Research Interests

My research revolves around three unique subjects that often intertwine: racial rhetorics, public memory, and writing assessment. As I state on my homepage, I am particularly interested in ways racial rhetorics affect public memory and shape writing assessment.

After President Obama’s election in 2008, America entered took on discourse of being “post-racial,” where many publicly argued that our historicized racial struggle was behind us. However, recent encounters in Ferguson, the Trayvon Martin case, the Spurs’ national anthem dilemma, the fear that anyone who looks “Middle Eastern” is a “terrorist,” and countless other public uproars on race demonstrate America’s racial divide, which I believe calls for more rhetorical scholarship. Rhetoricians are uniquely positioned to analyze racialized public discourse, and I believe America’s false state of “post-racial” creates some unique public realms where race interacts with ideology, history, and public memories.

Elvis Allen 3
An image of me talking to Elvis Allen, local historian in my hometown, for the upcoming documentary Man on Fire.

I am especially interested in the ways people remember race through material and cultural productions–via racialized memorials, historical statue, and racist legends. I have recently analyzed how people remember Confederate memorials, such as the Confederate Defenders of Charleston monument in central Charleston, South Carolina. Also, my dissertation explores the racist folklore of my hometown, finding ways that these tales impact local residents and even affected Charles Moore so much that he chose to self-immolate.

Along with public memory, I have secondary interests in writing assessment, especially in the ways it connects with race. One of my forthcoming publications calls for writing programs to do more statistical research on what sort of students are in their first- and second-year courses because as student demographics change, I believe the way we teach composition, the way we describe success and help students succeed, will alter due to these populations. Other assessment research I have conducted explores how how mostly white students engage with scholars of color in public lectures and the ways we think about affirmative action as classroom policy.

Of course, this is just a brief description of my various research interests and my recent publications. More can be found on my CV page.

A protest I took part in following an officer accosting a teenage African-American woman in McKinney, TX

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