Ellen Rigsby


Professional Overview: 

Ellen M. Rigsby received her Ph.D. in Rhetoric from UC Berkeley in 2001.  Her fields of study are political and rhetorical theory, popular culture, and utopian studies.  Her research interests examine how people imagine government in texts they read and write:  she analyzes popular culture texts, literature, public address, political philosophy and legal texts.  She is an Associate Professor at Saint Mary's College of California, where she teaches in the Communication Department, and has published on Ursula Le Guin and Hannah Arendt.

School of Liberal Arts » Communication
School of Liberal Arts » MA in Intercultural Communication
SMC Email Address: 
Contact Information: 

Sichel Hall - 105 C and The Collegiate Seminar Office

Phone: 4953
Fax: 376-7282
Email: erigsby@stmarys-ca.edu
Mail: P.O. Box 3528


  • Ph.D Rhetoric, University of California, Berkeley, 2001
    Dissertation: Vagaries of the Republic: Classical Republicanism and Millennialism in Three Nineteenth-Century Utopian Communities. Marianne Constable (chair), Frederick Dolan, Samuel Otter
  • M.A. Rhetoric, University of California, Berkeley, 1994
  • B.A. Political Science, Johns Hopkins University, 1991
    Dept. Honors

Professional Experience

Teaching Experience:

  • Associate Professor of Communication - Saint Mary's College of CA (July 01, 2005)
  • Assistant Professor of Communication - Saint Mary's College (August 2000 - June 30, 2005)

Courses Taught

Recently Taught:

  • Rhetoric of Privacy and Surveillance
  • Qualitative Methods
  • Senior Thesis

Regularly Taught:

  • Qualitative Methods
  • Communication and Social Understanding


Professional Organizations:

  • Member, Society for Utopian Studies
    (1999 - Present)
  • Member, Science Fiction Research Assn
    (1999 - Present)
  • Member, American Studies Association
    (1996 - Present)


Selected Presentations

  • Buying Books: Class, The Liberal Arts, and U.S.Higher Education. Rigsby, Ellen (paper)
    Society for Utopian Studies
    (October 2011)


Scholarly Interests: 


  • Teaching Interests

     American Political Theory and Media Law; American Political and Legal Rhetoric; Communication Theory; American Utopian Thought; Speculative Fiction.

  • Research Interests
    • Study of Political Fantasies: I call what I study political fantasies rather than utopian literature or speculative fiction or utopian communities because my interests and approaches cross these boundaries. I am interested in constructions, both real and imaginary, of governments, politics, constitutions, reform and the like. My dissertation reflects these interests, and unites my graduate fields of study: contemporary rhetorical theory, American political and legal theory, and nineteenth-century American utopian thought.
  • Languages
    French, Chinese (spoken Mandarin), Latin, German, Greek