Professor, Department of English,
Associate Dean for Arts & Humanities, with responsibility for Undergraduate Education
John was a Henry Rutgers Scholar in intellectual and cultural history at Rutgers College (1970) and earned his M.A. in speech communication at the University of North Carolina (1976) and his Ph.D. at the University of Iowa (1984) in rhetoric and communication studies. His research concerns the relationship between rhetoric and social/political theory and focuses on the critique and reconstruction of liberal-democracy as it manifests itself in the socio-political practices of late modern U.S. public culture. His first book was a rhetorical history of the concept of “equality” in American political discourse from the founding period to the mid 1980s. His most recent scholarship focuses on the relationship between rhetoric, citizenship, and visual culture, with particular attention to photojournalism as a mode of “public art” that underwrites liberal-democratic public culture. He is particularly interested in the relationship between visuality and the problem of socio-political judgment as it implicates the question “what does it mean to see and to be seen as a citizen.” He is the author and co-author of numerous books and articles, and has served as the editor of the Quarterly Journal of Speech (2008-2010), and is the Senior Editor for a book series on “Rhetoric, Culture, and Social Critique” at the University of Alabama Press. He also co-hosts a weekly blog on rhetoric, visuality, and photojournalism: www.nocaptionneeded.com/. He has won numerous awards including the Kau Tappa Alpha Award for the Best Book in Journalism and Mass Communication (2007), the Winans-Wichelns Award for Distinguished Scholarship in Rhetoric and Public Address (2008) and the National Communication Association’s Diamond Anniversary Book Award (2008). He is also a three time recipient of the National Communication Association’s Golden Monograph Award ( 1997, 2002, 2004) and in 2012 he was honored with the National Communication Association’s Distinguished Scholar Award. He is a CIC Academic Leadership Fellow for 2012-13. John was the Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of Communication and Culture (1993-2003) and served twice as the chair of the College Policy Committee (2010-11, 2011-12).