Grad Students

I study the intersection of rhetoric, race, and religion. Grounded in a transdisciplinary understanding of scholarship, I study African American public address and rhetorical criticism, prophetic rhetoric, and rhetorical theology, along with political rhetoric, critical race theory, and religious and hip-hop studies. 

Below is a list of my current and former graduate students who have joined me on this journey.


Current Ph.D.Students (Advisor)

Pierre is a native of Jackson, MS, was a Lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force, and is a licensed attorney who entered the legal profession as a judicial law clerk in the New Jersey Superior Court and was later a trial attorney in Philadelphia, PA, for 17 years. After teaching at night while practicing law by day, Pierre decided to teach because teachers build people up and lawyers cut them down which was antithetical to his spirit. He has sat on the faculties of Community Colleges of Philadelphia, Temple University, and Delaware County Community College, DE. He is currently an Instructor of Speech Communication at Middle TN State University for 14 years. He holds a Juris Doctor from Syracuse U. College of Law, an M.A. in Speech Communication from Syracuse U., an M.P.A. from Golden Gate U., and a B.A. in English/French from Howard University.


Pierre studies African American, prophetic, and religious rhetoric. His primary focus centers on what he calls the "iconic Black eulogy." These are eulogies of Black iconic figures within the Black community delivered by Black Americans. 

Solomon W. Cochren 

Solomon W. Cochren is a native of Long Island, New York. He was a primary educator in the New York school district. Cochren holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Communication, a Master of Divinity from Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School. He was awarded The Theodore Louis Trost Memorial Prize and named Presidential Scholar and a Master of Theology from Duke University. He is a current doctoral student at the University of Memphis. Solomon is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated, and NAACP. He is serving as an ordained Elder in the A.M.E. Zion Church.


Solomon's research interests are in the media sector, focusing on topics of race, gender, identity, and rhetoric. He is interested in expanding the conversation of Hip Hop as a continued expression of freedom songs found in the spirituals and the Blues (The B-Side). Another research interest is the practice of meaning/identity-making in American culture through media and how these practices are weaponized and used against communities of color and those who live on the margins. Unpacking how meaning/identity-making is used to build bridges of inclusion and barriers of exclusion in society.

Jill Fredenburg (she/her) is a Doctoral student in the Communication and Film program at Memphis. 


Her research areas include media's effects on identity formation, documentary filmmaking methods, algorithmic biases, and Queer and Feminist technocultures.

Christopher D. Harris

Christopher D. Harris, affectionately known as Chris, is a native of North Carolina. Chris received a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Morehouse College. He also completed his Master of Divinity Degree at Wake Forest University School of Divinity and completed his Master of Theology with a focus in Ethics & Society from Vanderbilt University School of Divinity. Chris is the Graduate Student Association President for the University of Memphis Graduate School, serving as an advocate for Graduate Students campus-wide; in addition to that, he currently serves as a Pastoral Resident/Intern and assistant to the pastor at Christ Missionary Baptist Church in Memphis Tennessee under the leadership of the Rev. Dr. Gina M. Stewart.


Chris’s research interests include African American (religious) rhetoric. Guided by an interdisciplinary framework, he examines religious rhetoric that (re)imagines discourses in theology, sociology, narratives, and cultural theory. 

Jeff Miller

Jeff studies religious rhetoric and communication with a specific interest in white evangelical rhetoric and discourse. 

Clark A. Harris

Clark A. Harris Jr. is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Communication and Film at the University of Memphis. He is interested in studying the rhetorical aspects of theological discourse at the intersection of race and oppression. He lives in Little Rock, Arkansas, and teaches at a number of institutions. His ambitions in education are teaching and researching in the disciplines of rhetoric and writing. He believes that writing can serve as a gateway to knowledge of self-revelations and understanding of one's past. Furthermore, he encourages his students to write daily in a journal with the expectation of passing it down to their children’s children. An inheritance can be spent, and a picture is only worth a thousand words, but your story can guide future generations to a greater destination. In addition, there is no one more worthy of sharing your story than you.

Jason Mikel

Jason Mikel began his doctoral studies at the University of Memphis's Department of Communication and Film in the fall of 2020. He is an ordained and full-time pastor in the Cumberland Presbyterian denomination and is the founder of the Nashville Burrito Ministry, a weekly meal with Nashville's unhoused where dignity and community are emphasized. In addition, he serves on the Board of Trustees of Memphis Theological Seminary. Jason is married to Suzanne, a psychiatric RN, and they have four boys between them, one of whom is the father to two adorable grandsons.


Jason's research interests include the intersection of faith, culture, and politics in the rhetoric of the southern white evangelical church, an interest gained from years in parish ministry. Current research focuses on rediscovering the writings and work of Claude Clossey Williams, an early and mid-1900s Arkansas labor organizer who centered his work on the Christian Bible.

I also serve as a member of the following committees:

University of Memphis

Sam Guajardo (Communication)

Jonathan Smith (Communication)

Degan Loren (Communication)

Laura Sullivan (Communication)

Andre Favors (Communication) 

Angela Smith Kuykendoll (Leadership)

Christian Theological Seminary

Ph.D. in African American Preaching and Sacred Rhetoric

R. Janae Pitts-Murdock

Gina Stewart

Justin West

William (Bill) Lamar IV

Moya Marie Harris

Jennifer Carner

Eugene "Geno" Gipson

Chicago Theological Seminary

Ph.D. in Religious Studies

Lawrence (Larry) Green