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Caroline Koons

Caroline Koons

Center for Democratic Deliberation Dissertation Fellow

316 Sparks Building


  1. B.A., Appalachian State University, 2012
  2. B.S., Appalachian State University, 2012
  3. M.A., Baylor University, 2015
  4. Ph.D., Penn State University, anticipated 2019


Caroline Koons is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Communication Arts & Sciences at Penn State. Her research focuses on the intersection of sound and rhetoric to determine how and why sounds function persuasively in public discourse. Her dissertation, titled "Composing American Harmony" in which harmony, along with its oppositional pair, dissonance, are examined as civic virtues with sonic and rhetorical investment. Dissonance is paired with dissent literature in rhetoric and often signaling change that is yet to come. Differences--whether harmonious or dissonant--are required within American democracy but are often cast as disruptive to democratic aims by individuals with non-hegemonic identities. Each chapter takes a different slice of American history in which harmony and dissonance are at stake to determine how the American polis is constructed within that rhetoric of difference. Building on archival songs and images from 1776-1789, 1861-1877, and 1955-1968, the evocations of harmony and dissonance shape the sonic/civic obligations of American citizens through our history.