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Personal profile

Research interests

Atilla Hallsby (he/him) is an assistant professor in the Communication Studies department in the Rhetorical Studies area at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. His research program is about how rhetoric shapes public perceptions about secrecy, surveillance, transparency, and opacity in American public culture. His ongoing projects include research on the ancient history of rhetoric, nuclear waste disposal on colonized Indigenous lands, and the January 6, 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. His forthcoming monograph, This Page Intentionally Left Blank, describes how rhetoric and secrets are entangled with one another. This text explores how dog-whistles, whistleblowing, cybersecurity, and fraud conjure spectacular secrets that are both perceptible and invisible to a wider public.

His research also engages the secondary topic of mental health and wellness, understanding that the arts of speaking are deeply related to psycho-therapeutic proposals for the "talking cure." This work addresses popular and psychoanalytic paradigms of mental wellness and how scholars, practitioners, and advocates might further nuance them.

Professor Hallsby earned his Ph.D. from the University of Georgia and previously worked as adjunct faculty at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, North Carolina. His MA is from the University of Iowa's Communication Studies program in Rhetoric and Public Advocacy. He has undergraduate degrees in English literature, chemistry, and Spanish language from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

(last updated September 2021)


Professor Hallsby has experience teaching courses on public speaking, argumentation, rhetorical theory, communication ethics, and secrecy and surveillance. He maintains affiliation with the Writing Studies department and the Moving Image Studies graduate minor at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. 

Professor Hallsby's teaching is concentrated in the undergraduate and graduate rhetorical theory curriculum in Communication Studies. He teaches undergraduate and graduate-level courses on rhetorical theory as frameworks for understanding spoken persuasion, symbolic representation, and hierarchical power dynamics. He also teaches special topics courses on secrecy and surveillance in a hybrid undergraduate-graduate learning environment. He is also currently developing an online textbook on rhetorical theory for a "flipped" undergraduate large lecture and flexible, hybrid-modality teaching. Although this is currently a closed resource, he hopes to make it more widely available in the coming semesters. 

(last updated September 2021)

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Research Interest Keywords

  • Rhetoric
  • surveillance
  • secrecy
  • political culture
  • gender and political representation
  • terrorism
  • science communication
  • whistleblowing


The Fingerprint is created by mining the titles and abstracts of the person's research outputs and projects/funding awards to create an index of weighted terms from discipline-specific thesauri.
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