Ryan Skinnell

Ryan Skinnell
San José State University · English & Comparative Literature

Doctor of Philosophy
Writing a book about Hitler's rhetoric.

About

61
Publications
3,199
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Citations
Introduction
I am an Associate Professor of Rhetoric & Writing in the Department of English at San José State University, where I teach writing and rhetoric courses at all levels. I am an expert in political rhetoric and public discourse, especially as it relates to authoritarianism, demagoguery, and extremism. I also write about bureaucracy, institutional rhetoric, histories of rhetoric and writing (particularly in higher education), historiography, and archival research.
Additional affiliations
August 2020 - present
San Jose State University
Position
  • Professor (Associate)
August 2015 - July 2020
San Jose State University
Position
  • Professor (Assistant)
September 2011 - August 2015
University of North Texas
Position
  • Professor (Assistant) of Rhetoric and Writing
Education
August 2007 - May 2011
Arizona State University
Field of study
  • Rhetoric, Composition, and Linguistics
August 2004 - June 2007
California State University, Northridge
Field of study
  • Rhetoric and Composition Theory
September 1997 - December 2001
University of California, Santa Barbara
Field of study
  • English, History (minor)

Publications

Publications (61)
Book
Full-text available
First-year composition became the most common course in American higher education but not because it could “fix” underprepared student writers, but because it has historically served significant institutional interests. That is, because it has historically served significant institutional interests, it can be “conceded” in multiple ways to help ins...
Book
Full-text available
Donald J. Trump's speaking and writing invite passionate reactions ― maybe he’s a bluecollar, billionaire hero who speaks the language of the common man or maybe he’s a gleefully illiterate, tremendously unqualified idiot. Whatever the case, he was persuasive enough to get himself elected President of the United States and he’s been persuasive enou...
Article
Full-text available
Despite varying understandings of who or what a demagogue is or what a demagogue does, it is little surprise that demagoguery has long occupied rhetoricians, who are of course also interested in persuasion, argument, politics, public speech, affect, emotion, ethics, deliberative discourse, and essentially all the other realms of rhetorical action t...
Book
Full-text available
Reinventing (with) Theory in Rhetoric and Writing Studies collects original scholarship that takes up and extends the practices of inventive theorizing that characterize Sharon Crowley’s body of work. Including sixteen chapters by established and emerging scholars and an interview with Crowley, the book shows that doing theory is a contingent and c...
Book
Full-text available
Guns and gun violence occupy a unique rhetorical space in the United States, one characterized by silent majorities, like most gun owners; vocal minorities, like the firearm industry and gun lobby; and a stalemate that fails to stem the flood of the dead. How Americans talk, deliberate, and fight about guns is vital to how guns are marketed, used,...
Chapter
Drawing on the work of historians, philosophers, and rhetoricians, I argue that sincere deception is inextricably connected to fascist rhetoric. In the fascist version of truth, truth is felt, it is authentic, it is sincere. Whether or not it’s also factual is beside the (fascist) point. As such, lying obviously and egregiously, but sincerely, sign...
Chapter
This chapter explores productive means to help students move past attempts to ascribe “good” or “bad” intentions and consider the argumentative qualities that make demagoguery work. Read the full text at: https://manifold.as.uky.edu/read/teaching-demagoguery-and-democracy-rhetorical-pedagogy-in-polarized-times/section/937fa61a-020d-4afa-b46f-83f9df...
Article
Octalogs I, II, and III (1988; 1997; 2010) have become important touchstones in our field, offering myriad perspectives concerning histories of rhetoric and rhetorical studies. In “Rhetorical Historiography and the Octalogs,” a reflection on all three Octalogs published in Rhetoric Review in 2011, James J. Murphy asks: “What will be the concerns of...
Presentation
University Scholar Series, San José State University. (Sept. 2021) https://scholarworks.sjsu.edu/uss/43/
Article
Salon, 7 Aug. 2021. https://www.salon.com/2021/08/07/trump-praised-hitlers-economic-miracle--and-thats-even-worse-than-it-sounds/. Reprinted in Raw Story, 7 Aug. 2021. https://www.rawstory.com/trump-hitler-economic-record/.
Article
History of Yesterday, 6 Aug. 2021. https://historyofyesterday.com/a-sweaty-hitler-is-a-sincere-hitler-and-sincerity-is-profoundly-persuasive-8472c937b229
Article
Fake news feels exceptional in the post-Trump era, but it’s not. We are in an era of fake news, but not the first one. By situating our current moment on a longer timeline, we can recognize tools writing teachers have at our disposal in a new era of fake news.
Presentation
Research Seminar, Rhetoric Society of America Summer Institute. Syracuse University. (May 24-28, 2021) http://rhetoricindarktimes.wordpress.com/ *Conducted online due to COVID-19.
Article
Newsweek, 16 Mar. 2021. https://www.newsweek.com/only-strong-will-survive-american-echoes-dark-past-opinion-1576321
Article
Politically Speaking, 11 Mar. 2021. https://medium.com/politically-speaking/the-maga-mutiny-shows-that-america-isnt-a-fascist-country-yet-8d037b79fc5e
Article
Full-text available
One of the ongoing debates among historians is whether a more durable left-wing coalition in post-WWI Germany could have prevented the Nazis from coming to power. I can’t resolve this question, but I contend that the failed anti-Nazi coalitions highlight challenges for left and left-leaning coalition-building in a damaged democracy. In particular,...
Article
Enculturation 33 (2021). http://enculturation.net/review_counterstory.
Article
Public Seminar, 10 Dec. 2020. https://publicseminar.org/essays/trump-lied-his-way-in-and-is-lying-his-way-out/
Article
Arc Digital, 7 Oct. 2020. https://medium.com/arc-digital/shitposting-for-fun-and-profit-f8eca394e213
Article
The Hill, 1 Sept. 2020. https://thehill.com/opinion/campaign/514564-checking-facts-is-the-wrong-way-to-understand-political-persuasion.
Article
https://theglobepost.com/2020/06/15/us-riots-oppression/
Chapter
Rhetorical scholars often acknowledge that institutions have an outsized influence on public discourse. But there nevertheless remains significant opportunity for rhetoricians to develop additional theories of institutional rhetorics that help explain how institu­tions get the right to speak, how they exercise that right, how they convey the right...
Article
3-week curricular unit for writing class. The Independent Critical Thinking & Writing Co. (2020). https://www.vitalsource.com/ products/good-faith-argument-ryan-skinnell-vvcs0365048505366.
Chapter
Institutions often develop specific rhetorical strategies for defining and advancing institutional goals. These rhetorical strategies regularly become institutional and rhetorical patterns that shape multiple institutions as a cohesive group despite manifesting in locally specific ways under specific circumstances. Additionally, institutions often...
Article
Demagoguery is a subject of much discussion around the world in light of recent international political affairs. But since demagoguery remains a contested term, the definition invites continued deliberation as rhetoricians grapple with its usefulness, persistence, and presence in world affairs, and as they consider what, if anything, to do about it...
Book
Full-text available
Bureaucracy usually only becomes visible when it stops working—when a system fails, when an event gets off schedule, when someone points to a problem or glitch in a carefully calibrated workflow. But Bureaucracy: A Love Story draws together research done by scholars and students in the Special Collections at the University of North Texas to illumin...
Article
http://www.h-net.org/reviews/showrev.php?id=52428
Article
Full-text available
Spec. issue of Journal of Media Ethics, "The #MeToo Moment: Social Movement and Challenge for Media Ethics"
Article
Full-text available
Composition historians have long argued that writing programs were radically transformed in the post-WWII era as a consequence of GI Bill enrollments. But, rising enrollments in this period were not just the cause of huge expansions in first-year writing programs. Rather, first-year composition helped to bring about huge expansions in higher educat...
Article
http://compositionforum.com/issue/37/skinnell-bradbury-review.php
Research
Full-text available
Studying writing in higher education is codified in first-year requirements as a thing you learn prior to content—prior to history, literature, and so on. In the US context, professors, administrators, and even students often believe writing is a thing they should have learned before coming to college, and studying writing is therefore a regrettabl...
Article
http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/ten-miles-square/2016/03/why_trumps_promises_of_disaste060115.php
Article
Full-text available
Most historical research in rhetorical studies is underwritten by an imperative to “broaden” the field’s historical horizons—to seek out overlooked, underrepresented, or excluded subjects. This “broadening imperative” is commonly aligned with revisionary historiography, which became a tool for historians to critique disciplinary values during the c...
Book
Full-text available
What We Wish We d Known: Negotiating Graduate School contains 15 chapters written by graduate students who explore the ways they have made sense of, and made choices about, graduate school challenges, including choosing a committee, teaching as a graduate student, and writing a dissertation. Chapter authors each work from the basic question: What d...
Article
First-year composition emerged at Harvard largely because of administrative attempts to address institutional, as opposed to pedagogical, issues. In particular, Harvard administrators sought to improve articulation with public high schools in order to increase enrollments, attract new populations of students, and retain matriculants. First-year com...
Article
A new generation of rhetoric and composition specialists is making WPA work an area of specialization and actively seeking WPA positions upon graduation. Recognizing this emergent narrative, we describe the research we conducted as co-founding members of the Writing Program Administrators Graduate Student Organization (WPA-GO) and call for a more r...
Article
Composition historians have recently worked to recover histories of composition in normal schools. This essay argues, however, that historians have inadvertently misconstrued the role of normal schools in American education by inaccurately comparing rhetorical education in normal schools to rhetorical education in colleges and universities. Consequ...
Article
Elizabeth Cady Stanton is widely regarded as one of the most important women's rights orators of the nineteenth century. She is credited with opening new rhetorical spaces for women through brilliant rhetorical appeals. In her 1854 speech to the Legislature of New York, however, her brilliant rhetorical appeals were also appeals to the racist, clas...
Article
In this essay, I look back at one of the most notorious examples of composition studies in the public sphere, the battle over the first-year composition syllabus at the University of Texas at Austin in 1990—the so-called Battle of Texas—to explore the controversy as it developed both inside and outside the academy. Then, using the example of the Ba...
Article
(http://enculturation.net/circuitry-in-motion) YouTube might reasonably be understood in terms of the relative merit of individual videos that feature political attacks, or laughing babies, or guitar virtuosos, especially as individual videos generate millions of views and potential rewards for their stars. However, YouTube’s role cannot be reduce...

Projects

Projects (3)
Project
Hitler’s Rhetoric examines Adolf Hitler’s use of recognizable rhetorical practices to persuade Germans to support, or at least acquiesce to, Nazism. This book considers the historical conditions and contemporary relevance of Hitler’s rhetoric for non-specialist audiences.
Archived project
Publication of edited collection
Archived project
This is a special issue of Rhetoric Society Quarterly (vol. 49, no. 3, 2019) proposed and co-edited by Ryan Skinnell and Jillian Murphy. Despite varying understandings of who or what a demagogue is or what a demagogue does, it is little surprise that demagoguery has long occupied rhetoricians, who are of course also interested in persuasion, argument, politics, public speech, affect, emotion, ethics, deliberative discourse, and essentially all the other realms of rhetorical action touched by the demagogue. Still, after more than two and a half millennia of deliberation on the matter, rhetoricians are still grappling with demagoguery—how to define it, how to identify who engages in it, how to explain its rhetorical character and effects, how to resist it, and how to reverse it, or if it’s even possible to do so. The essays in this issue advance that effort in a time when demagoguery is once again on the rise.