John S. Nelson

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John S. Nelson
331 SH
Drop-in hours:
TTh 12:20–1:50pm online
Phone number:
(319) 335-2349

Research Areas

Political Theory
Political Communication
Political Inquiry
American Politics


Director, University of Iowa Honors Program, 2005-2011.

Director, Bridging Project for International and Interdisciplinary Studies at Grinnell College and University of Iowa, 1997-2004.

Executive Director and Founder, Project on Rhetoric of Inquiry (POROI), the University of Iowa residency center for advanced studies in rhetoric, science, and culture, 1985-2002.

Executive Officer, University of Iowa Department of Political Science, 1998-2001.

President, Vice President, and Past President, University of Iowa Faculty Senate, 1988-1991.

Dr. Nelson is also the editor of the journal Poroi: An Interdisciplinary Journal for Rhetorical Analysis and Invention.


PhD University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1977



Politics in Popular Movies:  Rhetorical Takes on Horror, War, Thriller, and SciFi Films, Boulder, Paradigm Publishers (distributed through Taylor & Francis), 2015, pp. xii + 244; 978-1-61205-556-5 and 978-1-61205-557-2.

Popular Cinema as Political Theory:  Idealism and Realism in Epics, Noirs, and Satires, New York, Palgrave Macmillan, 2013, pp. xii + 249; 978-1-137-37470 -7.

Tropes of Politics:  Science, Theory, Rhetoric, Action, Madison, University of Wisconsin Press, 1998, pp. xviii + 291; 0-299-15834-9.and G. R. Boynton, Video Rhetorics:  Televised Advertising in American Politics, Urbana, University of Illinois Press, 1997, pp. xix + 235; co-authored by G. R. Boynton; 0-252-06648-0.

and G. R. Boynton, Hot Spots:  Multimedia Analyses of Political Ads, Urbana, University of Illinois Press, 1997; videotape equivalent of a book in five chapters; 0-252-06648-0.

ed. with Allan Megill and D. N. McCloskey, The Rhetoric of the Human Sciences:  Language and Argument in Scholarship and Public Affairs, Madison, University of Wisconsin Press, 1987, pp. xiii + 445; 0-229-11020-6 and 0-299-11024-9.

      Korean edition, Seoul, Korea University Press, 2003; 89-7641-495-0 and 89-7641-428-4.

      Italian edition, Lavoro, Societa Editrice Il Lavoro, 1998.

      Chinese chapters, adapted and translated by Po-Keung Hui as a special issue of Cultural and Social Studies, Volume 2, Hong Kong, Oxford University Press, 1997; 0-19-587842-6.

ed., Tradition, Interpretation, and Science:  Political Theory in the American Academy, Albany, State University of New York Press, 1986, pp. xvi + 372; 0-88706-371-3 and 0-88706-373-X..

ed., What Should Political Theory Be Now? Albany, State University of New York Press, 1983, pp. xv + 607; 0-87395-694-X and 0-87395-695-8.


and Founder, Poroi, an electronic journal on rhetoric in culture, inquiry, and politics, 2000-2008.

and Founder, Poligram, newsletter for alumni and friends of the University of Iowa Department of Political Science, 1999-2001.

with D. N. McCloskey, New Practices of Inquiry, University of Chicago Press, series of nine books on crossing old divides among the social sciences, arts, humanities, and professions, 1990-2004.

with David Depew, John Lyne, D. N. McCloskey, and John Peters, Rhetoric of the Human Sciences, University of Wisconsin Press, series of twenty-three books on rhetorics of fields and professions, 1985-2003.

Editorial Board

Social Epistemology — A Journal of Knowledge, Culture, and Policy, 1990-present.

Political Communication, 1992-1996.

Newsletter of the American Political Science Association Division on Political Communication, 1989-1993.

American Journal of Political Science, 1979-1981, 1985-1987, 1988-1990.

Journal of Politics, 1979-1981.