Department welcomes Kirt Wilson

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The department welcomes Kirt Wilson, who joins us as an associate professor of Communication Arts & Sciences.

Kirt H. Wilson is a rhetorical critic and theorist whose research moves from African American public discourse to presidential rhetoric and from nineteenth-century rhetorical practice to theories of social change and race.  Professor Wilson graduated from Purdue University with an MA in 1991 and from Northwestern University in Evanston, IL with a Ph.D. in 1995.


Prior to coming to Penn State, Dr. Wilson served as Assistant and Associate Professors of rhetoric and communication at the University of Minnesota (1996-2010). There he taught courses in African American civil rights discourse, argument theory and practice, close textual criticism, collective memory, sentimental aesthetics, and US public address. He served as the Director of Graduate Studies for the Communication Studies Department at Minnesota and as a faculty advisor on numerous collegiate and university committees. From 2008-2009 he was a CIC Academic Leadership Fellow.


In addition to numerous journal articles and book chapters, he is the author of The Reconstruction Desegregation Debate: The Politics of Equality and the Rhetoric of Place (Michigan State Press , 2002) and an Associate Editor for The Sage Handbook of Rhetorical Studies (2009). In 2004, the University of Minnesota honored professor Wilson with a McKnight Presidential Fellowship, an honor extended to only a handful of tenured associate faculty each year. Professor Wilson has won the National Communication Association's New Investigator Award (2001), the Karl R. Wallace Memorial Award (2002), and two book awards--NCA's Winans-Wichelns Memorial Award and the Marie Hochmuth Nichols Award for Published Research.


Professor Wilson is currently writing two book-length manuscripts. In the first he considers the theory and practices of mimesis (imitation) in the nineteenth-century United States. In the second he is uncovering the sentimental aesthetics that construct our collective memories of the civil rights movement. In 2010 he published a book chapter titled, "The Racial Contexts of Public Address: Reconstruction Violence as Text and Context," in the Handbook of Public Address and "Debating the Great Emancipator," in the journal Rhetorical & Public Affairs.


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