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Graduate Faculty

Russel HirstRussel Hirst

Associate Professor

401A McClung Tower
Phone: (865) 974-6952
Fax: (865) 974-6926
Personal Website:


Russel Hirst directs the department’s program in technical communication and serves as managing editor of the International Journal of Nuclear Security (see and

Dr. Hirst is an associate fellow of the Society for Technical Communication (STC), a former president of the East Tennessee Chapter of that society, co-editor of Education in Technical Communication: Academic Programs That Work (STC, 1997), co-author of A Short Guide to Business Writing (Prentice Hall, 1995), and an editorial board member for the Journal of Technical Writing & Communication. He has published book chapters and articles on the history and theory of rhetoric; these focus on 19th-century theories of preaching. His current research focuses on communication in international nuclear security and on style and document design for scientific and technical communication.


  • B.A., Brigham Young University
  • M.A., Brigham Young University
  • Ph.D., Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute


  • A Short Guide to Business Writing, co-authored with Harry J. Bruce and Michael L. Keene (Prentice Hall, 1995).

Representative articles

  • “Bonding with the Nuclear Industry: A Technical Communication Professor and His Students Partner with Y-12 National Security Complex,” Journal of Technical Writing & Communication 46:2, 2016.
  • “Indicting the Devil: Austin Phelps’s Fight Against Spiritualism,” Journal of Communication & Religion 37.3, 2014.
  • “The Influence of Theology on the Rhetorical Theory of Austin Phelps,” Advances in the History of Rhetoric 16, 2013.
  • “Sacred Texts as Crucibles of Invention,” Journal of Communication & Religion 29, 2006.
  • “Improving Scientific Voice in the Science Communication Center at UT Knoxville,” Journal of Technical Writing & Communication Vol. 43.4, 2013.
  • “Virtue, Brevity, and Memory,” in Revisiting the Past through Rhetorics of Memory and Amnesia, ed. Sullivan, Maylath, & Hirst. Cambridge Scholars Publishing: Newcastle upon Tyne, UK, 2010.
  • “Virtues and Vices of Omission,” Technical Communication 54.3, 2007.
  • “Herbert Spencer’s Philosophy of Style: Conserving Mental Energy,” Journal of Technical Writing & Communication 34.4 (2004) 198-224
  • “Scientific Jargon, Good and Bad,” Journal of Technical Writing and Communication 33.3 (2003): 201-229
  • “Master of Science Programs in Scientific and Technical Communication,” Education in Scientific and Technical Communication: Academic Programs That Work, Society for Technical Communication (1997), 29-54
  • “The Value of Faculty Internships in Technical Communication,” Journal of Technical Writing and Communication 26.1 (1996): 79-96

Professional Service

  • Managing Editor, International Journal of Nuclear Security, since 2014.
  • Conference Program Committee, Council for Programs in Technical and Scientific Communication, since 2014.
  • Chair, Sigma Tau Chi and Alpha Sigma, student honorary societies of the Society for Technical Communication, since 2013.
  • Editorial Board, Journal for Technical Writing & Communication, since 2005.
  • Faculty liaison, Society for Technical Communication, ET Chapter, since 1993.

Awards, Honors & Grants

  • J. R. Gould Award for Excellence in Teaching Technical Communication, Society for Technical Communication, 2015
  • Associate Fellow, Society for Technical Communication, 2011
  • Outstanding Service Award, Society for Technical Communication, 1997
  • John C. Hodges Excellence in Teaching Award, 1995
  • Jay R. Gould Award for Excellence in Technical Communication (Rensselaer), 1989.