Digital Humanities | Rhetoric | Technical Communications
Digital Humanities | Rhetoric | Technical Communications
Digital Humanities | Rhetoric | Technical Communications
Digital Humanities | Rhetoric | Technical Communications


Sarah Beth Hopton

Ph.D. Candidate in Digital Humanities, Rhetoric & Technical Communications

As an advanced doctoral candidate in Rhetoric & Technical Communications at the University of South Florida, my research puts the Digital Humanities in conversation with Sociology, Computer Science, and Public Policy, generating new methodologies for research in public rhetoric, policy development, and social change. I have developed big data methods of analyzing large corpuses of texts to understand the ways in which language influences public policy, specifically in the case of the herbicide called ‘Agent Orange’.

I have published three peer-reviewed scholarly articles and a book chapter. “The Rhetorical Challenges and Methodological Opportunities in Facilitating Citizen Participation in Technology Assessment and Development,” another manuscript in progress, has been accepted for publication in a forthcoming edited book collection. Most of these publications resulted from conference talks delivered at more than a dozen national and international conferences, and all explore the intersections of technology, rhetoric, and social justice. I also bring to the Academy more than 15 years of industry experience in Communications, Visual Design, and Public Affairs. My consulting practice informs my scholarship and teaching, and students seem to appreciate my focus on application and service learning.

An avid traveler, triathlete, and SCUBA diver, I have lived in England and Vietnam, have had the great fortune to visit more than 15 countries, have dived with sharks in the Bahamas, Belize, and off the coast of Africa, and recently completed my first sprint triathlon.


Teaching Statement

My work in English Studies falls under the rubric of Rhetoric and Composition with a specialization in Professional and Technical Communications. Whether I am teaching a traditional composition course or an introduction to technical communication, I organize my classes around the rhetorical principles and concepts that drive communication. This supports my subscription to a social epistemic philosophy of knowledge...


Research Statement

Words are never innocent. They are charged with human values. Linguistically, ‘Agent Orange’ is a synonym for TCDD-dioxin, but it’s also a metonym—a part representing the whole of how Americans and Vietnamese think about the ethics of chemical warfare. To some, Agent Orange it is a symbol of deceit and betrayal. To others, it is a symbol of scientific ingenuity and military necessity. Volumes of rhetoric have been generated about Agent Orange, but few studies have systematically explored how and in what ways those rhetorics resulted or frustrated changes of policy and modern political practice on ground in Vietnam, or at home in the United States. Rhetoric of public policy and affordances of big data and technology help me understand the rhetorical activity of policy and opinion development. This has descriptive power, but also the potential for practice, application, and collaboration between Rhetoric and STEM disciplines...


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  • 3

    Articles Published

  • 1

    Chapter Forthcoming

  • 12

    Conference Presentations Delivered

  • $100,000+

    Grant or Scholarship
    Monies Awarded

  • 11

    Curriculums Designed
    or Courses Taught


She is AWESOME. Definitely helps with areas not only related to the classroom but the work world as well. Wonderful communicator, intelligent, and flexible with her students.
Gave great feedback and used up to date technology.
Feedback was very substantive and through! Very appreciated.
Helped me to begin to think about rhetoric and writing importance outside of the classroom.
Clear, concise, and efficient. Easily one of the best professors at USF, no debate.


Carl Herndl, Ph.D.
Professor, University of South Florida
Rhetoric of Science
Meredith Johnson, Ph.D.
Associate Professor,
University of South Florida
Technical & Professional Communications
John Skvoretz, Ph.D.
University of South Florida Sociology
Jurgen Pfeffer, Ph.D.
Research Professor,
Carnegie Mellon Computer Science
Peter Schreffler, Ph.D.
Department Chair,
Florida Southern College