A-Z Index

Brian Swafford



101 Wells Hall


660.562.1947 (fax)

Joined Northwest in 2011

Senior Instructor

Director of Forensics


  • M.A. Communication Studies - Ohio University, 2008
  • B.A. Communication Studies - University of Nebraska - Lincoln, 2004

Courses Taught

  • Fundamentals of Oral Communication
  • Argumentation and Debate
  • Public Speaking
  • Practicum in Debate and Forensics
  • Advanced Practicum in Debate and Forensics
  • Special Topics:  Rhetoric of Sports
  • Special Topics:  Comics and Culture

Academic Interests

Sports matter. I can give you the dollars that are spent on all levels of athletic competitions and the huge amounts of time spent attending, watching and thinking about sports by our society. My academic interest in the study of sport is specifically in sports fans. Fans in the stands, on message boards, on talk radio, and at watch parties across the country constitute unique sites of fan community and identity. By immersing myself in fan cultures and analyzing various rhetorical texts that are key to each fan group, I am able to offer insights into how, and perhaps more importantly why, fans come together in celebration of their team.

My interest in fan cultures does not stop with sports. I am also interested in fans of comic books and graphic novels. This fan culture is much more insular since being an avid comic fan does not hold the same social standing as being a sports fan. Yet the popularity of comic book movies, from Superman to Spiderman to Batman to the X-Men, and the prevalence of these characters in popular culture tell us that the images and personas tap into important parts of our social psyche. Examination of the comics themselves sheds light on the interpretive community of readers and immersion in key cultural locations, like the local comic shop and the national comic book conventions, allow me to reveal what these fans find significant about their love of comic books in general and comic characters specifically.

Scholarly Activity


  • Swafford, B. M. (2010).  Counterplans:  Rethinking what makes counterplans competitive arguments in policy debate.  National Forensic Journal, 28, 99-121.
  • Swafford, B. M. & Hinck, E. A. (2010).  Performative fiction:  The use of scripts in interactions between debate competitors and judges.  National Forensic Journal, 28, 1-27.
  • Swafford, B. (2009).  Catching a ballgame from the comfort of home:  A Center Field Shot to the relationship between baseball and television.  Review of Communication, 9, 351-354.
  • Swafford, B. (2008).  The death of Captain America:  An open-ended allegorical reading of Marvel Comics’ Civil War storyline.  International Journal of Comic Arts, 10, 632-648.
  • Swafford, B. (2008).  Understanding the hyphen:  Addressing the debate-IE divide.  In D. Cronn-Mills, (Ed.), Published Proceedings of the National Developmental Conference on Individual Events (pp. 162-167).  Mankato, MN:  Minnesota State University, Mankato.

Book Chapters

  • Swafford, B. (2014).  “What can you tell me about [blank]?”  Exploring the social rules of fan talk.  In B. Bolling & M. Smith (Eds.), It Happens at Comic-Con:  Ethnographic Essays on a Pop Culture Phenomenon (pp. 76-87).  Jefferson, NC:  McFarland & Company.  
  • Swafford, B.  (2012). Critical ethnography:  The comics shop as cultural clubhouse.  In R. Duncan & M. Smith (Eds.), Critical Approaches to Comics:  Theories and Methods (pp.  291-302). New York:  Routledge.

Student Group Advisement

  • Northwest Missouri State University Speech and Debate Team, the Speaking Bearcats

Other Professional Experiences

Professional Organization Memberships

  • Pi Kappa Delta Forensics Association
  • Public Communication Speech and Debate League
  • National Forensics Association
  • National Communication Association
  • Central State Communication Association
  • Missouri Association of Forensic Activities
  • Ohio Forensics Association

Professional Service

  • Public Communication Speech and Debate League
    • Executive Secretary, Tournament Staff, Topic Committee
  • Pi Kappa Delta
    • Tournament Staff, Impromptu Committee
  • National Forensics Association
    • Impromptu and Extemporaneous Committees
  • National Communication Association
    • Reviewer, Student Section
  • Central States Communication Association
    • Reviewer, Rhetoric Division
  • Missouri Association of Forensic Activities
    • Constitutional Revision Committee
  • Ohio Forensics Association
    • Impromptu, Extemporaneous, Constitutional Revision Committee

Debate Camps and Workshops

  • Ohio University Summer Speech Camp (Ohio University) - 2007, 2008, 2013, 2014
  • Trojan Summer Retreat (Lee County HS, Leesburg, GA) - July 2011
  • Ohio Forensics Association Fall Workshop - October 2006
  • Ceramic Mug Debate Workshop (Central Michigan University) - August 2004
  • Fish and Chips Debate Camp (Westover HS, Albany, GA) - 2003-2005

Forensics Coaching Success

  • Northwest Missouri State University, 2011-present
    • Sixth Place, Overall Team Sweepstakes, 2014 – Pi Kappa Delta, NCT
    • Seventh Place, Individual Events Team Sweepstakes, 2014 – Pi Kappa Delta, NCT
    • Third Place, Overall Team Sweepstakes, 2014 – PCSDL
    • Second Place, Debate Team Sweepstakes, 2014 - PCSDL
    • Third Place, Individual Events Team Sweepstakes, 2014 – MAFA
    • Tenth Place, Individual Events Team Sweepstakes, 2013 – Pi Kappa Delta
    • Second Place, Individual Event Team Sweepstakes, 2013 – MAFA
    • National Championships in Program of Oral Interpretation (2013), Public Forum Debate (2014), Public Forum Speaking (2014), Legislative Debate (2014), and Duo Improv (2014)
  • Boise State University, 2010-2011
    • National Champion, Overall Team Sweepstakes, 2011 - Pi Kappa Delta
    • National Champion, Individual Events Team Sweepstakes, 2011 - Pi Kappa Delta
    • National Runner-Up, Debate Team Sweepstakes, 2011 - Pi Kappa Delta
    • Third Place, Season Team Sweepstakes, 2011 - International Public Debate Association
    • Gold Program, Individual Events and Debate Team Sweepstakes, 2011 - Northwest Forensics Conference
    • Idaho Speech Conference Champion, Team Sweepstakes, 2011
    • National Championships in Communication Analysis (2011), Discussion (2011), and Oral History (2011)
  • Various successes as an assistant coach with Central Michigan (2004-2006) and Ohio University (2006-2010)