affairs, Journal of Medical Humanities, Quarterly Journal of Speech, Cultural Studies-Critical Methodologies and Communication Yearbook, and in edited books about the rhetoric of science and medicine. She is hard at work on her second book, Envisioning Viral Apocalypse: A Rhetorical History of Biological Weapons from the post-Cold War through the War on Terror, and she is co-editing a book of essays about US-China Communication.

Dr. Keränen has received numerous awards for her research, teaching and service. Most recently, she received the 2014 CU President's Teaching Scholar Designation, the 2012 CLAS Teaching Excellence Award, the 2011 Marie Hochmuth Nichols Award for Outstanding Scholarship in Public Address and the 2010 Karl R. Wallace Memorial Research Award from the National Communication Association (NCA). Dr. Keränen was a 2008-9 Faculty Fellow at the Center for Humanities and the Arts (CHA) at the University of Colorado at Boulder. 

Dr. Keränen teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in rhetorical theory and criticism and in the rhetoric of science and medicine. As Director of Graduate Studies, she teaches the introduction to graduate study for the Communication Department. Other recent course offerings include a seminar in rhetorics of health and medicine and one devoted to exploring rhetoric and biothreats. She also teaches an intensive Maymester travel study course in Beijing and Shanghai called Narratives of the New China, which explores how China is crafting its identity in its post-Olympic era.

Dr. Keranen is past president of the Association for the Rhetoric of Science and Technology (ARST) and past director of the National Communication Association Forum (NCA-F), an NCA-supported advisory group devoted to promoting high quality public discourse about salient social issues. She currently serves on the editorial boards of Health Communication, Western Journal of Communication, Quarterly Journal of Speech, POROI, and the Journal of Medical Humanities.

Select Publications

Refereed Book

Keränen, Lisa. 2010. Scientific Characters: Rhetoric, Politics, and Trust in Breast Cancer Research (Tuscaloosa, AL: University of Alabama Press). This book received the 2011 Marie Hochmuth Nichols Award for Outstanding Scholarship from the Public Address Division of the National Communication Association.

Edited Special Journal Issues

a, ed. 2014. "Medicine, Health, and Publics." Special issue of the Journal of Medical Humanities 35.2: 103-239.

Keränen, Lisa, ed. 2013. "Inventing the Future: The Rhetorics of Science, Technology, and Medicine." Special issue of POROI: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Rhetorical Analysis and Invention 9.1: 1-149.

Articles, Essays, and Book Chapters

Keränen, Lisa, Patrick Dodge, and Donovan Conley. 2014. Modernizing Traditions on the Roof of the World. Journal of Curatorial Studies, forthcoming. 

Keränen, Lisa. 2014. "This Weird, Incurable Disease": Competing Diagnoses in the Rhetoric of Morgellons. Health Humanities Reader, edited by Therese Jones, Lester Friedman, and Delease Wear (Rutgers University Press, 2014): 36-49.

Keränen, Lisa. 2014. Public Engagements with Health and Medicine: Guest Editor’s Introduction and Discussion Guide, Journal of Medical Humanities 35.2: 103-109, 237-239.

Keränen, Lisa. 2013. Conspectus: Inventing the Future: The Rhetorics of Science, Technology, and Medicine, Challenges and Opportunities. POROI: An International Journal of Rhetorical Analysis and Invention 9.1: Article 1, 1-9.

J. Blake Scott, Judy Z. Segal, and Lisa Keränen. 2013. Rhetorics of Health and Medicine: Inventional Possibilities for Scholarship and Engaged Practice. POROI: An International Journal of Rhetorical Analysis and Invention 9.1: Article 17, 1-6. All authors contributed equally to this essay.

Keränen, Lisa. 2013. Technologies of the Self at the End of Life: Pastoral Power and the Rhetoric of Advance Care Planning. The Language of our Biotechnological Future, edited by Michael Hyde and James Herrick (Baylor University Press): 193-218. Recipient of the 2013 Best Edited Book Award from the Communication Ethics Division of the National Communication Association.

Keränen, Lisa. 2011. Concocting Viral Apocalypse: Catastrophic Risk and the Production of Bio(in)security. Western Journal of Communication 75.5: 451-472. Lead essay.

Keränen, Lisa. 2011. Addressing the Epidemic of Epidemics: Germs, Security, and a Call for Biocriticism (9,000 word review essay). Quarterly Journal of Speech 97.2: 224-244.

Keränen, Lisa. 2011. How Does a Pathogen Become a Terrorist? The Collective Transformation of Risk into Bio(in)security. In Rhetorical Questions in Health and Medicine, edited by Joan Leach and Deborah Dysart-Gale (New York: Lexington Books): 85-120.

Bean, Hamilton, Lisa Keränen, and Margaret Durfy. 2011. 'This is London': Cosmopolitan Nationalism and the Discourse of Resilience in the '7/7' Terrorist Attacks. Rhetoric and Public Affairs 14.3: 427-464.

Keränen, Lisa. 2010. "Competing Characters in Science-Based Controversy: A Framework for Analysis." Understanding Science: New Agendas in Communication, edited by LeeAnn Kahlor and Patricia Stout (New York: Routledge): 13


Keränen, Lisa. 2008. "Bio(In)Security: Rhetoric, Scientists, and Citizens in the Age of Bioterrorism". Sizing Up Rhetoric, edited by David Zarefsky and Elizabeth Benacka (Long Grove, IL: Waveland): 227-249.

Keränen, Lisa, and Virginia Sanprie. 2008. "'Oxygen of Publicity' and 'Lifeblood of Liberty': Communication Scholarship on Mass Media Coverage of Terrorism for the Twenty-first Century." Communication Yearbook 32: 231-275.

Keränen, Lisa, Jason Lesko, Alison Vogelaar, and Lisa Irvin. 2008. "Myth, Mask, Shield, and Sword: Dr. John H. Marburger III's Rhetoric of Neutral Science for the Nation." Cultural Studies-Critical Methodologies 7: 159-186.

Keränen, Lisa. 2007. "'Cause Someday We All Die": Rhetoric, Agency, and the Case of the "Patient" Preferences Worksheet. Quarterly Journal of Speech 93: 179-211.

Keränen, Lisa. 2005. "Mapping Misconduct: Demarcating Legitimate Science from 'Fraud' in the B-06 Lumpectomy Controversy." Argumentation and Advocacy 42: 94-113.

Han, Paul K. J., Lisa B. Keränen, Dianne A. Lescisin, and Robert M. Arnold. 2005. "The Palliative Care Clinical Evaluation Exercise (CEX): An Experience-Based Intervention for Teaching End-of-Life Communication Skills." Academic Medicine 80: 669-676.​​

Courses Taught

COMM 1011: Fundamentals of Communication
COMM 4550/5550: Rhetorics of Medicine and Health
COMM 4995: Narratives of the New China​
COMM 6013: Introduction to Graduate Work in Communication

Scholarly Work

Marie Hochmuth Nichols Award for Outstanding Scholarship in Public Address, Public Address Division of the National Communication Association, 2011 

Karl R. Wallace Memorial Research Award in Public Address, National Communication Association, 2010 

Center for Humanities and the Arts (CHA) Faculty Fellowship, “Apocalypse and Transformation,” University of Colorado at Boulder, for course buyout and research stipend, 2008-09 

Top Contributed Paper in Organizational Communication (second author), Western States Communication Association (WSCA), 2008 

Top Four Contributed Paper in Organizational Communication (second author), WSCA, 2007 

Wrage-Baskerville Award for Top Contributed Paper in Public Address (first author), National Communication Association (NCA), 2006 

Junior Faculty Development Award, Council for Research and Creative Work, University of Colorado, Summer Stipend for Science and Self-Defense, 2006-07 

Teaching and Service

CU Presidential Teaching Scholar, University of Colorado, lifetime appointment starting 2014

Excellence in Teaching Award, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, University of Colorado Denver, 2012 

Presidential Citation for Service, National Communication Association, recognition for disciplinary leadership in NCA Forum, 2008 

Unsolicited Nominee, Graduate School Faculty Advising Award, 2008 

Unsolicited Nominee, Faculty of the Year Award, National Society of Collegiate Scholars, 2006 

Lambda Pi Eta Rookie Advisor of the Year Award, NCA, 2005 

Lambda Pi Eta Chapter of the Year Award for Eta Phi, NCA, 2005​