Cari Whittenburg’s paper published in Journal of Contemporary Rhetoric

Along with coauthor Brian L. Ott—Professor of Communication at Missouri State University—Ph.D. student Cari Whittenburg has published the paper “‘There are two sides to every story’: Text and con-text at the Mob Museum” in the latest issue of Journal of Contemporary Rhetoric.


The Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement, better known as “The Mob Museum,” in Las Vegas, Nevada, affords a deeply conflicted rhetorical experience of text and context. On one hand, the Museum’s strict spatial structure, recurrent tropes of justice, and sensory-rich interactive exhibits promote a strongly pro-law enforcement message. On the other hand, the Museum’s con-texts, its externally contracted marketing efforts, independently designed gift shop, addition of a moonshine distillery and speakeasy called The Underground, and location in downtown Las Vegas, all work to transform organized crime into an object of spectacle, entertainment, and consumption. A closing section of the essay explores the implications of our analysis for understanding text-context relations.