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Robin Clair

Robin Clair

Professor // Communication
Emeriti Faculty

Affiliated Faculty // Women's Gender and Sexuality Studies // SIS

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Recent Graduate & Undergraduate Courses Taught

COM 610: Rhetoric of Work
COM 674: Culture and Ethnography
COM 610: Narrative Theory
COM 590:  Intersectionalities:  Discourse and the Marginalized
COM 312:  Rhetoric in the Western World
COM 328:  Diversiry at Work

Ph.D., Kent State University
M.A., Cleveland State University
B.A.A.E., University of Cincinnati


Professor Clair's primary research interests are in organizational communication, rhetoric, and cultural studies. Currently, she is the Principal Investigator on an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Grant in which she is leading a team of interdisciplinary scholars to study the cultural, health and narrative impact of water and sanitation issues in rural India. Her work is further supported by The Purdue Global Policy Institute. Prof. Clair has been on the Purdue faculty for 25 years. During that time, she has written extensively on issues such as pay inequity, sexual harassment, work socialization, and diversity. Recently, Professor Clair was named “Diversity Fellow” by Purdue University and was inducted into “The Book of Great Teachers.” She teaches Diversity at Work (COM 328) and Rhetoric (COM 312) at the undergraduate level and Ethnography, Narrative Theory and Diversity classes at the graduate level. With four books, 140+ articles, chapters and papers, she has won numerous awards for her research including several “Top Paper Awards,” two “Research Article of the Year Awards”, two “Outstanding Book of the Year Awards,” and “The Golden Anniversary Award.” She was named to Simmons Institute for Leadership and Change, Boston and has contributed to public policy statements provided to Washington D.C. through the Consortium of Social Science Association. Professor Clair has been a member of several editorial boards (e.g., Communication Theory, Communication Studies, Women’s Studies in Communication, Western Journal of Communication, Journal of Applied Communication and others) and reviewed for numerous other scholarly journals and continues to serve in this capacity. She is a member of the Organizational Communication Division of NCA and member and Past Chair of the Ethnography Division of NCA. Professor Clair has also received awards for her creative work and was named Fellow to the Center of Artistic Endeavors at Purdue University twice. Her first published novel--Zombie Seed and the Butterfly Blues: A Case of Social Justice (an academic mystery about modified seeds and so much more) sold over 5,000 copies its first year and is used in organizational communication, sociology and rhetoric undergraduate courses at a several universities. She has been invited to speak at Columbia University and Manhattan College on the novel and her second Fellowship to the Center of Artistic Endeavors (2016) is to work on the sequel. Most recently she was named Distinguished Alumni—Kent State University.


Clair, R.P. (2013). Zombie Seed and the Butterfly Blues: A Case of Social Justice.  Boston-Rotterdam-Taipei:  SenseClair, R.P., Bell, S., Hackbarth, K., McConnell, M. & Mathes, S. (2008) Why Work: The Philosophy and Rhetoric of Work through the Ages. West Lafayette, IN: Purdue University Press.Clair, R.P. (Editor) (2003). Expressions of Ethnography: Novel Approaches to Qualitative Methods. Albany, New York: State University of New York Press.Clair, R.P. (1998). Organizing Silence: A World of Possibilities. Albany, New York: State University of New York Press.

Representative (Most Recent) Publications

Clair, R.P.  Carlo, S.  Lam, C., Nussman, J., Phillips, C., Sanchez, V., Schnabel, E., & Yakovich, L.(2014). Narrative Theory and Criticism: An Overview toward Clusters and Empathy. Review of Communication.Clair, R.P. & Anderson, L.B. (2013). Portrayals of the poor on the cusp of capitalism: Promotional materials in the case of Heifer International.  Management Communication Quarterly, 27, 537-567. Clair, R.P. & Mattson, M. (2013). From accident to activity: An ethnographic study of community engagement—From symbolic violence to heroic discourse.  Tamara: Journal for Critical Organizational Inquiry, 11, 27-40. Clair, R.P. (2012).  Engaged ethnography and the story(ies) of the anti-sweatshop movement. Cultural Studiesß àCritical Methodologies, 12, 132-145.Clair, R. P. (2012).  Rhetorical ingenuity in the new global realities: A Case of the anti-sweatshop movement.  KB Journal (Journal of the Kenneth Burke Society), 8 (Spring), 60-89.Clair, R. P. (2011). Reflexivity and rhetorical ethnography:  From family farm to orphanage and back again.  Cultural Studiesß àCritical Methodologies, 11, 117-128. Outstanding Research Article of the Year.Clair, R.P. (2006). Narratives in the Old Neighborhood: An ethnographic study of a neighborhood’s stories. Qualitative Inquiry, 12(6), 1244-1261.Clair, R.P. (1994). Resistance and Oppression as a Self-Contained Opposite: An Organizational Communication Analysis of One Man's Story of Sexual Harassment. Western Journal of Communication, 58, 235-262.Clair, R.P. (1993).The Use of Framing Devices to Sequester Organizational Narratives: Hegemony and Harassment. Communication Monographs, 60, 113-136. Golden Anniversary Award