Susan Opt (Ph.D. & M.A., The Ohio State University; B.F.A., Wright State University) is chair and associate professor in the Communication Department at Salem College. She has experience teaching a wide variety of undergraduate and graduate courses including communication theory, communication research, intercultural communication, public relations, public speaking, organizational communication, journalism, and special topics such as the rhetoric of social intervention. Opt has three main areas of research: social/cultural change from a rhetorical perspective, college students' perceptions of HIV/AIDS, and the relationship of Myers-Briggs personality types to communication variables. Her work has been published in journals such as Communication Quarterly, Journal of Radio Studies, Journal of Psychology, and the New Jersey Journal of Communication. She has also authored or co-authored four book chapters. Prior to becoming a full-time academic, Opt worked in the publishing industry as a journalist, typesetter, and book production editor.
This unique communication-based model provides students with a systemic framework for interpreting, analyzing, and critiquing social and cultural change from a rhetorical perspective. It offers students an easily accessible tool for critically reflecting upon the ongoing process of rhetorical intervention in people's perceptions of needs, relationships, and worldview. The model also gives students a methodology for considering social and cultural side effects of rhetorical interventions.
This book offers an overview, explanation, and application examples of the RSI model that are unavailable elsewhere, ties into the trend of emphasizing a critical approach, and contributes to the turn toward a rhetoric of activism.
[The RSI model is based on the assumption that naming, or the human ability to transform both sensed and non-sensed experience into symbols, is the fundamental human activity. The RSI model assumes that we have an inherent need to name for in naming experience, we make sense of and give meaning to that experience. For example, immediately after two planes hit the World Trade Center towers, a national discussion launched on how to name that experience: Terrorism? Revenge? Accident? Desperation? How experience is named influences our perceptions of needs and relationships, so the model assumes. The model lays out the communicative process by which change occurs--in three sub-cycles called need, power, and attention--viewed as dimensions of ideology.