Carnegie Mellon University

Doug Coulson

Doug Coulson

Associate Professor of English

  • Baker Hall 145J
  • 412-268-4857

Area of Study

Professional Writing, Rhetoric


My research focuses primarily on the rhetoric of law, authority, and legitimacy, particularly regarding attributions of responsibility or blame for past events, and I more generally study argumentation and advocacy and the history and theory of rhetoric. My current book project explores the use of ritual and ceremonial registers in judicial opinion writing as a rhetorical strategy judges use to legitimate controversial decisions in fundamental rights cases. My first book, Race, Nation, and Refuge: The Rhetoric of Race in Asian American Citizenship Cases (SUNY 2017), explores the rhetorical strategy by which groups unite against common enemies as it appears in a series of judicial cases between 1878 and 1952 deciding whether petitioners for naturalized citizenship in the United States were "free white persons" as required by the United States naturalization act at the time. My scholarship has appeared in Rhetorica, the Yale Journal of Law and the Humanities, Legal Communication, the Georgetown Journal of Law & Modern Critical Race Perspectives, and the University of Miami Race and Social Justice Law Review.

Before pursuing my PhD, I received my JD from Tulane Law School and practiced complex business and commercial litigation as an attorney with the law firm of Kasowitz, Benson, Torres LLP. I remain a licensed attorney in Texas, I'm a co-author of West's Texas Practice Guide: Business and Commercial Litigation, 6 vols., and I author updates for West's Texas Business Litigation: Forms and Commentary, 5 vols.



  • Ph.D., The University of Texas at Austin
  • J.D., Tulane Law School
  • M.A., The University of Texas at Austin
  • M.A., Oklahoma City University
  • B.A., Oklahoma City University


Persecutory Agency in the Racial Prerequisite Cases: Islam, Christianity, and
Martyrdom in United States v. Cartozian.
” University of Miami Race and Social
Justice Law Review 2 (2012): 117-88.

Distorted Records in ‘Benito Cereno’ and the Slave Rebellion Tradition.” Yale
Journal of Law and the Humanities 22 (2010): 1-34.

Legal Writing and Disciplinary Knowledge-Building: A Comparative Study.” Journal of the Association of Legal Writing Directors 6 (2009): 160-99.

Note, “‘Toto, I Have a Feeling We’re Not in Kansas Anymore’:  Voest-Alpine Trading USA Corp. v. Bank of China.” Tulane Journal of International and Comparative Law 7 (1999): 431-57.

Curriculum Vitae