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2015 Seminars: June 1-5

Rhetoric and Science, Leah Ceccarelli and Carolyn Miller

Leah Ceccarelli, University of Washington
Carolyn R. Miller, North Carolina State University

It’s been almost 40 years since rhetorical critic Philip Wander made an initial call for research on “the rhetoric of science,” once considered to be an oxymoron. Now, a thriving area of scholarship exists both to investigate the efforts made by scientists to persuade each other and to assess the place of science in the deliberation of public policy. In this seminar, we will examine current issues of interest to scholars of rhetoric who turn their attention to discourse of or about science. Science in the 21st century is challenged to address increasingly complex problems with health, safety, and policy implications, such as climate change and emerging infectious diseases; in addition, new media and modes of communication are changing the operations of science and its interactions with the public. These all pose new issues and problems for rhetorical study.

Some questions to be considered in the seminar are related to these new conditions for science: How do citizen science, open access publishing, and “parascientific” forums and genres challenge the boundary between science and the public? What can we learn from scientific controversies and from the role of science in public controversies? Other questions to be considered are related to the field of rhetoric itself: What makes something a rhetorical study of science? What can rhetoric of science contribute to the larger field of science studies? How might rhetoricians of science ensure the broader impacts of their work on scientists and various other publics? What are the similarities and differences between rhetoric of science work from scholars in English and Communication departments?

The exact agenda for the seminar will be informed by the interests expressed by seminar participants in their applications. During the seminar, participants will discuss recent scholarship in the field, explore the questions above and ways of addressing them, and workshop their own ongoing projects or project proposals.

Questions should be directed to Leah Ceccarelli.

“The War of Words,” A Rhetoric of Motives, and Contemporary Rhetorical Theory, Jack Selzer, Kyle Jensen, Krista Ratcliffe

Jack Selzer, Penn State University
Kyle Jensen, University of North Texas
Krista Ratcliffe, Marquette University

Kenneth Burke’s A Rhetoric of Motives has of course been recognized as a foundational contribution to rhetorical theory ever since its appearance in 1950. Because it expanded our collective sense of “the realm of rhetoric” (so that we now understand science, art, and materiality as falling within the domain of rhetoric) and because it offered the concept of “identification” as a complement to Aristotelian categories of persuasion, A Rhetoric of Motives remains the central text for everyone working out the premises of “the new rhetoric.” And yet as widely read as it is, RM remains imperfectly and incompletely understood: The details of “identification” remain as confounding as they are intriguing, and large sections of RM remain confusing or elusive.

Participants in this seminar, therefore, will work together to comprehend RM and to tease out its implications for the study of contemporary discourse. Toward that end, participants will have a chance to review and discuss a lengthy, intriguing, recently discovered section of RM—called “The War of Words”—that Burke decided to delete from his manuscript at the last minute. Not only will the seminar leaders be sharing the contents of “The War of Words” (an edition of it is now in preparation) but they will also make available other archival materials which bear on RM, including correspondence between Burke and his colleagues and friends J. S. Watson, Malcolm Cowley, and Stanley Edgar Hyman (among others). Careful attention will also be given over to an analysis of “identification” and the terms associated with it in RM.

But guiding daily discussion will be participants’ own research and individual questions. Participants will be encouraged to submit short statements about their own questions and scholarly interests (we seek a mix of graduate students, junior faculty, and more senior scholars), and at least half the time will be given over to participants’ developing projects. If things go as planned, participants will leave with a more mature understanding of RM as well as invigorated individual work, whether it be an article-in-progress, a dissertation or book chapter, or whatever.

Given the contents of RM and “The War of Words,” we anticipate that the seminar will interest, in addition to students of Kenneth Burke, scholars working on post-World War II culture, publics theory, national identity, rhetorical theory, rhetorics of the popular press, and listening rhetorics. Join us!

Questions should be directed to Jack Selzer.

Rhetorics of Citizenship, Cate Palczewski and Karma Chavez

Catherine H. Palczewski, University of Northern Iowa
Karma R. Chávez, University of Wisconsin-Madison

This seminar will identify and introduce three significant approaches to the study of rhetorics of citizenship: 1) the appeal to citizenship approach that explores how (a stable notion of) citizenship (as a category) can be deployed in appeals for social change; 2) the citizenship as disciplinary category approach that explores how citizenship, itself, is defined by a constitutive outside, not who has it but who is outside of it and therefore constitutes its bounds; and 3) the refusing citizenship approach that completely rejects citizenship as a useful construct to theorize belonging. We will triangulate the three approaches and explore the different theses that emerge from them regarding citizenship and visuality, citizenship and the body, citizenship and borders, and citizenship and “the personal is political.” Our belief is that all approaches can be enriched by considering the insights of the others. Our goal is to create a productive dialogue between the different approaches.

Each day will be divided between seminar style discussions of assigned readings, field trips and guest speakers (where appropriate), and a workshop discussion of participants’ projects. Participants will submit a working draft of an essay in early May that will be shared with all other seminar participants.

Readings will likely include, but not be limited to, selections from the following authors: Robert Asen, Ariella Azoulay, Jeffrey Bennett, Lauren Berlant, Amy L. Brandzel, Barbara Christian, Josue David Cisneros, David Cole, Craig Gilmore, Ruth Wilson Gilmore, Walter D. Mignolo, Toby Miller, Aihwa Ong, Reyna Ramirez, and Isaac West.

Questions should be directed to Karma R. Chávez.

Rhetoric and Sensation, Debbie Hawhee and Vanessa Beasley

Debra Hawhee, Penn State University
Vanessa Beasley, Vanderbilt University

It took a few millennia, but rhetoric is finally coming to its—or to the—senses. Or has it been in touch with sensation all along, just beneath its hyper-rational surface? In this seminar, participants will re-examine rhetorical theory in relation to sensation, defined preliminarily (and broadly) as feelings emanating from perceptual contact. One of the seminar’s lead concepts will be the “sensorium,” derived from Marshall McLuhan’s mid-twentieth-century writing but also stretching back to Darwin, More, and others. The concept simultaneously evokes sensation and sensory ecologies, mediating technologies and bodies. Much as the concept of the sensorium refuses to isolate the senses from each other, the seminar will focus specifically on interanimating methods used so far in sense-based areas of visual, sonic, haptic, and even olfactory rhetoric. We will necessarily explore the political dimensions of sense-based rhetoric and venture into cultural studies to think about “public feelings” as a potentially useful approach to rhetorical studies.

This seminar, then, will blend historical, theoretical, and explicitly methodological approaches to the subject at hand. Participants can expect to do the following:

  • Work through a core set of transdisciplinary readings (including but not limited to Marshall McLuhan, Cara Finnegan, Aristotle, Ann Cvetkovich, Davide Panagia, Thomas Rickert, Brian Ott, and Walter Ong).
  • Develop an agenda for emerging and future studies of rhetoric and sensation. This agenda will begin with research questions contributed by participants, questions that will be revisited and revised as the seminar progresses.
  • Generate a crowd-sourced history of rhetoric’s sensorium. The history will be based on individual mini-presentations about select rhetorical and cultural theorists, contemporary to ancient, familiar to new (e.g., Kenneth Burke, Lauren Berlant, Augustine, Elizabeth Wilson).
  • Discuss sensation research with scholars from across disciplines at UW-Madison.
  • Participate in methodology working groups. During daily breakout sessions, participants will articulate and strategize ways for meeting challenges posed by studying sensation in a specific and field-shaping way.

Questions should be directed to Debra Hawhee.

Rhetoric and Race, Kent Ono

Kent Ono, University of Utah

The study of rhetoric and race has, over the years, been relatively haphazard. A seminar that both introduces participants to key works in the field, as well as seeks to understand this research area better, has the potential to be very productive. During such a seminar questions will be asked such as: What research has been done on race and rhetoric? What is the history of race and rhetoric? Are there key research areas that have been overlooked? Are there ways of organizing so as to be more deliberative about doing research in this area?

Seminar participants will do readings, receive a bibliography, and present brief 5-7 page (double spaced) position papers on the topic of rhetoric and race. The position papers will be prolegomena—introductions to new (as yet unstudied or understudied) areas of rhetoric and race studies. They will call for renewed or new attention to an area and encourage others to take up research on the particular area or subject.

In addition to general/background information and research on the subject, the seminar will focus on four specific subtopics, including (1) rhetoric, media, and race; (2) rhetoric and immigration; (3) Asian American rhetoric; and (4) neocolonial rhetoric.

  • Authors to be studied for rhetoric, media, and race include: Bernadette Calafell; Stuart Hall; Michelle Holling; Michael Lacy; Roopali Mukherjee; David Oh; Thomas Nakayama; Kent Ono; and Catherine Squires.
  • Authors to be studied for rhetoric and immigration include: Hector Amaya; Claudia Anguiano; Roberto Avant-Mier; Bernadette M. Calafell; Lisa B.Y. Calvente; Karma R. Chavez; Josue Cisneros; Nathaniel I. Cordova; D. Robert DeChaine; Fernando Delgado; Anne Demo; Darrel Enck-Wanzer; Teresita Garza; Alberto Gonzalez; Lisa A. Flores; Marouf Hasian; Michelle A. Holling; Zach Justice; Kent Ono; Richard D. Pineda; T.M. Linda Sholz; John M. Sloop; Stacey Sowards; and Christopher Joseph Westgate
  • Authors to be studied for neocolonial rhetoric include: Kevin Ayotte; Jason Black; Derek Buescher; Danielle Endres; Marouf Hasian; Radha Hegde; Kent Ono; Richard Rogers; Rae Lynn Schwartz-Dupre; and Raka Shome.

Questions should be directed to Kent Ono.

Working the Field: Rhetorical Studies and Ethnographic Methods, Ralph Cintron, Scott Graham, Gerard Hauser, Candice Rai

Ralph Cintron, University of Illinois at Chicago
S. Scott Graham, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Gerard Hauser, University of Colorado, Boulder
Candice Rai, University of Washington

Rhetoric scholars today are interested in all sorts of ethical, ontological, and epistemological matters, and we are quite promiscuous regarding the specific theories that interest us. We are likely to be as interested in objects before they take on a “meaning” as we are in traditional texts and their hermeneutic possibilities. Many rhetoricians are interested in the rhetorical performances of people as they determine policies regarding health care, affordable housing, or environmental use; others do fieldwork collaboratively with and as activists in order to co-produce arguments that might affect the public sector. While we are deeply invested in classical rhetoric and alternative rhetorical theories developed by other peoples, we must also settle on methodological approaches that will help us get inside what interests us so as to better understand rhetoric in everyday life.

One methodology is fieldwork. But working with ethnographic methods in a fieldsite entails numerous problems. Consider among others: (1) What does it mean to submit rhetorical inquiry to fieldwork and, correspondingly, to theorize the fieldsite? What rhetorical inquiries are most appropriate for field methods? To what extent does fieldwork answer and confound our theoretical questions? (2) How is coherence made in the texts that we write when fieldwork feels so incoherent? Are fieldsites coherent? When a person says x, how do we generalize to X? Where do a fieldworker’s insights come from and what do we do with them? When interviewees say, seemingly, the same thing, do they mean the same thing? (3) How does the idea of equality structure a fieldworker’s intentions and final text? Given that most real world situations entail power imbalances, how do fieldworkers negotiate their inclinations to advocate on behalf of those who have less power? How do we treat the beliefs of those we do not agree with?

This seminar will address large questions regarding the relationship between fieldwork and theory, but also the specific techniques that constitute the doing of fieldwork: research design, access to a fieldsite, the ethics of fieldwork, interviewing, participant observation, fieldnote writing, coding, final write-up, and so on. The seminar will be pitched toward those who are contemplating doing fieldwork, or are already immersed in fieldwork, or moving from fieldwork to publication. One reason for having four co-leaders is to facilitate intense small-group work that will address the conceptual problems regarding each specific project and provide hands-on work regarding fieldwork techniques. The four co-leaders cover a wide-range of interests, including but not limited to: anthropology of democracy, political economy, minorities and race, urban studies, rhetorics of the everyday, material rhetorics, network theory, public sphere, theories of space and place, composition, medical rhetorics, science studies, new materialist/object-oriented rhetoric, vernacular rhetorics, theories of agency, and publication matters. The goal of the seminar is for each participant to walk out with a fieldwork plan for conducting their research or a better plan for weaving fieldwork data and rhetorical theory.

Questions should be directed to Ralph Cintron.

Transnational Rhetorical Research, Sara McKinnon and Rebecca Dingo

Rebecca Dingo, University of Missouri-Columbia
Sara McKinnon, University of Wisconsin-Madison

This seminar invites participants to consider the transnational turn in rhetoric, communication, and composition scholarship. In doing so, we look at feminist, intercultural, and contrastive rhetorical inquiries within the field and outside these fields to the critical projects of transnational, feminist, postcolonial, materialist studies to consider how they have served as a precursor to transnational rhetorical analytics. Participants will be asked to read germinal work in transnational rhetorical studies along-side foundational scholarship outside of the field in order to first articulate the core questions and methods that transnational studies bring to the field and second to begin to consider how participants’ own individual projects might extend this turn.

Many rhetorical scholars have challenged the patriarchal, western and anglocentric assumptions of the field and have developed new critical methods to studying rhetoric. What the field has just begun to address is how the production, circulation and audience of rhetorics is simultaneously constituted within and between national and global spheres, and through and against multiple political investments (see for example Dingo, Hegde, Hesford, McKinnon, Parameswaran, Schell, Shome, Wang among others). This seminar at once looks back at the scholarly questions and geopolitical contexts that have pushed the field to arrive at the point of exploring the relationship between language and power more generally and how, more specifically, power works in historical moments and within particular texts and geopolitical contexts. We believe that theories and methods developed out of transnational studies might shift how rhetoricians think about power, institutions, culture, and the speaking subject among many other key themes in the field. In this seminar then, we draw attention to how global capitalism, austerity politics, and the economic, social, and political conditions of contemporary neoliberalism, neocolonialism, and neo-imperialism across nations, have shifted the roles that state and supranational institutions play in our understanding of history, and sexual, classed, gendered, raced, and ethnic identities; as a result, we consider how these shifts ought to impact our study of rhetoric.

Participants will read a small set of scholarly pieces and share a 7-10 page piece of scholarship to workshop with the group. This scholarship can be as informal or formal as the participant needs. The intention of work-shopping this scholarship is to help participants develop their own transnational rhetorical method(s) or set of research questions that they can use after the seminar.

Questions should be directed to Sara McKinnon.

2015 Workshops: June 5-7

Rhetorics & Networks, Collin Brooke

Collin Gifford Brooke, Syracuse University

Like rhetoric itself, networks are nothing new. At their core, networks simply articulate sets of relationships and connections, whether those links are defined socially, citationally, or geographically. Rhetoric, insofar as it is addressed, often forges the relationships that networks map for us. Whether we cast it in terms of persuasion, identification, or the economics of attention, rhetoric is one of the forces that circulates throughout our personal networks of relationships, semantic maps of texts and ideas, and the life-cycles of news and culture. We have begun to think about the broader ecologies where our rhetorical situations are embedded, about tipping points and rhetorical velocity, and about the relationships among discourse, technology, and institutions.

If the idea of networks seems new to us today, it is because we have begun to develop new tools, both conceptual and technological, for tracing, understanding, and representing that idea. The editors of a recent issue of Amodern urge us “not to shy from the analysis of complex networked phenomena, but to instead enter the imbroglios, circulate with their flows, and begin to trace their radiating contours.” From actor network theory to distant reading and macroanalysis, networks provide rhetoric with new methodological possibilities, offering new scopes and scales for our inquiries.

This workshop will begin with some basic cartography, as we collectively map out some of the key texts, figures, and terminology associated with network studies, but we will focus most of our attention on locating space on that map for rhetorical inquiry. We will look at recent scholarship in rhetoric that is deploying concepts from network studies, survey relevant online tools and platforms, and explore digital projects (Republic of Letters, The Writing Studies Tree, e.g.). Readings may include work by Albert-László Barabási, Kathleen Carley, Wendy Chun, Byron Hawk, James Ridolfo and Dànielle DeVoss, Mark Taylor, & Duncan Watts. Finally, participants will have an opportunity to share work-in-progress, receive feedback, and/or plan future collaborations.

Questions should be directed to Collin Gifford Brooke.

Rhetoric’s Algorithms, Jim Brown and Annette Vee

Jim Brown, Rutgers University, Camden
Annette Vee, University of Pittsburgh

When rhetorical studies has addressed computational machines, it has generally focused on the affordances of computer software as a tool for rhetorical expression. The digital computer can simulate any number of other machines, from a composition notebook to an SLR to a reel-to-reel tape recording device. Given the push to theorize rhetoric beyond the written or spoken word, this ability to simulate is an important dimension of what we might call “digital rhetoric.” However, computation itself is a rhetorical medium. More than just tools to produce text, image, or sound, computational procedures are persuasive and expressive. In this workshop, we’ll dive deeper into the machine: We’ll consider the rhetoric of computation by examining code itself as rhetorical. By annexing code into rhetoric, we can reconsider both the rhetorical possibilities of algorithms and the the algorithmic possibilities of language production and persuasion. Thus, in this workshop we will aim to see how both rhetoric and computation change in light of the other. Given the ever-expanding role of digital computers in our various rhetorical ecologies, it is essential that rhetoricians build theoretical tools for grappling with computation’s various rhetorical dimensions.

The workshop will take up emerging work in rhetorical theory that addresses computation (including a forthcoming special issue of Computational Culture edited by the workshop leaders). However, attendees will also undertake algorithmic re-readings of foundational rhetorical texts. Beyond reading and discussing texts, we’ll also read and run code, and we’ll craft writing machines—computational mechanisms that algorithmically generate text. The workshop will take place in the UW-Madison Media Studio, a space that will allow workshop attendees to collaboratively tinker with hardware and software. Applicants are not expected to be expert programmers, but will benefit from some prior familiarity with computational processes and language.

Questions should be directed to Annette Vee.

Reality as a Rhetorical Problem, Dana Cloud

Dana L. Cloud, University of Texas at Austin

Infamously, in 2004, President George W. Bush aide Karol Rove called a journalist who questioned administration statements about the Afghan and Iraq Wars part of the “reality-based community,” adding:

That’s not the way the world really works anymore. We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors…and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.

More recently, presidential candidate Mitt Romney dismissed empirical challenges to his ads: “Fact checkers come to this with their own sets of thoughts and beliefs, and we’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact checkers.”

Rhetoric is integral to all processes of human knowing, but can and ought we distinguish between truth and fiction (and what resources do we possess for doing so) or condemn such a move as naïve and ethically suspect? What is the place of demystification in our critical practice? This workshop invites scholars to read, present, and discuss contending works (loosely, modernist and postmodernist) on the status of information and truth claims in political culture. The exigency for the session is the widespread skepticism among both politicians and communication theorists regarding the utility, ethics, and viability of an empirical standard for political truths.

This workshop is open to veterans of these debates and those newly interested in these questions. The workshop involves reading and discussion of major theorists who have thought through the rhetoricity of truths, and, workshopping of participants’ papers. Participants will be asked to do readings in advance of the workshop and circulate a description of their own project.

Questions should be directed to Dana L. Cloud.

Rhetoric and Indigeneity, Ellen Cushman

Ellen Cushman, Michigan State University

From textile designs, to wampum, tocapus, quipus, glyphs, and other expressions of writing, indigenous peoples have long recorded their lives and ways using material, performative, and symbolic systems. This workshop focuses on the visual and linguistic expressions of indigenous symbolic systems as a key to unlocking their lasting cultural, historical, and social impact. How do these systems do their representational work? What impact did/do these have for the peoples who use(d) them? How do these communication systems mitigate the influence of the written letter and pressure the American Indians to become “civilized others” through the use of the Roman alphabet?

Seeing literacy and rhetoric as two sides of the same coin (Duffy), we’ll examine the relationship between Indigenous languages of the Americas and the politics of their writing before and after the arrival of the Europeans. We’ll explore scholarship in native American, indigenous language, and decolonial studies with three questions in mind: (a) how has the acquisition of alphabetic script impacted (Latin) American indigenous communities, primarily its effects on identities, languages, and cultural institutions; (b) what knowledge is produced today about these communities and their changing responses to what they consider local and global languages and identities; and (c) how have indigenous communities used global networks to advance their own ideas regarding cultural maintenance and language preservation? Participants are encouraged to bring questions of their own to the table as well.

Framed in ongoing discussions of decolonizing thought, we discuss several forms of writing, record keeping and representational systems, tracing the long history of meaning making in the Americas. We pay special attention to systems of representation as examples of key moments of resistance to the alphabetic influence and the civilizing force of the letter. Along the way, we will apply key rhetorical frameworks to the study of scripts and material literacies, including, but not limited to the decolonial (Mignolo, Baca), ecological (Cooper), cultural (Mailloux, Villanueva, Young, Royster), and comparative rhetorical perspectives (Mao). As we do, we’ll reflect on the methodological difficulties that emerge when trying to remove an alphabetic lens to see writing systems in their own right.

Participants are asked to bring works in progress to the workshop; these will be discussed, with the aim of producing a full research proposal to be presented at the conclusion of the workshop. When possible, explorations of readings will involve participants in hands-on, inquiry-based activities designed to encourage multiple entry points into the concepts. By incorporating their findings from the workshop into the final project, participants will leave with a trajectory for their future work.

Questions should be directed to Ellen Cushman.

Organizing Discourse: Reading and Writing Institutional Histories of Rhetoric, David Fleming and Amy Wan

David Fleming, University of Massachusetts-Amherst
Amy Wan, Queens College, CUNY

For much of the twentieth century, histories of rhetoric by scholars in Communication, English, and other fields were either histories of specific orators and oratorical events, usually approached via methods of biographical or textual criticism, or histories of rhetorical theory and pedagogy themselves, often cast as grand narratives of progress or decline. These projects had their uses for intellectual disciplines still finding their way in the modern academy, but they often, ironically, abstracted rhetorical phenomena out of history, shortchanging both history and rhetoric in the process.

Today, our histories of rhetoric are more often than not deeply embedded inquiries, in which speaking and writing, the teaching of speaking and writing, and speakers and writers themselves are situated inextricably in the cultural, material, and ideological contexts that surround and constitute them, constrain and enable them, sponsor and inhibit them. This has meant a welcome turn, in the history of rhetorical practices, theories, and pedagogies, to the everyday, to the archives, to the margins—and all the richness, surprise, and insight that those turns bring. The challenge now is to keep our focus on local sites of ordinary discourse, and discourse cultivation, while still attending to the larger social and economic forces that both produce and are produced by them.

The double responsibility of attending to both small and large, specific and general, particular and abstract, is nowhere more pressing than in research on institutional histories of rhetoric, which we might define as histories of those religious, educational, social, economic, labor, civic, cultural, political, recreational, and other organizations where “writing” and “speaking,” broadly construed, are practiced, sponsored, developed—and also, of course, controlled. Understanding the history of rhetoric, especially in the modern era, requires that we understand these settings. And understanding those settings requires that we investigate their histories.

This workshop is meant to help researchers assess the current state of institutional histories of rhetoric, discuss together prospects and challenges for conducting such research, and share works-in-progress. We’ll combine reading and discussion of a few exemplary texts with workshopping of participants’ own projects. Each participant will submit, a week before the workshop, a brief text identifying his or her project-in-process, including, perhaps, motivation for the project, notable features, problems and opportunities, and progress so far.

Questions should be directed to David Fleming.

Neurorhetorics: Thinking Together About the Persuasive Brain, Jordynn Jack and David Gruber

Jordynn Jack, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
David Gruber, City University of Hong Kong

This workshop will examine intersections between rhetoric and neuroscience, with an emphasis on the productive interchange between these two areas of study.

Recently, scholars in rhetorical studies have called for interdisciplinary engagements with neuroscientists in order to examine “the constitutive nature of language, perception, and consciousness” (Gruber et al.) or to “investigate the rhetorical appeal, effects, and implications” of neuroscience research (Jack). While the excitement around neuroscience makes it tempting to import new theories into rhetoric, uncritical adoption of neuroscience findings carries with it attendant risks, including the tendency to present neuroscientific theories as facts, or to import troubling assumptions, such as the tendency for some neuroscience research to reify differences based on sex, gender, ability, and race. Accordingly, the focus of this workshop will be to develop skills in critical, rhetorical analysis of neuroscience and to develop projects that effectively engage the neurosciences.

We will begin our reading with the position statement, “Rhetoric and the Neurosciences: Engagement and Exploration,” which appeared in POROI in 2011 (co-authored by Gruber, Jack, Keranen, McKenzie, and Morris). Using this position statement as our guide, we will undertake a series of case studies: on the persuasive power (or lack thereof) of brain scan images, on the validity and usefulness of concepts such as “mirror neurons” and “Theory of Mind” for neurohumanities research (particularly rhetorical theory), on sex/gender differences as rhetorical effects of neuroscience research methods, and on the popularization of neuroscience findings. Readings will include articles by Matt May and Julie Jung (“Priming Terminist Inquiry: Toward a Methodology of Neurorhetoric”), David Gruber (“The Neuroscience of Rhetoric: Identification, Mirror Neurons, and Making the Many Appear”), Jordynn Jack and L. Gregory Appelbaum (“This is Your Brain on Rhetoric”), Melissa Littlefield and Jenell Johnson (“The Neuroscientific Turn”), and David Johnson Thornton (with selections from Brain Culture: Neuroscience and Popular Media).

We will practice reading neuroscience research articles rhetorically, while also questioning how those findings might inform rhetorical theory. Our workshop will also consider how to work directly in partnership with neuroscientists. As part of this effort, the workshop will feature “Ask a Neuroscientist,” a Skype session with brain researchers who are willing to answer questions about their research methods, theories, and assumptions.

Finally, participants will draw on workshop readings to further a scholarly project of their own. Participants are encouraged to bring with them a 6-8 page project (a research article, section of a dissertation chapter or prospectus, book proposal, etc.) that they will workshop with other participants.

Questions should be directed to Jordynn Jack.

Rhetoric and Economics, Mark Longaker and David Gore

Mark Longaker, University of Texas at Austin
David Gore, University of Minnesota-Duluth

Deirdre McCloskey and James Aune both encouraged scholars to see economics as a discipline that uses rhetoric. Their work, heavy with rhetorical analyses of economic arguments, spurred other inquiries. We have since learned that rhetoric and economics share much more than common persuasive strategies. The disciplines share people. Many of the early and august economists were also rhetorical theorists. They share history. Simultaneously during the Enlightenment and thereafter, rhetoric and economics developed, the one inquiring into liberal civil society and the other investigating capitalist free markets. They share information. Economic ideas have influenced rhetorical theories, and rhetorical theories have appeared in economic arguments. And they share influence. Economic circumstances bear upon persuasive efforts, and persuasive rhetoric changes economic circumstances. Instead of concluding that economics is rhetorical—McCloskey’s and Aune’s initial theses—we might conclude that economics is a rhetorical system and rhetoric is an economical discipline.

To prepare for this workshop, participants will read selections that take various approaches to the interconnection between rhetoric and economics: writings by Aune, McCloskey, and others including but not limited to Joyce Carter, Ronald Greene, Dana Cloud, David Gore, and Richard Lanham. Together, based on these readings, we will discuss the principal and potential connection(s) between rhetoric and economics. Following this initial conversation, we will spend most of our time reviewing and improving work (project proposals, conference papers, chapters, articles, etc.) by the workshop participants. Those applying to this workshop should send a brief (one paragraph) description of what they would like to workshop and a suggested reading selection. Before the workshop, each participant will be asked to provide the piece of writing that s/he would like to workshop. All participants will receive and will be asked to read two packets, one containing published selections and the other containing the works in progress that we will discuss and develop.

Questions should be directed to Mark Longaker.

Apology, Forgiveness, and Reconciliation, Richard Marback

Richard Marback, Wayne State University

Participants in this workshop will explore the rhetorical dimensions of apologizing and forgiving. This workshop is intended for scholars in rhetorical studies who are interested in the intertwined issues of agency and justice. As Hannah Arendt has observed, our capacities for apology and forgiveness, our capacities to change our responses to past injuries, are the very capacities that allow us to influence what events can come to mean in our lives and in the lives of our communities. In the time since Arendt observed the central roles played by apology and forgiveness in shaping the human condition, reconciliation has emerged as an important option for individuals, communities, and nations seeking to move beyond the pull of past injuries or injustices. The South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) remains, twenty years from its founding, an important example of both the prospects and perils of apology and forgiveness.

With the TRC serving as primary example, workshop participants will be introduced to key debates on apology and forgiveness in such fields as peace and conflict studies, political science, and psychology. The goal will be to develop an adequate critical vocabulary appropriate for enhancing the rhetorical study of apologizing and forgiving. Among the issues central in this research are claims for agency, concerns about dignity, and conceptualizations of justice. During the workshop, participants will explore the articulation of this other research with related issues in the field of rhetorical studies, in effect constructing an agenda for the emerging study of apology and forgiveness within rhetoric itself.

Prior to the workshop, participants will be asked to share and reflect on their own experiences/examples. These reflections will encourage awareness of the personal dimensions of apology and forgiveness. Prior to the workshop, participants will also be asked to read select relevant research on the history and experience of the TRC in order to develop initial understanding of issues raised by the institutional orchestration of reconciliation. Completing the reflections and readings before the workshop will allow us to spend the time during the workshop elaborating an agenda for the rhetorical study of apology and forgiveness, which will in turn enable workshop participants to define research projects of their own.

Questions should be directed to Richard Marback.

Rhetoric and Religion, Martin Medhurst

Martin Medhurst, Baylor University

This session will be conducted as a workshop, with day one devoted to an overview of current scholarship and issues in rhetoric and religion and days two and three devoted to workshopping the research of participants in the seminar. Each participant is required to submit two weeks in advance of the Institute a substantive paper that deals in some form or fashion with rhetoric and religion. The possibilities are almost endless, with recent work focusing on issues such as fundamentalism, minority religious rhetoric, evangelical political rhetoric, the intersections of religion with gender, race, and sexual orientation, the nature of religious argument, the religious sources of rhetorical invention, religious groups as counterpublics, religious influences on rhetorical theory, the rhetoric of religious media, civil-religious rhetoric, religion and woman suffrage, and the list goes on and on. If you are working in the area of religion and rhetoric and want to move your work toward publication, this is the workshop for you.

Questions should be directed to Martin Medhurst.

Whither “Social Movement” in Rhetorical Studies?, Charles Morris and Christina Foust

Christina R. Foust, University of Denver
Charles E. Morris III, Syracuse University

For the first several decades of research initiated by Leland Griffin’s “The Rhetoric of Historical Movements” (1952), scholars enacted disciplinary anxieties regarding the place of rhetoric in the study of social movements. Such fretting proved productive in generating, applying, and contesting rhetorical theories of social movement. Work published from the 1970s through 1990s reveals the field’s polysemous understanding of “social movements,” with some critics analyzing persuasion from large, un-institutionalized collectivities engaged in social struggle; and others challenging sociological definitions of movements by focusing more on tactics affiliated with student protests, women’s rights, Black Power, and the gay liberation movement (among many others). In recent decades, diverse rhetoricians have found theoretical and critical homes in their work on counterpublics, outlaw discourse, vernacular discourse, protest, resistance, minor rhetorics, and activist performance. Curiously, however, “social movement” as a key term, perhaps as a concept per se, has been displaced if not erased from the field’s scholarship.

Drawing on a limited number of shared readings and participants’ position papers, this workshop explores this decline of “social movement” in rhetorical studies, and considers future directions in forging a more explicit relationship to that term, and the possible accounts of social change connoted by it. Participants should submit position papers, at least preliminary drafts (email to, by April 15, 2015). All position papers should articulate themselves to the term “social movement” in some way—ideally, they will develop a stance on the need to recover, replace, or abandon “social movement” for rhetoric. Position papers may make use of various case studies, historical or contemporary (like Occupy Wall Street, the Tea Party, or the use of social media); theories (like vernacular discourse or Badiou’s “event”); and definitions of “social movement rhetoric” (as articulated by Griffin, Simons, Stewart, Sillars, or McGee, for instance). Through the workshop, participants will more deeply engage a set of shared readings on the status of “social movement” in rhetoric, thus preparing to strengthen their works’ contribution by explicating its relationship to social change.


  • 3-page position paper on the presence and future of “social movement” in rhetorical studies
  • Assigned Readings (TBA)

Questions should be directed to Christina R. Foust.

Expanding the Idea of Américan Rhetoric, Christa Olson and René de los Santos

Christa Olson, University of Wisconsin-Madison
René De Los Santos

Latin America is here—actively present in U.S. history, culture, and politics. And yet, while research in Latin American rhetoric has gained traction in recent years, our disciplinary idea of America remains limited by colonial histories, national boundaries, and language barriers. As a result, rhetoric scholars located in the United States remain largely unaware of Latin America¹s rich rhetorical history.

This workshop invites a conversation among rhetorical historians and critics interested in engaging a broader notion of America—one that includes North and South, Anglo- and Latin-. Participants may be actively working on Hispano- /Luso-American topics or simply interested in gaining a new perspective for their more traditionally “American” work. Our conversation will begin from the assumption that the rhetorical histories of Latin America are already part of the rhetorical history of the United States and will become increasingly so over the next decades (50 million people in the US today have a history in Latin America; by 2060, Latin@s will make up 31% of the US population). Rhetoricians—as scholars and as teachers—need to have access to those broader American histories. Without imagining that all rhetoricians across English and Communication will become experts in the rhetorical history and theory of Latin America, we offer this workshop as an opportunity to consider the idea of America as a wide, diverse, yet shared context for rhetorical practice.

The following questions (and others) will guide our reading and discussions:

  • How does a Latin American perspective towards the history of rhetoric help us understand the global project we call “rhetoric,” especially since 1492?
  • What contributions does Latin America provide to the development of rhetorical theory, practice, and pedagogy?
  • How have Latin American rhetorical traditions informed, challenged, transformed, and been transformed by U.S. and European rhetorical cultures?
  • How does a Latin American—rather than a US Latin@ or Chicano—perspective help us understand the rhetorics of transnationalism and the evolving realities of US and European immigration, citizenship, and identity?
  • Our common reading and research questions will guide daily discussion and help determine the shape and direction of this workshop. In addition, workshop participants are encouraged to submit, a week before the start of the workshop, a brief text that addresses their interest in its theme. The writing could be drawn from an unpublished essay or a dissertation chapter, or simply be a reflection on goals for the workshop. We will read each other’s writing during the course of the weekend in hopes of advancing our common work and the study of rhetoric in general through the lens of Latin American rhetoric.

Questions should be directed to Christa Olson.

Crafting Multimodal Rhetorics, Jason Palmeri and Ben McCorkle

Jason Palmeri, Miami University
Ben McCorkle, The Ohio State University

Although rhetoric in practice has long been recognized as a profoundly multimodal art that includes alphabetic, visual, gestural, and auditory communication, scholarship about rhetoric has traditionally been confined to print-based alphabetic forms: the journal article, the critical essay, the monograph. Recognizing that rhetoric is both an analytical discipline and a productive art, this workshop engages participants in analyzing and producing multimodal works of rhetorical scholarship—placing a special (though not exclusive) emphasis on potential uses of digital video production for rhetorical critique and cultural intervention. Throughout this workshop, participants will explore questions such as: What are some of the affordances and constraints of composing rhetorical scholarship with images and sounds? How might our processes for composing and evaluating rhetorical scholarship need to be modified in order to account for online video and other digital media? How might multimodal scholarship productively blur the traditional lines separating research, teaching, and administration? What can multimodal forms of scholarship tell us about rhetoric that traditional print-based research cannot?

To begin engaging these questions, we will collectively analyze a wide range of examples of and writing about multimodal rhetorical scholarship. This will include works by Ball, Alexander & Rhodes, Wysocki, Shipka, Kyburz, Reid, Juhasz, Fulweiler & Marlow, Selfe & Lee, Wesch, Arola, and others. As a whole these scholars not only theorize multimodal rhetorics in compelling ways, they also enact their arguments through innovative experimentation with non-alphabetic modalities and emerging digital genres. With an eye towards considerations of the job market and tenure, we will pay special attention to uncovering strategies for making innovative multimodal scholarship legible and persuasive to more print-minded audiences. At the same time, we also will consider how current standards for evaluating scholarship will need to be radically transformed if we are to sustain multimodal work in the field.

In addition to discussing strategies for evaluating published works of multimodal scholarship, participants will also develop and workshop their own multimodal arguments. We’ll ask participants to come to the Institute with a proposal for a multimodal project as well as a collection of digital assets and/or rough draft. Once there, participants will work in a collaborative, production-intensive environment with the goal of creating, revising, and refining their creative scholarly projects. We’ll have time to play, to learn new technologies, to talk out ideas in small and large groups, to give and receive meaningful feedback on multimodal work in progress, to consider opportunities for collaborative publishing, and to build a network of support for multimodal scholarship that can extend beyond the limited time of the workshop.

Questions should be directed to Jason Palmeri.

New Materialist Rhetorics, Thomas Rickert and Byron Hawk

Thomas Rickert, Purdue University
Byron Hawk, University of South Carolina

The workshop will address the importance of new materialist thought for rhetorical theory. The predominant understanding of rhetoric is that it is a social and symbolic art. While material things are certainly around us and at issue, it is meaning, symbolicity, and persuasion as pursued by human beings that define rhetoric. Burke captures this understanding with his claim, from A Rhetoric of Motives, that in all partly verbal and nonverbal situations, “the nonverbal element also persuades by reason of its symbolic character.” Matter matters and persuades only by means of symbolicity. Our workshop engages emerging scholarly movements that question this orientation. Our primary question will be whether materiality—prior to symbolicity, as the tacit grounds of symbolicity, and as it enters the symbolic—persuades, and if so how. This initial orientation generates a host of questions for the workshop and its participants to engage: Is materiality inherently suasive before it “means”? Are baseline realisms and social constructionism the only options for thinking the relation between language and world? If new perspectives on materialism are available, how do they impact rhetorical theory and practice? To what extent does rhetorical theory assume a dichotomy between the human “cultural” world and the material “natural” world, and if this division is dissolved, what then?

The workshop will proceed along three lines. First, we will look at important prior work in materialism (Marx, Heidegger, Foucault), representative readings from the fields of science and technology studies (Bruno Latour, Annemarie Mol, John Law), and work in new materialism (Karen Barad, Elizabeth Grosz, Jane Bennett), discussing how they impact questions of rhetoric and persuasion. Second, we will help participants develop their own materialist-oriented projects. Participants will submit brief proposals for their new materialist work, and time will be devoted to collaborative feedback. Third, we will close out the workshop by charting chart future research questions, problems, and directions for new materialisms.

Questions should be directed to Thomas Rickert.

Rhetoric, Secrecy, and Surveillance, Robert Rowland and David Frank

Robert C. Rowland, The University of Kansas
David Frank, The University of Oregon

Secrecy and surveillance have become defining issues in U.S. politics and culture. While Barack Obama was elected on a platform calling for a dramatic reining in of Bush era surveillance and secrecy policies, in the view of many critics his administration has in fact maintained and in some cases expanded those policies. Rhetorical interchange about policies ranging from drone violations of privacy, bulk collection of phone records, surveillance of email and social networks, and others reveals several surprising situations. On issues of surveillance, the usual left-right split in American politics does not hold, with strong opposition coming from both the left and the right to many programs. At the same time, while opinion polls reveal public opposition to many programs, that opposition has been surprisingly muted, producing little pressure for reform. Moreover, strong arguments are made that secrecy and surveillance both directly threaten democratic value and are essential to protect those values. In addition, issues related to secrecy and surveillance resonate beyond deliberative political communication as dominant themes across many forms of public culture. It could even be argued that secrecy and surveillance are defining tropes for contemporary American rhetoric and culture.

A variety of rhetorical approaches have obvious potential to illuminate issues of secrecy and surveillance. Scholars might take an argumentative approach to explain the resonance or lack of resonance of the issue in the public sphere. Alternatively, the myth-based character of the claims both for and against action on the issue could be explored. Ideological critique informed by Madisonian liberal or Marxist critical (or a host of other possible perspectives) usefully could be applied to the topic. In addition, cultural critique has obvious potential to explore how issues of secrecy and surveillance are reflected across our society, with a television show such as Homeland as an obvious example.

The workshop will consist of two parts. One will focus on how to approach a critical controversy defined by Edward Snowden’s leaks about NSA surveillance and the Obama administration’s defense of the NSA and proposed reform. The workshop leaders will distribute representative texts and then lead the workshop through an analysis focused on generating a number of possible critical responses to the controversy. The second part will focus on the presentation by participants of a paper relating to the general topic of the workshop. The leaders will then facilitate a discussion of each paper, focused on sharpening the argument and preparing the paper for journal submission.

Questions should be directed to Robert C. Rowland.

Human Rights, Civil Rights, and Global Citizenship, Jacqueline Jones Royster

Jacqueline Jones Royster, Georgia Institute of Technology

This workshop will explore three terms and various intersections among them: human rights, civil rights, and global citizenship. The central objective is to bring some specificity to these concepts as ideas and practices and to the general discourses in which they are functioning in our times, an era in which we tend to speak quite glibly about “globalism” and “globalization” without adequately accounting for—typically—the assumptions, terms of engagement, processes, or values that are embedded within our actual use. The workshop will combine the reading and discussion of assigned texts with sharing and discussion of the participants’ own writing and with the collaborative research that they will be doing in the workshop in one of the three focal areas. The basic questions that will anchor these activities are: What does it mean to be a “global citizen”? How do our perspectives on global citizenship raise questions and implications for how we define, deploy, and value the concepts of “human rights” and civil rights”? What examples of a given concept, as idea and practice, do we find compelling as we think forward about ever-evolving definitions of national and trans-national identities?

Questions should be directed to Jacqueline Jones Royster.

Theory Building in the Rhetoric of Health & Medicine, Blake Scott, Jeff Bennett, and Jenell Johnson

Blake Scott, University of Central Florida
Jeff Bennett, University of Iowa
Jenell Johnson, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Through its engagement with a range of disciplinary traditions, cultural domains, and rhetorical practices, the field of rhetorical studies has developed an expansive set of strategies for building theory. At the same time, theory building is often viewed by rhetoricians as a secondary purpose, and those outside of our field have not always recognized our theories as useful “tools to think with.” This workshop will take up the challenge of theory building, situating it in rhetorical studies of health and medicine and asking the following questions: What counts as rhetorical theory? What are the exigencies, aims, and ideological commitments of theory building? What methodologies have rhetoricians of health and medicine used for theory building? What new methodologies might be constructed? What can rhetorical theory contribute to the study and practice of health and medicine? How can we determine whether theories are sufficiently novel, useful, or good? What does it mean to “import” and “export” theory from/to other fields of study or areas of practice?

Focusing on rhetorical studies of health and medicine will enable participants to explore specific ways that rhetorical theory might develop from and, in turn, inflect a particular realm of high-stakes discourse and practice. Because healthcare practices are studied and understood quite differently by their various stakeholders, they provide rhetoricians with a fruitful ground for comparing theory-building methodologies and identifying potential applications and benefits of emergent concepts. Workshop participants will read and discuss examples of theory building (from empirical to critical-cultural) in rhetorical studies of health and medicine, work through some extended cases together, and develop additional theory building opportunities and strategies in their own research-in-progress. This latter effort will involve identifying potential contributions to rhetorical studies, the specific health/medical practices under study, as well as adjacent fields and disciplines. Finally, participants will collectively curate a set of resources for theory building on a website that will continue to build scholarly community among rhetorical scholars of health and medicine.

Questions should be directed to Blake Scott.

“Subalternity” and “Transnational Literacy”: The Significance of Gayatri Spivak’s Scholarship for Rhetoric and Communication Studies, Raka Shome

Raka Shome, New York City

This workshop is designed for scholars who wish to explore the significance of postcolonial feminist theorist Gayatri Spivak’s work for rhetorical studies—especially issues of “voice,” representation, and (gendered) agency as they remain caught between colliding and colluding structures of patriarchy, nationalism and imperialism. This workshop will particularly focus on two very influential concepts for which Spivak is renowned and which informs her work: “subalternity” (as a condition of impossibility of representation) and “transnational literacy” (what does it mean to be transnationally “literate” and how does this question intersect with broader issues of global translation—of subjectivity, otherness, “authorship,” ethics, and the very idea of the “human”—that increasingly challenge our “planetary” lives?) Scholars participating in this workshop should be able to come away equipped with ideas, thoughts, and questions about re-engaging the field of rhetorical studies through a complex transnational and postcolonial lens that constructively invites us to re-evaluate many of the (west-centric) liberal logics upon which our understanding of rhetoric—as a field and a cultural practice—may have been based. This workshop recognizes the potential of rhetorical studies to productively engage and respond to the various challenges that confront our various “postcolonial” presents and futures.

A few significant readings will be circulated prior to the Institute. It will be helpful if participants have some prior exposure to cultural theory (if not postcolonial studies) to maximize the intellectual benefits that this seminar may offer.The first three (of the four three hour sessions) will take up the two concepts “subalternity” and “transnational literacy” and unpack them through readings as much as possible. The final session will be one in which participants will (in groups or solo) exclusively address the significance of “subalternity” and “transnational literacy” for rhetorical studies—both as a field and for rhetoric as a cultural practice.

Questions should be directed to Raka Shome.

Political Communication and Campaigns, Mary Stuckey

Mary E. Stuckey, Georgia State University

The primary season leading up to the 2016 presidential election promises to be a particularly interesting one, given the lack of an incumbent, the deepening divisions within the Republican Party, the presence of the Tea Party, and the heightened debates over both foreign and domestic policies that cross party lines but that also create serious disputes within the parties. The free flow of money and the wide-open nature of the contest promise a prolonged and intense, potentially bitter series of primary elections. The scholars in this workshop will seize this opportunity to reflect on the institutional factors that contextualize political primaries, the specific events of the primary season, and the rhetoric that responds to and creates these contexts and events.

Primaries are structured by political institutions and processes, and so depending on the participants’ specific interests, we might discuss the macro structures of political parties; election processes such as realignment; or the role of primaries and caucuses in broader political terms like coalition building, political time, popular culture, and national identity. We might also pay attention to the kinds of rhetorical events associated with presidential elections, including the invisible primary, the Iowa Caucuses and early elections, the role of fund-raising, and so on. Finally, we might attend to the ways in which the specific candidates respond to these opportunities and constraints by looking directly at the speech, debate or ads, their use of electronic media and social networking, and the media coverage of the campaigns. In examining primaries, we will address larger questions related to elections, such as those posed by empirical work on the presidency in general and elections in particular—if, for instance, we can predict the outcomes of elections months and even years in advance, do elections matter, and if so, how do they matter and to what?

The goal of the workshop is to create, develop and refine specific research projects. So the conversations outlined above will be directed at helping participants decide on specific projects and outlining research strategies designed to further those projects. Participants do not need to have projects already in progress or fully formed research ideas but a general area of interest would be helpful in determining the specific readings and the contours of shared discussion.

Questions should be directed to Mary E. Stuckey.

Rhetoric, Spatial Theory, and the Built Environment, Dave Tell and Greg Dickinson

Dave Tell, The University of Kansas
Greg Dickinson, Colorado State University

Rhetorics of space and place have become a recognized subfield in rhetorical studies. The development of this subfield has been premised on the increasingly urgent conviction that the material environment, its arrangement, and the affective attachments it produces function as powerful arguments within contemporary cultural politics. Broadly understood, this subfield has encompassed (among other areas) the study of maps, urban design, urbanism, gentrification, architecture, landscape, preservation, rural rhetorics, suburbia, localization, regionalism, globalization, networks, transportation, environmental rhetorics, and eco-criticism. Uniting these diverse topics is a systematic exploration of how rhetoric mediates the relationships among actual places (both their material arrangement and their affective charge) and cultural politics. We invite scholars who are working/teaching/writing/thinking in the vibrant subfields of spatial rhetorics to join us for the Workshop.

This workshop is an advanced introduction to the intersection of rhetoric and spatial theory. We welcome scholars of all stripes—beginner to veteran—who are invested (or even just interested) in the area. If you are a novice, we hope you will leave this Workshop with enough background and momentum to pursue your own project. If you are a long-time scholar in the area, we hope you will leave the workshop with new questions, a broadened perspective, and a renewed enthusiasm. To meet the needs of both audiences, the Workshop will approach the intersection of rhetoric and spatial theory in three ways.

  1. Theory. We will discuss leading theoretical essays, circulated in advance, and intended to foreground the stakes of scholarship in this subfield. Theoretical topics will focus on: space and rhetoric, space and materiality, space and modernity, space and affect, space and cultural politics.
  2. Criticism. Using extant scholarship, we will discuss specific places and specific environments. We will use these readings to expand our understanding how rhetorical scholars can engage space, materiality, affect, and gender.
  3. Practice. This will be a workshop in the strict sense of the term. We will devote collective time to the projects of each participant.

The workshop will meet in four sessions over three days. The leaders will moderate each session and ensure that each session includes all three approaches: theory, criticism, and practice.

Participants will be asked to do readings in advance of the workshop and circulate a short description of their own project.

Questions should be directed to Dave Tell.

Transgendering Rhetorics, Isaac West and K. J. Rawson

Isaac West, University of Iowa
KJ Rawson, College of the Holy Cross

Transgender studies is a burgeoning field of inquiry with all of the markers of academic legitimation including a journal (Transgender Studies Quarterly), academic positions, celebrated books, and conferences on the topic. In its many incarnations, transgender studies may study trans* lives, but it also often refuses to relegate itself to a proper object of study. Theories of trans* embodiments, genders, and sexualities are now employed to make sense of practices and texts that many not appear trans*. In this spirit, we want to think through the multiple purposes and aims of transgender studies as they relate to rhetorical studies. Rhetorical studies can contribute to this conversation with its attention to texts, contexts, situated performativities of identities, and the intersections of publics with everyday lives. This workshop will think through the convergences of these academic disciplines. Readings may include selections from essays more firmly grounded in rhetorical studies as well as Mel Chen’s Animacies, A. Finn Enke’s Transfeminist Perspectives, Gayle Salamon’s Assuming a Body, Dean Spade’s Normal Life, and Transgender Studies Reader, Vols. I and II.

We will ask workshop participants to present a work-in-progress that may already articulate itself to transgender studies or a piece that may benefit from further engagement with these literatures. We hope that participants will leave the workshop with greater knowledge of transgender studies and feedback on their own projects.

Questions should be directed to Isaac West.

2015 Hands-On Workshops: June 5-7

Academic Publishing in Rhetorical Studies or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Sending Manuscripts Out for Review (with apologies to Stanley Kubrick), Jim Jasinski

Jim Jasinski, University of Puget Sound

Publishing remains the sine qua non of an academic teaching career, and publishing expectations (in order to be marketable and obtain tenure) continue to rise. Given its centrality, the publishing process can be a source of considerable anxiety and frustration. Its many stages—developing an idea and argument, determining the conversation or conversations to which your manuscript will contribute, addressing rhetoric’s interdisciplinary status, selecting a journal, responding to editor and reviewer comments, etc.—pose varied challenges for emerging scholars.

This hands-on workshop, led by the out-going editor of Rhetoric Society Quarterly, will help prepare participants to navigate the complexities of academic publishing so that (hopefully) publishing anxieties and frustrations can be diminished. To achieve this objective, workshop sessions will be divided between two activities. (1) Each participant will have the opportunity to workshop a manuscript on which they have been working with other participants. (2) In order to better understand the manuscript development process, participants will analyze example texts that include both the initial submission and the final version of an essay published in RSQ. Discussion will focus on identifying specific revisions made and understanding how those revisions strengthened the manuscript in various ways. Each participant will lead the discussion for a specific initial submission/published essay.

Questions should be directed to Jim Jasinski.

Building Sophware: Modeling Theoretical Approaches to Technical and Professional Writing with Computational Methods, Bill Hart-Davidson and Ryan Omizo

Bill Hart-Davidson, Michigan State University
Ryan Omizo, University of Rhode Island

Participants in this hands-on workshop will learn to apply computational methods—including network analysis & graph theory, natural language processing & text mining, and activity stream analysis—to invent new analytic and heuristic approaches to technical and professional writing. A special emphasis will be placed on building a computational model inspired by rhetorical theory—ancient or contemporary.

We have designed this workshop after the successful NEH Office of Digital Humanities “One Week, One App” experience. Participants will work together as a project team to build a sample app. Ahead of our meeting in Madison, the workshop facilitators will provide advance access and tutorials to tools and data sets as well as several well-documented example applications we have built. The group will engage online in reading and discussion to narrow down project possibilities. This will allow us to use the Institute time to design and build a prototype application. After the workshop, participants will be invited to take the groups’ work further or in new directions.

We encourage scholars at all levels interested in applying rhetorical theory to workplace writing genres and other forms of technical and professional communication to participate. Because we will work as an integrated team, participants need not have any prior experience with software development or computational analysis, though interest in learning more about these is certainly required. For those with technology backgrounds, we will be using Python as our primary development language and incorporating other modules as needed to produce a web services data layer with a browser-based presentation layer.

Questions should be directed to Bill Hart-Davidson.

Grant and Development Opportunities in Interdisciplinary Rhetorical Studies, J. Michael Hogan

J. Michael Hogan, Penn State University

As political and institutional support for the humanities has declined, rhetorical scholars have been called upon to defend their programs and to pursue external resources in support of their research and teaching. While some programs have withered and declined in this new environment, others have thrived by building interdisciplinary coalitions, demonstrating the relevance of rhetorical scholarship to pressing political and social problems, and revising their curriculum. Others have demonstrated their relevance through public scholarship and outreach. All of these efforts require that we “make the case” for rhetoric to audiences outside the discipline—university administrators, colleagues in other disciplines, funding agencies, alumni donors, and the public at large.

This hands-on workshop is designed to help scholars at all stages of their careers do just that—make the case for rhetoric. From graduate students seeking funding for their dissertation projects to senior faculty working on large grants or strategic plans, participants will learn strategies and techniques for writing more compelling grant, development, or program proposals.

We will begin by reviewing the basics of grant-writing, including how to identify potential funding sources and the essential elements of a good grant proposal. We also will examine successful proposals for both individual and large-scale projects, as well as proposals for different sorts of projects, including teaching and curriculum development, individual and team-based research projects, and public scholarship and outreach initiatives. We will reflect on how private foundations differ from government agencies as funding sources, and we will learn how to prepare successful proposals, including timetables, budgets, and work plans. We will then turn to philanthropic giving, reflecting on the sorts of projects donors like to support, techniques for cultivating those donors, and best practices in the stewardship of charitable gifts. Finally, we will reflect on institutional structures that support interdisciplinary rhetorical studies, including departmental configurations, centers and institutes, and scholarly and professional associations. By the end of the workshop, participants will be better equipped to seek support for their own research, teaching, and outreach initiatives. They also will have a better understanding of the institutional politics underlying successful rhetoric programs.

Readings for the seminar will come from the newest edition of the classic handbook for grant writers, Getting Funded: The Complete Guide to Writing Grant Proposals. We also will read successful grant proposals from several different NEH programs, ranging from large challenge and curriculum development grants to small awards in support of teachers’ workshops and individual book projects. We will contrast those with proposals written for private foundations, and we will reflect on various philanthropic funding-raising appeals and plans for institutional initiatives, including proposals to establish rhetoric centers and institutes. Participants will have the opportunity to workshop any grant or program proposals they may have in the works, and as a group we will brainstorm promising new ideas for promoting interdisciplinary rhetorical studies.

Questions should be directed to J. Michael Hogan.