Writing & Research

Research Interests

I am an expert in political rhetoric and public discourse, especially as it relates to authoritarianism, demagoguery, and extremism. I also write about bureaucracy, institutional rhetoric, histories of rhetoric and writing (particularly in higher education), historiography, and archival research.

Books & Edited Special Issues

Alden et al cover 3b   RSQ Cover   DJT cover

bureaucracy cover   Conceding_Composition cover   wwwwk cover

Current Projects

Hitler’s Rhetoric [single-authored book]: Hitler’s Rhetoric examines Adolf Hitler’s use of recognizable rhetorical practices to persuade Germans to support, or at least acquiesce to, Nazism. This book considers the historical conditions and contemporary relevance of Hitler’s rhetoric for non-specialist audiences.

Rhetoric in Dark Times [faculty seminar]: In this Rhetoric Society of America Summer Institute 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.

Recent Publications


Rhetoric and Guns. Ed. Lydia Wilkes, Nate Kreuter, and Ryan Skinnell. (Utah State University Press) [accepted, forthcoming 2021]

“Deceiving Sincerely: The Embrace of Sincerity-as-Truth in Fascist Rhetoric.” In The Rhetoric of Fascism: Devices for the Cult of Irrationality. Ed. Nathan Crick. (University of Alabama Press) [accepted, forthcoming 2021]

“Rewriting Demagogic Discourses.” In Teaching Demagoguery & Democracy. Ed. Michael Steudeman. (Intermezzo) [accepted, forthcoming 2021]

“Teaching Writing in the (New) Era of Fake News.” College Composition and Communication [accepted, forthcoming 2021]

(for more)


Only the Strong Will Survive? American Echoes of a Dark Past.” Newsweek, 16 Mar. 2021.

The MAGA Mutiny Shows that America Isn’t a Fascist Country…Yet.” Medium, Politically Speaking, 11 Mar. 2021.

Attempted US Capitol Coup a Security and Existential Crisis.” The Globe Post, 3 Mar. 2021.  Cross-posted at The College Post, 3 Mar. 2021.

Trump’s Rhetoric Wasn’t Inconsequential, and We Should Not Act Like It Is.” The Hill Reporter, 25 Feb. 2021.

Trump Lied His Way In and Is Lying His Way Out: What 20th-Century Fascists Can Teach Us about the Need for Truth in the 21st-Century.” Public Seminar, 10 Dec. 2020.

We Learned Plenty These Four Years. The Lessons Apply Going Forward.” The Fulcrum, 23 Nov. 2020.

(for more)

Recent Interviews/Podcasts

Featured interview for “The Future of Politics on Twitter,” by Jessica Zimmer, The Rally, 3/12/2021

Radio interview (pre-recorded) about conspiracy rhetoric, Rebecca Corral, KCBS All News 106.9FM and 740AM, 1/16/2021

“Ask an Expert” radio interview (live) for “Political Rhetoric Comes Under Scrutiny,” Rebecca Corral, KCBS All News 106.9FM and 740AM, 1/11/2021

Television interview for “Apple Removes Parler From App Store in Wake of U.S. Capitol Riot,” Sergio Quintana, NBC Bay Area News, 1/9/2021

Radio interview, “Survey Estimates 1 in 4 Americans Won’t Get Vaccinated for COVID-19 as Anti-Vaxxers Sow Doubt,” Matt Bigler, KCBS All News 106.9FM and 740AM, 12/18/2020

Television interview, “With Multiple Vaccines in the Mix, Herd Immunity Could Come by Summer,” Andrea Nakano, KPIX CBS 5, 12/17/2020

Television interview, “Health Experts Stress Importance of Bolstering Vaccine Confidence for Communities of Color,” Jesse Gary, KTVU FOX 2, 12/17/2020

(for more)