Faculty Biographies

Carl Herndl


Carl Herndl


Office: CPR 335
Phone: 813-974-9557
Email: cgh@usf.edu



I have been writing about science and environmental issues for a long time because I find the topic fascinating and because many of the pressing challenges we face lie at the intersection of science, politics, democracy, and deliberation. Like some other scholars in Rhetoric and in Science Studies, e.g. Celest Condit, Bruno Latour, Collins and Evans, I have come to realize that rhetorical research and practice has opportunities and responsibilities for doing engaged research in science, sustainability, policy making. (I published an essay about this in POROI in 2017.) This is neither straightforward nor easy. And I wouldn’t want to suggest that this is the only type of work we as a discipline should be doing. But in the face of what Bruno Latour calls “ecocide,” it is a growing and badly needed form of intellectual and political engagement.

Over the last few years, I have published articles co-authored with colleagues in the sciences in journals such as Sustainable Agriculture, Journal of Soil and Water Conservation, and the Journal of Geophysical Research. Of course, I do also publish in rhetoric journals and collections. In addition to scholarship, I have also conducted workshops on sustainable biofuel development with scientists, farmers and policy makers in an attempt to make progress on important issues in sustainability and workshops with scientists on pharmaceutical pollution in fresh water biological systems. Along with others, notably Leah Ceccorelli, I am trying to find ways that we can develop our rhetorical theory and analysis and also use those insights to help manage the pressing scientific and environmental problems we collectively face.

Partly because many of the issues in rhetoric of science and, even more so, the environmental and political challenges of the anthropocene demand interdisciplinary study, I do a great deal of work in interdisciplinary settings. I helped found and then was associate dean of USF’s Patel College of Global Sustainability before returning to the English department. I am currently working on a project with the City of Tampa’s Office of Sustainability and Resilience and the CLEO institute for climate education that involves bringing marginalized communities in Tampa into the process of developing the city’s first “Climate Action and Equity” plan.

In addition to graduate courses in “Rhetoric of Science,” “Rhetoric and New Materialism,” “Rhetoric and Technology,” and “Literary and Critical Theory,” I teach courses in our undergraduate major such as “Rhetorical Theory,” “Environmental Rhetoric in the Anthropocene Era,” “Risk Communication,” and “Rhetoric of Marginalized Communities.” Syllabi for these courses appear below.

Graduate Mentoring

Since coming to USF in 2010, I have directed 8 doctoral dissertations and 4 Masters theses. The dissertation topics include:

  • a posthuman rhetorical analysis of the Deep Water Horizon disaster,
  • a computerized semantic network analysis of agent orange policy deliberations,
  • a study of networked agency in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing,
  • an interdisciplinary case study of sea level rise policy in South Florida,
  • an analysis of climate citizenship and climate change rhetoric,
  • a new materialist study of the interaction between triathletes and wearable technologies,
  • an object-oriented rhetorical analysis of fisheries policy, and
  • a study of martial arts as embodied rhetorics and the implications for writing pedagogy and mindfulness.

The four Masters theses have been:

  • a risk analysis of the use of the malaria drug Mef Larium,
  • a study of citizen participation in technology assessment,
  • a study of the tensions between democracy and expertise in a public scientific controversy in the Florida Key, and
  • an analysis of machine learning algorithms using instrumentalization theory.

All of these dissertation and thesis topics emerged from the students’ work in one or more of my graduate seminars in “Rhetoric of Science, Technology and Medicine,” “Rhetoric and New Materialism,” and “Critical and Literary Theory.”  Typically, students who develop dissertation and thesis topics in my seminars subsequently take a directed readings course with me on their more specialized topic and use that work to develop a dissertation or thesis proposal.  While I do not determine precisely what kind of project an advisee develops and I direct relatively diverse projects, I like projects that are well theorized or explicitly theoretical, that often involve empirical data gathering and fieldwork, and that focus on the rhetoric of science in broad terms and, sometimes, that involve interdisciplinary scholarship.  Often the dissertation committees I chair have one or more faculty from other disciplines as active members who genuinely contribute to the intellectual project.  I also work closely with my advisees and frequently co-author articles or book chapters with them. In the last five years, I have co-authored five different articles or chapters with advisees on projects we developed together. This is part of their training as scholars and it helps them when they go on the job market.

In addition to graduate courses in “Rhetoric of Science,” “Rhetoric and New Materialism,” “Rhetoric and Technology,” and “Literary and Critical Theory,” I regularly teach courses in our undergraduate major such as “Rhetorical Theory,” “Environmental Rhetoric in the Anthropocene Era,” and “Rhetoric of Marginalized Communities.” Syllabi for these courses appear below this biographical sketch.


Graduate Syllabi:

Undergraduate Syllabi: