Wayne State University

Aim Higher


Dr. James L. Cherney

Assistant Professor
539 Manoogian Hall


James L. Cherney (PhD, Indiana University) is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication. He studies and teaches courses in rhetorical theory and criticism, argumentation and debate, and visual rhetoric. He primarily researches the rhetoric of ableism, and is among the first in his field to publish work on this topic. He frequently writes about the communication surrounding masculinity, disability, and sport in diverse texts ranging from the popular television series Friday Night Lights to the interpersonal discourse of quad rugby players. His scholarship appears in journals like Western Journal of Communication, Argumentation and Advocacy, and Disability Studies Quarterly, and in such books as Fallen Sports Heroes, Media, and Celebrity Culture (Peter Lang, 2013) and Examining Identity in Sports Media (Sage, 2009).

Curriculum Vita.

Areas of Expertise

Contemporary Rhetorical and Critical Theory, Disability Studies, Rhetorical Criticism, Visual Rhetoric, Ableist Culture, Sport and Disability, and the Disability Rights Movement.

Awards and Honors

Dr. Cherney's writing has received Outstanding and Top Three Paper awards in the fields of Disability Studies, Rhetorical and Critical Theory, and Public Address. His debut paper won the Peterson Award as the Top Debut Paper in Rhetoric and Public Address Division of the Southern States Communication Association. His research, travel, and course development work have been supported by competitively awarded grants from Indiana University, Westminster College, and Miami University. While at Indiana University he received the University Continuing Education Association's award Distinguished Independent Study Course for his web based distance learning course on Americans with Disabilities. At the conclusion of his graduate coursework at Indiana University he won the 2000 Robert Gunderson Award recognizing the top graduate student in the Department of Communication and Culture.

Degrees and Certifications

Ph.D. 2003, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana. Major: Communication and Culture. Minor: Political Science. Dissertation: “Rhetorical Norms of Ableist Culture.” Advisor: Dr. John Louis Lucaites.

M.A. 1995, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana. Major: Speech Communication. Thesis: “Public Accommodation and the Americans with Disabilities Act: The Rhetorical Effectivity of Antidiscrimination Law.”

B.A. 1990, Butler University, Indianapolis, Indiana. Major: Speech. Second Major: Political Science and History.

Recent Publications

Journal Articles and Book Chapters:

James L. Cherney and Kurt Lindemann. “Sporting Images of Disability: Murderball and the Rehabilitation of Masculine Identity.” Examining Identity in Sport Media. Ed. Heather Hundley and Andrew C. Billings. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE, 2009. 195-216.

Kurt Lindemann and James L. Cherney. “Communicating In and Through “Murderball”: Masculinity and Disability in Wheelchair Rugby.” Western Journal of Communication (2008): 107-25. Lead Article.

James L. Cherney. “Sport, Disability, and Public Controversy: Ableist Rhetoric and Casey Martin v. PGA Tour, Inc.” Case Studies in Sport Communication. Ed. Robert S. Brown and Daniel J. O’Rourke III. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2003. 81-104.

Invited Encyclopedia Entry:

James L. Cherney. “Temporarily Able-Bodied.” Encyclopedia of American Disability History. Susan Burch and Paul K. Longmore. New York: Facts on File, 2009. 893.


James L. Cherney. Rev. of No Caption Needed: Iconic Photographs, Public Culture, and Liberal Democracy, by Robert Hariman and John Louis Lucaites. Argumentation and Advocacy (2007): 110-12.

---. Rev. of The Ringer. Dir. Barry W. Blaustein. Prod. Peter Farrelly, Bradley Thomas, Bobby Farrelly, and John L. Jacobs. Disability Studies Quarterly 26.2 (2006): n. pag. http://www.dsq-sds.org.

---. Rev. of Stuck On You. Dir. and Prod. Bobby Farrelly and Peter Farrelly. Disability Studies Quarterly 24.2 (2004): n. pag. http://www.dsq-sds.org.