Ryan Skinnell is an Associate Professor of Rhetoric and Writing and an Assistant Writing Program Administrator in the Department of English and Comparative Literature at San José State University. He is also an SJSU faculty media expert in political speech, politics, and rhetoric and an OpEd Project Public Voices Fellow.
Dr. Skinnell studies political rhetoric and public discourse, especially as it relates to authoritarianism, demagoguery, and extremism. He has published six books, including Faking the News: What Rhetoric Can Teach Us About Donald J. Trump (2018) and Rhetoric and Guns (forthcoming 2021). In 2019, he proposed, co-edited, and contributed to a special issue of Rhetoric Society Quarterly, titled Rhetoric’s Demagogue | Demagoguery’s Rhetoric, which considers the effects of demagogic rhetoric on contemporary world politics; and he is currently working on a book about how Adolf Hitler used rhetoric to persuade millions of Germans to support, or at least acquiesce to, Nazism.
Dr. Skinnell has published more than 80 articles, book chapters, and op-eds, and he has given more than 80 presentations to academic and non-academic audiences on topics ranging from demagoguery, fascist rhetoric, and contemporary political discourse to American education, bureaucracy, and faculty development. In 2014, he taught a faculty research seminar in Islamabad, Pakistan as part of a U.S. State Department Public Diplomacy Program, and in 2019 he participated in an international faculty seminar, “Media, Democracy, and the Representation of Individual Realities,” in Paris, France. Dr. Skinnell is the review editor for Present Tense: A Journal of Rhetoric in Society, a founding scholar of the Independent Critical Thinking & Writing Co., and a regular external reviewer for Pakistani doctoral candidates. He has won awards for his research and teaching, as well as for conferences he has coordinated.