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Tasha N. Dubriwny

Tasha N. Dubrwiny
Associate Professor
Areas of Speciality
  • Rhetoric and Public Affairs
  • BLTN 302B
Professional Links


Dr. Dubriwny holds a joint appointment with the departments of Communication and Women’s Studies and Gender Studies. Her research focuses on the intersections of feminism, health, and politics. Her first book, The Vulnerable Empowered Woman: Feminism, Postfeminism, and Women’s Health, surveys popular media discourse about women’s health issues, including propylactic mastectomies, cervical cancer, and postpartum depression.


My research seeks to understand the relationship between contemporary events and the rhetorical legacies of second wave feminism. In my work I take seriously the implications of discourse for material reality—e.g., our institutions and industries; our political, medical, and educational structures; and our sexed and gendered bodies. I argue that one way in which discourse is materialized is through human behavior; reciprocally, our actions are intimately linked to our discursive identities. Through the practice of rhetorical criticism, I examine the articulation of identities for women in a broad range of contexts (national politics, medicine, second-wave feminist activism) and I demonstrate how these identities are informed by (and inform) changing rhetorical vocabularies and the rhetorical processes of social change. Although my research is focused on two topical areas—women’s health and women in politics—overall my research asks and answers two questions. First, how have second-wave feminist theories regarding empowerment, agency, and self-determination been “taken up,” used, and/or transformed in contemporary culture? Second, what are the implications, specifically in terms of women’s identities, of contemporary manifestations of feminist discourse? My answers to these questions point to the fluidity in the meaning of “feminism” for Americans and the continued tensions surrounding women’s roles in contemporary America.

Courses Taught

  • COMM 240: Rhetorical Criticism
  • COMM 301: Rhetoric in Western Thought
  • COMM/WGST 411: Representations of Motherhood
  • COMM/WGST 420: Gender and Communication
  • COMM 471: Media, Health and Medicine
  • COMM 634: Gender and Communication
  • COMM 645: Rhetorical and Textual Methods
  • COMM 689: Special Topics, “Gender and Citizenship”
  • WGST 200: Introduction to Women’s and Gender Studies
  • WGST 401: Feminist Theory
  • WGST 481: Senior Seminar, “Gender and Citizenship”
  • WGST 489: Special Topics, “Gender, Health and Activism”
  • WGST 680: Theories of Gender

Representative Publications


book: The Vulnerable Empowered WomanDubriwny, Tasha N. (2013). The Vulnerable Empowered Woman: Feminism, Postfeminism, and Women’s Health. Rutgers University Press. 

The Vulnerable Empowered Woman  assesses the state of women’s healthcare today by analyzing popular media representations—television, print newspapers, websites, advertisements, blogs, and memoirs—in order to understand the ways in which breast cancer, postpartum depression, and cervical cancer are discussed in American public life. From narratives about prophylactic mastectomies to young girls receiving a vaccine for sexually transmitted disease, the representations of women’s health today form a single restrictive identity: the vulnerable empowered woman. This identity defuses feminist notions of collective empowerment and social change by drawing from both postfeminist and neoliberal ideologies.