bryan mccann

Bryan J. McCann

Associate Professor - Rhetoric & Cultural 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

Curriculum Vitae


My work broadly engages the intersection of rhetorical and cultural studies, with an emphasis on the racialized and gendered politics of crime and violence in public culture. My current projects attend to the circulation and appropriation of blackness in activist, legal, and literary spaces.  My published scholarship appears in the journals Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies; Critical Studies in Media Communication; Communication, Culture, & Critique; the edited volume Communication Activism; and other international, national, and regional outlets. My first book, entitled The Mark of Criminality: Rhetoric, Race, and Gangsta Rap in the War-on-Crime Era was recently published by the University of Alabama Press.

My teaching and scholarship draw heavily on my involvement with community organizing efforts concerning the prison-industrial complex, organized labor, and other social justice issues. In addition to appearing on local newscasts and the national program Democracy Now!, I have written articles about the death penalty for the online periodicals AlterNet and Jurist.

I also gave a TEDx talk in 2014 on race and criminal justice.

Area of Interest

Rhetorical theory and criticism, cultural studies, Marxist and Post-Marxist thought, race and racism, gender and sexuality, social movements/communication activism, rhetoric and violence, critical affect studies, prison-industrial complex, hip-hop studies

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)

Selected Publications


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

Peer Reviewed Articles

“‘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).

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.

"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.

"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.

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.

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.

Book Chapters, Invited Articles, etc.

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).

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

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

"'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, Jennifer K. Wood (Champaign, IL: University of Illinois Press, 2013), 187-202.

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

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, Forthcoming), 263-90. Co-authored with Jennifer Asenas, Kathleen Feyh, and Dana Cloud.

The Kairos of the Vanguard,” Conference Proceedings of the Alta Conference on Argumentation, 2007, 147-57. Co-authored with Dana L. Cloud and Kathleen E. Feyh.


My page.

The blog of the Prison Communication, Activism, Research, and Education collective (PCARE).