King’s research program includes a long-term interest in rhetoric, intercultural communication and popular culture. His first book, Reggae, Rastafari, and the Rhetoric of Social Control, was published by the University Press of Mississippi in December 2002. King traces how Jamaica’s popular music evolved both lyrically and musically from 1959-1980. The study also examines how the Jamaican government and its surrogates attempted to control Jamaica’s popular music and the Rastafarian movement. King’s second book, I’m Feeling the Blues Right Now: Blues Tourism and the Mississippi Delta, was published by the University Press of Mississippi in July 2011. Promotional efforts to market blues music rely heavily on blues myths and claims of authenticity, strategies that seek to satisfy the imaginations of blues tourists who travel to the Mississippi Delta to experience authenticity (and spend money) in the mythical “birthplace of the blues.” At the same time, efforts to obfuscate Mississippi’s past embody conscious efforts to privilege a sterilized historical narrative, a narrative that relies heavily on revisionist memory practices. For example, while promotional materials often highlight the Delta as the “home of the blues,” and spotlight the region’s rustic and “authentic” blues culture, there is, not surprisingly, precious little information on Mississippi’s depressing record of state-sponsored oppression of African Americans.
King’s work has also been published in a variety of journals, including Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies, Southern Communication Journal, Howard Journal of Communications, Popular Music and Society, and Caribbean Studies as well as in edited books such as The Resisting Muse: Popular Music and Social Protest (London: Ashgate Press, 2006), Popular Music and Human Rights, Volume I (London: Ashgate Press, 2011), Social Controversy and Public Address in the 1960s and Early 1970s: The Rhetorical History of the United States (Vol. 9, East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 2017) and The Honky Tonk on the Left: Progressive Thought in Country Music (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2018). King and co-author Roger D. Gatchet (West Chester University—Pennsylvania) are currently working on a public memory project that explores how Mississippi is promoting its civil rights history as part of the state’s cultural heritage.