Desks and Editors

Citizen Critics is led by a managing editor and comprises editorial desks addressing policy 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.

Alt-Right Policy

Dr. Eleanor Amaranth Lockhart, Editor ([email protected])

Dr. Eleanor Amaranth Lockhart is assistant professor of communication studies at Rowan University in Glassboro, N.J. Her research focuses on the effects of right wing and especially alt-right ideology in popular culture.

This desk monitors the on-going rise of a predominantly online culture which has been associated with the resurgence of hard right discourse and rhetoric and often crosses over with existing White supremacist and anti-feminist organizations. Because of the importance of explicitly alt-right affiliated individuals in the rise of President Elect Donald Trump as well as the general influence of the alt-right on culture, we will monitor the discourse of these particular organizations as a crucial way to develop strategies for resistance.

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 and creation/implementation of criminal law. This desk will analyze the rhetoric around crime and the criminal justice system and the criminalization of groups of people. We will examine the discourses of politicians, legislators, media outlets, criminal justice officials, and formal and informal groups that respond to these other groups.

Disability and Health Care Policy

Patrick Harris, Editor ([email protected])

Patrick Harris is a composition and rhetoric Ph.D. candidate at Miami University.

The rights of those disabled by society, either physically or mentally, have been contentious throughout their history, and are hard-earned. This desk will analyze the rhetoric surrounding society’s duty to accommodate different needs, and instances where health care policy endangers the lives of those who cannot survive without it. We will examine the discourses of politicians and pundits alike in contrast to the activism of disability advocates and the feedback of the general public.


Forrest Rule, Editor ([email protected])

This desk analyzes the rhetorical practices of dissent and the discourses surrounding them. We may cross over with discussions from other desks, but this desk’s focus is specifically in the expressions of dissent, the manner by which social movements and protesters engage in direct action, and the discourses that govern dissent in the public sphere. We are looking for submissions that critically examine the means by which the public(s) resist institutional or dominant policies, practices, and discourses.

Education Policy

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

Dr. Michael J. Steudeman is a visiting assistant professor of rhetoric at the University of Memphis. He studies the rhetoric of education and its role in American civic life.

This desk focuses on how the language of education policy is imbued with political meaning. This desk 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

Dr. Brandon Inabinet, Co-Editor ([email protected])

Dr. Brandon Inabinet is associate professor of communication studies at Furman University. He researches ancient and early republican rhetorics, sustainable advocacy, and civic argumentation, with work appearing in rhetoric journals, law reviews, and popular magazines and grant funded web projects.

Dr. Jessica Prody, Co-Editor ([email protected])

Dr. Jessica Prody is assistant professor of communication studies at St. Lawrence University. Her research on local food, sustainable advocacy, environmental rhetoric, and citizenship appears in journals such as Argumentation and Advocacy and Women’s Studies in Communication.

This desk analyzes rhetorical impacts that are intergenerational, highlighting especially energy and environmental policy, climate change, and issues that affect long-term measures of resiliency and well-being. We especially prefer submissions that intersect with small and disadvantaged communities, to highlight local effects. For example, what does it mean for Dakotas’ First Nations, over the long term, that President Elect Donald Trump says climate change is a Chinese conspiracy? What impact will the appointment of incoming Director of the Environmental Protection Agency communicate to children and future citizens in Flint, Michigan? How might the heinous enforcement of a Moroccan swordfish protection policy spark another Arab Spring uprising, given the local symbolism of a man being crushed by a government trash compactor?

First Amendment Policy

Dr. Jeremiah Hickey, Editor ([email protected])

Dr. Jeremiah Hickey is an associate professor and chair from the Department of Rhetoric, Communication & Theatre at St. John’s University. His research expertise concerns the analysis of public discourse that creates, enhances, and constrains self-government, especially in relation to the first amendment and voting rights.

The First Amendment protects four foundational freedoms necessary to sustain individual liberty and democratic self-government: religious liberty, freedom of speech and expression, freedom of the press, and the right to assemble and petition the government. This desk is 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 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.

LGBTQ Policy

This desk analyzes presidential, legal, policy, and activist discourses concerning issues that affect queer people. We are especially interested in stories that illuminate the intersections between queerness and race, gender, class, immigration status, people living with HIV, and other identities. Our desk will seek to scrutinize White House staffing choices, prospective Supreme Court appointees, and policy initiatives to understand how President Elect Donald Trump’s administration might change the conditions of queer life in America.

Media Criticism

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 will examine 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 will accept 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 out the millions of messages that media sources distribute each day.

Pedagogy Resources Desk

Dr. Trish Roberts-Miller, Editor ([email protected])

Dr. Patricia Roberts-Miller is professor of rhetoric and writing and director of the University Writing Center at the University of Texas, and author of Voices in the Wilderness, Deliberate Conflict, and Fanatical Schemes.

This desk publishes resources for teaching and pedagogy around issues and critiques of political discourse.

Racial Justice

Kyle Larson, Co-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.

Srivi Ramasubramanian, Co-Editor ([email protected])

Dr. Srivi Ramasubramanian is associate dean for climate and inclusion, and associate professor of communication at Texas A&M University. Her expertise is in race/ethnicity, intergroup relations, and media representations..

This desk analyzes the discourses and rhetorics concerning racial justice initiatives, policies, movements, and practices. We accept submissions that offer focus on everything including mass incarceration, police brutality, 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.

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 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. We may cross over with discussions from the Alt-Right and First Amendment desks as they examine religious freedom and right-wing Evangelicals.

Rhetoric Referee

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 comcerns the theories and ethics of political speech.

The Rhetoric Referee weighs in on live controversies over rhetorical practice. Rather than calling attention to the effective use or misuse of persuasive language, the Rhetoric Referee responds when the ethics of a particular rhetorical act have already been called into question resulting in a public disagreement over whether a particular bid for persuasion was defensible public speech. The primary goal of the Rhetoric Referee is to enlighten their audience as to how ethical and unethical persuasive discourse is being parsed by those who are condemning or defending it, especially in comparison with alternative methods by which the same line could be drawn. To be clear, the Rhetoric Referee does not pass judgments on persons (i.e. Is President X a liar?). Additionally, the Rhetoric Referee does not pass judgments on particular rhetorical acts (i.e. Was what President X said a lie?). Instead, the Rhetoric Referee explores the means by which the public passes judgments on particular rhetorical acts (i.e. On what grounds can or should we say that what President X said was a lie?).

Surveillance & Security

Dr. George F. (Guy) McHendry Jr., Editor ([email protected])

Dr. Guy McHendry is an assistant professor of Communication Studies at Creighton University in Omaha, NE. His research focuses on the communicative, rhetorical, performative, and affective dimensions of airport security and the Transportation Security Administration.

Formal methods of surveillance date back to the Ancient Egyptians, however, over the last two decades new technologies, fears of terrorism, and the rapid development of the internet has generated increasingly intensive interactions with surveillance in society. This desk analyzes changes in surveillance technologies, techniques, and policies. We will pay particular attention to discourses of surveillance and their implications on issues of power, marginalization, and privilege.

Terrorism & Middle East Policy

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

Dr. Heather Ashley Hayes is an assistant professor and chair of the Department of Rhetoric and is an affiliated faculty in the Program in Race and Ethnic Studies at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Wash. She is the author of Violent Subjects and Rhetorical Cartography in the Age of the Terror Wars (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016) and studies the intersections between discourses of terrorism, violence, and race.

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. We have an eye in particular for the implications of those discourses and policies on the least advantaged populations around the world. Specifically, this desk would analyze President Elect Donald Trump’s counterterrorism rhetorics, discourses of the war on terror, state sponsors of terrorism, and U.S. discourse around terrorist organizations and leaders around the world. The desk also focuses on stories around 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 analyze and publish pieces on other possible domestic issues (e.g. President Elect Trump’s cabinet selections or the creation of a possible “Muslim registry”) insofar as those discourses are connected to rhetoric(s) around the trope of terrorism.