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UNL expert alert: As presidential debates begin, these speech and rhetoric experts can help with analysis

Aaron Duncan, Ph.D. Director of Speech & Debate, Assistant Professor of Practice

Speech & Debate, Rhetoric & Public Culture

Expertise Key Words:

Public speaking

Speech and debate

Political Communication and elections

Popular culture and television


Contact information:

Work Phone: 402-472-6920

Mobile Phone: 402-450-7830


Aaron Duncan (Ph.D., University of Nebraska-Lincoln) is the director of the UNL Speech and Debate program, which placed seventh in the nation in 2013 out of more than 100 college and universities at the American Forensics Association National Individual Events Tournament (AFA-NEIT).  He has coached multiple national champions and dozens of state champions while at UNL.

Duncan’s research specializes in political communication and cultural studies. His research focus is political communication, gambling, media interpretations of political events, and popular culture.  He has published articles related to the growth of gambling in America, the changing nature of the American dream, the role of popular television shows in shaping public discourse, and the importance of video games in popular culture.

Damien Smith Pfister, Ph.D., Assistant Professor

Rhetoric & Public Culture


Digital media

Civic discourse

Public address and argumentation

Political campaigns

Networked cultures

Contact information:


Work Phone: 402-472-0646

Mobile Phone: 412-979-2645


Damien Pfister (Ph.D. University of Pittsburgh, 2009) is an assistant professor in Communication Studies specializing in rhetoric and public culture. He studies the impact of digital media on public deliberation and culture. His current research projects include the evolution of the blogosphere and new technological innovations like Google Glass.

Pfister has had his research published in Argumentation & AdvocacySocial Epistemology, and Communication Studies. His current research projects include the evolution of the blogosphere and the Obama Administration’s use of digital media.




Public discourse



Carly S. Woods, Ph.D., Assistant Professor

Rhetoric & Public Culture

Expertise Keywords:

Gender and sexuality

Communication and identity

Political communication

Argumentation and debate

History of communication

Contact information:


Work phone: 402-472-0650

Home phone: 412-867-7249


Carly Woods (Ph.D., University of Pittsburgh) is an assistant professor of Communication Studies, specializing in rhetoric and public culture, with a joint appointment in Women’s & Gender Studies. She studies representations of gender, race, class and sexuality and how historically marginalized speakers and groups negotiate those differences in political culture. Her current research projects explore the history of women in debate and public controversies at the intersections of gender, biomedicine, and identity.

Her work has been published in the Quarterly Journal of Speech, Women’s Studies in Communication, Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies, and Contemporary Argumentation and Debate.

Ronald Lee, Ph.D., Professor

Rhetoric & Public Culture

Contact information:

Work Phone: 402-472-2255

Home Phone: 402-484-8332

Mobile Phone: 402-540-0260


Ronald Lee (Ph.D., University of Iowa) is a professor of Communication Studies specializing in rhetoric and public culture. He has been on the faculty at UNL since 1991. He publishes work dealing with contemporary American political discourse.  His research projects have dealt with the rhetorical construction of presidential legacies, the discourses of poverty, the mythical use of American place in national politics, the evolving standards of journalistic coverage of religion, and the use of race in post-civil-rights era political discourse.

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