Cara Anne Finnegan

Professor - Art + Design

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Personal profile

Research Interests

Professor Finnegan is a scholar of rhetoric, public address, and the history of photography. Her research and teaching explore the role of photography as a tool for public life. 

Academic Service

My administrative leadership roles at the University of Illinois have included directing the campus's general education course in Oral and Written Communication (CMN 111-112), running the Communication department's graduate program, serving as associate head of the Communication department, and working as interim associate dean for humanities and arts at the Graduate College. 

Personal profile

Cara Finnegan is a Professor in the Department of Communication. She joined the university in 1999 after completing her Ph.D. at Northwestern University. She holds affiliated appointments in the Center for Writing Studies, Gender and Women's Studies, and Art History. She was named a University Scholar in 2017.

Finnegan's research examines the role of photography as a tool for public life. Photographs are powerful forms of communication: they visualize social issues, make visible those who are often invisible, and foster or limit bonds of identification. Her book-length projects are best described as rhetorical histories of photography, in that she examines the production, composition, circulation, and reception of photographs at specific moments in U.S. history. Her new book, Photographic Presidents: Making History from Daguerreotype to Digital will be published by University of Illinois Press in Spring 2021. 

Finnegan's ideas about photography and visual politics have been featured in a variety of publications in the fields of Communication and U.S. History, as well as in popular media outlets such as the New York Times, CBS, and Vox. 

 

Honors & Awards

Public Voices Fellow, The OpEd Project, 2019-20

University Scholar, 2017

National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Fellowship, 2016-17

NCA Rhetorical and Communication Theory Division Faculty Mentor Award, 2017

Winans-Wichelns Award for Distinguished Scholarship in Rhetoric and Public Address, 2016

Associate, Center for Advanced Study, 2015-16

NCA Visual Communication Division Book Award for Making Photography Matter, 2015

Conrad Humanities Professor, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, 2012-2017

William S. Vaughn Visiting Fellow, Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities, Vanderbilt University, 2006-07

NCA Golden Monograph Award for "Recognizing Lincoln," 2006

Campus Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, 2005-06

NCA Rhetorical and Communication Theory Division New Investigator Award, 2005

NCA Diamond Anniversary Book Award for Picturing Poverty, 2004

Teaching

CMN 340: Visual Politics

CMN 396: Photography and Public Life

CMN 423: Rhetorical Criticism

CMN 450: Gender and Rhetoric

CMN 538: The Problem of the Public

CMN 538: Rhetoric and Visual Culture

CMN 538: Writing Rhetorical Histories

CMN 538: Rhetoric in Context

CMN 529: Writing in Graduate School

Office Address

3001 Lincoln Hall, MC-456
702 S. Wright Street
Urbana, IL 61801

Office Phone

Education/Academic qualification

Communication, Ph.D., Northwestern University

Award Date: Jun 18 1999

Communication, M.A., University of Maine

Award Date: May 15 1995

Communication and Journalism, B.A., University of St. Thomas

Award Date: Jun 1 1992

Keywords

  • E11 America (General)
  • Great Depression
  • U.S. presidency
  • TR Photography
  • history of photography
  • contemporary photography
  • NE Print media
  • print culture
  • art
  • visual culture
  • P Language and Literature
  • rhetoric
  • communication
  • U.S. public address

Fingerprint Fingerprint is based on mining the text of the expert's scholarly documents to create an index of weighted terms, which defines the key subjects of each individual researcher.

Research Output

Read Before Archiving

Finnegan, C. A., 2020, In : Journal for the History of Rhetoric. 23, 1, p. 107-107

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

The Critic as Curator

Finnegan, C. A., Aug 8 2018, In : Rhetoric Society Quarterly. 48, 4, p. 405-410 6 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debate

The Critic as Curator

Finnegan, C. A., 2018, In : RSQ-Rhetoric Society Quarterly. 48, 4, p. 405-410

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

The daguerreotype, republican style and theories of the public image

Finnegan, C. A., Dec 1 2018, In : Explorations in Media Ecology. 17, 4, p. 459-464

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Review: L.E. Gries' Still Life with Rhetoric: A New Materialist Approach for Visual Rhetorics

Finnegan, C. A., Oct 2 2017, In : Quarterly Journal of Speech. 103, 4, p. 415-418

Research output: Contribution to journalBook/Film/Article review

Activities

  • 3 Membership of board
  • 2 Invited talk
  • 1 Oral presentation

Disciplinary Assumptions and Institutional Pasts: Speech and Writing at Illinois

Kelly Allison Ritter (Invited speaker) & Cara Anne Finnegan (Invited speaker)

Mar 7 2018

Activity: Talk typesInvited talk

Rhetoric & Public Affairs (External organization)

Cara Anne Finnegan (Member)

2008 → …

Activity: Membership typesMembership of board

Rhetoric Society Quarterly (External organization)

Cara Anne Finnegan (Member)

2016 → …

Activity: Membership typesMembership of board

A Presidency in Pictures

Cara Anne Finnegan (Speaker)

Nov 2015

Activity: Talk typesInvited talk

Press / Media