Rex Troumbley

Postdoctoral Fellow
Humanities Research Center
Rice University

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About Me…

I am an Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Humanities Research Center at Rice University. My research at Rice focuses on how digital platforms of knowledge mediate power relations and shape the political thought of users. I received my PhD from the Department of Political Science at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. My doctoral project examines institutional treatments of taboo language (bad spelling, obscenity, profanity, and racial slurs) as a form of American nation building in the United States.

Most Recently…

I’ve been busy working on a book manuscript titled What Gives Taboo Language Its Power? Using Bad Words to Govern American Culture. I recently presented my latest work on the aesthetics of obscene comedy at the American Political Science Association conference in Philadelphia, and my work on viral mental illnesses and Tourette’s syndrome at the Association of Internet Research conference in Berlin and Association for Political Theory conference in Columbus, Ohio.

Research

Gives Taboo Language Its Power?

Using Bad Words to Govern American Culture

This project maps how regulations of bad and taboo language are used to create a national American culture which the United States claims to represent as a nation-state. It examines four domains of discourse and interventions: the creation of a standard American English with lexicographical and Victorian interventions into the discourse networks of U.S. print-capitalism, the juridical regulation of broadcast obscenity and hate speech, the medical treatment of people who curse uncontrollably (Tourette syndrome), and the technical regulation or algorithmic sorting of computer-mediated discourse.

I conclude that as discourse has become increasingly mediated by electronics, methods of cultural governance are being augmented with digital tools like predictive keyboards and coercive ergonomics designed to steer users away from taboo subjects and towards state sanctioned political discourse. I am currently in the process of transforming this project into a book manuscript.

Publications

Teaching

My primary teaching objective is that students leave my class understanding how power relations organize everything from the trash getting picked up to states going to war. I accomplish this objective by combining political science methods for analyzing power with the tools students find useful for becoming engaged in their world. 

Course Syllabi

Student Evaluations

The complete student evaluation surveys of my courses are publicly available on eCafe, but below you can find graphical summaries of the results. Additionally, after being nominated by former students, in 2015 I received the highest teaching honor bestowed by the University of Hawaii system, the Frances Davis Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching.

Curriculum Vitae

  • 2015-2016  Sawyer Seminar Postdoctoral Fellow, Humanities Research Center, Rice University

  • Ph.D.          Political Science, University of Hawaii at Manoa, May 2015

    Dissertation: Taboo Language and the Politics of American Cultural Governance

    Committee: Debora Halbert (Chair), Michael J. Shapiro, James Allen Dator, Manfred Henningsen, Jenifer Winter

     

    M.A.          Political Science, University of Hawaii at Manoa, May 2011

    B.A.           Government, Eastern Washington University, June 2008

  • Peer Reviewed Journal Articles

    2014

    Colonization.com—Empire Building for a New Digital Age. East-West Affairs 1, no. 4: 93-107

    2013

    Bad Language: Emerging Issues in Electronic Discourse. Journal of Futures Studies 17, no. 3: 145-146

    2013

    Recent Trends in Adolescent Alcohol Use in Hawai‘i: 2005-2011. Hawai‘i Journal of Medicine & Public Health 72.3: 92-98. (with Claudio Nigg)

    Chapters in Edited Volumes

    2015

    Coercive Cyberspaces and Governing Internet Futures in The Future Internet: Alternative Visions, eds., Jenifer Winter and Ryota Ono. Springer.

    2013

    Flying Past Filters and Firewalls, in Internet Monitor 2013: Reflections on the Digital World, Urs Gasser and Robert Faris et al., eds., Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University.  *Featured in Slate Magazine’s Future Tense  http://perma.cc/W4LS-7YS3

    Other Publications

    2012

    Poverty 2039: Exercises in Pro-Poor Foresight. Rockefeller Foundation and Institute for Alternative Futures Pro-Poor Initiative. (with Heather Frey) http://perma.cc/MF7D-SBDR

    2011

    Hawaii 2060: Visioning Hawaii’s Adaptation to Climate Change. Hawaii State Office of Planning. (with Scott Yim and Heather Frey) http://perma.cc/E3K8-8AS5

  • 2015-2016

    Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow, Humanities Research Center, Rice University

    2015

    Frances Davis Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, UHM

    2014-2015

    Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship, Research Corporation of the University of Hawaii

    2014-2015

    Graduate Fellowship, Scholars Strategy Network

    2011-2015

    Graduate Teaching Assistantship, Department of Political Science, UHM

    2014

    Harry Friedman Award for the Best Paper in Political Science, UHM

    2013

    Jorge Fernandes Memorial Award for Outstanding Research, UHM

    2012

    Glendon & James  Schubert Political Science Endowed Scholarship, UHM

    2011

    Pro-Poor Economic Foresight Award, Rockefeller Foundation

    2011

    Graduate Research Fellowship, Department of Public Health Sciences, UHM

    2011

    Graduate Division Achievement Scholarship, UHM (declined)

    2009-2010

    Graduate Division Achievement Scholarship, UHM

  • 2015

    Dai Ho Chun Fund for Graduate Research Award, UHM

    2015

    College of Social Sciences Award for Professional Development in Research, UHM

    2015

    International Studies Association Conference Travel Grant

    2014

    American Political Science Association Conference Travel Grant

    2014

    Department of Political Science Graduate Student Research Grant, UHM

    2014

    International Studies Association Conference Travel Grant

    2013

    College of Social Sciences Award for Professional Development in Research, UHM

    2013

    Law & Society Association Graduate Student Workshop Travel Grant

    2013

    Department of Political Science Graduate Student Conference Travel Grant, UHM

    2012

    Department of Political Science Graduate Student Conference Travel Grant, UHM

    2011

    Graduate Student Organization Travel Grant, UHM

  • 2015

    Predictable Animals: Coercive Ergonomics and the Manufacture of Homo Digitalis. UNESCO & Romanian Executive Agency for Higher Education, Research, Development and Innovation Mutual Learning Workshop, Bucharest, Romania, August 26.

    2015

    Dirty Digital Language. Humanities Research Center, Rice University, February 3.

    2014

    Digital Politics: Stratagematic Stupidity, Adversarial Design, and Post-Internet Futures. UNESCO & Romanian Executive Agency for Higher Education, Research, Development and Innovation Mutual Learning Workshop, Bucharest, Romania, June 24.

    2013

    Strings Behaving Badly, or the Digitization of Taboo Language Control. The Berkman Center for Internet and Society, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, July 30.

    2012

    Growing Digital Korea. Samsung Journalist Futures Project, Honolulu, HI, May 21.

    2011

    Hawaii in 2050: Transformative Scenarios. Hawaii State Office of Planning Climate Change Workshop, Honolulu, HI, June 12.

  • Panels Organized

    2015

    Digital Politics and the Networked Eye. International Studies Association Annual Convention, New Orleans, LA, February 18-21.

    Papers

    2015

    Digital Political Thought and the Rewritable User. Association of Internet Researchers Conference, Phoenix, AZ, October 21-24.

    2015

    American Cultural Governance and the Politics of Graphic Language. Western Political Science Association Conference, Las Vegas, Nevada, April 2-4.

    2015

    A Cognitive Life of Sorts: Filtered and Obscured Synoptic Visions of the Web. International Studies Association Annual Convention, New Orleans, LA, February 18-21.

    2015

    When Silent Cowboys Speak: The Post-Western’s Governance of Heteroglossic Communities and Taboo Language in Deadwood and Django Unchained. International Studies Association Annual Convention, New Orleans, LA, February 18-21.

    2014

    Keyword Culture: Transforming Words into Information and the Technical Control of Language. Western Political Science Association Conference, Seattle, WA, April 17-19

    2014

    Caught in Google’s Net: Privatizing Censorship and Colonizing the Internets. International Studies Association Annual Convention, Toronto, Canada, March 26-29.

    2014

    Laughing at Authority: the Politics of Obscenity in the Comedic Genre. International Studies Association Annual Convention, Toronto, Canada, March 26-29.

    2013

    Steering Through Spellcheck and the Googlization of Control. International Political Sociology Doctoral Workshop, Honolulu, HI, August 26.

    2013

    The Inoffensive Internet: Google’s SafeSearch and Interventions into Possible Speech. Law & Society Association Conference, Boston, MA, May 30-June 2.

    2013

    Pre-Speech and Free Speech: Digital Constraints on Expression and the First Amendment. Graduate Student Workshop of the Law & Society Association, Boston, MA, May 27-28

    2013

    Profanity Politics of the HBO’s Series Deadwood: Authenticity, Lawlessness and Living Outside Civil Society. Midwest Political Science Association Conference, Chicago, IL, April 11-14.

    2011

    The Future in Thirty Years, 1968-2011: Continuities, cycles, and novelties. Global Higher Education Forum & World Futures Studies Federation Conference, Penang, Malaysia, December 13-16.

    2011

    Higher Education in the Anthropocene Era. Global Higher Education Forum & World Futures Studies Federation Conference, Penang, Malaysia, December 13-16.

    2011

    Obscene Language: The Political Economies, Institutions, and Uses of Bad Language. Western Political Science Association Conference, San Antonio, TX, April 3-5.

    Discussant

    2015

    Crypto and the Academy. Association of Internet Researchers Conference, Phoenix, AZ, October 21-24.

    2015

    Data, Information, and Networks: Politicizing the Contemporary. Western Political Science Association Conference, Las Vegas, Nevada, April 2-4.

    2014

    Collecting and Analyzing On-line Research. Western Political Science Association Conference, Seattle, WA, April 17-19.

  • 2014

    Sophisticated Treatments for Cursing Brains: A Genealogy of Tourette’s Syndrome. Department of Political Science Colloquium, UHM, Honolulu, HI, February, 2.

    2012

    Subjectivity and Search: Emerging Issues in Internet Control. Emerging Scholars Symposium, Honolulu, HI, November 12.

  • Rice University, Undergraduate Level Sole Instructor

     

    Digital Power-Knowledge Seminar (Spring 2016)

    University of Hawaii at Manoa, Undergraduate Level Sole Instructor

     

    American Politics (Spring 2015)

     

    History of Political Thought (Fall 2014, Fall 2013)

     

    Introduction to Political Science (Spring 2014)

     

    Introduction to American Politics (Spring 2013)

     

    Media and Politics (Fall 2012)

    University of Hawaii at Manoa, Graduate Level

     

    Seminar in Political Thought (Spring 2014, Co-Taught with Michael J. Shapiro)

  • Summer 2014

    Research Assistant, Internet Governance Project, Berkman Center for Internet & Society, Harvard University

    Summer 2013

    Research Assistant, Freedom of Expression Project, Berkman Center for Internet & Society, Harvard University

    Spring 2013

    Research Assistant for Debora Halbert, Department of Political Science, UHM

    2011-2012

    Research Assistant for Claudio Nigg, Department of Public Health Sciences, UHM

  • 2014-2015

    Grants & Award Committee, Department of Political Science, UHM

    2012-2015      

    Teaching Liaison Committee, Department of Political Science, UHM

    2013-2014   

    Graduate Curriculum Committee, Department of Political Science, UHM

    2012-2013

    Graduate Student Organization Department Representative, Department of Political Science, UHM

    2012

    Co-Organizer, Emerging Scholars Symposium, UHM

    2011-2012

    Admissions Committee, Department of Political Science, UHM

    2010-2011

    Colloquium Committee, Department of Political Science, UHM

  • American Political Science Association

    International Studies Association

    Law & Society Association

    Association for Political Theory

    Association of Internet Researchers

    Western Political Science Association

Connect

Mailing Address
Humanities Research Center, MS-620
Rice University
P.O. Box 1892
Houston, TX 77005