Ph.D. Alum Authors New Book

Ph.D. alum Stephen Underhill is the author of a new book published by MIchigan State University Press. Entitled The Manufacture of Consent: J. Edgar Hoover and the Rhetorical Rise of the FBI, Underhill's book argues that the second Red Scare was a charade orchestrated by a tyrant with the express goal of undermining the New Deal. Drawing on Classification 94, a vast trove of recently declassified records that documents the longtime FBI director’s domestic propaganda campaigns in the mid-twentieth century, Underhill shows that Hoover used the growing power of his office to subvert the presidencies of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman and redirect the trajectory of U.S. culture away from social democracy toward a toxic brand of neoliberalism. He did so with help from Republicans who opposed organized labor and Southern Democrats who supported Jim Crow in what is arguably the most culturally significant documented political conspiracy in U.S. history, a wholesale domestic propaganda program that brainwashed Americans and remade their politics.

Stephen Underhill is currently an associate professor in the Department of Communication at Marshall University. This book is drawn from Underhill's doctoral dissertation; Underhill received the Ph.D. in 2012.

Underhill's book is the latest in a long line of books authored by doctoral alums of the Department of Communication and derived from their doctoral dissertations:

In 2019, Ph.D. alum Bjorn Stillion Southard (Ph.D., 2009) authored Peculiar Rhetoric: Slavery, Freedom, and the African Colonization Movement, published by the University Press of Mississippi. In the book, Stillion Southard examines an array of discourses to probe the complex issues of identity confronting free blacks who attempted to meaningfully engage in colonization efforts. From a peculiarly voiced “Counter Memorial” against the ACS to the letters of wealthy black merchant Louis Sheridan negotiating for his passage to Liberia to the civically minded orations of Hilary Teage in Liberia, Stillion Southard brings to light the intricate rhetoric of blacks who addressed colonization to Africa. Dr. Stillion Southard is currently an assistant professor in the Department of Communication Studies at the University of Georgia.

In 2018, Ph.D. alum M. Kelly Carr (Ph.D., 2010) authored The Rhetorical Invention of Diversity: Supreme Court Opinions, Public Arguments, and Affirmative Action, published by Michigan State University Press. In the book, Carr examines the process of rhetorical invention followed by Justice Lewis F. Powell Jr., his colleagues, and other interlocutors as they sifted through arguments surrounding affirmative action policies to settle on diversity as affirmative action’s best constitutional justification. Carr received the 2019 Kohrs-Campbell Prize in Rhetorical Criticism for The Rhetorical Invention of Diversity. Dr. Carr is currently an assistant professor in the Department of Communication at the University of West Florida.

In 2017, Ph.D. alum Lisa Corrigan (Ph.D., 2006) authored Prison Power: How Prison Influenced the Movement for Black Liberation, published by the University Press of Mississippi. In the book, Corrigan fills gaps between Black Power historiography and prison studies by scrutinizing the rhetorical forms and strategies of the Black Power ideology that arose from prison politics. These discourses demonstrate how Black Power activism shifted its tactics to regenerate, even after the FBI sought to disrupt, discredit, and destroy the movement. Corrigan received the Diamond Anniversary Book Award from the National Communication Association. Dr. Corrigan is currently an associate professor in the Department of Communication and the Director of the Gender Studies Program at the University of Arkansas.

In 2015, Ph.D. alum Jason Edward Black (Ph.D., 2006) authored American Indians and the Rhetoric of Removal and Allotment, published by the University Press of Mississippi. In the book, Black examines the ways the U.S. government’s rhetoric and American Indian responses contributed to the policies of Native–US relations throughout the nineteenth century’s removal and allotment eras. Black shows how these discourses together constructed the perception of the U.S. government and of American Indian communities. Such interactions—though certainly not equal—illustrated the hybrid nature of Native–US rhetoric in the nineteenth century. Both governmental, colonizing discourse and indigenous, decolonizing discourse shaped arguments, constructions of identity, and rhetoric in the colonial relationship. Dr. Black is currently a professor and chair in the Department of Communication at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte.

In 2015, Ph.D. alum Timothy Barney (Ph.D., 2011) authored Mapping the Cold War: Cartography and the Framing of America's International Power, published by the University of North Carolina Press. In the book, Barney considers maps as central to the articulation of ideological tensions between American national interests and international aspirations. Barney argues that the borders, scales, projections, and other conventions of maps prescribed and constrained the means by which foreign policy elites, popular audiences, and social activists navigated conflicts between North and South, East and West. Dr. Barney is currently an associate professor and the interim chair of the Department of Rhetoric and Communication Studies at the University of Richmond.

In 2012, Ph.D. alum Belinda Stillion Southard (Ph.D., 2008) authored Militant Citizenship: Rhetorical Strategies of the National Woman's Party, 1913-1920, published by the Texas A&M University Press. In light of the NWP’s militant identity and its demonstrated political viability,Stillion Southard treats the party’s campaign for woman suffrage as an example of how a relatively powerless group of women constituted themselves as “national citizens” through rhetoric. To this end, she uses volumes of NWP discourse, including correspondence, photographs, protests, and publications, to situate the NWP in the historical and ideological forces of the period, particularly as they are inflected by meanings of nationalism, citizenship, and social activism. Militant Citizenship received the Marie Hochmuth Nichols Award from the NCA Public Address Division. Dr. Stillion Southard is currently an associate professor in the Department of Communication Studies at the University of Georgia.

In 2008, Ph.D. alum Lisa Burns (Ph.D., 2004) authored First Ladies and the Fourth Estate: Press Framing and Presidential Wives, published by Northern Illinois University Press. In the book, Burns analyzes the coverage of presidents' wives in five leading newspapers and magazines—The New York TimesThe Washington PostLadies Home JournalGood Housekeeping, and McCall's—to prove that the press has helped shape the first lady institution as well as influence the changing social and political roles of American women. By examining press portrayals of 20th-century first ladies, Burns highlights the intersection of gender, publicity, and power at particular historical moments. Dr. Burns is a professor and chair of Media Studies at Quinnipiac University.

In 2006, Ph.D. alum James Kimble (Ph.D., 2001) authored Mobilizing the Home Front: War Bonds and Domestic Propaganda, published by Texas A&M University Press. In the book, Kimble examines the U.S. Treasury’s eight war bond drives that raised over $185 billion—the largest single domestic propaganda campaign known to that time. The campaign enlisted such figures as Judy Garland, Norman Rockwell, Irving Berlin, and Donald Duck to cultivate national morale and convince Americans to buy war bonds. Dr. Kimble is a professor in the College of Communication and the Arts at Seton Hall University.

In 2004, Ph.D. alum Camilla Kari (Ph.D., 2002) authored Public Witness: The Pastoral Letters of the American Catholic Bishops, published by Michael Glazier Books. In the book, Kari allows readers to learn of the highlights and obscure portions of the letters without reading through several volumes of Victorian prose. While viewing the letters as a stable genre that evolves to accommodate change in form and purpose, Kari provides historical background, a summary, and a rhetorical analysis of the pastoral letters. 

In 2003, Ph.D. alum Lisa Gring-Pemble (Ph.D., 2000) authored Grim Fairy Tales: The Rhetorical Construction of American Welfare Policy, published by Praeger. In the book, Gring-Pemble asserts that the role of language in shaping policy options is rarely studied and poorly understood. She seeks to analyze congressional hearings and debates on welfare to understand the role of language in framing welfare policy and contemporary welfare discussions. Gring-Pemble reviews welfare history in the United States and provides a rhetorical analysis of welfare deliberations. In the process, the book illustrates the significance of language and ideology in shaping American social policy outcomes. Dr. Gring-Pemble is currently an associate professor in the School of Business at George Mason University.



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