Heather Ashley Hayes

I am a scholar, writer, and educator of over seventeen years. I’m interested in social implications of rhetorical practices, especially racialized violence and discourses of terror. I research those discourses both domestically and as part of the global terror wars within the United States and abroad. I engage work about histories and circulations of violence as it relates to race in public & political 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 the Program in Race and Ethnic 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 have presented work across the US, Middle East, and Europe to audiences both in academic spaces and outside of the university. I also serve as an Associate Editor in Chief for the public analysis space Citizen Critics (www.citizencritics.org), where I publish public 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 many students at varied stages of their educational journeys and I’m honored to have received a number of distinctions for that work. Most recently in May 2018, I accepted the George Ball Excellence in Advising Award, a student nominated campuswide honor recognizing a faculty member for outstanding distinction in advising and mentoring students across Whitman College.

I love poetic aesthetics, especially in the form of the spoken word, sometimes set to beats. I’m a cinephile who pens the occasional film/television review and reads many. I’m an advocate for all things I hope can make participatory democracy more just for everyone and hold an unyielding bias in favor of better access to public education for all, on the basis of simply being human. I am a spaghetti enthusiast.

My first book, published with Palgrave Macmillan Press, is Violent Subjects and Rhetorical Cartography in the Age of the Terror Wars. It explores the relationship between violence and discourse, generating political and cultural insights about the possibilities for newly formed subjectivities within the history of US-led global war on terror and the majority Muslim world as well as reflections on discourse's relationship to violence. The monograph argues that these insights point to both a refiguration of cultural patterns and also to the ways different subjectivities arise and circulate through larger maps of contemporary global power within the post 9/11 conjuncture.

The Congressional Research Service maps al-Qaeda's role in the war on terror.

The Congressional Research Service maps al-Qaeda's role in the war on terror.

More specifically, the project introduces three areas of insight. First, for rhetorical studies it suggests a refiguring of the rhetorical situation as material. As such, it suggests that the rhetorical situation is composed of bodies, technologies, and spaces/places. Second, the project performs rhetorical cartography as a method of inquiry, drawing from both rhetorical studies and from critical cartography and geography. This method allows mapping of modes of materiality in a quest to better confront global power relations and transnational rhetorics. Finally, the project suggests a political and cultural insight for understanding perceptions of the majority Muslim world and violence against majority Muslim people as part of the global war on terror. Here, the project posits that through its rhetorical cartography we better can map the multitude of ways that subject positions within the global war on terror are generated and reconstituted.

In drawing these conclusions, the book project centers around the technology of US armed drones as part of the global war on terror, specifically dealing with the implications armed drone use in the Middle East and North Africa by the United States (and the droneworld it has spawned) has for understanding the way violence functions communicatively. The work performs a rhetorical cartography of drone culture alongside a mapping of Egypt's revolutionary moment via Tahrir Sqaure in January of 2011, and the landscape of what is sometimes called the "Arab Spring," exploring the possibilities in each of these mappings to refigure and resist technologies of governance both within the United States and globally.

Violent Subjects has been reviewed widely since its release. It has been labeled “insightful and provocative” (Rhetoric and Public Affairs) and has been said to “offer useful frameworks for future work” (Rhetoric Review). It has also been called “incredibly important” as a "contribution that “transcends rhetoric” (Rhetoric Society Quarterly). Additionally, scholars have said the book “deepens our understanding of rhetorical theory and method, contributes to our knowledge of the ways in which violence and war are deeply rhetorical, and adds to the scholarly conversation on empire and colonialization” in addition to offering “a new and provocative thesis on the rhetoric of violence.”

Violent Subjects can be ordered here. In addition, check back here - or check out the "Events" page - for readings, events, talks, and book signings near you!

see below for Book Signings, Events, and Readings for Violent Subjects Near You