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Kelly Happe

Happe Headshot
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Associate Professor
Graduate Coordinator

Kelly Happe is associate professor in the Department of Communication Studies and the Institute for Women's Studies, and graduate coordinator for the Institute for Women's Studies.

Dr. Happe is a rhetorical theorist and critic working at the intersection of Marxism, feminism, science studies, and biopolitics. Her scholarship has appeared in The Quarterly Journal of SpeechNew Genetics and SocietyMediaTropes, Philosophy and Rhetoric, and other venues.  Her book, The Material Gene: Gender, Race, and Heredity After the Human Genome Project was published by NYU Press and is winner of the 2014 Diamond Anniversary Book Award from the National Communication Association. Dr. Happe is also the recipient of the 2014 Golden Anniversary Monograph Award for her essay "The Body of Race: Toward a Rhetorical Theory of Racial Ideology,” also from the National Communication Association. She is co-editor of the 2018 book Biocitizenship: On Bodies, Belonging, and the Politics of Life.

Most recently, she was awarded the 2019 Creative Research Medal for the Humanities and Arts by the University of Georgia. In 2017-2018, she completed a Study in a Second Discipline Fellowship in the Department of Genetics with one of the nation's leading epigenetics researchers.  The fellowship is part of her ongoing work on the social history and philosophy of biological concepts. She continues work on a series of essays on rhetoric, utopia, and radical economic thought, and is in the early stages of co-editing a book on the rhetorics of care. Her next book project, tentatively titled “Capacitating Capital: Rhetoric, Race, and Science in the Bioeconomy” theorizes and describes the role of science in capacitating the debilitated and racialized body for value-making in late capitalism. The book advances scholarship on biocapital and biopolitics by considering the relationship between science, race, value, and economy; moreover, by showing the historically-specific ways in which scientific rhetoric capacitates the body in late capitalism, the book advances methodological debates in a variety of disciplines as well as clarifies what effective strategies of resistance and transformation might be.

In addition to her scholarship, Prof. Happe teaches courses in rhetorical theory, feminist theory, social movements, queer theory, Marxism, and science studies. In 2019 she was selected to teach in UGA’s Study Abroad program in Oxford, UK. She serves on the editorial boards of Quarterly Journal of Speech, Rhetoric and Public Affairs, and Rhetoric of Health and Medicine as well as the advisory boards for Review of Communication and the “Rhetoric and Public Culture: History, Theory, Critique” book series with University of California Press. She is currently Book Review Editor for Philosophy and Rhetoric.

Professor Happe received her PhD in rhetoric, with a secondary emphasis in media studies and cultural studies, at the University of Pittsburgh under the direction of Carol Stabile. While there, she also studied extensively with faculty in the Cultural Studies program and the History and Philosophy of Science department and her work was supported by a Cultural Studies Fellowship and a Mellon Pre-doctoral Fellowship. She has been active in local community organizing, serving as a board member for the organization Athens for Everyone (including serving as its President for two years) and leading its coalitional efforts to institute criminal justice reform in Athens, GA. She is a proud member of Local 3265 of the United Campus Workers of Georgia.

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