Peggy Herring
Administrative Assistant
English, Rhetoric, & Humanistic Studies

P: (540) 464-7240
F: (540) 464-7779

227 Scott Shipp Hall
Lexington, VA  24450 

email to:

Heather Branstetter, Ph.D.

Branstetter, HeatherAssistant Professor
English, Rhetoric, & Humanistic Studies

Ph.D. - University of North Carolina
M.A. - University of North Carolina
B.A. - University of Idaho, Phi Beta Kappa, Summa Cum Laude

226 Scott Shipp Hall
Virginia Military Institute
Lexington, VA  24450
P:  (540) 464-7057
F:  (540) 464-7779

After graduating with a B.A. in English and Philosophy at the University of Idaho, where she won the Lindley Award recognizing the top senior in the College of Letters, Arts, and Social Sciences, Branstetter went on to earn her doctorate from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Under the direction of Jane Danielewicz, Jordynn Jack, Daniel Anderson, Christian Lundberg, and John McGowan, she specialized in rhetoric and composition, cultural studies, and social movement rhetoric with an emphasis on invention. While at UNC, she served as the Assistant Writing Program Administrator and earned the Doris Betts Teaching Award.

MAJ Branstetter’s research seeks to understand how subversive community networks respond—through various media—to systemic forces that have proscribed the available means of persuasion. Her work has received a range of financial support, including a Ruth Rose Dissertation Fellowship, grants from the Center for the Study of the American South, and funding from the Morbeck Community Foundation. During the summer of 2014, Branstetter worked as a contracted researcher for the Wallace District Mining Museum to examine the rhetorical role of sex work, history, and small talk in constructing community values. For this project, she gathered oral histories, created multimodal educational materials for the museum, and built a digital repository.

Cadets in MAJ Branstetter’s courses explore rhetorical traditions and technical communication across a range of cultures and perspectives. They gain experience working in new media, producing short films, podcasts, and virtual exhibits while also developing literacy in alphabetic formats by writing research literature reviews, creative nonfiction essays, and grant proposals. Currently, she is working with MAJ Julie Brown (ERHS) and COL Mohamed Eltoweissy (CIS) to develop CyberPost, a new media lab for collaborations at the intersection of creative digital arts and cyber security.

For her newest book-length project, MAJ Branstetter is documenting working-class rhetorical narratives involved in creating and maintaining cultural identity mythologies of the American West. This study examines a rural silver mining mountain community in northern Idaho to explain how repeating patterns of opportunistic discourse, spatial arrangements, and temporal influences enabled a century-long period during which brothels flourished. Because it orients cultural values by operating at a frequency that harmonizes the traditions of the past with the unpredictable pull of the future, gossip emerges as the discursive key to the negotiation of community-created ethics, sustaining the well-known yet illegal underground network of gambling and prostitution until federal agents raided in 1991. She writes less formally about this work at

Mentored Senior Projects and Independent Studies Completed or in Progress:

  • “Rhetoric and the Representation of Black Men in American Media.” Caleb Furlow, 2015 (virtual exhibit).
  • “Social Class, Morality, and Character Development in Children’s Film.” Ryan Scott, 2014 (virtual exhibit).
  • “Experiences of Women at VMI.” Kristen Voss, 2014 (co-mentor with MAJ Josh Iddings).
  • "Redefining Our Way to Revolution:  A Series on Feminism, Power, and Reform." Heather Haag, 2014.

A Selection of Published Work:

  • “Peersourcing the PIT Journal: The Technosocial Pedagogical Hooks & Layers of Collaborative Publishing.” With Dan Anderson, Erin Branch, and Ashley E. Hall (as “The PIT Core Publishing Collective”). In Designing Web-based Applications for the 21st Century Writing Classroom. Ed. George Pullman and Baotong Gu. Amityville, NY: Baywood Press, 2013. 175-194. Print. 
  • “Writing Across Media: Social and Material Theories of Invention.” Review of Computers and Writing Session for Sweetland Digital Rhetoric Collaborative. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2013. n. pag. Web.
  • Instructor’s Resource Manual for Beyond Words: Cultural Texts for Reading and Writing. 2nd Ed. With Dan Anderson, Erin Branch, and Chelsea Redeker. New York: Pearson Longman, 2009. Print. 
  • “Why the Duke Lacrosse Scandal Mattered—Three Perspectives.” Harlot: A Revealing Look at the Arts of Persuasion. 1.3 (2009): n. pag. Web.

A Selection of Conference Presentations:

  • “Madams, Memory, and Myth in a Wide-Open Mining Town.” Conference on College Composition and Communication. Tampa, Florida, March 2015 (Gallery-style Digital Exhibition for New Work Showcase).
  • “Bars and Brothels: A Historical Perspective on Leisure in Wallace.” Invited talk. Co-sponsored by the Wallace District Mining Museum and City Limits Pub, Wallace Idaho, June 2014.
  • “Interactive Virtual Exhibits.” Computers and Writing. Pullman, Washington, June 2014.
  • “‘A Mining Town Needs Brothels’: Space-Time, Gossip, and the Rhythm of Community Values Rhetoric.” 9th Biennial Feminisms & Rhetorics Conference. Palo Alto, California, September 2013. 
  • “Digital Rhetoric for Digital Rhetoric’s Sake? Multimodal Composition, Artistic Underworlds, and Social Justice.” Computers and Writing. Frostburg, Maryland, June 2013.
  • “Justifying a Century of Brothels: Memory and Mythology in a Mountain Mining Town.” Invited talk. Co-sponsored by Women’s and Gender Studies and the Department of English at Wake Forest University. Winston-Salem, North Carolina, February 2013.
  • “Queer Professionalization: The Voice of Graduate Students.” Conference on College Composition and Communication. St. Louis, Missouri, April 2012.
  • “Moving Potential: Shame and Transcendence through Serial Collective Memory Narratives.” Conference on College Composition and Communication. Atlanta, Georgia, April 2011.
  • “The ‘Movement of Movements’ and Collective Invention: Theorizing the Strategies that Enabled a Network of Southern Women.” Rhetoric Society of America 14th Biennial Conference. Minneapolis, Minnesota, May 2010.
  • “How to Write Collective Identity into Existence—The Emergence of the Atlanta Lesbian Feminist Alliance.” Conference on College Composition and Communication. Louisville, Kentucky, March 2010.
  • “Queering Feminist Historiography.” 7th Biennial Feminisms & Rhetorics Conference. East Lansing, Michigan, October 2009.
  • “Overcoming the Problem of Meaning-Making: Henri Bergson and Postmodern Rhetoric.” Rhetoric Society of America 13th Biennial Conference. Seattle, Washington, May 2008.
  • “Kenneth Burke, Bergsonism, and Negation as Rhetorical Invention.” Conference on College Composition and Communication. New Orleans, Louisiana, April 2008.
  • “The Duke Lacrosse Scandal, Media Mayhem, and Silencing.” 6th Biennial Feminism(s) & Rhetoric(s) Conference. Little Rock, Arkansas, October 2007.
  • “Accounting for Kairos: Epiphanies and the Writing Process.” Conference on College Composition and Communication. New York, New York, April 2007.