Joan Faber McAlister earned her B.A. in anthropology and her M.A. in communication studies from Boise State University and has a Ph.D. in rhetorical studies from the University of Iowa. Her research interests focus on visual and spatial rhetorics in public culture as well as aesthetics and critical theory. McAlister’s research has analyzed a diverse set of texts, including Congressional hearings, popular films, national news coverage, magazine advertisements, urban planning, reality television, legal documents, and architecture, but her approach to these topics has focused on a central interest: the relationship between rhetoric and social location. The means through which social actors are positioned in networks of power and the import of different markers of class, race, gender, and sexuality in sites of daily life, as well as the status, function, and material character of “home” are persistent themes running throughout her work. Her inquiry into such matters is animated by a deep concern that the standards policing cultural performance and governing social belonging have serious implications.
Dr. McAlister is currently the Membership Officer for the Rhetoric Society of America and has served as a chair of the American Studies and the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer Communication Studies Divisions of the National Communication Association and as the chair of the Jane Jacobs Urban Communication Book Award Committee. An award-winning scholar, she serves on the editorial board for The Quarterly Journal of Speech, and is currently the Editor of Women’s Studies in Communication. Dr. McAlister is authoring a book manuscript on the concept of home that explores the roles of the body, residence, region, and nation as modes of social location.