Alorha Breath

Ellen Gorsevski is a rhetorical theorist whose research focuses on a multitude of areas. Gorsevski is a rather private person; therefore, little information about her life is available to the public. She does have a website containing three blog-style posts where she mentions that she has a husband, two children, and a handful of animals at their farmhouse in Ohio.

Gorsevski is currently an associate professor in the School of Media and Communication at Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, She received a bachelor of arts in humanities from the University of Colorado, Boulder, a master’s in interdisciplinary studies with an emphasis on rhetoric from Oregon State University, and a PhD in communication and rhetoric from Pennsylvania State University.

Ellen Gorsevski describes her research as a focus on:

contemporary rhetoric, visual and embodied communication practices of leaders in peacebuilding, social justice and environmental justice movements [. . .] environmental rhetoric, international/intercultural rhetoric, political rhetoric, social movement rhetoric, media criticism and critical animal and media studies, and nonviolent conflict communication. (“Ellen Gorsevski, Ph.D.”)

She has published in numerous journals, such as Quarterly Journal of Speech, Western Journal of Communication, Journal of Communication and Religion, and Environmental Communication, and authored three books, notably Peaceful Persuasion: The Geopolitics of Nonviolent Rhetoric in 2004.

Gorsevski’s book established a theoretical framework for the use of nonviolent rhetoric to promote world peace (79). Her focus on nonviolent rhetoric is not to be confused with nonviolent communication. Instead, Gorsevski’s focus extends beyond language and into cultural climates of violence—not just day-to-day communication techniques. However, as Do Kyun Kim puts it, “There is a difference between nonviolent rhetoric and pacifism; nonviolent rhetoric generates a power that connects people in peacemaking cooperation” (80). Gorsevski examines communication that seeks to use nonviolent action as a means of creating peace at a political and societal level, but also recognizes there will never be a conflict-free utopia. Each chapter of Peaceful Persuasion is centered on a person or culture/group that used nonviolent means to enact change, also mentioning popular nonviolent rhetors such as Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., and Thich Nhat Hanh. Gorsevski uses the examples as a means of acknowledging that nonviolent rhetoric can handle societal or political conflict to “promot[e] justice and human rights” on a geopolitical scale (179). Kyun Kim states, “As she points out, the victory of nonviolent movements is ubiquitous in human history, but has been veiled by the Western cultural orientation that values violence” (78).

Gorsevski does not condemn persuasive acts such as the use of protest, petitions, letters of opposition, picketing, rude gestures, symbols, paint as protest, marches, pilgrimages, pamphlets, posters, and more as violent, but rather sees them as nonviolent rhetoric itself (183). She believes that it is possible to learn nonviolent ways that can promote healing and systematic change on a global scale the same way humans have learned—and can unlearn—violent ways.



Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License

Open Rhetoric Copyright © by Alorha Breath is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

Share This Book