Carnegie Mellon University

Alex Helberg

Alex Helberg

Ph.D. Student

5000 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213


The driving force behind my work in the field of rhetoric stems from what some might call a “generative dichotomy” between ideal normative theories of discursive practice (such as Habermas’s Theory of Communicative Action) and the myriad accounts of how discursive interaction actually occurs in everyday life. To me, this dichotomy is definitively a generative one in that it allows us – as both analysts of discourse and participants in discourse – to achieve a deeper understanding of the ways in which we interpellate (and are interpellated by) language, rhetoric, and their many extensions.

In particular, I am interested in examining the ways activist and advocacy groups attempt to enact social change through linguistic practice. With my previous work, I have explored the rhetorical strategies latent in the responses of online activist groups to major events in the world, as well as the ways in which local public advocacy organizations circulate discourse and develop subversive terminologies to plant the seeds of social change.

I hold a Bachelor of Science in Secondary English Education from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, and a Master of Arts in Rhetoric from Carnegie Mellon University.