Like many of the faculty in the Department of Communication Studies, Peter Marston was introduced to the field of communication through competitive debate. He participated in debate throughout high school and college, and ultimately graduated from Occidental College with a B.A. in Theatre Arts and Rhetoric.
After two years teaching in the Special Education program at San Marino High School, Professor Marston began his graduate degree at the University of Southern California, where he studied under the guidance of Dr. Walter Fisher. His dissertation, “The Rhetorical Forms and Functions of Cosmological Argument,” won the National Communication Association’s Dissertation of the Year Award in 1987, and the following year, Professor Marston received the Karl R Wallace Award for Outstanding Scholarship in Rhetorical Studies.
Since completing his doctorate (1987, University of Southern California), Professor Marston’s research has focused on the subjective experience and communication of romantic love, though he has also published articles in rhetorical criticism, feminist rhetoric, postmodernism, and popular culture. The courses he typically teaches in the department include: COMS 327 (Rhetorical Theory), COMS 328 (Freedom of Speech), COMS 425 (Theories of Argument and Deliberation), COMS 430 (Rhetorical Criticism), COMS 631 (Studies in Classical Rhetoric); COMS 632 (Studies in Contemporary Rhetoric), and COMS 633 (Studies in Postmodern Rhetoric).
Outside of his academic career, Professor Marston writes, records, and performs music with his band, Shplang, and records and produces other artists in his home studio. He is also an active member of the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP) and has developed critical thinking curriculum for the organization’s Young Scholars program. He is married to Professor Karen Swett, a part-time instructor in the department, and has two children, Henry and Charlotte.