I was very excited to accept my current position as an Assistant Professor of English at Western Carolina University, in Cullowhee, North Carolina. WCU–also an acronym for “We Carry Umbrellas,” because it rains a hell of a lot here, and the Smokies are considered a temperate rainforest–serves a diverse student population, primarily from rural western North Carolina, but also from the urban area of Charlotte. It was this student population, more than anything, that drew me to WCU. I grew up in a similarly rural part of Appalachia further north on the spine of the range, in Virginia. My very first time on campus, during my on-campus interview, I felt a connection to WCU’s students, who come from cultures shaped in profound ways by the local landscape, which is simultaneously rugged and beautiful.
My university recognizes these students’ cultures, and seeks primarily to serve them, and places that service at the center of its mission as a regional comprehensive university. I too seek to serve that mission, to serve the local community and culture, in my own case through rhetorically based education. I am lucky to have the opportunity to serve our student population by teaching both undergraduate and graduate courses, and by helping to develop both our undergraduate and graduate curricula.
In terms of research, I am currently working on finalizing several articles that have been “in-process” for some time now. They deal with topics such as the ethics of clarity, the rhetorical function of peer review, and ideology and language in the US intelligence community.
I am also working on dramatically revising my dissertation, “Rhetorical Intelligence: The Role of Rhetoric in the US Intelligence Community,” into a manuscript that I hope will eventually be published as a scholarly book. The book will have a different title, “Rhetorical Intelligence: The CIA, Iraq, and the Politics of Expertise,” that I think better alludes to the crux of my arguments, and hopefully has a little more “curb” or “shelf” appeal for publishers. I am adding two chapters, one entirely new, and another split off from an existing dissertation chapter and then expanded. All chapters are facing my editorial knife, with major changes to the original text. (I might be in a minority of academics who take pleasure in the drama of revision.) I will also be writing entirely new introductory and concluding material.
I’m always hesitant to describe my areas of “expertise.” Something feels limiting or anti-intellectual in the undertaking. It makes me feel intellectually claustrophobic to start pitching about labels. But, here goes: [info missing]
Personally, my ambitions run much more to the haphazard. See my Interests section for more details. Though I will say that I am currently working to expand the reach of the Long-Earred Hummingraven Rod and Social Club™ beyond the Sange de Cristo range, possibly into the Davis Mountains of West Texas, and/or the Abruzzo region of Italy (the latter being where my mother’s kin are from, and the former simply cool, even if getting a little too hip for my tastes).
“Strap them kids in, Give ’em a little bit of vodka in a cherry coke, We’re going to Oklahoma to the family reunion for the first time in years”
–James McMurtry, “Choctaw Bingo”