Carnegie Mellon University

Susan Hagan

Susan Hagan

Associate Teaching Professor of English, Liberal & Social Sciences

5000 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213


I bring an interdisciplinary perspective to my teaching and research informed by both rhetoric and design. My area of study is visual/verbal rhetoric.

The courses I teach that most directly benefit from this perspective are Writing for the Professions, Web Design, Visual/Verbal Communication, and Document Design. But I find that Academic Reading and Writing and Interpretation and Argument can also have subtle visual/verbal interactions in terms of content studied or proof needed. Most importantly, my teaching is grounded in the fundamentals. Students need to leave my classroom with the ability to create strong claim and proof relationships, elegant style, and clear arrangement.

My research on the design of visual/verbal arguments led to an article that received the 2008 NCTE Best Article on Philosophy or Theory for Technical or Scientific Communication. That exploration inspired my current project now under review, Interplay: How Image, Text, and Typography Create Complementary Meaning. My book offers an approach to invention that builds on the meaning-making differences between image, text, and typography. It introduces the concept of complementary meaning—meaning that is formed by tight visual/verbal interaction.

As part of my interdisciplinary interests, I served on the advisory board of the peer-reviewed design journal Artifact during its years of publication. In that time, I envisioned and co-edited the special issue Artifact: The Interaction of Practice and Theory.

Taking rhetoric to other disciplines continues to inform my study of visual/verbal communication, one that is deeply seated in rhetoric’s traditions and insights.