Desks and Editors

Citizen Critics is led by a managing editor in chief and two associate editors. It is additionally comprised of individual editorial desks addressing policy and issue areas relevant to our mission statement and features, each with its own purpose and scope as well as a lead editor.

Editorial Leadership

Dr. Jennifer Mercieca, Managing Editor ([email protected])

Dr. Jennifer Mercieca is an historian of American political rhetoric. She is associate professor in the Department of Communication at Texas A&M University, director of the Aggie Agora, and chair of the Public Address Division of the National Communication Association.

Dr. Heather Ashley Hayes, Associate Editor ([email protected])

Dr. Heather Ashley Hayes is a scholar of rhetoric and violence. She is currently an assistant professor in the Department of Rhetoric and affiliated faculty in the Program in Race & Ethnic Studies at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington as well as the immediate past Book Review Editor for Advances in the History of Rhetoric. She is the author of Violent Subjects and Rhetorical Cartography in the Age of the Terror Wars (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016).

Dr. Michael J. Steudeman, Associate Editor ([email protected])

Dr. Michael J. Steudeman is an assistant professor in the Department of Communication Arts and Sciences at The Pennsylvania State University. He studies the ways policymakers turn to public education as a way to sidestep, reframe, or obfuscate debates over other social problems. His research also considers wider issues of political argument and presidential rhetoric.


Criminal Justice Policy

Dr. Rita Shah, Editor ([email protected])

Dr. Rita Shah is assistant professor of criminology at Eastern Michigan University and author of The Meaning of Rehabilitation and its Impact on Parole: There and Back Again in California (Routledge, 2017). Her research focuses on the social and legal construction of corrections.

Language plays an important role in helping policy-makers frame and advocate for changes to the criminal justice system as well as the creation and implementation of criminal law. This desk publishes work that analyzes the rhetoric around crime and the criminal justice system as well as the criminalization of groups of people. We seek submissions around the discourses of politicians, legislators, media outlets, criminal justice officials, and formal and informal groups that respond to each other in the context of criminal justice policy and discourse.


Education Policy

Dr. Mark Hlavacik, Editor ([email protected])

Dr. Mark Hlavacik is assistant professor of communication studies at the University of North Texas and author of Assigning Blame: The Rhetoric of Education Reform (Harvard Education Press, 2016). His scholarship concerns the theories and ethics of political speech.

This desk focuses on how the language of education policy is imbued with political meaning. It publishes work that analyzes the discourses of political leaders, activists, educators, teachers’ unions, and students concerned with schooling in the United States. We seek submissions that engage or promote rhetorics of curriculum policy and equal opportunity with a paramount concern for the fate of civic education and critical thought in U.S. American democracy.


Environment & Sustainability Policy

Citizen Critics is currently seeking a permanent desk editor for the Environment & Sustainability Desk. If you or someone you know is interested, please contact one of the Associate Editors: Heather Ashley Hayes ([email protected]) or Michael J. Steudeman ([email protected]).

This desk analyzes rhetorical impacts that are intergenerational, highlighting especially energy and environmental policy, climate change, and issues that affect long-term measures of resilience, sustainability, and well-being. We especially invite submissions that intersect with small and disadvantaged communities throughout the world to highlight local effects. We seek submissions that confront discourses on both wide and small scales dealing with the environment, sustainability, and policy actions as well as grassroots and local actions in response.


First Amendment and Media Issues

Dr. Sue Novak, Editor ([email protected])

Dr. Sue Novak is an assistant professor of journalism in the Department of English and Communication at the State University of New York at Potsdam and advises The Racquette student newspaper. She researches Russian journalism and advocacy media.

This desk examines concerns associated with mass media and media literacy as reporters attempt to provide accurate investigative reports and daily coverage of the news and as other pundits weigh in on political issues of the day. We seek submissions related to such issues as language and word usage in reporting, ideological bias, advocacy language, “fake news” charges, problems with or usefulness of satirical “news” sites, framing and priming, data journalism, fact-checking sites, access to government sources, Sunshine Laws/Freedom of Information Act, reporter privilege, Twitter usage as a means of news and policy dissemination and any other pieces that might help our audience parse the millions of messages that media sources distribute each day. This desk is also interested in work that explores the contested boundaries of these rights. In understanding the political, legal, and social aspect of First Amendment controversies, this desk also explores who can(not) speak, what can(not) be said, and the consequences for the development of public discourse necessary to sustain self-government and political liberty.


Health Care Policy

Dr. Emily M. Winderman, Editor ([email protected])

Dr. Emily Winderman is an assistant professor of communication studies at the University of Minnesota. She specializes in the rhetorical study of a wide range of reproductive healthcare, including birth control, family planning, abortion care and birthing practices. She generally approaches this research through lenses of affect theory and public emotion, rhetorical history, and public address.

This desk publishes work on U.S. health care policy, legal parameters around that policy, and political discourse as it relates to various populations of individuals affected by that policy. We seek work that analyzes the ongoing effects and discourse around the Affordable Care Act (as referred to as ObamaCare) as well as the contentious ways in which efforts have been pursued to dismantle its protections. In addition, we seek to publish work on the ways that discourses about health care impact various groups in U.S. American society including women, those seeking mental health care, and underrepresented populations as well as the activism, discourse, and policy approaches employed by those groups in public deliberation about health care.


Immigration and Civil Rights Issues

Kyle Larson, Editor ([email protected])

Kyle Larson is a Ph.D. student and instructor in the composition and rhetoric program at Miami University (Ohio). His research often involves how activist rhetorics on social media help shape public discourse and deliberation.

This desk analyzes discourses and rhetorics concerning racial, gender, disability, and other civil rights oriented justice initiatives, policies, movements, and practices. We accept submissions that offer focus on everything including (as examples) mass incarceration, transgender health care access, police brutality in minority communities, and Black Lives Matter to Native American erasure from public discourse, Arab Muslim feminist resistance against racialized Islamophobic rhetoric, and local community organizing initiatives against gentrification. In addition, this desk publishes work on immigration and migration issues, policies, and initiatives as well as grassroots movements around the political issue of immigration in the U.S.


Religion Policy Desk

Dr. Andrea Terry, Editor ([email protected])

Dr. Andrea Terry is a lecturer in the Communication Studies Department at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. A rhetorical scholar of late twentieth and early twenty-first century conservatism in U.S. culture, her research investigates the contentious and complementary connections among religious and political discourse.

This desk reports about and examines religious discourses as they are used to confirm, challenge, and contest the legitimacy and leadership of the Trump administration. In addition to presidential, legislative, and legal discourses regarding the role of religion in political calculations, we also explore grassroots activist voices. This desk also publishes work that examines religious freedom and right-wing Evangelicals as those discourses evolve and interact with modern U.S. democracy.


Secrecy, Surveillance and Security Policy

Dr. Atilla Hallsby, Editor ([email protected])

Dr. Atilla Hallsby is a scholar of rhetoric and political secrecy. He is an assistant professor of Communication Studies at the University of Minnesota, and is a trained instructor of speech and argument. Dr. Hallsby’s scholarly expertise is in rhetorical criticism and his research examines transparency and secrecy through the lens of continental (psychoanalytic, genealogical, deconstructionist) theory.

Formal methods of governing through secrecy and surveillance date back to the Ancient Egyptians, as well as Classical Greece and Rome. However, over the last two decades new technologies, fears of terrorism, and the rapid development of the internet have generated intense interactions with and new forms of surveillance in society. This desk analyzes changes in surveillance technologies, techniques, and policies. We seek to publish work that pays particular attention to discourses of secrecy, surveillance, and security and their implications for issues of power, marginalization, and privilege.


Terrorism & Middle East Policy

Dr. Heather Ashley Hayes, Editor ([email protected])

Dr. Heather Ashley Hayes is a scholar of rhetoric and violence. She is currently an assistant professor in the Department of Rhetoric and affiliated faculty in the Program in Race & Ethnic Studies at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington as well as the immediate past Book Review Editor for Advances in the History of Rhetoric. She is the author of Violent Subjects and Rhetorical Cartography in the Age of the Terror Wars (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016).

This desk analyzes discourses concerning the decades-long “terror wars,” including but not limited to the post 9/11 invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. armed drone program, and counterterrorism policy. This desk publishes work in particular that speaks to the implications of those discourses and policies on the least advantaged populations around the world. Specifically, this desk would analyze presidential and military counterterrorism rhetorics, discourses of the war on terror, state sponsors of terrorism, and U.S. discourse about terrorist organizations and leaders around the world. The desk also seeks work on international relations with the Middle East and North Africa as a space extensively affected by U.S. terror discourse. We also accept work on other parts of the world insofar as that work deals with terrorism or terror discourses. We publish pieces on other possible domestic issues (e.g. the effects of a “Muslim ban” or the creation of a possible “Muslim registry”) insofar as those discourses are connected to rhetoric(s) around the idea of terrorism.