Texas Tech University

Mark A. Gring

Associate Professor & Interim Department Chairperson
Communication Studies

Email: mark.gring@ttu.edu

Phone: +1.806.834.3913

Research: Political communication, Rhetoric, Religion and Classical Pedagogy

Office: 516

Ph.D. The Ohio State University, 1993
M.A. University of Texas at Austin, 1986

https://ttu.academia.edu/MarkGring

https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Mark_Gring

Mark A. Gring

Biography

Mark Gring was born into a typical Midwestern home in the Ohio-Indiana region of the US. This quickly changed when his parents decided to become missionaries. As a result, he spent his formative years on the Texas-Mexican border (Eagle Pass, TX), the jungles of the Petén region of Guatemala, and the densely populated country of El Salvador (just outside the capital city). The international wanderings ended abruptly about the time of the 1969 “Soccer War” between El Salvador and Honduras and his family came back to the US and settled in Kansas. Life was not settled for long, though, and his family returned to Guatemala to help rebuild after a significant 1976 earthquake killed thousands. On returning to the US, Mark's family settle in Texas. Although his family moved quite frequently, most of life has been spent in Texas and it feels more like home than any other place on the globe.

Mark has feebly attempted to not remain ignorant about life, the universe, and everything in it. To that end he attended high school in Lakin, Kansas, and several colleges and universities. He finally settled, and graduated from, the University of Texas at Austin, after marrying his college sweetheart, Dana Hammock (from Midland).  Mark and Dana co-authored four offspring who have contributed to the joys and craziness of life in their own unique ways. The oldest offspring and her husband co-authored an image bearer—to the delight of several great-grandparents, grandparents, four newly-minted uncles, and an aunt.

Although Mark failed as a wannabe Christian musician (what can dime-a-dozen guitar players actually do?), he successfully sustained time and earned credits in various institutions of higher education in order to earn a B.S. and an M.A. in Speech Communication (UT-Austin) and a doctorate from The Ohio State University. Mark has maintained a presence in various state and private educational institutions since then, contributing to the joys and sorrows of thousands of undergraduates and a few hundred graduate students.

Mark continues to find joy and deep satisfaction in his faith, his family, his students, his research, music, film, art, and good food and drink. His final thought, to the delight of few of his students and colleagues is, “Capital ‘T' truth and capital ‘R' reality do exist and we can know them.”

Research

Early in life I had a desire to be a Christian musician who could influence audiences through pop culture. When my musical talents failed to materialize, I also realized that I was equally interested in the study of rhetoric. One of my undergraduate professors introduced me to this idea of rhetoric and required us to memorize Aristotle's definition for a public speaking class. Ever since then, the idea of studying rhetoric and persuasion continued to grow and take hold of me as something of great intrigue and delight. As a result, I earned three degrees that focused on the study of rhetoric—a B.S. and an M.A. from the University of Texas at Austin in Speech Communication and a Ph.D. in Communication (with an emphasis on rhetoric and critical-cultural studies) from The Ohio State University. My doctoral dissertation, “Rhetoric and Ideology: An Analysis of Interaction between epistemology, praxis, and power,” brought together several areas of interest for me that included rhetoric, religion, epistemology, ideology, revolution, praxis, power, and intercultural interactions.

I have maintained my original areas of interest but have refined them to examine how religious convictions and presuppositions help to determine sociopolitical behavior. I am convinced that all people have transcendent ideals to which they ascribe and appeal on a daily basis. These ideals can easily be defined as a person's “religious convictions” that guide his/her decisions and behavior. As such I have examined the use of the theology of liberation in the 1977 Nicaraguan revolution, over 200 sermons after the 9-11 US terrorist attack to see how the dominant US religious institutions responded to the crisis, how the contemporary Presbyterian Church in America responded to racial issues, how Abraham Kuyper's religious convictions help us to better understand the ideas about communication and rhetoric, and how the very ancient covenant-making rituals help us to better understand contemporary communication interactions between people, church and state, and preachers and congregations.

I am convinced that higher education research in the U.S. tends to take a dismissive stance toward religion and its influence on individuals and sociopolitical behavior. Academics tend to presume that religion is “merely subjective,” or that humans can somehow be “neutral” toward religion. This thinking stands in sharp contradistinction to Roy Clouser's book, “The myth of religious neutrality” and to the commitments and behavior of humanity since time immemorial. As such, I am committed to showing the value of incorporating religious thought as a significant part of my research.  

Another dimension of my research is concerned with pedagogy. I have become increasingly convinced that the use of classical education models and ideas are more sound ways to think and talk about pedagogy. Despite contemporary presumptions that increased use of technology increases engagement and retention by students, I have not seen this to be the case in my students. I have challenged contemporary pedagogical assumptions in some of my research and I plan to continue to do so.

Methodologies

  • Rhetorical Analysis

Research Areas

  • Political communication
  • Rhetoric
  • Religion and Classical Pedagogy

Selected Publications

  • Gring, M.A. (2018) Abraham Kuyper: Prophetically Challenging a Blurring of the Epistemic, Academic, and Theological Boundaries. In R. H. Woods, Jr. and N. Wood (Eds.), Words and Witnesses: Communication Studies in Christian Thought from Athanasius to Desmond Tutu. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers.
  • Gring, M. A. (2016) “Moving Forward”: The Rhetoric of Social Intervention and the Presbyterian Church in America's Cultural Outreach,” Chapter 14 in Hacker-Daniels, A. E. (Ed), Communication and the Global Landscape of Faith. Lanham, Maryland: Lexington Books, an imprint of the Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group.
  • Gring, M. A. (2008). Preachers, Terrorism, and War: Rhetorical Analysis of Sermons Responding to 9/11. In D. H. O'Hair, R. L. Heath, K. J. Ayotte, & G. R. Ledlow (Eds.), Terrorism: Communication and Rhetorical Perspectives (pp. 269-298). Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press.

Leadership & Awards

  • Presidential Teaching Excellence Award, Texas Tech University, April 2013. This award came with a medallion and a cash prize.
  • Apple Polishing Award, Mortar Board at Texas Tech University, University. Apple Polishing Award for "excellence and inspiration in the classroom," November 17, 2011.
  • Inducted into the Teaching Academy at Texas Tech University, September 2008. Supporting letters from Dr. Patrick Hughes and Dr. Juliann Scholl.
  • Awarded the Professing Excellence Teaching Award from the Texas Tech University Housing and Residence Life April 2007.