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Brad Serber

Brad Serber

Humanities Initiative Dissertation Fellow

234 Sparks Building
University Park , Pa 16802


  1. MA in Communication Studies, Texas A&M University (2012)
  2. BA in Communication Studies, University of Minnesota (2009)
  3. BA in Hebrew, University of Minnesota (2009)


Brad Serber is a doctoral candidate in Communication Arts & Sciences with an emphasis in rhetoric. His research explores the relationship between rhetoric and violence, rhetorics of normality and abnormality, democratic theory, publics and counterpublics, and public memory. His recent projects have focused on school shootings, “lone wolf” terrorism, and Middle Eastern conflicts.


His dissertation project, “Reaction Rhetorics: Targeted Violence and Public Security,” explores how communities directly and indirectly affected by targeted violence reason inductively about what to do in the aftermath of such violence. In particular, the dissertation project will look at policy and non-policy responses to the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, the 2013 Boston marathon bombing, and the 2014 Isla Vista shooting (#YesAllWomen). Building upon Albert O. Hirschman’s (1991) The Rhetoric of Reaction, this project investigates how different publics deploy the themes of “appropriateness” and “inappropriateness” while making arguments about public violence and how experts and non-experts make decisions under conditions of uncertainty. Given the challenges that psychologists, sociologists, politicians, and government agencies have raised about identifying a priori who will commit acts of public violence, under what circumstances, and how they will carry it out, this project considers the ethical implications of causal and preventative logics and alternative dialogues about trauma, loss, coping, and public memory.