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Stephen M. Underhill

Associate Professor of Communication, Marshall University

Stephen M. Underhill is Professor and Chair of the Department of Communication Studies at Marshall University. He is a Washington Post contributor, and works in the area of fake news, disinformation, and propaganda. He studies institutionalized power in critical and cultural contexts, which directs his focus to matters of law enforcement and national security. Among other things, Stephen is interested in how law enforcement speaks to and about its different publics to preserve and defend power structures. He is the director of the Fake News & Information Literacy Project, an IRB-approved undergraduate research study that investigates online perceptions of wedge issues and their media sources. He is published in Rhetoric & Public Affairs, Quarterly Journal of Speech, Western Journal of Communication, and Voices of Democracy. He contributes to Not Past It and The Road to Now with Bob Crawford & Ben Sawyer. Dr. Underhill is author of The Manufacture of Consent: J. Edgar Hoover and the Rhetorical Rise of the FBI (Michigan State University Press, 2020).


  • 2012–2020
    Associate Professor, Marshall University
  • 2006–2012
    Archives Technician , National Archives and Records Administration


  • 2020
    The Manufacture of Consent: J. Edgar Hoover and the Rhetorical Rise of the FBI, Michigan State University Press
  • 2017
    “Prisoner of Context: The Truman Doctrine Speech and J. Edgar Hoover’s Rhetorical Realism”, Rhetoric & Public Affairs
  • 2016
    “Urban Jungle, Ferguson: Rhetorical Homology and Institutional Critique”, Quarterly Journal of Speech
  • 2012
    “J. Edgar Hoover’s Domestic Propaganda: Narrating the Spectacle of the Karpis Arrest”, Western Journal of Communication
  • 2008
    “J. Edgar Hoover, Speech Before the House Committee on Un-American Activities (26 March 1947)”, Voices of Democracy

Professional Memberships

  • National Communication Association