Skip to main content

Current Research

I’m currently developing several articles and book chapters for publication. Some of those projects include:

An essay that examines the rhetoric of doubt during the COVID-19 pandemic. I explore the idea of doubt as a structure of feeling that has permeated U.S. culture since March 2020. I argue that prevalent discourses of individual choice undergird this ubiquitous sense of doubt and such rhetorics undermine attempts to streamline collective narratives about the pandemic. The lasting uncertainty that has exacted itself into our daily lives is sure to impose itself for years to come and, as a result, we must learn to more efficiently manage our relationship to doubt in an era of radical indeterminacy. Media fixation on a COVID-19 outbreak during a pride celebration in Province Town is given particular attention to scrutinize how this doubt has, and has not, been culturally constructed.

A journal article that examines the 2005 occupation of the Tennessee State Capitol by disability activists who were protesting cuts to TennCare, the state’s Medicaid program. Activists stayed in the capitol for 75 days, making it the longest in-door sit-in in U.S. history. I explore this event to think through the relationship between embodied justice and the necessity of rhetorical abstraction to forge identification across a range of bodies to incite collective action. Those objecting to the cuts elucidated how some bodies are rhetorically naturalized as “at-risk,” and thus denied public accommodations when rendered as metrics rather than people. I argue that the demonstrators attempted to reconfigure reductive schemas of risk using corporeal practices of resistance to actualize an ethos of access.

A book chapter about the role LGBT publics played in the evolution of the so-called culture wars, especially in the struggle over HIV/AIDS. Sparring with cultural conservatives crafted a dialogical mode of address, with each side using the other to fortify public identities, galvanize social campaigns, and organize political acrimony for the next several decades.

An encyclopedia entry focusing on the concept of crip theory as it has been used in Communication Studies. I focus on three discernable qualities of crip theory: its critique of normative understandings of the body, the contingent materialization of crip practices, and the political character of crip. These touchstones provide a useful orientation for capturing the scope of crip theory in Communication Studies, including in the areas of media representation, public culture, and performance studies.

An article that scrutinizes the role of “dignity” in the Obergefell v. Hodges Supreme Court decision, which legalized same-sex marriage in 2015. Although commentators and activists were deeply suspicious of dignity’s role in the same-sex marriage decision, I treat the term as an ideograph to detail how we might productively engage the idea with discourses of social change. I suggest that dignity occupies a critical space among other ideographs in contemporary law, specifically those of “liberty” and “equality.” Dignity does much more than act as a stable referent for a rights-based discourse. Rather, it fluidly navigates the rhetorical architecture of liberty and equality in the service of rendering gay and lesbian bodies material within universal understandings of personhood that are necessary to both legal reasoning and cultural ascriptions of the human.