Dr. Kevin A. Stein is a professor of communication at Southern Utah University and director of the Master of Arts in Professional Communication program. His research focuses primarily on the rhetoric of attack (kategoria), defense (apologia), and persuasive responses to defense (antapologia). Other academic interests include political campaign communication and popular culture.
Dr. Stein has published numerous articles addressing a variety of apologetic contexts, as well as books and peer-reviewed articles on different types of political campaign messages including debates, advertisements, acceptance addresses, direct mail brochures, and television talk show appearances. He has presented his academic work at regional, national, and international conferences, including presentations at the University of Athens in Greece and the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands. He received SUU's Distinguished Scholar award in 2020 and the College of Humanities and Social Sciences Outstanding Scholar award in 2019.
While on a year-long sabbatical in China, Dr. Stein directed the American Studies Center at Hunan Normal University in Changsha (Hunan Province). Since then he has returned several times as a liaison for the SUU Office of International Affairs and as a teacher in a dual degree communication program offered by Wuhan Polytechnic University and Southern Utah University.
Dr. Stein is the webmaster for Public Apology Central (www.publicapologycentral.com), which archives crisis summaries, transcripts, videos, and audio of public apologies (apologia) from politicians, celebrities, athletes, organizations, religious leaders, media figures, heads of state, and lay citizens.
He earned a bachelor's degree in communication from Southern Utah University (1999), a master's degree in communication in speech from Idaho State University (2002), and a Ph.D. in communication from the University of Missouri (2005).
Industry Expertise (4)
Public Relations and Communications
Motion Pictures and Film
Writing and Editing
Areas of Expertise (13)
Political Campaign Messages
Rhetoric of Defense
Rhetoric of Attack
University of Missouri: Ph.D., Communication, emphasis in Rhetoric and Political Communication
Idaho State University: M.A., Communication in Speech
Southern Utah University: B.S., Communication
Media Appearances (3)
As Obama Stumps for Struggling Democrats, Biden and Team Muddle the Message
"Sadly, it is true that candidates of both parties have tried to argue that their opponents are simply pawns of other political figures," Kevin Stein, a communications professor at Southern Utah University and an expert in political communication, told Newsweek. "This is really prevalent in the history of political advertising."
Two Communication Professors Publish Research on How Public Figures Avoid Genuine Apologies
Southern Utah University News online
Professors Kevin Stein and Matthew Barton of the Department of Communication at Southern Utah University published this week a comprehensive analysis of apologies offered by public figures to understand the ways people use language to take or avoid responsibility for harmful behavior, such as infidelity, domestic violence, and deception.
5 Secrets Politicians Use in Debate Battle
Fox 13 online
Announcements. Polls. Ads. Debates. Attacks. Policies. We’ve been inundated with presidential campaign news since early 2015, but what do all of these messages mean? Kevin Stein, associate professor of Communication at Southern Utah University, researches the content of political campaign messaging, and shares strategies to look for when watching the news.
"I'm Sorry You Interpreted My Behavior the Way You Did": Toward A New Understanding of the Nuances of MortificationWestern Journal of Communication
Kevin A. Stein and Matthew H. Barton
The study uses content analytic and grounded theory approaches to analyze 409 cases of public apologia from 351 different incidents in order to develop a typology of mortification-specific strategies. Its purpose is to offer a critique of existing scholarship and its inattention to the specific nuances of mortification. Historically, scholars have limited their conclusions to a discussion of strategy, while ignoring the reality that specific language choices need only appear to be sincere in order to satisfy the rhetor’s goal.
Taco the Puppy is Super Sick: Student Excuses as a Unique Form of Apologia RhetoricRelevant Rhetoric
Kevin Stein and Michael Ostrowsky
College students use a plethora of excuses in their interactions with professors in order to accomplish various goals, such as securing more time to complete an assignment or to obtain a reprieve for an absence. But why? Simply put, some students attempt to limit their responsibility for the negative behaviors necessitating the excuse. Our focus is not on whether the excuse is true, but rather to understand the manner in which students construct messages so that they function to account for their undesirable classroom behaviors.
Listening to Unheard Voices: Nurses ’ Communication Experiences with the NRS Pain ScaleThe Journal of the SCASD
Matthew H. Barton and Kevin Stein
This study examines nurses’ experiences with the Numeric Rating Scale (NRS). These responses characterize the communication trials that nurses face with pain diagnosis, pain management, and overall patient care. Interviews with 20 nurses reveal three themes: subject dissatisfaction, feeling limited, and subjective satisfaction. An analysis of these themes reveals the need for renewed discussion about the way pain is communicated and the challenging expectations nurses must regularly confront. Implications for listening to important, but often quiet, even silent, voices in pain management and clinical practice are discussed.
140 Characters to Say “I Hate You”: Melissa Click, Racism, and the Media Circus at MizzouRelevant Rhetoric
Kevin A. Stein, Matthew H. Barton, Wm. Bryan Paul
On November 9, 2015, University of Missouri communication professor, Melissa Click, made national headlines for attempting to suppress student journalists covering a campus protest, adding to the flurry of media attention already surrounding a major controversy. While participating in student demonstrations against the university administration’s alleged indifference toward reports of racism on campus, Click had attempted to eject student reporter, Tim Tai, from a “safe zone” created by protesters. As a result of her errant behavior, Click eventually faced suspension, a misdemeanor assault charge, and official dismissal from the university.
Apologist-in-Chief?: Newspaper Kategoria and Antapologia following Barack Obama’s “Global Apology Tour”Iowa Journal of Communication
Kevin A. Stein, Matthew H. Barton, Michael K. Ault and James R. Briscoe
This essay critically analyzes newspaper statements following President Obama’s Global Apology Tour utilizing Benoit and Dorries’ (1996) framework of persuasive attack and Stein’s (2008) typology of antapologia strategies. Because of the unique nature of Obama’s apologia, in which he offers an apology that was not demanded by any audience, the authors conclude the line between kategoria (attack) and antapologia (response to apologia) is blurred.
Jewish Antapologia in Response to Mel Gibson’s Multiple Attempts at AbsolutionRelevant Rhetoric
This essay explores the possibility that hate speech may require a unique combination of strategies that might be ineffective for other kinds of harmful acts. Although it is difficult to make comparisons between negative behaviors, many people find racist or discriminatory acts to be more offensive than acts that do not denigrate the character of others, even when such behaviors may be illegal. Is it possible that hateful utterances are so reprehensible that any strategies utilized to counteract their effects are rendered meaningless?
Say it like you meme it: Looking back on Covid memes as an extension of the news cycle.Northwest Journal of Communication.
Taylor, J. R., Stein, K. A., & Barton, M. H.
Taylor, J. R., Stein, K. A., & Barton, M. H. Say it like you meme it: Looking back on Covid memes as an extension of the news cycle. Northwest Journal of Communication.
COMM 1310 Thinking & Listening Critically
A study of critical thinking and reasoning skills toward messages delivered and received through various communication formats. The course is designed to aid the student in the ability to define a problem, select pertinent information for the solution of the problem, recognize stated and unstated assumptions, formulate and select relevant hypotheses, and make valid conclusions and inferences.
COMM 2010 Media & Society
A study of the power and responsibility of newspapers, magazines, radio, television, computer networks, motion pictures students strive to improve media literacy and other mass media and their significance in contemporary society.
COMM 2110 Interpersonal Communication
A study of interpersonal communication variables and situations, designed to aid the student in improving social relationships, increasing self-awareness and in using effective communication to achieve personal goals.
OMM 3020 Communication Research
This course emphasizes empirical and critical research appropriate for understanding mediated communication. An emphasis is placed on conducting surveys, focus groups, content analysis, and social marketing methods.
COMM 3150 Nonverbal Communication
A study of the sub-codes of nonverbal communication and how they affect human communication patterns and interpersonal relationships.
COMM 4502 Political Communication
A study of how symbols are used when communicating in a public context. Emphasis is placed on understanding the discourse of contemporary prominent political speakers, how radio and television have shaped political discourse, the role of political debates and the communication strategies employed in mass advertising campaigns. Specific attention is placed on understanding the effects of the media on political persuasion.
COMM 6020 Qualitative Communication Research
Examination of the fundamentals and relative strengths of various qualitative and rhetorical research methods, with their associated theoretical bases and specific applications of the most common approaches. These methods include: ethnography/participant observation phenomenology, case study research, critical theory, narrative, generic, metaphor and Burkean criticism.
COMM 6140 Pop Culture Messages
Examines influential texts (e.g., YouTube, TV, Film, Advertisements, Music, Gaming) students consume daily. Focuses on ways these discourses create identity and collective understanding. Explores message forms and their implications for critical thinking and consumption.
COMM 6240 Political and Corporate Speechwriting
Current Issues in Communication discussing contemporary communication topics varying by semester. Repeatable with different topics up to 18 credits toward the master’s degree. Check department for upcoming topics.
COMM 6850 Individual Graduate Research
The project is individually arranged and negotiated with a faculty advisor to provide students an opportunity to gain experience in a communication field. This project is distinct from a capstone project.
COMM 6900 Masters Capstone Thesis
A capstone experience demonstrating the ability to complete a professional thesis in consultation with a graduate faculty. Students will conceive, research, and produce an original research investigation in a relevant area of communication.