My research explores the rhetoric of social movements. Specifically, I’m interested in how advocates for the labor movement use speech, protest, and disobedience to change their working conditions and senses of self. I’m especially fascinated by the way that women workers, who have historically performed work seen to have less value, help convince the public of the importance of their labor. I’ve written a book about how Communist women in the United States rhetorically crafted a home for their feminist activism in the Party during the 1940s and 1950s. You can learn more about my book here.
I’ve also begun working with the Lab for Character Assassination and Reputation Politics (CARP) at George Mason. With them, I’m exploring character attacks in the age of Senator Joseph McCarthy. I’m interested in how accusing someone of being a Communist, or redbaiting, was an effective form of smearing reputations from the 1950s to the present.
One other strand that runs through my research is an attempt to understand how speakers or persuaders in the present make use of the past. How do, I like to explore, we make sense of the past and use it for persuasive ends? I got interested in this during my research on the Communist Party because I realized that the reason we don’t know much about Communist women’s activism is because our public memory has been shaped by McCarthyism.
This list comprises my most recent article-length publications:
“Entrepreneurs and Immigrants: Representing American Identity in the National Museum of American History.” In The Soul of the Nation: U.S. Public Memory and the National Mall, edited by Roger Aden, 119-134. Lanham, Maryland: Lexington Books, 2018. Find the book here.
“‘The Most Important Dress in the Country’: The Rhetoric of Glamour in the Smithsonian’s ‘The First Ladies,'” Women’s Studies in Communication 40, no. 3 (2017): 270-288. Find it online here.
“‘Honest Toil’: Labor, the Body, and Citizenship in the Knights of Labor, 1880-1890,” Rhetoric Society Quarterly 46, no. 1 (2016): 66-88. Find it online here.
“Spheres of Influence: The Intersections of Feminism and Transnationalism in Betty Millard’s Woman Against Myth.” In Standing in the Intersection: Feminist Voices, Feminist Practices in Communication Studies, edited by Cindy Griffin and Karma R. Chávez, 169-188. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2012.
“‘In The Bonds of Woman and the Slave’: Analogy and Collective Identity in Woman’s Rights Discourse, 1860-1869.” In Rhetoric Concord and Controversy, edited by Antonio de Velasco and Melody Lehn, 142-154. Long Grove, IL: Waveland Press, 2012.