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Stephen M. Underhill

Associate Professor of Communication, Marshall University

Stephen M. Underhill is an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication Studies at Marshall University. His interest in rhetoric is grounded in the interplay of history and politics, especially as it is recorded in primary source documents. More to the point, he is interested in studying institutionalized power in critical and cultural contexts, which directs his focus to matters of law enforcement and national security discourse. Stephen is interested in how law enforcement speaks to and about its different publics to preserve and defend power structures. He is published in Rhetoric & Public Affairs, Quarterly Journal of Speech, and Western Journal of Communication. His book at Michigan State University Press, J. Edgar Hoover and the Rhetorical Rise of the FBI, is a formative project that coupled his interests in rhetoric and archival research. He was lead reference person for declassified FBI and DOJ requests at the National Archives at College Park (2008-12).


  • 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