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 concerns racialized violence and discourses of terror. I write about those discourses both domestically within the US and as part of the global terror wars fought across the world. I am particularly interested in the intersection of domestic sociopolitical landscapes with the dynamics of global violence and war, both 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 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 present 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 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 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’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 all human.

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!

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