NATASHA SEEGERT portrait
  • Director of Undergraduate Studies, Communication
  • Assistant Professor (Lecturer), Communication

Research Statement

My work explores the intersections and relationships between animals–the human animal, and the multitude of more-than-human animals who puncture our everyday worlds. Boundary violations between the human and the more-than-human serve as unruly “crossings” that rewild the banal. Animals’ unexpected bounds and flagrant flights into our lives queer human notions of animality. Specifically, I am interested in how animals challenge and transform naturalized human boundaries and barriers. How do the animals we encounter on digital screens breach the boundaries surrounding anthroponormativity and assert their own form of rewilding in human-dominated space?  Animal crossings at unsanctioned intersections have the power not simply to disrupt, but to animate the worlds where we live. Transgressive crossings queer the ways we think about animals.

Research Keywords

  • Human-Animal Relations
  • Environmental Communication
  • Visual Rhetoric
  • Environmental Humanities
  • Visual and Spatial Communication
  • Rhetorical Theory and Criticism
  • Cultural Studies
  • Contemporary Critical Theory

Presentations

  • Where There’s a Monster, There’s a Miracle: Radioactive Boars and Earth’s Abiding . Conference Paper, Refereed, Presented, 02/17/2018.
    https://english.utah.edu/aweandattention/
  • “Digital Tracks and Toxic Trails," Western States Rhetoric and Literacy Conference. Conference Paper, Refereed, Presented, 10/27/2017.
  • "Animal Alterity on the Digital Frontier," Utah Symposium on Science and Literature. Conference Paper, Refereed, Presented, 04/13/2017.
  • 101st Annual Conference: National Communication Association Las Vegas, NV. Seegert, Natasha. “Where Are We Headed: Assessing the State of Rhetorical Studies.” . Conference Paper, Refereed, Presented, 11/20/2015.
  • 101st Annual Conference: National Communication Association Las Vegas, NV. Seegert, Natasha. “The Crowing of Corax: A Flight Path into Animate Rhetoric in the Digital Sphere" . Conference Paper, Refereed, Presented, 11/19/2015.
  • Affect, Images and Digital Media. Salt Lake City, UT. Seegert, Natasha. “Animals, Affect, and the Digital Screen: Revealing Animal Perspectives." . Conference Paper, Refereed, Presented, 09/05/2015.
  • Cultural Studies Association. Salt Lake City, UT. Seegert, Natasha. “Canine Perestroika: Riding a Fast Train from Domesticity.". Conference Paper, Refereed, Presented, 05/2014.
  • 63rd Annual Conference: International Communication Association. London, UK. Seegert, Natasha. “Embracing the Mongrel: Transcendence, Material Engagement, and Hybrid Identity in Ecological Discourse” . Conference Paper, Refereed, Presented, 07/2013.
  • 2013 Alta Conference on Argumentation. Salt Lake City, UT. DeLuca, Kevin M., Brunner, Elizabeth A., Seegert, Natasha, Light, Elinor Christopher. “The Architecture of Oppression: Using Place to Crush Free Speech”. Conference Paper, Refereed, Presented, 07/2013.
  • 84th Annual Convention: Western States Communication Association. Reno, NV. Seegert, Natasha. “Images as Animals, Animals as Images” . Conference Paper, Refereed, Presented, 02/2013.
  • 97th Annual Conference: National Communication Association. New Orleans, LA. Seegert, Natasha. “Taxidermied Wild: The Cipher of Bruno the Voiceless Bear” . Conference Paper, Refereed, Presented, 11/2011.
  • 97th Annual Conference: National Communication Association. New Orleans, LA. Seegert, Natasha. “Where Wings Wither Words and Images Give Voice: Hauntology and Ecological Ruptures” . Conference Paper, Refereed, Presented, 11/2011.
  • 97th Annual Conference: National Communication Association. New Orleans, LA. Seegert, Natasha. “Voices Howling in the City: Re-Wilding Our Urban Narratives” . Conference Paper, Refereed, Presented, 11/2011.
  • 96th Annual Conference: National Communication Association. San Francisco, CA. Seegert, Natasha. “Searching for the Material Animal in PETA’s Rhetoric” . Conference Paper, Refereed, Presented, 11/2010.
  • 96th Annual Conference: National Communication Association. San Francisco, CA. Seegert, Natasha. “Dirty Pretty Trash: Confronting Perceptions through the Aesthetics of the Abject” . Conference Paper, Refereed, Presented, 11/2010.
  • 8th Biennial Conference: Association for the Study of Literature & the Environment. Victoria, BC. Seegert, Natasha. “The Language of Phenomenology and the Phenomenology of Language: Words Marking Pathways to the Other” . Conference Paper, Refereed, Presented, 06/2009.
  • 3rd International Conference: Advances in Service Learning Research. Salt Lake City, UT. McVaugh, Natasha. “Fostering the Experience of the Ecological Self in Elementary School Children” . Other, Presented, 11/2003.
  • 12th North American Interdisciplinary Conference on Environment & Community. Ogden, UT. McVaugh, Natasha. “The Jordan: From Sacred River to Sewage Canal” . Conference Paper, Refereed, Presented, 02/2002.
  • 22nd American Community Gardening Association Conference. Salt Lake City, UT. McVaugh, Natasha. “Cultivating Ecological Awareness through Youth Gardening” . Other, Presented, 11/2001.
  • 8th International Symposium for Society and Resource Management. Bellingham, WA. Werner, Carol M.; Sansone, Carol; Livsey, Sara; McVaugh, Natasha & Smith, Jessie L.. “Changing Environmental Behaviors: Inspiration from Persuasion and Behavioral Self-Regulation Research" . Conference Paper, Refereed, Presented, 06/2000.
  • 8th International Symposium for Society and Resource Management. Bellingham, WA. Werner, Carol M. & McVaugh, Natasha. “Service-learning "Rules" that Encourage or Discourage Long-term Service: Implications for Research and Practice” . Poster, Presented, 06/2000.
  • 8th International Symposium for Society and Resource Management. Bellingham, WA. McVaugh, Natasha; Werner, Carol M.; Sansone, Carol; Livsey Sar; & Smith, Jessie L. “Behavior Change to Support Environmental Policy: The "Enjoying Backyard Nature" Calendar” . Poster, Presented, 06/2000.
  • 8th International Symposium for Society and Resource Management. Bellingham, WA. Livsey, Sara; Werner, Carol M.; Sansone, Carol; McVaugh, Natasha & Smith, Jessie L.. “Encouraging Nature-Friendly Gardening: Strategies that Combine Persuasion and Behavioral Self-regulation” . Poster, Presented, 06/2000.

Publications

  • Seegert, Natasha & Stephen Littlejohn, Karen Foss, John Oetzel (2018). Animate Rhetoric. (pp. 194). Vol. Theories of Human Communicatio, Waveland Press. Accepted, 01/08/2018.
  • “Dogme Productions, with an Emphasis on the Dog: Revealing Animal Perspectives.” Film Criticism, Forthcoming. Examining the intersection of images, animals and affect, I claim that images created by non-human animals impact us affectively and thereby upset our human-centered perspective. Specifically, I consider how GoPro videos from social media destabilize our human perspective. Focusing on a short video – “Run Walter, RUN!!” – I analyze how digital imaging by animals disrupts our human perspective both literally and figuratively. In this process, I am interested in two primary questions. First, how do digital images expand human perception? Second and more importantly, how do digital images provoke an affective enchantment? Videos from the animal’s perspective provide a limited view into the lifeworlds of the more-than-human world and in the process call out to human animal bodies watching on the other side of the screen. These affective encounters have the potential of sparking enchantment, connection, and healing in an ecologically wounded world. Published, 07/01/2016.
  • “Where Are We Headed: Rewilding Rhetoric.” Submitted to Review of Communication. Invited Submission for Special Issue on Rhetoric, Forthcoming. As a challenge to the “all too human” focus of rhetoric, I put forth the concept of “animate rhetoric” as a disciplinary disruption. Despite rhetoric’s critical embrace of poststructuralism – what Ivie refers to as an “ideological turn” – the discipline still tends to naturalize the human as the unchallenged center of rhetoric. Rather than seeing the more-than-human world as dethroning the human’s privileged status of the “symbol-using” animal, I instead consider the expansion of rhetoric to the more-than-human world as a widening and wilding of the conversation that involves other beings who swoop overhead, converse underground, and trail behind garbage trucks. Published, 06/06/2016.
  • “Exploring Environmentalism Amidst the Clamour of Networks: A Social Network Analysis of Utah Environmental Organizations.” Environmental Communication: A Journal of Nature and Culture, Forthcoming. Dwelling in a world awash in multiple environmental crises while science and social theory erode the last vestiges of the subject of humanism, it makes sense to imagine our world beyond the lens of humanism and turn to diverse methodologies in order to explore what is going on and how to promote changes that nurture ecological sustainability. In this essay we take on this task in relation to environmental communication. In what follows we explore the contours of the age after humanism, what we term the Age of the Animate Earth. In the wake of the theoretical and actual deconstruction of the subject, we offer networks as a key unit of analysis. From this perspective, we suggest social network analysis (SNA) as one viable method for doing environmental communication studies and perform this move through a SNA of Utah environmental groups. Published, 12/01/2015.
    http://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/W5S3hUpZPt3weMNc...
  • “Play of Sniffication: Coyotes Sing in the Margins.” Philosophy & Rhetoric, 47 (2) 2014: 158-178. Indigenous to North and Central America, the coyote has been revered in the stories of native tribes, trapped by ranchers, and detonated in Saturday-morning cartoons. Recently, the coyote has assumed the role of “patroller” in downtown Chicago. This paper plays with how the coyotes in Chicago decenter and disrupt the logics of rhetoric, a disruption that results in an encounter of animal rhetorics that are not merely produced by the human animal. The coyotes’ play of “sniffication,” not only ruptures the logics of a center, it also ruptures the anthropocentric system the center was a part of, an anthropocentric structure that attempts to keep rhetoric confined within the sphere of human animals. The texts surrounding the coyotes reveal the unfixed notion of a marginalized being who challenges structural and rhetorical norms. Published, 04/2014.
  • “Dirty Pretty Trash: Confronting Perceptions through the Aesthetics of the Abject.” Journal of Ecocriticism, 6(1) Spring, 2014. Both abjection and the return of the abject are crucial feedback. We send away what we don’t want, but the forced confrontation of the abject can have a transformative power when we actually perceive what is a part of us and not apart from us. Visual feedback serves as a potential “event” that can let us experience how our behaviors are problematic; in turn, this knowledge can result in potential for change. When the abject appears in the form of art, it becomes enframed for our scopic pleasure and itself becomes an object to observe and reflect upon: abject as object. When it comes to our encounters with the material world of nature and art, both are more than the picturesque or the sublime, but instead embody the cultural connections that we sometimes wish we could ignore and keep safely out of sight or at a distance. This is why confrontations with the aestheticized abject can serve as potential sites for encounter and possibly of transformation. Artist Mark Dion conceives of art as part of this transformation, asserting that one way to encourage care for the more-than-human world is through an “aesthetic sensibility.” It is this sensibility that Dion employs in his work to address environmental concerns. Rather than ruminate on the sublime or pastoral, Dion explores the frequently invisible urban ecologies that the vast majority of people encounter but frequently keep at a distance. Dion’s work explores what happens to trash and the othered animals that inhabit such trashscapes. By framing the aestheticized abject in the gallery, we grant our bodies the opportunity to perceive and not to simply to look away. Published, 04/2014.
    https://www.academia.edu/8410196/Dirty_Pretty_Tras...
  • “Queer Beasts: Ursine Punctures in Domesticity.” Environmental Communication: A Journal of Nature and Culture, 8 (1) 2014: 75-91. In 2006, Bruno the bear wandered onto German soil—the first brown bear in 170 years—where he was shot, killed, taxidermied, and put on display (his presence recently resurfaced due to the 2010 Wikileaks). Bruno served as a queer beast in the anthropogenic landscape where he challenged boundaries of what is permissible, and normal. By refusing to honor borders and cultural norms, he disrupted our human sense of control of the landscape. In response to Bruno's unruly presence, humans in turn appropriated him, fixed him as a cipher to fill with their own constructs of wildness and animality, and then deployed those cultural articulations. Performing a critical visual analysis, this paper explores how the anxiety Bruno evoked fixed his queer, hirsute frame as a taxidermied cipher representing discipline, fetishization, and a critique of power. Bruno became an imaginary wild whose presence rhetorically queered the geographical and political landscape. Published, 01/2014.
    https://www.academia.edu/3862768/Queer_Beasts_Ursi...
  • Seegert, Natasha. 2012. “Resignified Urban Landscapes: From Abject to Agricultural.” Rhetoric of Food: Discourse, Materiality, and Power. Ed. Frye, Joshua and Michael Bruner. New York: Routledge Press, 121-138. The People’s Portable Garden of Salt Lake City challenges basic assumptions of the iterability of space, what space can mean, and how space is resignified. In this urban space, the process of aesthetic resignification arises as a political act challenging the distribution of power, of what is acceptable, or of what is “sensible.” Enacting a hybridity of the urban-agricultural by disrupting the urban landscape, the garden is marked by the unexpected contact of disparate bodies. Encounters between an empty lot, human neighbors and non-human bodies open a new space for transformation which is both a political and aesthetic act. Published, 05/2012.
    http://academia.edu/3862753/Resignified_Urban_Land...
  • Werner, Carol, and Natasha McVaugh. 2000. “Service Learning ‘Rules’ that Encourage or Discourage Long-term Service: Implications for Practice and Research.” Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning 7 (2000): 117-125. Published, 07/2000.