My research, teaching, and professional writing all tend to concern rhetoric, performance studies, and digital media. I’m particularly interested in the interplay of performativity, new media, and humor.
Laughter and Consequence: Rhetoric and the Trouble with Intention in Humor and Identity Politics. Dissertation. Defended summer 2015.
- This project interweaves performative rhetoric and humor studies and applies theories from those areas to case studies of humorous treatments of race, gender, and sexuality. The polysemic nature of language, and especially of humor, calls into question the effects of joking about identity — when does laughter subvert racist or misogynist ideologies, when does it reinforce hegemony, and how do we know? Laughter and Consequence takes up these questions to extend current conversations about humor and identity: addressing the relationships between the ethos of the performer and notions of group identity, as well as the role of media in the performances.
“Borat, Sacha Baron Cohen, and the seriousness of (mock) documentary.” Comedy Studies 6, no. 1 (2015).
- Sacha Baron Cohen’s performances have been valorized and condemned by popular media and academics alike. While many critiques strive to elaborate on the specific target of his humor or the contents of his films, these readings treat his performances as discrete artifacts rather than an emergent style. In this article, I read Cohen’s film and the character, Borat, from a rhetorical perspective, arguing that Cohen’s performances illustrate the inherent paradox of attempting to draw distinctions between serious and non-serious uses of language. Using speech act theory and post-structuralist philosophy, I challenge clear-cut genre distinctions (Borat does not fit cleanly into either the mockumentary genre or the documentary genre, but works as a hybrid of the two) and a reliance on context or intention as markers of humorous, non-serious utterances.
“Pleased to Tweet You.” (Web development by Paul Muhlhauser) Harlot 13 (2015).
- In this webtext, I apply performance theory and Richard Lanham’s concept of the “attention economy” to the practice of live tweeting at academic conferences, arguing that live tweeting turns conferences into a form of participatory theatre, granting increased agency to spectators, and fostering a greater sense of community amongst colleagues. The article is an archival evolution of a conference presentation/performance, describing and reenacting the ways in which live Tweeting creates a “participatory theatre” for conference-goers, and the article argues for an ethics of participation. Incorporating Tweets related to the ethics of live-Tweeting alongside Woodruff and Ranciere’s work on theatre and spectatorship, this webtext not only examines the complexities of audience behavior at conferences and what Tweeting does and means, it recreates a live conference and invites readers to themselves Tweet – to participate in the conversation.