English and Communication Studies
Professor Ted Sheckels
Randolph-Macon College English and
Communication Studies Professor Ted Sheckels is the author of three new
Gender and the American Presidency, co-authored with Nichola Gutgold (The
Pennsylvania State University) and Diana Carlin (St. Louis University), was published
by Lexington Press in January 2012.
“This book was, in some senses, a follow-up to separate books on Hillary Clinton’s
2008 campaign that Gutgold and I wrote,” explains Sheckels. “We thought that we
needed to ask, more generally, what factors are keeping women from being considered
presidential. We asked Diana Carlin to join us, and we looked at nine women with
an eye to developing a theoretical explanation based on their stories.”
Sheckels wrote the chapters on Barbara Mikulski, Nancy Pelosi and Dianne Feinstein.
The theoretical explanation, in the book’s concluding chapter, has been featured
on several websites, and the authors have been invited to give a presentation in
September 2012 at the Dole Center for Politics at the University of Kansas.
The Political in Margaret Atwood’s Fiction: The Writing on the Wall of the Tent
(Ashgate, 2012) is the product of Sheckels’ 2009 sabbatical.
“I refined the ideas in it while teaching the English Department’s senior seminar
(on Atwood) in 2010,” he explains. “I have previously published journal articles
and book chapters on Atwood, and the book represents my overall take on her work.
It reflects a widely-held view that Atwood is (in the broadest sense) a political
writer, who writes to alert us to what is going wrong in the world. It uses the
theoretical insights of economist Kenneth Boulding and critic Michel Foucault to
extract from all of Atwood’s novels what those concerns are and how, with limited
success, they are being addressed.” Sheckels, the founding editor of the journal
Margaret Atwood Studies, currently serves as president of the Margaret Atwood Society.
Atwood visited Randolph-Macon while Sheckels was teaching the senior seminar, and
a picture of her in Washington-Franklin Hall is featured on the book’s cover.
Political Communication in the Anglophone World (Lexington) will be published
in October 2012.
“The book tries to fill a void in political communication scholarship,” says Sheckels.
“There is very little work on communication outside the U.S. and there is some ‘fear’
that critical lenses developed in the U.S. cannot be used to examine this communication.
Therefore, I proceed cautiously in the book, looking at a range of topics: Canadian
P.M. Pierre Elliott Trudeau; Canadian P.M. Kim Campbell; Jamaican P.M. Michael Manley;
Jamaican reggae artist Bob Marley; Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki; South African President
Nelson Mandela; South African President Thabo Mbeki; South Africa’s Democratic Alliance
political party; Australian P.M. Gough Whitlam; and Australian P.M. Kevin Rudd.
The idea is to suggest how rich international political communication is and invite
other American rhetorical scholars to look beyond the U.S. and consider how communication
in campaigns and governance proceeds abroad. At R-MC, I teach the literature of
the Anglophone countries. I’ve published on Canadian, South African and Australian
topics throughout the years, so this book was a natural way for me to extend my
interest from the writing there to the politics there.”
Sheckels joined the faculty in 1980. He earned his B.S. from Duquesne University
and his M.A. and Ph.D. from The Pennsylvania State University. He is the director
of the Forensics Program,
the director of
Speaking Across the Curriculum and the chair of the Communication Studies
Department. In addition, Sheckels was the A.G. Ingram Professor of English from
2008-2011, and from 1987-2006 he served as director of the Summer Session.