Research

I collect, study, and analyze secrets through the lens of rhetorical theory. My research topics include clandestine partisan social movements, political actors influential in developing the national security state, connections between sexual closeting and state secrets, and digital technologies of hacking, cracking, and leaking information. The key question of my research program is: How might rhetorical theory help the public to diagnose its crises of secrecy and security, which seem ever-more pressing at the start of the 21st century? I argue that we should begin by naming such crises as rhetorical secrets, defined as the organizing tropes that underwrite the desire for an unvarnished truth. Whereas many folks tend to view (“official” or “state”) secrets with skepticism for what they conceal, I show how secrets are only ever known or discovered as a rhetoric: as a rigorously structured, after-the-fact revelation that one is out of the know.

My present book project, This Page Left Intentionally Blank, addresses the intersection between public discourse about secrets and important public figures like community organizer Saul D. Alinsky, former Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, transgender transparency activist Chelsea Manning, and exposed CIA agent Valerie Plame. I find the theoretical grounding for this work in the Classical, post-structuralist, and psychoanalytic traditions of Rhetoric. My first article, “Imagine There’s No President: The Rhetorical Secret and the Exposure of Valerie Plame” is published in the May 2015 issue of the Quarterly Journal of Speech and was the recipient of the 2016 NCA Stephen E. Lucas Debut Publication Award. I regularly present at American Communication Studies and Rhetoric conferences, including the National Communication Association, the Rhetoric Society of America, and the Southern States Communication Association. Below you will find information about my academic publications and presentations.

Publications

Peer-Reviewed Encyclopedia Entry. Psychoanalytic Methods and Critical Cultural Studies,” included in Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Communication and Critical Studies. Editor, Dana Cloud. 2018. In press October 2018. [Pre-Publication Draft of Entry]

Peer-Reviewed Article. Atilla Hallsby. “The Rhetorical Algorithm: WikiLeaks and the Elliptical Secrets of Donald J. Trump,” Secrecy and Society 1, volume 2 (2018).

Peer-Reviewed Article. Atilla Hallsby. “Imagine There’s No President: The Rhetorical Secret and the Exposure of Valerie Plame,” Quarterly Journal of Speech 101, volume 2 (2015), 354-378.

Works in Progress

Manuscript. “This Page Left Intentionally Blank” to University of Alabama Press on November 16, 2016. Contract signed in January 2017; full manuscript to be submitted 2018.

Article. “The Rhetorical Secret and the Endurance of ‘On Viewing Rhetoric as Epistemic’ in New Materialist Rhetorical Theory.” To be submitted to Rhetoric Society Quarterly.

Past Conference Presentations

2019

Co-Presenter. Graphed into the Conversation: Conspiracy, Controversy, and Climategate’s Visual Style,” ARSTM Division, National Communication Association, Baltimore, MD. November 14-17, 2019. Co-Presenter: Dustin Greenwalt, Pennsylvania State University.

Panelist. “Spotlight Panel: Honoring Dr. Barbara A. Biesecker,” Teachers on Teaching, National Communication Association, Baltimore, MD. November 14-17, 2019.

Panelist. “Technology and Trauma: Theorizing the Disruptions of a Technocratic World,” Rhetorical and Communication Theory Division, National Communication Association, Baltimore, MD. November 14-17, 2019.

Presenter. Lacan in Baltimore: On the Role of Structure in Psychoanalysis,” Rhetorical and Communication Theory Division, National Communication Association, Baltimore, MD. November 14-17, 2019.

Panelist. “Public-Facing Communication for Survival: The Urgency and Precarity of Citizen Critics,” NCA Forums Division, National Communication Association, Baltimore, MD. November 14-17, 2019.

2018

Panelist. “Graphing Their Way Into the Conversation: Graphs as a Site of Agency in the Climategate Controversy.” Presented during “The Visual Rhetorics of the Network,” ARSTM Division, National Communication Association, SLC, UT. November 8, 2018.

Panelist“Public Address, Law, and Psychoanalysis: Theorizing Free Speech in the Digital Public Sphere through Packingham v. North Carolina,” Freedom of Expression Division, National Communication Association, SLC, UT. November 8, 2018.

Panelist“The Culture Wars Redux: Free Speech and Academic Freedom,” Critical and Cultural Studies Division/Freedom of Expression Division, National Communication Association, SLC, UT. November 9, 2018.

Respondent. “Playing With Fire: African American Rhetoric from Turner to Obama,” African American Communication and Culture Division. National Communication Association Conference, SLC, UT. November 8.

Panelist. “You Live In Public. The Rhetorical Secret and the Vault 7 Leak.” Presented during “New Media, New Rhetorics?: Re-Inventing Rhetoric’s Past with its Technological Future.” Rhetoric Society of America, Minneapolis, MN. May 31-June 3, 2018.

Panelist. “Response to Grano’s The Eternal Present of Sport. Presented during “Spotlight on Scholar: Sport, Rhetoric, Media, and Religion.” Southern States Communication Association, Nashville, TN. April 4-8, 2018.

Panelist. The Statue is Where it Belongs: Iconoclasm, Analepsis, and the Monumental History of White Supremacy.” Presented during “A Lie by Omission? Memory and History in the Debate over the Removal of Confederate Memorials.” Southern States Communication Association, Nashville, TN. April 4-8, 2018.

Panelist. Aggressive Leak Campaigns and the Emasculation of Julian Assange.” Presented during “Disarticulating Whiteness and Masculinity in the Time of Donald J. Trump.” Southern States Communication Association, Nashville, TN. April 4-8, 2018.

2017

Panelist. Rhetorical Theories of Dual Power and Revolutionary Possibilities.” Critical and Cultural Studies Division, National Communication Association, Dallas, TX. November 17, 2017.

Panelist. Invading MySpace: Anxiety and the Paranoid Style of Public Leaking Events.” Presented during “Algorithms and Anxiety in the Public Sphere.” Rhetorical and Communication Theory Division, National Communication Association, Dallas, TX. November 17, 2017.

Panelist. The Rhetorical Invention of America’s (In)Security State.” Political Communication Division, National Communication Association, Dallas, TX. November 16, 2017.

Panelist. “Subtracting Embodiment from Biology in Zero Days and Eye in the Sky.” Rhetoric and Public Address Division, Southern States Communication Association, Greenville, SC. April 5-9, 2017.

2016

Top Paper. “The Zero as a One: Algorithm and Rhetorical Anamorphosis.” Rhetorical and Communication Theory Division. National Communication Association Conference, Philadelphia, PA. November 10-13, 2016.

Panelist. “The Game of Even and Odd: Algorithm and Rhetorical Analepsis,” presented during “Tropes of Algorithmic Culture: Limitations and Opportunities for Civic Engagement.” Critical and Cultural Studies Division, National Communication Association, Philadelphia, PA. November 10-13, 2016.

Competitive Paper. “The Epistemic Secret, or the Endurance of On-Viewing-Rhetoric-As-Epistemic in Contemporary Rhetorical Theory.” Rhetoric Society of America, Atlanta, GA. May 27-29, 2016.

Panelist. “Revisiting the Birth of Biopolitics: Incest and the Dulles Brothers’ Rhetorical Secret.” Rhetoric Society of America, Atlanta, GA. May 27-29, 2016.

Panelist. “Resolved: That U.S. Based Deliberation over Drone Policy is Overly Focused on the Targeting of U.S. Citizens.” Rhetoric Society of America, Atlanta, GA. May 27-29, 2016.

Competitive Paper. “Pornography, Number, and the Dirty Secret.” LACK Conference, Colorado Springs, CO. April 22-23, 2016.

Panelist. “The Rhetorical Formulas of Forgetting,” presented on “A Roundtable on the Science(s) of Rhetoric: Versions of (and Aversions to) the Rhetorical Criticism of Science and Technology.” Rhetoric and Public Address Division, Southern States Communication Association, Austin TX. April 6-10, 2016.

2015

Panelist. “What Exists Between Mouffe and Laclau?” presented during Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe: Advancements and Contributions in Rhetorical and Democratic Theory. National Communication Association, Las Vegas, NV. November 19-22, 2015.

2014

Competitive Paper. “Chelsea Manning’s Turing Test.” Critical and Cultural Studies Division. National Communication Association, Chicago, IL. November 19-23, 2014.

Panelist. “Navigating Theory and The Role of the Scholar: Questions of Theory, Capacity, and Identity in Rhetoric.” Rhetorical and Communication Theory Division. National Communication Association, Chicago, IL. November 19-23, 2014.

Panelist. Commemorating the Life and Work of Ernesto Laclau: Reflections upon Rhetorical Foundations to Come. Special Vice President’s Panel. National Communication Association, Chicago, IL. November 19-23, 2014.

Competitive Paper. “How We Tell the Truth: Secrets, Leakers, and Democratic Care.” Rhetoric Society of America, San Antonio, TX. May 22-26, 2014.

2013

Competitive Paper. “Political Secrets and the Exposure of Valerie Plame.”
Critical and Cultural Studies Division. National Communication Association, Washington D.C. November 20-24, 2013.

Competitive Paper. “Leaky Vessels: The Sexualized Rhetoric of Julian Assange.” Rhetoric and Communication Theory Division. National Communication Association, Washington D.C. November 20-24, 2013.

Competitive Paper. “Valerie Plame and the Rhetoric of the Empty Home.” Rhetoric and Public Address Division. Southern States Communication Association, Louisville, KY. April 10-14, 2013.

2012

Competitive Paper. “Occupying Citizen’s United: Public Pathos in the Moment of Regulative Freedom.” Critical and Cultural Studies Division. National Communication Association. Orlando, FL. November 15-18, 2012.

Competitive Paper. “Becoming Unconscious: das Ding and Animality in “The Thing.” Association for Psychoanalysis in Communication. National Communication Association. Orlando, FL. November 15-18, 2012.

Competitive Paper. “Uptake and Co-Option in James O’Keefe’s Rhetoric of Exposure.” Argumentation Division. National Communication Association. Orlando, FL. November 15-18, 2012.

Competitive Paper. “The Secret of the Leak: WikiLeaks and the Production of Silence.” Rhetoric Society of America, Philadelphia, PA. May 25-28, 2012.

Competitive Paper. “Punched Card Bodies: Technological Trope and Melancholic Loss,” Rhetoric and Public Address Division. Southern States Communication Association, San Antonio, TX. April 11-15, 2012.

Panelist. “Right Here Right Now: Engaging the Rhetoric of our Political Present.” Rhetoric and Public Address Division. Southern States Communication Association, San Antonio, TX. April 11-15, 2012.

2011

Competitive Paper. “Cine-Scapes of Mind and Body: The Imaginative Use of Cinematic Display in Neuroscience.” Society for Cinema and Media Studies, New Orleans, LA. March 10-13, 2011.

2010

Competitive Paper. “The Ghost in the Machine: Computerized Voices and the Technologization of the Human.” Critical Cultural Studies Division. National Communication Association, San Francisco, CA. November 14-17, 2010.

Competitive Paper. “Querying the Queer: Alan Turing and Recursivity as a Modality of Criticism.” Rhetoric Society of America, Minneapolis, MN. May 28-31, 2010.