Skip to main content

Faculty | Isaac West

Associate Professor & Director of Undergraduate Studies

Affiliated Faculty Women’s and Gender Studies

Office: 220M Edgehill
(1801 Edgehill Ave)
Phone: 615-875-9122

Office Hours

Curriculum Vitae

ISAAC WEST is Associate Professor of Communication Studies and Director of Undergraduate Studies. He is also affiliate faculty with the Department of Gender and Sexuality Studies. Professor West’s research focuses primarily on legal rhetorics and their role in constituting us as citizens of states, nations, and the world. His first book, Transforming Citizenships: Transgender Articulations of the Law (NYU Press, 2014), engages trans advocacy and activism to demonstrate how these citizenship claims can queer legal norms and conventions. Transforming Citizenships was a finalist for the 2014 Lambda Literary Award in LGBT Studies. Professor West has also written related essays about centrality of gender and sexuality to our understanding of citizenship, including how bakers have employed religious freedom as a justification for not treating everyone equally, the ethics and appropriateness of employing “like race” analogies in queer advocacy, and how coming out narratives are produced and mean different things to different audiences.

Professor West is currently working on two major projects. The first project is a book-length study of true crime titled The Serial Effect: True Crime and Contemporary American Culture. The Serial Effect historicizes current practices in true crime entertainment to trace the evolution of its recurrent tropes and to identify emergent structures of feeling about criminal justice in the United States. As for the second project, Professor West is the Editor-in-Chief of the Oxford Encyclopedia of Queer Studies and Communication, which will be composed of 120+ essay-length entries outlining the past, present, and future of these fields of study. For more information on the encyclopedia, please consult the following call for papers. If you are interested in contributing to the volume, please contact Professor West directly via email.


Ph.D. Communication and Culture, Indiana University, 2008

M.A. Speech Communication, Kansas State University, 2001

B.A. Speech Communication and History, Kansas State University, 1999

Typical Courses

Law, Media, and Society

Rhetoric and Civic Life

The Rhetorical Tradition

Representative Publications

“Fragments of Winter, 2015: Fragmentation, Popular Culture, and Making a Murderer,” in Conceit of Context, ed. Charles Morris and Kendall Phillips (New York: Peter Lang, forthcoming).

With Jessica Kurr. “Analogical Arguments: Bridging Trans Social Movements and Civil Rights Movements.” In The Rhetoric of Social Movements: Networks, Power, and New Media, ed. Nathan Crick (New York: Routledge, forthcoming)

“Wedding Cakes, Equality, and Rhetorics of Religious Freedom.” First Amendment Studies 53 (2019): 1-21.

Queer Studies in Critical/Cultural Communication Studies,” in Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Communication and Critical Studies (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018).

Queer Perspectives in Communication Studies,” in Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Communication, ed. Jon Nussbaum (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018).