bryan mccann

Bryan J. McCann

Associate Professor - Rhetoric & Cultural Studies


Affiliate Faculty, African and African American Studies 

Affiliate Faculty, Women's and Gender Studies

Bachelor's Degree(s): Illinois State University (2002)

Master's Degree: Illinois State University (2004)

PhD: The University of Texas at Austin (2009)

Phone: (225) 578-6813


Office: 126 Coates Hall

Gender Pronouns: He/Him/His

curriculum vitae

Research & Teaching

Bryan J. McCann is a cultural critic whose research and teaching interests include black studies, crime and public culture, critical affect studies, critical prison studies, critical university studies, cultural studies, hip-hop studies, masculinity studies, performativity, rhetorical studies, social movements, and whiteness studies. He teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in argumentation and debate, social movements, crime and public culture, intersectionality, the politics of citizenship, rhetorical criticism, and social theory. He also serves as affiliate faculty in African and African American Studies, as well as Women's and Gender Studies. He is the author of The Mark of Criminality: Rhetoric, Race, and Gangsta Rap in the War-on-Crime Era (University of Alabama Press, 2017), as well as numerous scholarly essays that have appeared in journals such as Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies; Communication, Culture, and Critique; Critical Studies in Media Communication; Quarterly Journal of Speech, and Rhetoric Society Quarterly.

Presently, McCann is pursuing three separate book projects that share a common emphasis on the politics of whiteness. One examines efforts by the white radical left to appropriate black aesthetic practices during the Depression era. The second critiques various political, popular, and artistic appropriations of serial killer Ted Bundy. Lastly, working with his colleague and collaborator Ashley Noel Mack, McCann is pursuing a project that analyzes the carceral, heteronormative, and anti-black logics that mobilize many contemporary discourses regarding sexual violence.

McCann’s teaching and scholarship draw heavily on his involvement with community and campus advocacy efforts concerning the prison-industrial complex, organized labor, academic freedom, campus climate concerns, and other social justice issues.

Undergraduate & Graduate Courses

CMST 2063 – Argumentation and Debate

CMST 3169 – Rhetoric of Social Movements

CMST 4162 – Crime, Communication, and Culture

CMST 7962 – Seminar in Rhetorical Criticism

CMST 7965 – Rhetoric and Social Theory

CMST 7966 – Rhetoric and Intersectionality

CMST 7970 – Rhetoric and Citizenship(s)

Awards & Honors

Northwest Communication Association Human Rights Award (2008); National Communication Association Donald P. Cushman Memorial Award (2009); Western States Communication Association B. Aubrey Fisher Outstanding Journal Article Award (2014); National Communication Association Critical and Cultural Studies Division New Investigator Award (2014); National Communication Association Karl. R. Wallace Memorial Award (2017); Article Award, National Communication Association American Studies Division (2018)

Selected Publications


The Mark of Criminality: Rhetoric, Race, and Gangsta Rap in the War-on-Crime Era. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2017.


 “Live, Virtual, and Spectral: Being Present at the Prison (Tour),” Text and Performance Quarterly 39 (2019): 95-115. (Lead article)

“Dialoging with Bigger Thomas: A Reception History of Richard Wright’s Native Son,” Advances in the History of Rhetoric 22 (2019): 92-114.

“Critiquing State and Gendered Violence in the Age of #MeToo,” Quarterly Journal of Speech 104 (2018): 329-44. (Co-authored with Ashley Noel Mack).

 “Materialist Rhetoric,” in Encyclopedia of Communication and Critical Studies, ed. Dana L. Cloud. (New York: Oxford UP, 2018),

“‘Strictly an Act of Street Violence’: Intimate Publicity and Affective Divestment in the New Orleans Mother’s Day Shooting.” Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies 14 (2017): 334-50. (Co-authored with Ashley Noel Mack). 

“PCARE @10: Reflecting on a Decade of Prison Communication, Activism, Research, and Education, while Looking Ahead to New Challenges and Opportunities.” Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies 14 (2017): 288-310. (Group-authored piece with fellow members of the Prison Communication, Activism, Research, and Education (PCARE) writing collective for which I had primary editorial responsibilities).

“Proletarian Blackface: Appropriation and Class Struggle in Mike Judge’s Office Space.” Communication, Culture, & Critique 9 (2016): 362-78. 

“‘Chrysler Pulled the Trigger’: The Affective Politics of Insanity and Black Rage at the Trial of James Johnson, Jr.” Rhetoric Society Quarterly 46 (2016): 131-55. 

“Holding Each Other Better: Discussing State Violence, Healing, and Community with BreakOut!” QED: A Journal in GLBTQ Worldmaking 3 (2016): 98-116.

Speaking in Times of Terror: Discovering Radical Context and Difficult Questions in Forensics Competition,” Texas Speech Communication Journal 40 (2016): 8-17. (Lead article)

"On Whose Ground? Racialized Violence and the Prerogative of "Self-Defense" in the Trayvon Martin Case." Western Journal of Communication 78 (2014): 480-99. (Recipient of B. Aubrey Fisher Outstanding Journal Article Award, Western States Communication Association). 

"Entering the Darkness: Rhetorics of Transformation and Gendered Violence in Patty Jenkins's Monster." Women's Studies in Communication 37 (2014): 1-21 (Lead article). 

"Redemption in the Radical and Neoliberal Imaginations: The Saga of Stanley "Tookie" Williams," Communication, Culture, and Critique 7 (2014): 92-111. 

"Affect, Black Rage, and False Alternatives in the Hip-Hop Nation," Cultural Studies <=> Critical Methodologies, 13 (2013): 408-18. 

“‘A Fate Worse than Death’: Reform, Abolition, and Life without Parole in Anti-Death Penalty Discourse,” in Working for Justice: A Handbook of Prison Education and Activism, eds. Stephen John Hartnett, Eleanor Novek, and Jennifer K. Wood, 187-202. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 2013).

"Contesting the Mark of Criminality: Race, Place, and the Prerogative of Violence in N.W.A.'s Straight Outta Compton," Critical Studies in Media Communication 29 (2012): 367-86. 

“Saving Kenneth Foster: Speaking with Others in the Belly of the Beast,” in Communication Activism, Volume 3: Struggling for Social Justice Amidst Difference, eds. Lawrence R. Frey and Kevin M. Carragee (Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press, 2012), 263-90. (Co-authored with Jennifer Asenas, Kathleen Feyh, and Dana Cloud).

“Turning Silence into Speech and Action: Prison Activism and the Pedagogy of Empowered Citizenship,” Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies 8 (2011): 331-52 (Lead article). Co-authored with Stephen John Hartnett and Jennifer K. Wood. 

“Queering Expertise: Counterpublics, Social Change, and the Corporeal Dilemmas of LGBTQ Equality,” Social Epistemology 25 (2011): 249-62.

“Genocide as Representative Anecdote: Crack Cocaine, the CIA, and the Nation of Islam in Gary Webb’s ‘Dark Alliance,’” Western Journal of Communication 74 (2010): 396-416. 

“Therapeutic and Material <Victim>hood: Ideology and the Struggle for Meaning in the Illinois Death Penalty Controversy,” Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies 4 (2007): 382-401. 

“Fighting the Prison-Industrial Complex: A Call to Communication and Cultural Studies Scholars to Change the World,” Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies 4 (2007): 402-20. (Group authored piece with fellow members of the Prison Communication, Activism, Research, and Education (PCARE) writing collective). 



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