Writing & Research

Research Interests

My current research investigates political and public discourse, especially as it relates to authoritarian, demagogic, and extremist rhetoric. I also write about bureaucracy, institutional rhetoric, histories of rhetoric and writing (particularly in higher education), and historiography and archives.

Books & Edited Special Issues

Alden et al cover 3b   RSQ Cover   DJT cover

bureaucracy cover   Conceding_Composition cover   wwwwk cover

Current Projects

Rhetoric in Dark Times [Rhetoric Society of America Summer Institute seminar], In this seminar, we will revisit important rhetoric and public discourse scholarship that has tried to explain uses and abuses of rhetoric in dark times, particularly following Hitler’s rise. The seminar’s readings will be organized around common explanations for the failures of public deliberation in the 20th century, including the rise of factions, the destabilizing effects of social change, the emergence of new information technologies, the perils of too much democracy (a.k.a., rabid populism), and the rise of income inequality. Apply by Nov. 1, 2020.

Rhetoric and Guns [essay collection], co-editor (with Lydia Wilkes and Nathan Kreuter): Rhetoric and Guns explores rhetoric in the contexts of gun violence, legislation, culture, media, history, and education. Guns and gun violence occupy a unique rhetorical space in the 21st century United States, one characterized by silent majorities (such as most gun owners), vocal minorities (such as the firearm industry and lobby), and a stalemate that fails to stem the tide of the dead.

Hitler’s Rhetoric [book]: I’m in the early stages of writing a book about Hitler’ rhetoric and what rhetoric can teach about how Hitler came to power and what his example means for us in the 21st century.

Recent Publications


“What Institutional Logics Can Teach Us About Institutional Rhetorics (And Why We Should Care).” Re-inventing Rhetoric Scholarship: Fifty Years of the Rhetoric Society of America. Ed. Roxanne Mountford, Dave Tell, & David Blakesley (Parlor Press, 2020): 162-8.

Good-Faith Argumentation.” 3-week writing course curricular unit. Boston, MA: The Independent Critical Thinking & Writing Co. (2020).

Reinventing (with) Theory in Rhetoric and Writing Studies: Essays in Honor of Sharon Crowley. Ed. Andrea Alden, Kendall Gerdes, Judy Holiday, & Ryan Skinnell (Utah State University Press, 2019)

(for more)


Losing Big Might be Trump’s Best Campaign Strategy.” The Hill Reporter, 26 Oct. 2020.

‘Defund the Police’: A Simple Slogan for a Complex Problem.” The Fair Observer, 9 Oct. 2020. 

Good Democracy Requires Disagreement, Conflict, and Argument.” The Fulcrum, 7 Oct. 2020.

Shitposting for Fun and Profit: Memes, Rhetoric, and Russian Trolls.” Arc Digital, 7 Oct. 2020.

Trump’s Health and the Threat of Political Amnesia.” The Hill Reporter, 18 Sept. 2020.

Checking Facts is the Wrong Way to Understand Political Persuasion.” The Hill, 1 Sept. 2020.

(for more)

Recent Media

La Eterna y Pertinaz Demagogia.” Etcétera, 10/17/2020

Episode 44: The Big Political Special with Drs. Jennifer Mercieca, Donnie Johnson Sackey, & Ryan Skinnell.” The Big Rhetorical podcast. Aug. 2020.

Ryan Skinnell on Trump, Demagoguery, and Frank Speech.” Interview with Yasemin Elrabaa and Brett Glasscock for UT Austin’s The Parlor, DRW/DWRL podcast. Summer 2020.

Episode 18: Ryan on Fascism Research, Truth, and Rhetoric.” Pass Your Passion podcast, 6/26/2020