Kyle W. Kusz

  • Professor of English and Gender and Women's Studies and Undergraduate Advisor
  • Phone: 401.874.5434
  • Email:
  • Office Location: 208B Swan Hall


Born and raised in Greece, New York, I attended Ithaca College as a naïve, first generation college student who only planned on playing soccer, taking some classes, and returning home after four years to be a physical educator and coach. Instead, the charismatic teaching of Dr. Stephen Mosher disrupted that plan and led to a life never imagined. Graduate school felt like being transported to another world replete with new types of people, ways of thinking, languages, norms, and value systems. Part of this otherworldly experience—both disorienting and thoroughly captivating—was being introduced to cultural criticism. While completing my dissertation, I spent three enjoyable years trying to fit into this new identity of ‘academic’ and experimenting with the art of collegiate teaching as an Instructor at Northern Illinois University. In 2003, I came to the Ocean State to work in URI’s Kinesiology department. In fall 2019, I became a faculty member in English with a joint appointment in the Gender & Women’s Studies program. And at least once a week you can find me still trying to learn about life through playing with a soccer ball.


My research critically examines the patterns and particularities of the stories told about white men in popular culture, reading them as politicized allegories of particular moments in history. Thus far, my work has focused on stories produced in American sport media—especially the realms of spectacle, film, and celebrity. I conceptualize these stories as under-theorized political terrains that play a key pedagogical role in forming how various publics make sense of the changing ideas of race, gender, class, and nationalism that circulate in culture. More broadly, I take seriously the critical study of popular culture, understanding it not only as a key terrain through which people develop their perceptions and beliefs about themselves, their social worlds, and American/global history and culture, writ large, but as an index of the dynamic ideological currents circulating through various American social formations. Previously, I have written about the racial and gender politics of the performances, cultural representations, and personal narratives of sport celebrities like: Tom Brady, Andre Agassi, Lance Armstrong, Pat Tillman, and Freddy Adu; sport-related films like: Dogtown and Z Boys, Jerry Maguire, The Fan, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, Murderball; and sport formations such as extreme sports and skateboarding. Some of these analyses can be found in my book, Revolt of the White Athlete: Race, Media and the Emergence of Extreme Athletes in America (Peter Lang: New York, 2007) and in various anthologies and journals. All of this work is united by a focus on illuminating the dynamic representational strategies and logics used to re-center whiteness, reproduce white male privilege, reconstruct white nationalism(s), and commodify blackness within specific historical conjunctures of post-civil rights era America.

As I begin this transition to English, I look forward to expanding the scope of my work beyond sport media and cultural formations (without leaving them behind completely) to examine more representations and performances of race and gender in contemporary American media culture and the everyday.

I welcome graduate study in popular culture, cultural studies, American studies, body politics, critical race theory, feminist theory, masculinity studies, sport media, and physical cultural studies in the post-civil rights era and contemporary United States.  


  • Ph.D., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2003: Kinesiology (Specialization: Cultural Studies of Sport and Physical Activity).
  • Graduate Minor Certificate: Cultural Studies and Interpretive Research.
  • M.S., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1996: Kinesiology (Specialization: Cultural Studies of Sport and Physical Activity).
  • M.S., Ithaca College, 1994: Sports Studies (Minor: Sociology).