Dr. Rebecca Carruthers Den Hoed analyzes academic discourse and how it is used in scholarly debates about knowledge and truth and in media debates about good citizenship and “right” living. In her earlier work, she focused on how academic discourse was used in expert debates about atomic theory and quantum physics: she investigated how researchers used academic discourse to argue for the logical validity of claims (using mathematical proof) and the ethical validity of claims by appealing to authority, reputation, and community assent (‘our claims are good because respected members of the community agree this is the way things should be done’).
Her current work focuses on how academic discourse is used in media debates about the “right” way to supply and eat food: she investigates how food activists and journalists argue for the ethical superiority of certain food choices (using moral arguments about ‘better’ ways to farm, forage, buy, or consume foods), but in a way that borrows heavily from academic knowledge claims about physical health, environmental sustainability, ecological resilience, and biological conservation. She is especially fascinated by the way media and academic discourses borrow from each other in debates about food—legitimizing claims about ‘good’ food and citizenship by appealing to expert academic research, while spurring people to ‘right’ action by claiming the moral superiority of certain food choices.
Her research currently focuses on debates about ‘wild’ vs ‘domestic’ food in global food systems and how these foods are moralized (as superior vs. inferior) and legitimized/marginalized through links to areas of academic research (climate change, sustainable development, population health). She previously taught at the University of Calgary and the University of Lethbridge, specializing in academic writing across the disciplines, rhetorical history and theory, and science and health communication. She now teaches in the School of Journalism, Writing, and Media Studies.