About Me



April O'Brien

I am a PhD candidate at Clemson University where I study Rhetorics, Communication, and Information Design (RCID). My research interests center around electracy and digital rhetorics, memory studies, and community writing. My work has appeared in Present TenseJournal for Cultural and Religious Theory, Textshop Experiments, Itineration, and Afterimage

My research focuses on the convergence of rhetorical theory, memory studies, and community-based communication. In my dissertation, Composing Counter-Memories: Using MEmorial and Community Engagement to Disrupt Dominant Narratives, I use this tripartite to call attention to the politics of remembering Black history in the South. Specifically, I utilize the historic rural town of Pendleton, South Carolina as a case study. Pendleton, like many towns and cities in the American South, has a complicated relationship with its history, which is observable through the town’s segregated physical spaces, as well as through its historic sites and markers. Through a methodology I call chora/graphy, I create several associated maps of Pendleton’s contested spaces, places, and objects, and, along the way, I question the rhetorical implications of memorialization in the American South, specifically the public discourse surrounding Pendleton’s historic markers, memorials, and plantation houses. Arguing against memorials that distance people from public memory, as well as the socio-political issues that surround Southern histories, my project intervenes in Pendleton’s problematic discourses via a crowdsourced community engagement project called, Counter-Tour: Remembering Black History in Pendleton, South Carolina. Counter-Tour takes the form of 360° virtual reality (VR), which utilizes 360° images of the spaces, places, and objects in Pendleton, along with embedded informative text, video, and/or photos. A collaborative project, Counter-Tour draws from historical archives, as well as the oral histories I collected from Black residents in Pendleton. The ultimate purpose of the project is to remember and circulate Pendleton’s un(der)recognized rich and nuanced Black histories to a network of publics, including Black and white residents, tourists, and visitors.

For more on my projects, click on the Projects link in the menu.