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Faculty | Isaac West

Associate Professor

Office: 220M Edgehill
(1801 Edgehill Ave)
Phone: 615-875-9122

Office Hours

Curriculum Vitae

ISAAC WEST is Associate Professor of Communication Studies. Professor West’s research centers on rhetorics of law, especially sites where gender, sexuality, and citizenship are contested. His first book, Transforming Citizenships: Transgender Articulations of the Law (NYU Press, 2014) demonstrates how trans claims of citizenship can queer legal norms and conventions. Transforming Citizenships was a finalist for the 2014 Lambda Literary Award in LGBT Studies.

Professor West is currently working on two book-length projects. The first is titled The Serial Effect: True Crime and Contemporary American Culture. The Serial Effect traces the circulation of texts such as the podcast Serial, the documentaries The Jinx and Making a Murderer, and other mediations of true crime to explore their popularity as both part of a longer history of true crime entertainment as well as a part of emergent structures of feelings about criminal justice in the United States. Also, these true crime texts rely on evolving modes of exhibition and consumption, such as podcasts and binge watching, which requires us to revisit the form of these programs alongside the content to account for how true crime programming effects media as genres and technologies.

The second manuscript is titled, We, the Persons: A Rhetorical History of Personhood, which explores rhetorics of personhood and their circulation in legal and political spheres as well as in various forms of popular culture. We, the Persons will trace the rhetorical history of personhood in American law so that we might place contemporary controversies about personhood into several contexts. In addition to the historicizing of personhood as a legal category, this book will engage how legal personhood influences American campaign laws, reproductive politics, and interspecies relationships.


Ph.D. Communication and Culture, Indiana University, 2008

M.A. Speech Communication, Kansas State University, 2001

B.A. Speech Communication and History, Kansas State University, 1999

Typical Courses

Communicating Gender
Law, Communication, and Culture
Rhetoric and Civic Life

Representative Publications

“Racial Analogies and Same-Sex Civil Marriage Advocacy.” Philosophy and Rhetoric 48 (2015): forthcoming.

(with Claire Sisco King) “This Could be the Place: Queer Acceptance in Lars and the Real Girl.” QED 1 (2014).

(with Michaela Frischherz, Allison Panther, and Richard Brophy) “Queer World-Making in the ‘It Gets Better’ Campaign.” QED Inaugural Issue (2013): 49-85.

“What is the Matter with Kansas and Sex?: Definitional Ruptures and the Politics of Corporeal Self- Determination.” Argumentation and Advocacy 47 (2011): 163-177.

“PISSAR’s Critically Queer and Disabled Politics.” Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies 7 (2010): 156-75.