public and professional discourses, focusing on rhetorics of transitional justice and reconciliation
Susan Lawrence received her PhD in Rhetoric from Carnegie Mellon University in 2005. Her research interests lie at the intersection of public and professional discourses, focusing on rhetorics of transitional justice and reconciliation. She teaches courses in research methods, including discourse analysis and ethnography, in accountability rhetoric, and in professional and technical writing.
She has published on the South Africa Truth and Reconciliation Commission Amnesty Hearings, examining how a language for explaining atrocity emerges in a time of political transition (in Rhetoric in Detail, John Benjamins 2008). Her current book project, Shaping Accountability: Discourses of Political Transition in South Africa, details how the amnesty hearing accounts were shaped by the need to establish whether perpetrators' offenses had been politically motivated. It argues that this orientation to the political motivation requirement yielded a discourse of accountability—accounts of both individual responsibility and systemic wrongdoing—that militated against the TRC's vision of political reconciliation and the democratic sensibilities it hoped to create.