Heather Ashley Hayes

I am a scholar, writer, and educator of over seventeen years. I’m interested in social implications of rhetorical practice and how humans use symbols to make meaning and address problems of common concern. My research centers on violence and discourses of terror. I write about those discourses both domestically within the US and as part of the global terror wars. I am particularly interested in the intersection of domestic sociopolitical landscapes with dynamics of global violence and war, both of which are remade through discourses of terrorism. I additionally engage work about histories and circulations of violence as they relate to race, rhetorical practice, and national security in public discourse, film, and militarized & carceral spaces throughout the world.

I am currently appointed as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Rhetoric and teach in both the Programs in Race and Ethnic Studies and Film and Media Studies at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington, USA. My first book, Violent Subjects and Rhetorical Cartography in the Age of the Terror Wars (Palgrave Macmillan) dropped in 2016, joining a number of other article, review, and chapter length academic pieces I’ve published. I present work across the US, Middle East, and Europe to audiences in both academic spaces and outside of the university. I also serve as an Associate Editor in Chief for the public analysis space Citizen Critics, where I publish work from time to time.

I have been privileged in my career to teach at institutions ranging from a small liberal arts college in the Pacific Northwest of the US to a large public high school in Texas and many spaces in between. I have worked with lots of students at various stages of their educational journey and I’m honored to have received a number of distinctions for that work. Most recently in May of 2018, I accepted Whitman College’s George Ball Excellence in Advising Award, a student nominated honor recognizing an educator for outstanding distinction in advising and mentoring students from all areas of the college.

I’m moved by poetic aesthetics, especially in the form of the spoken word, sometimes set to beats. I’m a cinephile. I pen the occasional film or television review and read many. I am a pasta enthusiast. I hold an unyielding bias in favor of unfettered access to education for all in a society, simply on the basis that we’re human.

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Rethinking Spectacle and the Neoliberal Imaginary: A Discussion of Ned O'Gorman's New Work

  • National Communication Association Conference Marriott Courtyard - Logan, First Floor Philadephia, PA USA (map)

Join us for this National Communication Association conference panel, chaired by Heather Ashley Hayes and sponsored by the American Society for the History of Rhetoric, about a fascinating new work in the field of communication and rhetorical studies.

Bloody, fiery spectacles - the Challenger disaster, 9/11, JFK's assassination - have given us moments of catastrophe that make it easy to answer the "where were you when" question and shape our ways of seeing what came before and after. Why are these spectacles so packed with meaning?

In his new book The Iconoclastic Imagination: Image, Catastrophe, and Economy in America from the Kennedy Assassination to September 11, Ned O'Gorman approaches each of these moments as an image of icon destruction that give us distinct ways to imagine social existence in American life. He argues that the Cold War gave rise to crises in political, aesthetic, and political aesthetic representations. Locating all of these crises within a "neoliberal imaginary," O'Gorman explains that since the Kennedy assassination, the most powerful way to see "America" has been in the destruction of representative American symbols or icons. This, in turn, has profound implications for a neoliberal economy, social philosophy, and public policy.

Richly interwoven with philosophical, theological, and rhetorical traditions, the book offers a new foundation for a complex and innovative approach to studying Cold War America, political theory, and visual culture. Already hailed as "a powerful argument about American public culture, and one that contributes directly to current reconsiderations of visual representation, political aesthetics, media coverage of disasters, and cultural change," this work promises to be vital in understanding visual culture, spectacle, and the concept of the event. This panel will bring together scholars in the field of communication and rhetorical theory and criticism to discuss the merits of O'Gorman's work and then will offer Professor O'Gorman the opportunity to respond on behalf of the work and its central themes. Designed to highlight a new book in the field of rhetoric and communication studies, this panel will also provide NCA members an opportunity to explore new frontiers in the field as it pushes its limits.