Apply for Workshops and Seminars

9th Biennial RSA Summer Institute (May 24 - June 04, 2021)

General Information:

Summer Institute

Co-Directors: Charles E. Morris, III and Patrick W. Berry
Assistant Director: B Lopez
9th Biennial RSA Summer Institute
Syracuse University
Syracuse, New York
May 24 - June 4, 2021

The departments of Communication and Rhetorical Studies and Writing Studies, Rhetoric, and Composition at Syracuse University are pleased to host the ninth biennial Rhetoric Society of America Summer Institute from May 24-June 4, 2021.

It has taken longer than is typical to announce the institute program and open the application process. This is because in consultation with our SU steering committee, RSA leadership, and a recently formed RSA ad hoc contingency planning committee, we decided to make the decision now rather than later to host the 2021 RSA Summer Institute entirely online. We have been working with seminar and workshop leaders to make preliminary decisions about timeframe and mode of delivery; other planning details will be refined in the months to come. We believe a virtual institute is the safest choice with the most promise in this pandemic context, and we believe making this decision to go virtual from the beginning will allow us and the leaders ample time to create an excellent institute even in an age of coronavirus. We hope you will be as excited as we are about the 2021 RSA Summer Institute program.

We will offer:

  • 7 primarily synchronous seminars, Monday, May 24 to Friday, May 28
  • 1 primarily asynchronous seminar, Monday, May 24 to Friday, June 4
  • 23 primarily synchronous workshops, Tuesday, June 1 to Friday, June 4
  • 3 primarily asynchronous workshops, Tuesday, June 1 to Friday, June 4

For more information, contact Charles E. Morris III, Patrick W. Berry, or B Lopez at

Follow us on Instagram @rsasummerinstitute21

Steps and Instructions:

Applicant Information

You will be required to supply your:

  • First and Last Name
  • Email Address
  • Affiliation
  • City & Country of Affiliation

After completing this step, you will receive an automatic email including a link to access your application in the event that you are interrupted or need to make edits before the deadline.

Application Options

You will be required to supply your:

  • Faculty Level
  • Degree Program
  • Year of PhD graduation (past or expected)

You will also be allowed to select up to three workshops AND up to three seminars. You can apply to attend one workshop, one seminar, or both a workshop AND a seminar! Whichever option you prefer, we encourage you to list (and rank) multiple workshops/seminars that you are interested in attending. The more options you give us, the better chance we have of finding a spot for you at the Institute. We promise we will do our best to get you into your top choice!

If it really, truly is the case that you are only interested in attending one particular session ("It's either session X or nothing!"), then don't list alternatives. However, if you list only one option, your chances of attending go down because we have fewer options to work with.

You will be required to provide a brief (250 word maximum) rationale for your interest in the seminar(s)/ workshop(s) you have selected. Please address whatever experiences you have in the area. Mention past/current/future research projects that align with the session. Finally, mention anything else that may be relevant: teaching experiences, work experiences, life experiences, institutional experiences, etc.

Finally, we hope to be able to offer a limited number of scholarships for graduate students. You will have the opportunity to state your interest in one of these scholarships.


Please review your selections and provided information. Once complete, click the "Conclude Submission" button at the bottom of the page.

After completing this step - and your application - you will receive another automatic email, confirming that your application was received. This email does not mean that your submission is free of errors, nor does it mean that your application was accepted. It merely confirms that your application was received. Notification of decisions will be sent separately.

General Instructions

Applicants will be automatically informed of the unique ID numbers and passwords assigned to their applications.

Applications may be viewed and modified at any time between submission and the deadline, using the assigned ID# and password.

Technical Support

For help in submitting an application online, Contact technical support.

Begin an Application


Deadline for New Submissions: Sunday, November 1, 2020



S01. Indigenous Rhetorics: Clearing a Path for Meaningful, Responsible, Relational Practice

(Malea Powell, Michigan State University and Andrea Riley-Mukavetz, Grand Valley State University)

Primarily Synchronous (May 24-May 28)


This seminar will focus on the concepts, practices, and relations necessary for creating an Indigenous orientation to rhetorical scholarly practice. If you’re invested in teaching, studying, or working with Indigenous thinkers, writers, makers, or communities, this seminar will create space for practicing responsible relational engagement with the historical, embodied, material, and cultural knowledge-making traditions of Indigenous peoples in North America. At least part of our time together will be spent thinking about how Indigenous rhetorical practices work to “make” meaning for Indigenous cultures and communities (tribal and pantribal) as well as how those practices can be in conversation with rhetoric studies as a discipline.

Since Indigenous knowledge is immersive and relational, participants can expect an experiential and hands-on approach to engaging with the topics and materials for the seminar. You bring your own interests to the table. We’ll organize some readings and experiences. Together, we’ll spend our days working to understand and practice relational accountability (Wilson 2008), the common pot (Brooks 2008), and mapping Indigenous practices (Erdrich 2003, Simpson 2014, Brooks 2008, Kimmerer 2013). Collectively we’ll work to understand and locate the histories and intellectual practices of the Indigenous peoples from the region where we’ll be gathering—the people of the Northeast and the Great Lakes; we’ll engage with work produced by Indigenous scholars who locate themselves in Rhetorical Studies (Driskill 2016, Haas 2008, King 2017, Anderson 2018, Weiser 2017, etc.), Native American & Indigenous Studies scholars who locate themselves in other disciplines (Brooks 2018, Simpson 2018, Konkle 2004, etc.), and engage with knowledge-makers who are not in academia (for example, the Onaman Collective, Idle No More, #NODAPL, or local activist groups.) Additionally, we will set aside time to make things together—a story share, beadwork, or wampum making.

By weaving the scholarship within Indigenous rhetorics and Indigenous studies with the actual histories and spaces of Indigenous people, our work together will offer all participants the opportunity to craft an understanding of Indigenous rhetorics, an understanding about what it would mean to adapt an Indigenous-oriented scholarly practice, and a path to carry this knowledge forward in their own work as scholars, teachers, and human beings.


Malea Powell is Professor of Research in the College of Arts & Letters at Michigan State University where she is a faculty member in American Indian and Indigenous Studies. She is editor of College Composition and Communication, lead organizer of the Cultural Rhetorics conference, director of the Cultural Rhetorics Consortium, founding editor of constellations: a journal of cultural rhetorics, past chair of the CCCC, and editor emerita of SAIL: Studies in American Indian Literatures. A widely published scholar and poet, her current book project, This Is A Story, examines the continuum of indigenous rhetorical production in North America, from beadwork to alphabetic writing. Powell is a mixed-blood of Indiana Miami, Eastern Shawnee, and Euroamerican ancestry. In her spare time, she hangs out with her grand-daughters and with other Native aunties, artists, poets, and healers, and does beadwork.

Andrea Riley-Mukavetz is an Assistant Professor of Integrative Studies at Grand Valley State University where she teaches courses in intercultural communication, story as methodology, interdisciplinary research methods, and dialogue. She received her PhD (2012) from Michigan State University in indigenous and cultural rhetorics and has published in College Composition and Communication (June 2020), Composition Studies (2018), SAIL (2018), enculturation (2014, 2016), and Rhetoric, Professional Communication, and Globalization (2014). Her research interests are cultural rhetorics, decolonial theory, community-engaged research, and Anishinaabeg contemporary rhetorical theory. Additionally, she is the co-founder and co-organizer of the Cultural Rhetorics Conference and the editor of the Pedagogy Blog for constellations: a cultural rhetorics publishing space. Andrea is a citizen of the Deshkan Ziibiing Anishinaabek (Chippewa of Thames First Nation) and of Chaldean and Lebanese ancestries. In her spare time, she gardens, makes ribbon skirts, spends time at Lake Michigan, and hangs out with her family and community.

S02. Ecological Feelings | Feeling Ecological: Dwelling in the Anthropocenic Moment

(Joshua Trey Barnett, University of Minnesota-Duluth and Jennifer Clary-Lemon, University of Waterloo)

Primarily Synchronous (May 24-May 28)


Ours is a time of trouble, of climate catastrophe, of rapid extinction, of earth systems disruption, of human-caused ecological damage: a time that is particularly suited to examining the intense rhetorics composed through the relations between humans and nonhumans. In this time of intensity and crisis, we are left with questions of limits, our own and others’. These rhetorical limits may be considered productively as the material that engages larger rhetorical capacity that moves beyond the human (Stormer and McGreavy, 2017) and begins in locations of bodies and feelings. 

Ecological feelings can be understood, at least partly, as rhetorical achievements. Feelings emerge, are sustained, and wither away in encounters, textual and otherwise. One of our tasks, then, is to investigate and uncover the rhetorical (and extra-rhetorical) conditions of particular ecological feelings: What kinds of encounters help to account for our varied and various ecological feelings, from our anxiety about how our individual actions affect earth systems to our enchantment with birdsong in a verdant forest to our resignation about the end of the earthly as we know it to our shame about not doing enough to protect a diminished earth? How might we think differently about the movement of nonhumans and things in ways that encourage some middle ground in the Anthropocene between endless development and environmentalism, despair and hope, doom and optimism? In what texts, sites, and scenes might these and other ecological feelings find public expression—where might these feelings circulate publicly? Rather than quickly abandoning, or altogether ignoring, the negative, even shameful ecological feelings such as anxiety, disappointment, fear, grief, guilt, indifference, and resignation, how might we dwell with and on these feelings—and their rhetorical composition—to better understand our troubled and troubling times? 

During this seminar, we will collectively consider these questions while engaging with rhetorical theories of affect, ecology, and environment by thinkers such as Joshua Trey Barnett, Jennifer Clary-Lemon, Robin Wall Kimmerer, Catriona Mortimer-Sandilands, Thomas Rickert, Nicole Seymour, and Terry Tempest Williams, among others. Attendees should have a work in progress (article, chapter, grant, editorial, research creation project) that they are willing to submit in April prior to the seminar, which they will workshop in small, interest-based groups throughout the seminar.

Joshua Trey Barnett is assistant professor of Communication Arts and Sciences at Penn State University, where he holds a joint appointment at the Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences. He is the author of dozens of essays on rhetoric, ecology, and the work of earthly coexistence, and he is currently writing a book about the rhetorical conditions of ecological grief.

Jennifer Clary-Lemon is Associate Professor of English at the University of Waterloo and past editor of the journal Composition Studies. She is the author of Planting the Anthropocene: Rhetorics of Natureculture, Cross Border Networks in Writing Studies (with Mueller, Williams, and Phelps), and co-editor of Relations, Locations, Positions: Composition Theory for Writing Teachers (with Vandenberg and Hum). Her research interests include rhetorics of the environment, theories of affect, writing and location, material rhetorics, critical discourse studies, and research methodologies. Her current research examines infrastructural entanglements of humans and nonhumans as material rhetorical arguments, focusing on the Species at Risk Act and mandated recovery strategies for listed species. Her work has been published in Rhetoric Review, Discourse and Society, The American Review of Canadian Studies, Composition Forum, Oral History Forum d’histoire orale, enculturation, and College Composition and Communication.

S03. Collaging Trans Rhetorics

(Jo Hsu, University of Texas at Austin and Benny LeMaster, Arizona State University)

Primarily Synchronous (May 24-May 28)


This seminar adopts “collage” as guiding principle, collaging work from transgender studies, trans rhetorics, and performance studies with participants’ perspectives, works-in-progress, and experiences. We assemble our seminar-in-collage through two moves: (1) Co-facilitated discussion sessions and (2) Participant shares. In the first move, participants join seminar organizers in co-constructing discussion sessions that are structured around keywords, for which participants will be provided suggested readings. The keywords help organize and facilitate constellations of thought, expression, and activism as they engage, trouble, and complicate trans rhetorics. Throughout, we will explore trans epistemologies as inextricable from matters of race, class, disability, and nationality. We will also focus on the strands of trans wisdom that emerge specifically from the precarities of trans life, querying how rhetorical studies can contribute to conversations and collective actions that affect the life chances of trans people. Possible keywords that will guide these labors include child/childhood; taxonomy; trans/queer/feminism; (ab)normal and (un)natural; body, embodiment, and enfleshment; trans rage; critical pedagogies; erotic/a; gender futurities; and prison abolition. In the second move, seminar participants share works-in-progress. These works can take any form including, for instance, creative (non-)fiction accounts, performance art including staged performance, academic research articles, arts-based expressions, community-based organizing plans, and so on. We invite research and art that explores the interrelations of rhetoric and trans life, especially work that considers how trans experiences and epistemologies intersect with other vectors of identity and knowledge. Participants are asked to submit works-in-progress prior to the seminar so that they might receive directed peer feedback in addition to that which emerges during the seminar. In the spirit of collage, this seminar resists normative hierarchies of trans intelligibility, preferring to explore other inventive, combinatory, kaleidoscopic understandings of trans rhetoric we might imagine together.

Jo Hsu is an assistant professor of Rhetoric and Writing at the University of Texas at Austin. Their research examines how narratives affect struggles over national and communal belonging, and their current book project explores how communal storytelling by trans and queer Asian Americans (re)negotiates conditions for U.S. citizenry. Jo’s writing can be found in Women’s Studies in Communication, College Composition and Communication, Enculturation, Rhetoric Review, the Journal of Multimodal Rhetorics, and other venues. They have work forthcoming in Peitho and the Quarterly Journal of Speech. A queer nonbinary disabled Taiwanese American, they are accountable for the migratory forces, histories of conflict, and legacies of resistance from which their own journey emerges. They are indebted to and guided by trans, crip, and queer of color scholars and activists who have enabled their survival. They strive to further the forms of mutual care and collaborative worldbuilding that they have learned from these mentors and kin.

Benny LeMaster (Ph.D., Southern Illinois University, Carbondale) is Assistant Professor of Critical/Cultural Communication and Performance Studies at Arizona State University. They study the performative, discursive, and material constitution of cultural difference with particular attention paid to the lived experience and survival of trans and queer folks of color. Their scholarship can be found both on the page and on the stage. On the page, their research has been published, for instance, in Departures in Critical Qualitative Research, Women’s Studies in Communication, and Popular Culture Studies Journal. On the stage, their performance work has been featured in a variety of venues ranging from academic conferences to queer bars to art festivals to digital academic journals including Liminalities and Peitho. They identify as a mixed-race Asian/white queer and trans non-binary femme, and their liberatory pedagogical commitments reflect their experience as a first-generation-student-turned-academic. Their pronouns are they/them. Alright, who wants to make art?

S04. Rhetoric in Dark Times

(Patricia Roberts-Miller, The University of Texas at Austin and Ryan Skinnell, San José State University)

Primarily Synchronous (May 24-May 28)


Following the defeat of the Nazis in 1945, the world should have learned a fairly clear lesson concerning political discourse—to whit, democracies should avoid the toxic combination of narcissistic populism, scapegoating, racism, and binary thinking that enabled the Nazis’ systematic destruction of Weimar democracy. Unhappily, that wasn’t the lesson the US learned. Less than a decade after V-Day, the same toxic reasoning used by the Nazis to destroy Weimar was being used by Americans to support segregation, the House Un-American Activities Committee, and various forms of domestic authoritarianism.

The spectacular failures of democratic deliberation in Nazi Germany and Cold War America provided scholars of public discourse with ample opportunities to study what we are calling “Rhetoric in Dark Times”—times in which demagogues, dictators, and despots gained and maintained power through rhetoric. Among the questions this seminar poses are: How do motivated rhetors support the destruction of democratic discourse? How does rhetoric enable and sustain dark times? How can it prevent or heal them? What are rhetoricians’ responsibilities in dark times? And how can we strengthen democratic deliberation?

In this seminar, we will consider these questions by revisiting important rhetoric and public discourse scholarship that has tried to explain some uses and abuses of rhetoric in dark times, particularly following Hitler’s rise. The seminar’s readings will be organized around common explanations for the failures of public deliberation in the 20th century, including the rise of factions, the destabilizing effects of social change, the emergence of new information technologies, the perils of too much democracy (a.k.a., rabid populism), and the rise of income inequality. We intend to draw lessons from the past to help us reflect on and imagine our work on public discourse and democratic deliberation in the 21st century.

Each day will be divided between (1) whole-group discussions of assigned readings, and (2) workshopping participants’ research interests that engage with public discourse and/or democratic deliberation. Participants will be expected to submit a working draft of a research project in late-April to be shared with other seminar participants. These projects may include a range of genres, from scholarly (e.g., book projects, dissertations, or journal articles) to popular (e.g., books, essays or articles for public outlets, or op-eds grounded in academic expertise).


Patricia Roberts-Miller, Professor Emerita in the Department of Rhetoric and Writing at UT-Austin, was formerly Director of the University of Texas University Writing Center. A scholar of train wrecks in public deliberation, she is the author of Speaking of Race: Constructive Conversations about an Explosive Topic (2020, The Experiment), Rhetoric and Demagoguery (2019, SIUP), Demagoguery and Democracy (2017, The Experiment), Fanatical Schemes: Proslavery Rhetoric and the Tragedy of Consensus (2009, U of Alabama P), Deliberate Conflict: Argument, Political Theory, and Composition Classes (2004, SIUP), and Voices in the Wilderness: Public Discourse and the Paradox of the Puritan Rhetoric (1999, U of Alabama P).

Ryan Skinnell is Associate Professor of Rhetoric and Writing at San José State University. He is author or editor of five books, including Reinventing (with) Theory in Rhetoric and Writing Studies (Utah State, 2019) and Faking the News: What Rhetoric Can Teach Us About Donald J. Trump (Societas, 2018). His current research focuses on authoritarian, demagogic, and extremist rhetoric. In 2019, he co-edited a special issue of Rhetoric Society Quarterly called “Rhetoric’s Demagogue | Demagoguery’s Rhetoric.” Dr. Skinnell also writes about bureaucracy, institutional rhetoric, and histories of rhetoric and writing. He has published numerous essays in academic and popular outlets on rhetoric, writing, and politics.

S05. Rhetoric, Culture, and Technology

(Adam Banks, Stanford University and Damien Smith Pfister, University of Maryland)

Primarily Synchronous (May 24-May 28)


Rhetoric, culture, and technology form an analytical triumvirate that this seminar explores, with a special focus on the racialized dynamics of digital technologies. Dominated by a narrow ideological framework emanating from Silicon Valley, the growth of digitality as an ambient condition of contemporary life reflects, and in many cases intensifies, the multiple and intersecting biases inherited from previous ecologies of rhetoric-culture-technology. The goals of this seminar include (1) contextualizing theories of rhetoric and digitality as cultural theories, (2) surfacing the pervasive features of digital whiteness in dominant conceptions and uses of digital technologies, and (3) attending to vernacular African-American uses of digital technologies as a generative way of re-theorizing digitality.

Seminar readings will be drawn primarily from the following recent books, with attention to how rhetorical concepts and perspectives augment these authors’ insights:

André L. Brock, Distributed Blackness: African American Cybercultures (NYU Press, 2020)

Ruha Benjamin, Race After Technology (Polity Press, 2019)

Charlton D. McIlwain, Black Software: The Internet and Racial Justice, from Afronet to Black
Lives Matter (Oxford University Press, 2019)

Sarah Florini, Beyond Hashtags: Racial Politics and Black Digital Networks (NYU Press, 2019)

Neda Atanasoski and Kalindi Vora, Surrogate Humanity: Race, Robots, and the Politics of
Technological Futures (Duke, 2019)

Nick Couldry and Ulises A. Mejias, The Costs of Connection: How Data is Colonizing Human
Life and Appropriating It for Capitalism (Stanford University Press, 2019)

Seminar activities will include (1) discussion of shared readings, (2) assembly of a “greatest hits” mixtape of essays that theorize rhetoric, culture, and technology, (3) spotlight presentations by scholars working in this area, and (4) participant paper/project workshops.


Adam Banks is the Faculty Director of the Program in Writing and Rhetoric at Stanford University and Professor in the Graduate School of Education. Prior to arriving at Stanford, he served on the faculty of the Department of Writing, Rhetoric and Digital Studies at the University of Kentucky and the Syracuse University Writing Program. In addition to these appointments, he served as the Langston Hughes Visiting Professor of English at the University of Kansas, and jointly with Andrea Lunsford as the Inaugural Rocky Gooch Visiting Professors for the Bread Loaf School of English.

A former chair of the Conference on College Composition and Communication, Banks also founded the Smitherman/Villanueva Scholarly Writing Retreat, designed for emerging scholars of color working on their first book in areas related to rhetoric, composition, language and literacy. His published works include Digital Griots: African American Rhetoric in a Multimedia Age; Race, Rhetoric and Technology: Searching for Higher Ground; and a collaboration with Keith Gilyard, On African American Rhetoric. He is currently working on a book project titled Black Intranets: Rhetoric and Digital Cultures from Black Planet to #BlackTwitter.

Dr. Damien Smith Pfister, Associate Professor of Communication at the University of Maryland, studies the manifold intersections of the rhetorical and the digital. He is the author of Networked Media, Networked Rhetorics: Attention and Deliberation in the Early Blogosphere (Penn State, 2014) and co-editor of Ancient Rhetorics + Digital Networks  (Alabama, 2018). Recent essays can be found in The Journal for the History of Rhetoric, The Quarterly Journal of Speech, Communication and the Public, and Philosophy & Rhetoric. A former member of the Board of Directors for the Rhetoric Society of America, Pfister is currently the book review editor for Rhetoric Society Quarterly. With Casey Boyle and Michele Kennerly, he co-edits the new Rhetoric + Digitality book series for the University of Alabama Press. Pfister’s current book project is titled Always On: Fashioning Ethos After Wearable Computers, on the rhetorical and cultural implications of wearables.

S06. Fugitive Planning and White Knowledge Disruption: Building an Alternative Space for Rhetoric, Politics, and Culture

(Carmen Kynard, Texas Christian University and Bryan McCann, Louisiana State University)

Primarily Asynchronous (May 24-June 4)


In this seminar, we will interrogate the racializing politics and processes of the University. We understand the University as an assemblage of disciplinary technologies that coalesce around knowledge production and whose alibis find expression through rhetorics of diversity and inclusion, as well as merit and rigor. These technologies include but are not limited to pedagogy, publishing, promotion and tenure processes, and professional development. As an alternative to the current neoliberal and white supremacist logics that shape the University, we turn to abolition politics, decolonial thought, and Black studies to theorize what Stefano Harney and Fred Moten call the undercommons. Our goal is to guide new questions and critical praxis for theorizing and teaching. We also approach this seminar in a reflexive spirit as founding co-editors of the new journal, Rhetoric, Politics, and Culture. We are calling on seminar participants to come build with us and archive our discussion/disruption together. We will engage in a collaborative envisioning process that critiques the racialized norms that prevail in rhetorical studies and its cognate fields and envision alternative futures.

To this end, we plan on addressing the following themes:

• The racialized and colonial politics of the canon, theory, and method
• Racialized structures of seniority, merit, and professional networks
• Evaluation practices related to matriculation and tenure
• The regimes of knowledge that shape norms of graduate pedagogy
• Anti-racist campus and disciplinary activism, especially among graduate students

Furthermore, we will ask: What does disruption look like? What could it achieve? What are our critiques of the past and where we are now? What is our vision of a radical futurity?

In addition to a week of energizing discussion, seminar participants will produce written work addressing the seminar’s themes. The resulting documents will serve as the foundation for the continuation of these conversations in a future issue of Rhetoric, Politics, and Culture.


Carmen Kynard is the Lillian Radford Chair in Rhetoric and Composition and Professor of English at Texas Christian University. She interrogates race, Black feminisms, AfroDigital/African American cultures and languages, and the politics of schooling with an emphasis on composition and literacies studies. Carmen has published in Harvard Educational Review, Changing English, College Composition and Communication, College English, Computers and Composition, Reading Research Quarterly, Literacy and Composition Studies and more. Her first book, Vernacular Insurrections: Race, Black Protest, and the New Century in Composition-Literacy Studies won the 2015 James Britton Award and makes Black Freedom a 21st century literacy movement. Her current projects focus on young Black women in college, Black Feminist/Afrofuturist digital vernaculars, and AfroDigital Humanities learning. Carmen traces her research and teaching at her website, “Education, Liberation, and Black Radical Traditions” (

Bryan J. McCann is Associate Professor in the Department of Communication Studies at Louisiana State University. He is a rhetorical critic whose research and teaching interests include black studies, crime and public culture, hip-hop, masculinity, social movements, and whiteness studies. He teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in argumentation and debate, Black studies, crime and public culture, intersectionality, the politics of citizenship, rhetorical criticism, social movements, and social theory. He also serves as affiliate faculty in African and African American Studies, as well as Women’s and Gender Studies at LSU. Dr. McCann is the author of The Mark of Criminality: Rhetoric, Race, and Gangsta Rap in the War-on-Crime Era (University of Alabama Press, 2017), as well as numerous scholarly essays that have appeared in journals such as Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies; Communication, Culture, and Critique; Critical Studies in Media Communication; Quarterly Journal of Speech, and Rhetoric Society Quarterly.

S07. The Question of Decoloniality

(José Manuel Cortez, University of Oregon, Romeo García, University of Utah and Jenna N. Hanchey, University of Nevada, Reno)

Primarily Synchronous (May 24-May 28)


A common expression within the decolonial research paradigm is global modernities, global colonialities. A central thesis of decoloniality is that a colonial matrix of power (a logic of management and control of land, resources, and people), cloaked by a rhetoric of modernity (geographic racism and epistemic racism), continues to be transformed and disputed. The edifice of a decolonial project, hence, centers on a relentless task of (1) revealing the inner workings of coloniality, (2) affirming modes and principles of thought and feeling denied by the pretended universality of a common place (the West), community (whiteness), belief (to promote the “common good”), and praxis (to leave behind that which the other does not have), and (3) working towards re-existing and re-building otherwise (Mignolo, 2007; 2011). A decolonial option—a vision of learning how to re-exist and re-build—opens up the possibility for an-other logic and paradigm (Calafell, 2014; Hanchey, 2018; Na’puti, 2019; Ngũgĩ, 2012; Wanzer-Serrano, 2015; Weheliye, 2014). We are presented with an impasse, though, given the axiomatic assumptions of a proper place and subject: one must know of “decolonial subjects, decolonial knowledges, and decolonial institutions” (Mignolo 2011, p. 9) in advance to conceive of something like a decolonial option, which is currently premised on relaying an-other option to Western epistemological practices (Garcia & Cortez, 2020). We are encouraged, thus, to always already ask: a decolonial option?

“The Question of Decoloniality” not only asks what must be done to decolonize the theory, study, and enactment of rhetoric, but also works to put words into action to imagine and create pluriversal futures: global communal futures in which differences are not “cast in terms of values of plus and minus degree of humanity” (Mignolo, 2007, p. 499). In this seminar, we propose to examine the long-standing multidisciplinary debates surrounding the question of decolonization as they set the stage for contemporary studies of (neo)colonialism, sovereignty, politics, indigeneity, global capitalist imperialism, and neoliberalization across rhetorical studies. Our questioning of decoloniality recognizes that “decolonial” and “decolonizing” are often used in ways evacuated of substance or meaning, reinforcing rather than deconstructing colonial systems through surface-level invocations of decolonization. “The Question of Decoloniality” thus asks participants to struggle with difficult questions: Can rhetoric be decolonized at all (García & Cortez, 2020)? What makes decoloniality (im)possible? What forms may epistemic delinking take in different geopolitical contexts? How sustainable is (epistemic) de-linking? When/where is re-linking required, and what does it look like? Given the limits of our ability to conceptualize decolonization, how can we imagine and create decolonial futures?

“The Question of Decoloniality” has a three-part agenda in considering and investigating a decolonial option for rhetorical studies: (1) Provide an interdisciplinary overview of the latest iteration of a decolonial option based on selected readings; (2) Facilitate critical discussions on the central premises of the project and its potential limitations; and (3) Foster a critical imaginarium where we learn together how to re-exist and re-build otherwise. Prospective participants should describe their current program of research and how it relates to (de)coloniality, identify two to three goals for what they would like to learn from/achieve in/investigate throughout the seminar, and a specific research project that they would like to develop through the seminar. We look forward to thinking, questioning, debating, and dreaming with you, in order to “tak[e] flight beyond what is presently imaginable,” “where ‘life’ perhaps can be perceived, even (re)conceived, as existence beyond measure” (Keeling, 2019, p. xiv).


José Manuel Cortez (PhD, Rhetoric, Composition, and the Teaching of English, University of Arizona) is Assistant Professor in the Department of English at the University of Oregon. His research on critical theory, comparative rhetoric, and cultural studies appears in Philosophy & Rhetoric, Rhetoric Society Quarterly, Rhetorics of Democracy in the Americas, and Decolonizing Rhetoric and Composition Studies: New Latinx Keywords for Theory and Pedagogy and is forthcoming in College Composition and Communication.

Romeo García (PhD, Composition and Cultural Rhetoric, Syracuse University)

Romeo García (PhD, Composition and Cultural Rhetoric, Syracuse University) is Assistant Professor of Writing and Rhetoric Studies at the University of Utah. His research on local histories of settler colonialism and settler archives, community praxis, and decolonial critique appears in College Composition and CommunicationRhetoric Society QuarterlyThe Writing Center JournalCommunity Literacy Journal, and constellations. García is co-editor (with Damián Baca) of Rhetorics Elsewhere and Otherwise, winner of the 2020 Conference on College Composition & Communication Outstanding Book Award (Edited Collection). His current interests include the impact of the decolonial research paradigm on composition and rhetorical studies; archival research; the cultural imaginary of border(ed)landers of South Texas; and community building in and outside of academia.

Jenna N. Hanchey (PhD, Communication Studies, The University of Texas at Austin) is Assistant Professor of Communication Studies at the University of Nevada, Reno, and Affiliate Faculty of the Gender, Race, and Identity Program and the Ozmen Institute for Global Studies. Her research is premised on a politics of decolonization, and attends to the intersections of rhetoric, African studies, women of color feminisms, and critical development studies. She is the recipient of multiple awards, including the 2019 Feminist Scholar of the Year Award from ORWAC, the 2017 Outstanding Dissertation Award from the Critical and Cultural Studies Division of NCA, and the 2014 Gerard A. Hauser Research Award from RSA. Her work critiquing development in the present has drawn her toward an interest in anticolonial futures. She is currently delving into Africanfuturism and the radical imaginings that pull liberation from the realm of the impossible to the possible.

S08. Rhetorical Ethics in an Unjust World

(Diane Davis, University of Texas at Austin and Nathan Stormer, University of Maine)

Primarily Synchronous (May 24-May 28)


Rhetorical studies has always been invested in ethical questions; it has not, however, always managed to think “the ethical” rhetorically. What difference might that difference make in a fundamentally unjust world? What might be the concrete effects of a thoroughly rhetorical engagement of ethics, an engagement wherein ethics is presumed to be rhetorical all the way down? How might it affect our approach to issues of difference, precarity, and (de)colonization, for example, if we were to begin from the perspective of a relational/rhetorical ontology that resists atomistic presumptions and values? And how might rhetorical studies embrace and adjust to an ethics that is necessarily and irreducibly emergent?

These are some of the questions that will drive this seminar. Our goal, then, will not be to articulate an ethics for rhetoric or to summarize bodies of scholarship about difference, precarity, or (de)coloniality. Our goal, rather, will be to problematize both ethics and rhetorical theory by rethinking “the ethical” within the framework of a relational ontology.

Organization: We’ll begin each morning with a group discussion of the day’s assigned texts, each of which will take us into some aspect of our general inquiry. We will then move into breakout groups where each participant will put their own scholarly projects into conversation with these texts and workshop ideas together. And we will close each meeting with a large group discussion about the scholarly and pedagogical possibilities inspired by this work. Throughout the seminar, we will collaboratively produce a bibliography of shared resources, as well.

Preparation: A Dropbox folder of texts will be shared in advance of the seminar. The tentative list of readings may include, for example, selections by Sara Ahmed, Gloria Anzaldúa, Judith Butler, Anne Defourmantelle, Jacques Derrida, Édouard Glissant, Tiffany Lethabo King, Emmanuel Levinas, Audre Lorde, Achille Mbembe, Walter Mignolo and Catherine Walsh, Jean-Luc Nancy, Katie Oliviera, Christina Sharpe, and Sylvia Wynter.


Diane Davis is Professor and Chair of the Department of Rhetoric & Writing at the University of Texas at Austin, and she holds the Kenneth Burke Chair of Rhetoric and media philosophy at the European Graduate School in Saas-Fee, Switzerland. Her work is situated at the intersection of rhetoric and continental philosophy, and she teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in rhetorical theory. She’s the author of two books, Breaking Up [at] Totality: A Rhetoric of Laughter and Inessential Solidarity: Rhetoric and Foreigner Relations, the co-author of Women’s Ways of Making It in Rhetoric and Composition (with Michelle Ballif and Roxanne Mountford), the editor of Reading Ronell and The UberReader: Selected Works of Avital Ronell, and the co-editor of a special issue of Philosophy and Rhetoric on Extrahuman Rhetorics (with Michelle Ballif) and a special anniversary volume of Rhetoric Society Quarterly (with Joshua Gunn).

Nathan Stormer is a professor of rhetoric in the Communication & Journalism Department at the University of Maine where he has taught graduate and undergraduate theory, methods, and topics in rhetoric since 1997. His primary line of research is medical rhetoric about abortion and his secondary line of research is rhetorical theory. He has published work in Signs, Philosophy & Rhetoric, Quarterly Journal of Speech, Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies, Critical Studies of Media Communication, and other journals. He also has written two books on the history of medical abortion rhetoric, Articulating Life’s Memory and Sign of Pathology. His current research continues with the history of abortion rhetoric and, conceptually, with the problem of thinking of rhetoric as multiple and changeable. His work is available here:


W01. Medical Ableism

(James L. Cherney, University of Nevada-Reno and Jenell Johnson, University of Wisconsin-Madison)

Primarily Synchronous (June 1-4)


This workshop brings together perspectives from the rhetoric of health and medicine and disability rhetoric to understand how ableism operates in, through, and beyond biomedicine. The workshop will explore how the rhetorical creation and enforcement of bodily norms intersects with ableism in a variety of ways, and how medical ableism intersects with other forms of oppression. Case studies may include cochlear implants, compulsory psychiatric treatment, experimentation on vulnerable populations and within marginalized communities, eugenics, institutionalization and incarceration, the medicalization of gender and queer identity, the logic of cure, and others. The workshop will be divided between robust discussions of an interdisciplinary reading list and small group workshops of participants’ writing projects. Because we seek an accessible workshop, all accepted participants will be asked to commit to the best practices of accessibility in their presentations and written materials.


James L. Cherney is an Associate Professor and the Director of the Communication Core in the Department of Communication Studies at the University of Nevada, Reno. His primary area of research is the rhetoric of ableism, and covers its history, how it operates in public debates, and where it appears in popular media. He has authored Ableist Rhetoric: How we Know, Value, and See Disability (2019) and articles and book chapters on ableism, disability politics, and the visual rhetoric of disability in film. He frequently co-authors work with Kurt Lindemann of San Diego State University on disability sport and its presentation in visual media.

Jenell Johnson is Mellon-Morgridge Professor of the Humanities and Associate Professor of Rhetoric, Politics, and Culture at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Johnson is the author of American Lobotomy: A Rhetorical History (2014), editor of Graphic Reproduction (2018), and co-editor of The Rhetoric of Health and Medicine As/Is (2020), Biocitizenship (2018), and The Neuroscientific Turn (2012). Her areas of research include rhetorical theory and history, the rhetoric of science, health, and medicine, disability studies, and environmental ethics.

W02. Rhetorics of Risk and Public Health

(Jeffrey Bennett, Vanderbilt University and Jordynn Jack, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill)

Primarily Asynchronous (June 1-4)


Scholarly investigations into the rhetoric of health and medicine have proliferated in the last decade, being catalyzed by myriad factors that include national debates over healthcare, the diversification of science and medicine, activist retorts to government institutions, and vernacular appropriations of scientific nomenclature, among others. In the academy these changes have been accompanied by new sets of ethical and political questions that both guide research and influence pedagogical practices. Humanists, in particular, have crafted novel heuristics that query everything from the constitution of generalizable knowledge to the methodological practices that direct research to the biopolitical dynamics that shape public policy.

This workshop explores one strand of the rhetoric of health and medicine: the relationship between risk and public health. The group will explore the ways risk is imagined in public culture, looking to the tensions that frequently exist between discourses of the collective good and those that accentuate personal responsibility. As the COVID-19 crisis illustrates, risks to public health often demand institutional interference, collective commitment, and personal sacrifice. In doing so, such crises also provoke a wealth of questions about access, framing, relationality, racism, ethics of care, and transnational rhetorics. If the management of risk preoccupies itself with attending to the hazards and insecurities that await us in the future, it is imperative to engage the meaning-making processes that generate a sense of biopolitical security, collective resistance, and new ways of being in the world.

Authors both inside the rhetorical tradition and those occupying cognate fields will make appearances on the reading list for this seminar. They include thinkers such as Ulrich Beck, Eula Biss, Huiling Ding, Marina Levina, Blake Scott, and Priscilla Wald, and Sharon Yam. We anticipate that the format of the workshop will be structured around collaborative projects and collective intelligence, with the goal of producing academic and/or public-facing scholarship.


Jeff Bennett is associate professor of Communication Studies at Vanderbilt University in Nashville. His research interests tend to rest at the intersection of the rhetoric of health and medicine and LGBTQ studies. He is the author of two books, Managing Diabetes: The Cultural Politics of Disease (NYU 2019) and Banning Queer Blood: Rhetorics of Citizenship, Contagion, and Resistance (Alabama 2009). His work has also appeared in the Quarterly Journal of Speech, Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies, Critical Studies in Media Communication, Journal of Medical Humanities, and QED: A Journal in GLBTQ Worldmaking, among others.

Jordynn Jack is professor at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, where she directs the Writing Program and teaches courses in rhetorical theory, rhetoric of science, women’s rhetorics, writing in the natural sciences, and composition. Her scholarly work focuses on the rhetoric of science, women’s rhetorics, and genre. She is the author of Science on the Home Front: American Women Scientists in World War II (University of Illinois Press, 2009) and Autism and Gender: From Refrigerator Mothers to Computer Geeks (University of Illinois Press, 2014), How Writing Works (Oxford, 2016), Raveling the Brain: Toward a Transdisciplinary Neurorhetoric (Ohio State University Press, 2019), and an edited collection, Neurorhetorics (Routledge, 2012). Her articles have appeared in College English, College Composition and Communication, Rhetoric Society Quarterly, Rhetoric Review, Quarterly Journal of Speech, and Women’s Studies in Communication.

W03. Ethics and Representation in Documentary Filmmaking

(Angela J. Aguayo, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and James Chase Sanchez, Middlebury College)

Primarily Synchronous (June 1-4)


The impulse to document and create media representations of our world with audio and visual recording practices is uniquely rhetorical and has captivated our field. From the expanding capacities of participatory research methods to the construction of video essays, rhetoricians are recording, remixing, documenting, and sharing representations of the world as a means of investigation and critical engagement with audiences inside and outside the academy.

This workshop will address documentary practices at the intersection of rhetoric and social justice. How do the stories we record and the representations produced engage the process of social transformation? We are particularly interested in blurring the lines between rhetorical theory and practice, exploring how to open up a dialogue about the relationship between the media maker, documentary representation, and the communities experiencing social injustice.

Themes and projects we are interested in:

● Documentary projects at any state (from ideas to post-production)
● Video essay ideas at any state
● Projects dealing with issues of social justice
● Projects dealing with ethical or representational concerns

We welcome those who have production skills and those who might be interested in acquiring a production dimension to their research projects. The workshop will include collaborative thinking and group exercises—focusing on production and editing ethics while also allowing newcomers entryways into documentary filmmaking.

Workshop participants will be encouraged to develop their own projects, share resources, and develop a criteria about best practices. These projects can be in any stage of development (idea, draft, or proposal), and we will workshop participant proposals to the next stage of development.

Angela J. Aguayo is an Associate Professor in the Department of Media and Cinema Studies at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. She is a scholar-media maker whose practice reflects an interdisciplinary approach to documentary, media studies, rhetoric, and critical cultural theory. Her most recent book Documentary Resistance: Social Change and Participatory Media (Oxford University Press, 2019) is focused on agency, collective identification and participatory media cultures, investigating the possibilities for the documentary impulse to engage the process of social change. She is also an award winning writer, director and producer of multiple documentary shorts utilized in community engagement campaigns, screened at various festivals and museums around the world.

James Chase Sanchez is assistant professor of writing and rhetoric at Middlebury College. His research interests are in cultural and racial rhetorics, public memory, and documentary filmmaking, and his research has appeared in College Composition and Communication, Pedagogy, Journal of Contemporary Rhetoric, and Present Tense. He is currently finishing two book projects: a co-authored manuscript tentatively titled Race, Rhetoric, and Research Ethics and a single-authored manuscript tentatively titled Salt of the Earth: The Rhetoric of White Supremacy. The latter monograph is based partly upon a documentary Sanchez produced, titled Man on Fire, which won an International Documentary Association Award in 2017 and aired on PBS via Independent Lens in 2018. Sanchez is currently producing a new feature-length documentary about an elite New England boarding school that has covered-up sexual assault and rape allegations for several decades.

W04. Racialized Masculinities in Sexual Worlds

(Casey Kelly, University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Jeffrey Q. McCune, Jr., Washington University)

Primarily Synchronous (June 1-4)


The cutting edge of rhetorical study in gender and sexuality is scholarship which understands the interrogations of race as essential. Indeed, women of color feminism, black queer studies, and queer of color critique have been bedrocks in this compilation of thought—offering us much direction in our critical analysis and interpretation of cultural worlds. The history of slavery, Jim Crow, nativism, and nationalism is all undergirded by a paranoid construction of Otherized masculinities—criminal, deviant, violent, and oversexualized—that threaten the primacy of white Anglo-manhood. Attending to the rhetorical challenges of world-making, this workshop will critically examine the racial, gendered, and sexual entailments of discourses, images, and representations of manhood.

This workshop is an interdisciplinary and multi-methodological engagement with racialized masculinities and sexualities. The workshop will cover rhetorical constructions and performances of masculinity within the race, gender, and sexual formations in the United States, particularly where racialized masculinities intersect with queer and trans identity, blackness and anti-blackness, whiteness, Otherness, imperialism, coloniality, class, and ability. In this two-day exploration, we use critical readings, filmic/performance texts, and ethnographic materials to explore how frameworks which employ a racialized lens help us understand the dynamic permutations of gender and sexuality. Toward this aim, we will engage such questions as: What does it mean to interrogate white ownership of even queer theory and constructs, while also taking seriously gender and sexuality across racialized contexts? How are different publics understanding masculinities and sexualities? How do scholars address perennial pronouncements of “masculinities in crisis” and their implications for multiple overlapping identities?


Casey Ryan Kelly is Professor of Rhetoric and Public Culture at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He is author of three single-authored books, an edited book collection, and over forty articles and book chapters, published in venues such the Quarterly Journal of Speech, Rhetoric & Public Affairs, and Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies. His latest book Apocalypse Man: The Death Drive and the Rhetoric of White Masculine Victimhood was published in 2020 by the Ohio State University Press. Kelly is also the recipient of numerous awards including NCA’s Karl R. Wallace Memorial Award.

Jeffrey Q. McCune Jr., Ph.D., Associate Professor of African & African American Studies and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Washington University in St. Louis, is the author of the award-winning book Sexual Discretion: Black Masculinity and the Politics of Passing. He is presently completing two book projects, Disobedient Reading: An Experiment in Seeing Black, and the other on the “wildness” of Kanye West titled, On Kanye. He has published in a variety of journals and also serves on the editorial board of numerous journals. He is the co-editor of the University of California Press’s New Sexual Worlds book series. For his work at the intersections of race, gender, and sexuality, McCune has been featured on Left of Black, Sirius XM’s Joe Madison Show, HuffPost Live, NPR and as a guest expert on Bill Nye Saves The World.

W05. The Trouble with Publics and Counterpublics

(Robert Asen, University of Wisconsin-Madison and Daniel C. Brouwer, Arizona State University)

Primarily Synchronous (June 1-4)


A range of contemporary developments—including rising authoritarianism and white nationalism, environmental devastation, gun violence, xenophobia, and market hegemony—portend trouble for publics and counterpublics. These troubles are not necessarily new, but many of them are newly intense or newly reconfigured in contemporary political, economic, and cultural conditions. In their varying forms, these troubles, as well as ongoing efforts of publics and counterpublics to enact just visions of public life, warrant scholarly attention.

In this workshop, we will explore the troubles with publics and counterpublics through three distinct but related themes: discourses, disciplines, and theories/methods. We offer these themes to suggest specific, concrete grounding and to open up an expansive terrain in which participants can find or locate their current or aspirational projects. Studying public and counterpublic discourses, workshop participants may examine advocacy, movements, debates, etc. that resist hegemonic publics and institutions as well as those that sustain dynamics of power and privilege. Attending to scholarly disciplines, participants may engage disciplinary conversations that carry import for challenging and revising publics, such as the dynamics of an ideology of whiteness and associated questions of inclusion and leadership; citational politics; and microaggressions. With regard to theories and methods, participants may consider the capacities of current critical tools to illuminate emancipatory and oppressive publics and counterpublics, as well as explore revisions and new formulations of critical investigation.

Participants should submit a portion of a current project related to the workshop themes. Written submissions should be no longer than ten pages; we also invite works-in-progress in artistic and aesthetic formats (e.g., write-ups of fieldnotes, video interventions, etc.). To explore the intersecting threads of discourses, disciplines, and theories/methods, we will engage in several modalities. These include discussing the three themes of the workshop in a large-group format, workshopping participants’ works-in-progress in small-group formats, and discussing a set of common readings in both small- and large-group formats.


Robert Asen conducts research and teaches in the areas of public sphere studies, public policy, and rhetoric and critical theory. Asen focuses on the ways that political, economic, and cultural inequalities interact with relations of power to shape public discourse. He considers how powerful individuals and groups use discourse to maintain their privilege and how marginalized people seek to overcome exclusions to represent their needs, interests, and identities in the public sphere. Asen explores the democratic possibilities of rhetorical practice, as ordinary folks may connect with others to build diverse communities and support individuals, as well as the ways that rhetorical practices may divide and scapegoat people, and sustain oppression. Asen is the author of, most recently, Democracy, Deliberation, and Education. With Daniel C. Brouwer, Asen has co-edited Counterpublics and the State and Public Modalities: Rhetoric, Culture, Media, and the Shape of Public Life.

Daniel C. Brouwer is an Associate Professor in the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication at Arizona State University. His research and teaching foci include social movements, publics and counterpublics, cultural performance, genders and sexualities, and HIV and AIDS. Broadly, he examines how social and political inequalities shape communication practices, how power is exerted or resisted through different types of communication, and how different means of public rhetoric might create better conditions for democratic life. Brouwer is particularly interested in how individuals and groups who are structurally disadvantaged or alienated from public life create alternative forums and strategies for communication. Co-editor (with Robert Asen) of the book projects Counterpublics and the State (2001) and Public Modalities: Rhetoric, Culture, Media, and the Shape of Public Life (2010), his work has also appeared in Quarterly Journal of Speech, Rhetoric and Public Affairs, Women’s Studies in Communication, and Critical Studies in Media Communication.

W06. Legal Rhetorics

(Sarah Burgess, University of San Francisco and Isaac West, Vanderbilt University)

Primarily Synchronous (June 1-4)


Our contemporary political landscape has raised questions about the status, operations, and plausibility of the rule of law in the age of the neoliberal state and post-truth discourse. What authorizes law’s force—if it indeed has any force that remains? Have we given up deliberative democracy's premise that we are both the subject and author of law? What can law do and say now if its standing within democratic practices is precarious and itself in need of recognition? These questions, sitting at the edge of a (constitutional) crisis, are uttered with urgency as calls for justice have been quieted and (human) rights talk has been tampered.

Against this backdrop, this workshop presents scholars the opportunity to investigate how intersections of law and rhetoric might inform projects dedicated to democratic engagement, justice, rights, or ethical life. It examines how rhetorical theories and practices might critique and alter the way law responds to the social controversies that strike at the heart of what it means to have an equal and inclusive democracy. We will also entertain how law and legal practices transform the conditions and operations of rhetoric. Through common readings and peer-generated feedback on participants’ research projects, we will engage how legal speech, silence, writing, and advocacy are productive encounters that illuminate the limits and possibilities of rhetoric for the work of justice in contemporary times.


Sarah Burgess is an Associate Professor of Communication Studies and the Faculty Director of the Master’s Program in Urban and Public Affairs at the University of San Francisco. Working at the intersections of rhetorical theory, political theory, legal theory, gender and sexualities studies and philosophy, she studies the rhetorical contours of recognition in order to understand the possibilities and limits of justice in contemporary political landscapes. Her work has appeared, among other places, in The Journal for the Study of Law, Culture, and the Humanities, American Journal of Bioethics, MediaTropes, and Philosophy & Rhetoric. She is completing a manuscript titled “Making a Scene: Scandals of Legal Recognition” that examines how legal scenes of recognition are constructed and critiqued in and through the demand for recognition.

Isaac West is Associate Professor of Communication Studies and affiliate faculty of Women’s and Gender Studies at Vanderbilt University. Professor West’s research focuses primarily on legal rhetorics and their role in constituting us as citizens of states, nations, and the world. His first book, Transforming Citizenships: Transgender Articulations of the Law (NYU Press, 2014), engages trans advocacy and activism to demonstrate how these citizenship claims can queer legal norms and conventions. Transforming Citizenships was a finalist for the 2014 Lambda Literary Award in LGBT Studies. Professor West is currently working on a book-length study of true crime titled The Serial Effect: True Crime and Contemporary American Culture. The Serial Effect historicizes current practices in true crime entertainment to trace the evolution of its recurrent tropes and to identify emergent structures of feeling about criminal justice in the United States.

W07. Archival Power

(Jessica Enoch, University of Maryland and Pamela VanHaitsma, Penn State University)

Primarily Synchronous (June 1-4)


Power imbricates all archival work. As Jean Bessette, E. Cram, Jay Dolmage, Cheryl Glenn, Robin Jensen, Malea Powell, Charles Morris, Cristina Ramírez, and K.J. Rawson have made clear, power animates both brick-and-mortar and digital archives. Power inflects the full spectrum of archival work from conducting research to analyzing and even building collections. This understanding of archival power is especially exigent for scholars investigating the practices of marginalized groups. Archives have the power to reveal, conceal, or condition evidence of rhetorical significance produced by those often dismissed within dominant rhetorical traditions. This workshop centers attention on archival power, exploring how to work with archives to engage questions of race, nation, gender, sexuality, language, wellness, and ability in service of social justice.

To prepare for our time together, workshop participants will read a collection of essays that discuss and carry out varied archival practices. Each participant will share with the group a self-selected archival finding—an archival artifact, a component of archival infrastructure, a draft of writing about archives—and identify the concern or problem that this finding raises. Informed by the readings, our collective discussions will center on brainstorming about how to work with the archival findings and navigate problems so that we can take up the kind of research described above.

Questions that will drive our time together include: How do we address silences, gaps, and erasures in the archives? How do we leverage language diversity and translation in our research? How do we piece together and make sense of disparate artifacts? How do we discern rhetorical significance? How do we frame archival findings for new audiences? How do we deliver them, whether through traditional academic publications or other more public and digital means? Ultimately, how do we use our findings to enact archival power that is rooted in social justice?


Jessica Enoch is Professor of English and Director of the Academic Writing Program at the University of Maryland. Her recent publications include Domestic Occupations: Spatial Rhetorics and Women’s Work; Mestiza Rhetorics: An Anthology of Mexicana Activism in the Spanish-Language Press, 1887-1922 (co-edited with Cristina Ramírez), Women at Work: Rhetorics of Gender and Labor (co-edited with David Gold), and Retellings: Opportunities for Feminist Research in Rhetoric and Composition Studies (co-edited with Jordynn Jack).

Pamela VanHaitsma is an Assistant Professor of Communication Arts and Sciences and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Penn State University, where she also serves as Associate Director of the Center for Humanities and Information. She is the author of Queering Romantic Engagement in the Postal Age: A Rhetorical Education (U of South Carolina P, 2019). Her work has appeared in Advances in the History of Rhetoric, College Composition and Communication, Peitho, QED: A Journal in GLBTQ Worldmaking, Quarterly Journal of Speech, Rhetoric & Public Affairs, Rhetoric Review, and Rhetoric Society Quarterly, among others.

W08. The 2020 Campaign and Its Aftermath: Presidentiality and Peril

(Karrin Vasby Anderson, Colorado State University, Vanessa B. Beasley, Vanderbilt University and Shawn J. Parry-Giles, University of Maryland)

Primarily Synchronous (June 1-4)


The 2020 Democratic primary winnowed the most diverse major-party field in history to two white male septuagenarians. The nominee faced incumbent President Donald J. Trump, whose tumultuous first term produced attacks on women, people of color, immigrants and residents without citizenship, queer folks, people impacted by disability and health precarity, and poor and working-class individuals. Rhetorical scholars contended with Trump’s erosion of democratic norms and with debates about “electability” that reinforced normative white male cisgender presidentiality. Participants in this workshop will reflect on the rhetoric of the 2020 campaign and its aftermath, thinking collaboratively about presidentiality and peril with a focus on presidential identity, discourses of “electability,” and systemic oppressions in democratic culture.

Specifically, this workshop will focus on questions such as the following: What can we learn from a Democratic primary process that began with the most diverse major-party field in history and concluded with the nomination of a white hetero male septuagenarian? How did the 2020 campaign reinforce Whiteness and white supremacy? In what ways did the 2020 campaign challenge and reinforce the patriarchal, cisgender, and hetero norms of the U.S. presidency? How did radical and reactionary discourses collide in 2020? How did candidates and voters resist presidential norms such as Whiteness, masculinity, heterosexuality, ability, and Judeo-Christianity? In what ways and to what effect did politics and popular culture intersect in 2020?

Workshop participants will discuss readings on campaign rhetoric, presidentiality, and systemic oppressions in democratic culture. The workshop also will include time and space for participants to share their own scholarship and provide feedback to one another. Projects in any stage of development (topic idea, partial draft, or full paper) may be submitted, and peer feedback and guided discussion will enable workshop participants to move their projects forward to the next stage of development. We welcome participants at various career stages who research and teach the rhetoric of political campaigns from a variety of perspectives.


Karrin Vasby Anderson is Professor of Communication Studies at Colorado State University, where she serves as Director of Graduate Studies and teaches courses in rhetoric, political communication, and gender and communication. She is the current editor of the Quarterly Journal of Speech and is coauthor or editor of three books: Woman President: Confronting Postfeminist Political Culture; Women, Feminism, and Pop Politics: From “Bitch” to “Badass” and Beyond; and Governing Codes: Gender, Metaphor, and Political Identity. Dr. Anderson is a recipient of the National Communication Association’s James A. Winans and Herbert A. Wichelns Memorial Award for Distinguished Scholarship in Rhetoric and Public Address, the Outstanding Book Award from the Organization for the Study of Communication, Language, and Gender, the Michael Pfau Outstanding Article Award in Political Communication from NCA’s Political Communication Division, the Organization for Research on Women and Communication’s Feminist Scholarship Award, and the Carrie Chapman Catt Prize for Research on Women in Politics.

Vanessa Beasley, a Vanderbilt University alumna and expert on the history of U.S. political rhetoric, is vice provost for academic affairs, dean of residential faculty and an associate professor of communication studies. In this role she oversees Vanderbilt’s growing Residential College System as well as the campus units that offer experiential learning. Beasley attended Vanderbilt as an undergraduate and earned a bachelor of arts in speech communication and theatre arts. She also holds a Ph.D. in speech communication from the University of Texas at Austin.

Following stints on the faculty of Texas A&M University, Southern Methodist University and the University of Georgia, she returned to Vanderbilt in 2007 as a faculty member in the Department of Communication Studies. Beasley’s areas of academic expertise include the rhetoric of American presidents, political rhetoric on immigration, and media and politics. She is the author of numerous publications and the author of two books.

Shawn J. Parry-Giles is Professor of the Department of Communication at the University of Maryland, College Park. She is also the Director of the Rosenker Center for Political Communication & Civic Leadership at UMD. She studies rhetoric and politics with a focus on the presidency and the first lady. She is the author, co-author, or co-editor of seven books, including: Memories of Lincoln and the Splintering of American Political Thought; Hillary Clinton in the News: Gender and Authenticity in American Politics; and The Rhetorical Presidency, Propaganda, and the Cold War, 1945-1955. She also is co-editor of the NEH-funded Voices of Democracy: The U.S. Oratory Project and Recovering Democracy Archives: Speech Recovery Project. She has published in such journals as Quarterly Journal of Speech, Rhetoric & Public Affairs, Presidential Studies Quarterly, and Political Communication. She teaches classes in U.S. public address, presidential rhetoric, and politics and media.

W09. Engaging Critical Horizons of 21st-Century Feminisms and Rhetorical Studies

(Natalie Fixmer-Oraiz, University of Iowa, Krista Ratcliffe, Arizona State University and Stacey Sowards, University of Texas at Austin)

Primarily Synchronous (June 1-4)


Recent transformations in the broader discipline of rhetoric prompt greater attention to gender, race, ethnicity, nationality, ability, and sexuality—a welcome change for scholars of feminist rhetorical studies. Designed for both emerging and established scholars, the critical questions that animate this workshop include:

• Reflections on the foundations of feminist rhetorical inquiry—in particular, to what extent and in what ways have feminist rhetorical scholars reshaped the broader disciplines of rhetorical studies and feminist studies?

• Where might we locate significant new trends, methods, vocabularies, and critical trajectories within feminist rhetorics/rhetorical feminisms, and where might those lead us as feminists/scholars? In addition to discussions of recent work in the field, our conversation will identify and elaborate contemporary keywords in feminist rhetorical inquiry, such as intersectionality. Topically, the workshop will draw heavily on the faciliators’ areas of expertise, including reproductive justice, Latinx rhetorics, rhetorical listening, gendered whiteness, eco-feminisms and environmental justice, third wave feminisms, and transnational feminisms.

In the spirit of feminist collaboration, this workshop will: 1) generate a set of resources—including keywords and a bibliography—that enable participants to locate themselves within the field and to inform teaching and research; and 2) dedicate time to participants’ works-in-progress. Participants should be prepared to circulate drafts of research (a conference paper or proposal, a portion of a thesis chapter, a dissertation prospectus, a book proposal, etc.) in advance in order to ensure full engagement at the workshop.


Natalie Fixmer-Oraiz is an Associate Professor of Communication Studies and Gender, Women’s and Sexuality Studies at the University of Iowa. She is the author of Homeland Maternity: US Security Culture and the New Reproductive Regime (University of Illinois Press, 2019) as well as a number of academic articles about feminism, rhetoric, and reproductive justice. She is currently working on two book projects. Queering Family: Reimagining Kinship and Community examines how we might narrate kin to invite broader understandings of community, belonging, and nation. New Grammars for Reproductive Justice, a collaboration with Dr. Shui-yin Sharon Yam at the University of Kentucky, explores how feminist health care providers and advocates are crafting new vocabularies to address the complexities of gender in reproduction. Fixmer-Oraiz’s research has emerged from a combination of academic training alongside more than fifteen years of experience in reproductive politics as a community organizer and advocate in a number of local and regional contexts.

Krista Ratcliffe is a professor and chair of English at Arizona State University. She earned her Ph.D. from The Ohio State University (1988) and has been a professor and chair of English at Marquette University and Purdue University. Her research focuses on intersections of rhetoric, feminist theory, and critical race studies. Her books include Anglo-American Challenges to the Rhetorical Traditions (1996); the award-wining Rhetorical Listening: Identification, Gender, Whiteness (2006); Performing Feminist Administration (2010) coedited with Rebecca Rickly; Silence and Listening as Rhetorical Arts (2011) coedited with Cheryl Glenn; and the award-winning Rhetorics of Whiteness (2017) co-edited with Tammy Kennedy and Joyce Middleton. Her work has appeared in CCC, JAC, Rhetoric Review, College English, and Rhetoric Society Quarterly. She has served as president of the Coalition of Women Scholars in the History of Rhetoric and Composition (CWSHRC) and the Rhetoric Society of America (RSA).

Dr. Stacey Sowards (PhD, University of Kansas, 2001) is a professor in the department of communication studies in the Moody College of Communication at the University of Texas. She taught at the University of Texas at El Paso for sixteen years before joining the faculty at UT Austin in 2020. Her research interests include the intersections of rhetorical theory and criticism, feminist theories of communication, environmental communication and rhetoric, and intercultural communication and rhetoric. She is especially interested in these areas of inquiries in Asia and the Americas. Her research has also focused on Latinx and Chicanx rhetorical practices, such as her book on Dolores Huerta and the United Farm Workers Union that was published in 2019 (¡Sí, Ella Puede!: The Rhetorical Legacy of Dolores Huerta and the United Farm Workers, UT Press). Her publications appear in Quarterly Journal of Speech, Communication Theory, Philosophy and Rhetoric, Communication Studies, The Howard Journal of Communications, Hypatia, Argumentation and Advocacy, Ethics and the Environment, and other outlets. She also received a William J. Fulbright research grant for her dissertation research in 2000-2001 and a Fulbright-Hays grant in 2005, as well as a $1.4 million grant award from the United States Agency for International Development. She also was selected as Scholar of the Year by the Latina/o Communication Division of NCA in 2017 and the Francine Merritt award, presented by the Feminist and Women’s Studies Division and Women’s Caucus of NCA in 2019.

W10. Precarity and Visual Praxis: Collectivity, Circulation, Legibility, and Form

(Caitlin Bruce, University of Pittsburgh and Leslie Hahner, Baylor University)

Primarily Synchronous (June 1-4)


Precarity identifies structural conditions of interrelationality and vulnerability that are differentially distributed and magnified within continuing, multiplying ontological crises. Conditions of crisis facilitate capitulation to dominant social arrangements and can thereby amplify precarity, tending toward entropy. But, these same conditions can also create spaces for possibility—imagining the world otherwise. Though precariousness is a shared condition of mortality, precarity indexes the ways that socio-economic systems render some more vulnerable than others. Who and what counts as a life depends on whether that form of existence is legible, recognizable as matter that matters. Making sense of the onslaught of precarious existence relies on being able to imagine or represent the diffuse dangers that undermine well-being. Such heuristic efforts rely on frameworks for legibility.

Contemporary visual rhetorical practice—in its inventional capacity—is often key to the work of sense-making. Representational practices of all kinds (language, mapping, performance, etc.) attempt to make legible both extant dangers and the possibilities of mitigation. Theorists of the aesthetic have explored how sensemaking is what helps subjects imagine and understand relations between self, other, and world. The turn to the visual in rhetoric was, precisely, a product of the need to expand repertoires of legibility to account for the more-than-textual (or discursive) with an attention to the ways that sensorial and affective registers shape understanding, argument, and identity. Scholars in the field have amply explored how photojournalism is one means of making crises legible and how monuments and memorials help make retroactive and projective sense of collective loss and future possibilities. Others have attended to the way that photographs can serve as a platform for vicarious enjoyment for others’ suffering or as a means of cultivating sympathy or empathy.

Despite these important forays into alternative schemas for legibility, there are ways in which the visual rhetorical canon might conflate precarity and precariousness. One loci for conflation is within dominant rubrics of citizenship. Citizenship has long been a god term, with deliberation or progress as a valued outcomes for visual rhetoric. What assumptions and limitations inhere in the privileging of this schema? What commitments to liberalism, legibility, and forms of optimism have shaped the discipline to date, and what are some alternatives? How might modalities of precarity trouble this model and our relationality to precarity? How could visual rhetorical inquiry bear witness to ongoing and growing conditions of fragility?

We wish to explore how concepts of creativity, collectivity, and form might offer alternative philosophical and practical frameworks for considering visual rhetorical praxis. These terms suggest a way to think beyond individualist schemas for invention.

Creativity, collective expression, and legibility are routed through visual form. Visual form is a robust rhetorical resource for considering the ways rhetorical possibilities push against the limits of legibility. Form is the terrain of legibility and it is the modality of the visual that can potentially be exploited to interrogate rhetoric’s work in precarity. One of the ways visual rhetorical scholars may rethink form is in its circulation. Form relies on movement to both cement and potentially shape the terms of legibility. In other words, circulation is key to both the recognizability of form and the possibilities of invention. Visual expression may use the iterative possibilities of circulation to do something new, and/or to potentially navigate the constraints of precarity.

An additional way visual form can be exploited is by moving away from narrow interpretations of a singular image to considering the impact of collectivity. If precarity is a collective, albeit differential, experience, theorizing collective expression is a necessary intervention. Collective enunciations of visual expression—patent in the travels of image sets or in the making of public images—beg new forms of inquiry. Visual rhetorical inquiry may then need to incorporate practices of reading that emphasize circulation, relationality, and contextuality.

Readings in this seminar will explore visual rhetorics during crises, emphasizing the work of form to circulate and craft the terms of precarity and/or legibility. Scholars will also consider the possibilities of collective visual practice to mitigate ongoing conditions of fragility. Participants are asked to share their work-in-progress and to build new ideas together.


Caitlin Frances Bruce is Assistant Professor of Communication at the University of Pittsburgh. Her work is in the area of visual culture, rhetorical theory, transnational circulation, public art, affect studies, and theories of space and place. She is co-founder and executive director of Hemispheric Conversations Urban Art Project ( where she collaborates with artists and organizers to create public art and public conversations. Her first book is Painting Publics: Transnational Legal Graffiti Scenes as Spaces for Encounter (Temple University Press 2019, winner of the Jane Jacobs Book Award from the Urban Communication Foundation). A former Fulbright-García Robles Postdoctoral Fellow and RCT Early Career Awardee, she has published in the Quarterly Journal of Speech; Text & Performance Quarterly; Communication, Culture, and Critique; Critical/Cultural Communication Studies; Women's Studies in Communication; Geohumanities; Public Art Dialogue; Subjectivity; and Invisible Culture and is a contributing editor for Mediapolis. More information can be found at:

Leslie A. Hahner is a professor of communication at Baylor University. Her work explores how the visual shapes public culture. Hahner’s research primarily focuses on how visual texts shape the tastes and values of culture, often by engaging the work of rhetorical form, style, and argument. She authored To Become an American: Immigrants and Americanization Campaigns of the Early Twentieth Century (MSU, 2017) and co-authored Make America Meme Again: The Rhetoric of the Alt-right (Peter Lang, 2019). Hahner is published in the Quarterly Journal of Speech, Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies, Critical Studies in Media Communication, and Rhetoric & Public Affairs, among other outlets.

W11. Religious Rhetorics of Resistance

(Andre E. Johnson, University of Memphis and Kristy Maddux, University of Maryland)

Primarily Synchronous (June 1-4)


Meeting at Syracuse University, not far from New York’s Burned Over District, this workshop will consider the longstanding relationship between religion and resistance. In nineteenth-century Western New York, spiritual fervor inspired new religious sects—Mormons, Millerites, Shakers, and others—as it also inspired resistance to dominant regimes. Abolitionists such as Frederick Douglass organized alongside suffragists such as Susan B. Anthony, as well as thinkers who imagined new utopian realities.

The Burned Over District is one historic microcosm of religious revival fueling political resistance, and this workshop will look for other similar moments across contexts. Based on the interests of participants, we may look to religious leaders such as Bishop Henry McNeal Turner and William Sloane Coffin, who used their pulpits to organize and advocate for social change, as well as religious leaders, such as Jarena Lee, Phoebe Palmer, and Bishop Richard Allen, whose act of resistance was creating their own pulpit and platform. We may look to activists, such as Anna Julia Cooper and Frances Willard, who sought change within their religious institutions, alongside those, such as Beth Moore, who have tried to empower people for resistance within conservative religious structures. Based on the interests of our participants, we may examine religious resistance outside of the Judeo-Christian tradition and outside the United States—looking to, for instance, Malcolm X, Louis Farrakhan and others who have resisted white supremacy through Islam, and Catholic traditions of liberation theology in Central and South America. We will attend primarily to historic figures, movements, and contexts, but our work will be informed by the scholars who have illuminated these religious rhetorics of resistance.

As we consider these leaders and movements, we are interested in how they marshal religious language, ideas, values, and traditions in resistance to dominant regimes. We ask, which religious narratives have served as resources for marginalized people? How have religious rhetorics allowed activists to form coalitions for social change? How have religious rhetorics circulated from religious spaces, such as churches, mosques, and revivals, through social movements, and into institutional politics?

We will devote most of the workshop to reading and discussing common scholarship and primary texts, and in our final session, we will workshop projects in process and consider opportunities for future collaborations.


Andre E. Johnson is an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication and Film at the University of Memphis. His research focuses on the intersection of rhetoric, race, and religion. Grounded in an interdisciplinary understanding of scholarship, Dr. Johnson studies African American public address and rhetorical criticism, prophetic rhetoric, and rhetorical theology along with political rhetoric, homiletics, critical race theory, and religious and hip-hop studies. Dr. Johnson is the author of The Forgotten Prophet: Bishop Henry McNeal Turner and the African American Prophetic Tradition (Lexington Books, 2012) the co-author (with Amanda Nell Edgar, Ph.D.) of The Struggle Over Black Lives Matter and All Lives Matter (Lexington Books, 2018), and the author of No Future in this Country: The Prophetic Pessimism of Bishop Henry McNeal Turner (University Press of Mississippi, 2020).

Kristy Maddux is associate professor of Communication at the University of Maryland. Her research centers on questions of citizenship and democratic theory as they intersect with religion, gender, and race. She is the author of two books, Practicing Citizenship: Women’s Rhetoric at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair (Penn State UP, 2019) and The Faithful Citizen: Popular Christian Media and Gendered Civic Identities (Baylor UP, 2010). Her essays have appeared in Rhetoric Society Quarterly, Critical Studies in Media Communication, Rhetoric & Public Affairs, and Philosophy and Rhetoric, among other outlets.

W12. Rétorica y Memoria en America Latina/Rhetoric & Memory in Latin America

(Christa Olson, University of Wisconsin-Madison and María Alejandra Vitale, University of Buenos Aires)

Half Synchronous and Half Asynchronous (June 1-4)


This workshop invites participants to investigate the historical and contemporary intersections of rhetoric and memory in Latin America. Using examples drawn from across the Americas, we will examine decolonial practices rooted in Indigenous knowledge, the role of “archives of repression” in responding to political violence, efforts to preserve the memory of those murdered or disappeared by authoritarian regimes, and the use of the past in dominant political imaginaries. The workshop will introduce scholars interested in rhetoric and memory studies to Latin America’s deep tradition of scholarship and practice in those areas. For scholars working on Latin American rhetorics, the workshop will provide a deep dive into histories and scholarship through the frame of memory. Readings for the workshop will include analyses of political rhetoric; theoretical discussions of memory, archives, and decoloniality; and case studies drawn from different historical periods. This will be a multilingual workshop. Readings and discussion will take place in multiple languages. Though fluency in Spanish and English is not required, participants should have some reading and oral comprehension in both languages.


Christa Olson is a rhetorical historian focusing on trans-American visual cultures. In her research, she returns repeatedly to the rhetorical sources and consequences of nationalism. She is the author of Constitutive Visions: Indigeneity and Commonplaces of National Identity in Republican Ecuador and has published articles on visual culture, historiography, and Américan rhetoric in Rhetoric Society Quarterly, Quarterly Journal of Speech, Advances in the History of Rhetoric, and Literacy in Composition Studies. Olson’s current research examines the visual history of U.S.-Latin American relations in order to understand how U.S. publics came to see themselves as particularly American among Americans. She is a regular contributor to Reading the Pictures, an online venue dedicated to public-facing analysis of photojournalism.

María Alejandra Vitale holds a PhD in Linguistics at University of Buenos Aires, where she works as a Professor and Researcher at the Institute of Linguistics. She has obtained a Postdoctoral Degree in Linguistic Studies at the Federal University of Minas Gerais, Brazil. She is the Editor of the electronic journal Rétor, of the Argentine Association of Rhetoric, of which she has been President. She was President of the Latin American Association of Rhetoric and she is the President of the Ibero-American Organization of Rhetoric. She has specialized in the study of South American coup speeches, political discourse and intelligence services. Among others books, she has published ¿Cómo pudo suceder? Prensa escrita y golpismo en la Argentina (EUDEBA, 2015), Vigilar la sociedad. Estudios discursivos de inteligencia policial bonaerense (Biblos, 2016) y Rutinas del mal. Estudios discursivos sobre archivos de la represión (EUDEBA, in print).

W13. Rhetoric and Sexual Violence

(Annie Hill, University of Texas at Austin and Ashley Noel Mack, Louisiana State University)

Primarily Synchronous (June 1-4)


Invitation: What constitutes sexual violence? How do definitions of sexual violence materialize, and what rhetorical implications adhere in these definitions? How might rhetorical interventions make victims and perpetrators of sexual violence more or less legible in public discourse? Such questions are at the heart of ongoing and burgeoning conversations in rhetorical scholarship on this topic. In our workshop, we will facilitate discussion of rhetoric’s role in both the production of and challenges to sexual violence in myriad forms. For example, what have rhetoricians said, and what might we have yet to say, about rape scripts and silence breakers; Title IX and sexual entitlement; nondisclosure clauses and freedom of speech; nascent claims that we “believe all victims” and legacies of racist violence in the wake of accusations of rape? How do rhetoricians interpret the banality of systemic sexual violence amid the continual expressions of shock after each scandal involving politicians, newscasters, athletes, actors, academics, and celebrities? To address these questions, we will proceed from the assumption that not only can rhetorical studies intervene in sexual violence, but it must, to redefine this phenomenon and produce insurgent and intersectional accounts of power, persuasion, passion, and harm.

For these reasons, we hold that rhetoricians can offer vital insights into what constitutes sexual violence, and this workshop is one space to unpack that potential. And, we hold this workshop well aware that academic institutions are themselves sites where sexual violence is both enabled and enacted. The workshop also intends to interrogate that reality in order to rupture it.

Organization: The days of the workshop will be split into seminar-style discussion of assigned texts as well as engagement with participants’ projects-in-progress, grouped by research area and interest. The goals of the workshop will be to (1) center rhetorical studies scholarship on sexual violence and create a set of questions to advance this research; (2) build a shared bibliography (initiated and partially read beforehand) for use in research and teaching; and (3) engage with projects-in-progress (two-page pre-circulated proposals) that resonate with the workshop theme.


Annie Hill is an Assistant Professor in Rhetoric and Writing and an affiliate in Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of Texas, Austin. Her scholarship focuses on state and sexual violence, sex work, and sex trafficking in the United States and United Kingdom. In support of this work, Dr. Hill has won both Fulbright and Ford fellowships, in addition to other grants and awards. Her research appears in diverse journals including Women’s Studies in Communication, Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies, Anti-Trafficking Review, and Feral Feminisms, as well as in edited volumes and public media. She is an investigator on research teams for a Sexual Violence Prevention Collaboratory and a Sex Trading and Community Well-Being Initiative. Dr. Hill also curates the Violence section of The Gender Policy Report, a blog hosted by the Center on Women, Gender, and Public Policy at the University of Minnesota.

Ashley Noel Mack (they/them) is an assistant professor of rhetoric & cultural studies in the Department of Communication Studies at Louisiana State University. They also serve as an affiliate faculty member in African & African American Studies and Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies. Their research explores how differences and disparities are communicated and naturalized through rhetoric in contemporary US Culture, and also how rhetoric is wielded by historically marginalized bodies and communities as a resource for creating a more just and equitable world. Their work is informed by decolonial, Black, and trans feminisms and queer of color theories. Their writing has been published in Departures in Critical Qualitative Research, Journal of Communication Inquiry, Women’s Studies in Communication, Quarterly Journal of Speech, Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies, and Journal of Homosexuality.

W14. Cultural Politics & Activism

(Lisa Corrigan, University of Arkansas and Abraham Khan, Penn State University)

Primarily Synchronous (June 1-4)


Offering an empirical warrant for a novel theory of radical protest in 1969, Robert L. Scott and Donald K. Smith observed that “confrontation crackles menacingly from every issue in our country, hemisphere, and globe.” Scott and Smith’s theory of confrontational rhetoric addressed the function of New Left speech in the late 1960s, challenging the disciplinary preference for civility and the field’s inattention to “obscenity, threats of violence, and the like.” Since then, rhetorical scholars have come to understand the tricks civility can play in establishing and preserving power relations, and along the way, confrontational rhetoric influenced the field’s understanding of social movements. This workshop returns to confrontational rhetoric to discover what it might tell us about cultural politics and activist rhetoric.

The workshop will be divided roughly in half. In Part 1, we will map confrontation’s trip through rhetorical studies, consider its relevance to contemporary political discourse, and evaluate confrontation’s potential to inform disciplinary trends associated with the study of politics and power. In Part 2, participants will be invited to present works-in-progress relevant to the workshop theme. Participants can expect that our hands-on approach to papers and projects will be informed by theoretical and critical reflection drawn from conceptual resources in rhetoric, political theory, and critical communication research.

We welcome projects that engage cultural politics and activism according to one or more of the following themes:

• social movement theory
• historical social movements
• histories and theories of political power
• race, gender, sexuality and/or (dis)ability
• generational rhetorics
• theories or case studies of coalition formation and/or solidarity
• late capitalism/neoliberalism and the political economy of rhetoric

The list above is by no means exhaustive. We are most interested in work that is thoughtful, innovative, creative, and which addresses the workshop themes writ large.


Dr. Lisa M. Corrigan (Ph.D. University of Maryland) is a Professor of Communication and Director of the Gender Studies Program at the University of Arkansas. She researches and teaches in the areas of intimacy studies, social movement studies, the Black Power and civil rights movements, prison studies, feminist studies, and the history of the Cold War. Her first book, Prison Power: How Prison Politics Influenced the Movement for Black Liberation (University Press of Mississippi, 2016), is the recipient of the 2017 Diamond Anniversary Book Award and the 2017 African American Communication and Culture Division Outstanding Book Award, both from the National Communication Association. Her second book is titled, Black Feelings: Race and Affect in the Long Sixties (University Press of Mississippi, 2020). Finally, she co-hosts a popular podcast with Laura Weiderhaft called Lean Back: Critical Feminist Conversations. She is currently working on a book about political intimacies.

Abraham I. Khan is the Laurence and Lynne Brown – McCourtney Early Career Professor in the College of Liberal Arts at Penn State where he is also an Assistant Professor in the Departments of African American Studies and Communication Arts & Sciences. His work exists at the intersection of sport, the politics of racial justice in the US, and theories of civic engagement. Abe’s broad interest in public narratives surrounding Black athletes has taken shape in scholarly essays on individuals like Jackie Robinson, Michael Sam, and Richard Sherman, in addition to a book on baseball player Curt Flood and the history of Black political culture. His current interests center on the “renaissance of the activist athlete,” defined by both a resurgence in the number of Black athletes engaging in political speech and the emergence of a sophisticated media discourse dedicated to narrating it.

W15. Making a Career in Rhetorical Studies

(Denise Bostdorff, The College of Wooster and Stephanie Kerschbaum, University of Delaware)

Primarily Synchronous (June 1-4)


An academic career can span a long arc, with different challenges and pressures emerging at every stage. These can include navigating new terrain at the start of an academic career (new geographic location, new institutional contexts and roles); making transitions to new types of institutions and/or to new professional roles; getting clear on your own priorities and using those priorities to determine when and how to say yes; planning effectively for promotions, tenure, and/or the longer arc of your professional career; identifying choices available to you and choosing the ones that best fit your needs and goals; building a robust support network of mentors and peers; determining where and how to invest in service (and how this matters differently at different stages of your career) and looking ahead to retirement.

This workshop is co-led by two scholars at different career stages and who have worked at different institution types. Participants will engage in a series of activities, individual consultations, small-group discussions, and future-oriented goal-setting as well as reflective consideration of career, personal, and institutional priorities. At the workshop’s conclusion, participants will have identified their most pressing needs, created a list of career and personal priorities that will shape the next three- to five- year stage of their career, and created a list of resources (people, funding, materials, opportunities) for addressing those priorities. Throughout, workshop leaders and participants will share their own strategies for career success and balance as well as materials such as their own strategic plans, mentor maps, and practices of community and relationship-building.


Denise M. Bostdorff is professor and chair of Communication Studies at The College of Wooster, an undergraduate liberal arts institution, and, prior to that, was a tenured associate professor at Purdue University, an R1 institution. She has published extensively in the area of political rhetoric and won the Bruce E. Gronbeck Political Communication Research Award. She has also been recognized for her teaching and mentoring of undergraduates, most recently by the Northeast Ohio Council on Higher Education in 2019. Based on her experiences at two very different types of schools and mentoring faculty, Bostdorff believes that what constitutes a successful professional career and fulfilling personal life will be different for each person, even at the same institution, but finding ways to connect with others, build support, and work strategically serve as invaluable tools.

Stephanie L. Kerschbaum is associate professor of English at the University of Delaware, where she researches and teaches courses in writing studies and disability studies. She directed UD’s Faculty Achievement Program from 2016-19 and has been involved in various mentoring initiatives and programs both at UD and across multiple national organizations including CCCC and RSA. This work led in part to her receiving the 2019 Outstanding Faculty Mentor award within the College of Arts and Sciences at UD as well as the 2019 Leadership for People with Disabilities Award from NCTE. She believes in the importance of connecting faculty and graduate students with one another, building out our professional and personal networks, and strategic planning.

W16. Bordering Rhetorics: Mobility, Containment, & the Boundaries of Critical Rhetoric

(J. David Cisneros, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Lisa Flores, University of Colorado and Michael Lechuga, University of New Mexico)

Primarily Synchronous (June 1-4)


There exists a unique tension within the study of Border Rhetorics: borders are both spaces of mobility as well as places of containment. Transnational migrants, characterized primarily by their mobility, are often captured by borders and their agents. However, borders also move. They change over time and mean different things for different people. The field of rhetorical studies, too, has a politics of borders: which kinds of work are considered central or peripheral and which scholars can move throughout the field while others are contained within designated subfields. Rhetoric needs a nuanced way to talk about borders that describes how borders are mobilized politically, socially, economically, interpersonally, and technologically as a strategy to alienate migrants.

In this workshop, we complicate the notion of border as a static object of study, asking participants to theorize the processes of bordering more broadly. Workshop organizers will offer theoretical and methodological engagement through readings and discussion that expand the notion of bordering, such as social bordering practices, bordering spatio-temporalities, bordering as settler logic, b/ordering gender, archival bordering, and disciplinary bordering. We certainly also invite capacious contributions from participants to broaden the scope of bordering studies.

Workshop participants will read scholarship on the rhetorics of bordering and write a small position paper prior to the workshop. Then, over the course of the three-day workshop, we will collaborate to hone theoretical and methodological tools that can advance our positions into future research on the rhetorics of bordering.


Josue David Cisneros is Associate Professor in the Department of Communication, and affiliate faculty in the Department of Latina/Latino Studies and the Unit for Criticism and Interpretive Theory, at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. His research focuses on public rhetoric about identity and culture, especially the ways that social identities like race/ethnicity, citizenship, and national identity are defined, maintained, and redefined through public communication. His research also explores rhetorics of resistance and social movement, especially as they concern issues of race and immigration. He published The Border Crossed Us: Rhetorics of Borders, Citizenship, and Latina/o Identity (University of Alabama Press, 2014) and numerous other articles and book chapters. He has received the Wrage-Baskerville Award and an Early Career Award from the National Communication Association and the Article of the Year Award from the Eastern Communication Association. His next book project focuses on activist art in the immigrant justice movement.

Lisa A. Flores is Associate Professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Colorado. Her research and teaching interests lie in rhetoric, critical race studies, and gender/queer studies. Her book, Deportable and Disposable: Public Rhetoric and the Making of the “Illegal” Immigrant, forthcoming from the Pennsylvania State University Press, theorizes rhetorical racialization as it examines the intersecting discourses of deportability and disposability in historic narratives of Mexican migration. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Douglas W. Ehninger Distinguished Rhetorical Scholar Award from the National Communication Association (NCA), as well as the Distinguished Scholar Award from both the Rhetorical & Communication Theory Division of NCA and the Critical & Cultural Studies Division of NCA. She has published in Text and Performance Quarterly, Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies, Critical Studies in Media Communication, and the Quarterly Journal of Speech. An advocate of disciplinary service, Lisa is active in several professional organizations.

Dr. Michael Lechuga researches and teaches Culture, Settler Colonial, Latina/o/x Studies, Communication Studies, Rhetoric, and Affect Studies. He is currently researching the ways white nationalist ideologies and settler colonial logics persist in border security mechanisms and citizenship control technologies that subject migrants and migrant communities to violence, imprisonment, and death. His research focuses specifically on the role that technology plays in U.S. border security assemblages and the ways alienhood is mapped onto migrant bodies through contemporary mechanisms of white-settler governance. In addition, Dr. Lechuga is interested in Latina/o/x Futurism, Surveillance Studies, and Film Studies. He is currently finishing his second book, Alien Affects, which illuminates the complex relationships between Hollywood alien invasion film industries and the industries tasked with securing the México/U.S. border.

W17. Race, Regionalism, and Rhetoric

(Kundai Chirindo, Lewis & Clark College and Dave Tell, University of Kansas)

Primarily Synchronous (June 1-4)


This workshop invites scholars to consider their projects in light of the relations among race, regions, and rhetoric.

While rhetoricians have long been aware of rhetoric’s relations to space, recent developments call for renewed attention to the ways rhetoric and (counter)regionalism are implicated in the politics of race, ethnicity, and citizenship. Take, as examples, recent appeals to neo-nationalist, ethnonationalist, racist, or xenophobic sentiments on two continents: North America, and Sub-Saharan Africa. In the U.S. whether in the discourses of White nationalist “SIEGERS,” “State of Jefferson” cessationists, or through talk about “the South,” the politics of race, ethnicity, citizenship and region are seared into the DNA of American politics. The nexus of race, ethnicity, nation and region is apparent, for instance, in the nationalization of ethnicities (the Kikuyu or Luo in Kenya), or the ethnicization of state apparatuses in sub-Saharan Africa. These situations compel us to inquire after rhetoric’s role in how claims about regions both affect and are affected by ideas of race, ethnicity, citizenship, and nation. This workshop will do exactly that; workshop sessions will engage the following questions:

What contributions does rhetorical studies make to understanding the intersections of regionalism and race? What ideas about regions and race circulate in the conversational spaces of rhetorical studies (e.g., publications and classrooms)?

What can controversies and ideas about “the American South” and the Mississippi Delta tell us about the study of race, regionalism, and rhetoric?

Third, how are race, rhetoric, and regionalism figured in ideas about Africa that circulate in American public life?

Another workshop goal is to advance participants’ progress on their own projects. We welcome participants at every stage of the writing process (including those whose projects are, at present, little more than ideas). Each participant will be asked to share a brief summary of work-in-progress for peer review.


Kundai Chirindo is Associate Professor in the Rhetoric and Media Studies department at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon. A rhetorical scholar interested in discourses that relate to the African continent, Kundai’s work centers on discursive practices that contest, contribute to, and ultimately constitute ideas of Africa in American public life. Through exploring these themes, he contributes to scholarly conversations in rhetorical studies, environmental communication, African and African American Studies, and war and peace studies. His critical essays, commentaries, and book reviews have appeared in Advances in the History of Rhetoric (now Journal for the History of Rhetoric), Argumentation & Advocacy, Quarterly Journal of Speech, Rhetoric & Public Affairs, Women’s Studies in Communication, and in edited volumes.

Dave Tell is Professor of Communication Studies at the University of Kansas. He is the author of Confessional Crises and Cultural Politics in Twentieth Century America (Penn State University Press, 2012) and Remembering Emmett Till (University of Chicago Press, 2019). Remembering Emmett Till was listed as a 2019 book of the year by the Economist and winner of the Mississippi Historical Society’s 2020 McLemore Prize.

Professor Tell is a former fellow of the National Endowment for the Humanities and a codirector of the Emmett Till Memory Project. His writing on the Till murder has been published in the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Atlantic Monthly, LitHub and a wide range of academic journals. He is a past president of the American Society for the History of Rhetoric and the inaugural Public Humanities Officer for the Rhetoric Society of America.

W18. From Grassroots to Institutions: The Murky Politics of Transnational Advocacy

(Rebecca Dingo, University of Massachusetts, Amherst and Shui-yin Sharon Yam, University of Kentucky)

Primarily Synchronous (June 1-4)


This seminar seeks to bring together conversations from transnational rhetorical studies (Hesford; McKinnon; Dingo; Reidner; Yam) with rhetorical studies of advocacy and activism (Britt; Kahn; Loehwing). Both areas have been a crucial part of our field of studies in recent years, with an increasing amount of attention directed to campaigns and movements led by marginalized communities, such as undocumented immigrants, queer people, and women of color outside of the U.S. (e.g., Chávez; Cisneros; Schell; Stillion Southard; Wanzer-Serrano). In order to ethically contextualize and examine the rhetorical practices of transnational actors, scholars across our disciplines have proposed and enacted methodologies that attend to the geopolitics, histories, and uneven networks of power and economies that rhetors must navigate (Dingo, Reidner, and Wingard; Mohanty; Shome).Together, the current body of scholarship has demonstrated the methodologies and inquiries needed to uplift the actions and voices of marginalized rhetors in transnational contexts.

This workshop continues this project by interrogating transnational advocacy and social movements from two perspectives: seemingly progressive mainstream advocacy from supranational organizations and corporations that nevertheless bolsters the existing status quo and American exceptionalism (Dingo; Hesford and Kozol); and decentralized grassroots movements that enacts non-hierarchical and fluid tactics (So; Tufekci), such as the anti-authoritarian protests in places like Hong Kong, Puerto Rico, and Kashmir. In doing so, we ask the following questions:

1. How and why do some nation-state, sociopolitical, and economic structures amplify some actors and rhetorical practices over others?
2. What are the tensions between each level of stakeholders (e.g.. grassroots activists, nonprofit workers, government officials) that inform their rhetorical strategies?
3. How do activists rhetorically enact their visions and commitments for social justice both locally and transnationally? What models of justice do they amplify through their advocacy?
4. Whose voices and lived experiences are amplified by mainstream global media, and whose get stifled, and why?
5. As rhetoricians, how can we ethically and critically evaluate the effectiveness and outcomes of transnational advocacy, taking into account its specific cultural politics, histories, and contexts?

In addition to reading different theories and approaches to transnational rhetorical studies, activism and advocacy (e.g., Britt; Brown; Dingo, Reidner, and Wingard; Fortun; Silliman, Fried, Ross, and Gutierrez), we will also examine case studies that showcase how these strategies and tactics come to bear in across different rhetorical contexts. Participants will share ideas and develop proposals for a special journal issue on the scopes, targets, ethics, and tactics of transnational advocacy and social movements.


Dr. Rebecca Dingo is an Associate Professor of English and currently the Director of the Writing Program at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Rebecca’s research has addressed transnational rhetorical and composition studies and in doing so she forwards a transnational feminist lens attuned to global political economy. She is the author of Networking Arguments: Rhetoric, Transnational Feminism, and Public Policy Writing, which received the W. Ross Winterowd Award in 2012. She has published widely in both the field of Women’s Studies and Rhetorical Studies. As Writing Program Director, Rebecca has also offered workshops and trainings across the globe on her research, writing pedagogies, and writing development. Her pedagogy seeks to connect theory with practice and all of her classes tend to offer on-the-ground case studies paired with theoretical lenses. Rebecca earned her Ph.D. in English with an emphasis on Rhetoric and Composition from The Ohio State University.

Shui-yin Sharon Yam is Associate Professor of Writing, Rhetoric, and Digital Studies, and a faculty affiliate of Gender and Women Studies at the University of Kentucky. Her research focuses on citizenship, race, transnationalism, and reproductive justice. She is the author of Inconvenient Strangers: Transnational Subjects and the Politics of Citizenship (2019, Ohio State University Press). Sharon’s work has been published in journals such as the Quarterly Journal of Speech, enculturation, Rhetoric Society Quarterly, Women’s Studies in Communication, and Composition Forum. She is also a contributor to Hong Kong Free Press.

W19. Histories of Rhetoric Elsewhere and Otherwise

(Damián Baca, University of Arizona and Bernadette Marie Calafell, Gonzaga University)

Primarily Synchronous (June 1-4)


What happens to the History of Rhetoric once we refuse the racially coded, pedagogically violent “From-Aristotle-to-the-Present” mythology still dominating the field? What becomes of historical research when White Settlers are no longer the unquestioned foundation for the history and theory of communication? This workshop provides space to imagine Other possibilities, Other histories and futures through decolonial lenses that center the survivors of colonial exploitation, both past and present. Cycles of exploitation may include abuse, bi-/trans-/homophobia, bullying, character assassination, crowdsourced disinformation campaigns and academic mobbing, DARVO (Deny, Attack, and Reverse Victim and Offender), defamation, editorial misconduct, enabling abuse through indifference and inaction, epistemicide, ethnic identity theft, genocide, racism and racial battle fatigue, retaliation and retribution, sexism, sexual and predatory harassment, slander, toxic masculinities / femininities, white supremacy, and xenophobia.

Our exploration of decolonial histories requires significant attention to an anti-predatory praxis. This collective labor furthermore necessitates a focus on histories of Other rhetorics that account for and honor embodiment and the memories we carry in our bodies. Workshop participants will work through rhetorics elsewhere and otherwise in order to consider steps toward decolonization that not only free us from a colonialist framing of rhetorical histories, but from predatory harassment and everyday acts of interpersonal violence experienced by Others in Rhetoric, Composition and Communication Studies.


Damián Baca (Ph.D., Syracuse University) is Associate Professor in the Department of Mexican American Studies at the University of Arizona and faculty with the Bread Loaf School of English in Santa Fe, NM. He is author of Mestiz@ Scripts, Digital Migrations, and the Territories of Writing, lead-editor of Rhetorics of the Americas: 3114 BCE to 2012 CE, and co-editor Landmark Essays on Rhetorics of Difference. His co-edited collection, Rhetorics Elsewhere and Otherwise: Contested Modernities, Decolonial Visions, received the 2020 CCCC Outstanding Book Award.

Bernadette Marie Calafell (Ph.D., University of North Carolina) is Chair and Professor in the Department of Critical Race and Ethnic Studies at Gonzaga University. She is author of Latina/o Communication Studies Theorizing Performance and Monstrosity, Performance, and Race in Contemporary Culture, co-editor with Michelle Holling of Latina/o Discourse in Vernacular Spaces: Somos de Una Voz?, and co-editor with Shinsuke Eguchi of Queer Intercultural Communication: The Intersectional Belongings in and Across Difference. Bernadette is also the Editor-Elect of the Journal of International and Intercultural Communication and Film Review Editor of QED: A Journal in GLBTQ Worldmaking.

W20. Rhetoric and Life Writing

(Jonathan Alexander, University of California, Irvine and Katherine Mack, University of Colorado, Colorado Springs)

Primarily Synchronous (June 1-4)


This workshop begins with the idea that life writing matters deeply to the practices and study of rhetoric, particularly now. In the post-truth era, wherein personal experience and opinion influence deliberation and decision-making as much as, if not more, than expert opinion and data, and technologies enable their proliferation and circulation, life writing takes on particular rhetorical force. In its production and uptake, life writing in its various forms grapples with the status of the self and subjectivity as evidentiary fodder for social, cultural, and political concerns.

Over the course of our two-and-a-half days together, we will interrogate the claims that life writing is inherently rhetorical, and that its study is kairotic. We will examine existing bridges between canonical scholarship in life writing and rhetorical studies (perhaps through the recent work of Amy Robillard, but also by revisiting and reassessing older scholarship, such as that of Candace Spigelman), while hoping, with our participants, to construct new ones. We are particularly interested in examining the rhetoricity of life writing, both in academic work and in larger public debates, as it is mediated textually and/or multimodally. We invite participants doing rhetorical critical and interpretive projects about life writing as well as those doing rhetorical scholarly projects that incorporate life writing as evidence.


Jonathan Alexander is Chancellor’s Professor of English at the University of California, Irvine, where he is also associate dean in the Division of Undergraduate Education. The author, co-author, or co-editor of sixteen books, Alexander is committed to interdisciplinary troublemaking, and works generally under the rubric of “writing studies” to explore the creation and uptake of “texts” as they perform different kinds of ideological work in specific contexts. His work has primarily focused on written and digital production in the extra-curriculum, such as self- and collectively-sponsored multimodal forms of composition, including “fan texts.” More recently, he has turned his attention to many varied forms of life narrative as a rich mode of rhetorical and political engagement. In 2018, his critical memoir, Creep: A Life, a Theory, an Apology, was a finalist for a 2018 Lambda Literary Award (Gay Memoir category).

Katherine Mack: I am an associate professor and chair of English at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs. I am broadly interested in how rhetorics of the self and the evidence of personal experience influence how we live, feel, and relate to ourselves and others; to social and political movements; and to institutions. My research sites are wide-ranging, encompassing truth and reconciliation efforts in South Africa, the legitimizing rhetorics of single mothers in the United States, and rhetorical pedagogy in the post-truth era. Across these disparate sites, I aim to illuminate how life narratives figure centrally and function rhetorically, in ways that are both productive and problematic.

W21. Digital Exclusions

(Casey Boyle, University of Texas at Austin, Jim Brown, Rutgers University and Jennifer Sano-Franchini, Virginia Tech)

Primarily Synchronous (June 1-4)


Algorithmic inequality and digital profiling. Disinformation. Cyberbullying and online harassment. Dark patterns. Sexist apps. Toxic online communities. Gendered AI. Multimodal orientalism. Digital divides, digital redlining, and the New Jim Code. Dissemination of racialized media and yellow peril rhetoric in the coverage of COVID-19. While technologies have been used for purposes of systematic exclusion for millennia, the exacerbation of those exclusions in contemporary digital systems has led to sustained attention to such matters in rhetoric studies and related fields, perhaps an inevitable response to the ways in which digital technologies have pervaded everyday life. This workshop centers on the rhetorics of digital exclusions, or, the rhetorical processes by which digital technologies assemble and privilege certain communities while excluding others, whether in terms of access to information, rhetorical agency and sovereignty, or other material resources. In doing so, we will consider the affordances of rhetoric as an analytic for interrogating how communities are excluded in and through digital technologies, the wide ranging impacts of digital exclusions, and the various ways communities respond to digital exclusions, including how communities have subverted technical systems to make their voices and perspectives heard.

The workshop will consist of three parts. First, we will discuss scholarly readings on digital exclusions, with the goal of cataloging conceptual theories, strategies, and methods for researching rhetorics of exclusion in digital environments. Next, we will workshop research methods of participants’ projects related to digital exclusions (to be circulated in advance). Finally, we will work collaboratively to build a living bibliography that helps participants as well as others in the field who are working in this area.


Casey Boyle is Associate Professor in the Department of Rhetoric and Writing at the University of Texas in Austin and Director of the Digital Writing & Research Lab where he researches and teaches digital rhetoric, media studies, and/as rhetorical history. His work has appeared in Rhetoric Society Quarterly, Amodern, Technical Communication Quarterly, College English as well as essay collections such as Rhetoric and the Digital Humanities, Thinking with Bruno Latour in Rhetoric and Composition, and Kenneth Burke + The Posthuman. He is a co-editor (with Scot Barnett) for the essay collection Rhetoric, Through Everyday Things, (with Lynda Walsh) Topologies as Techniques for a Post-Critical Rhetoric, and (with Jenny Rice) Inventing Place. His book, Rhetoric as a Posthuman Practice, explores the role of practice and ethics in digital rhetoric and is available from The Ohio State University Press. Casey is currently working on a very weird book about animals and digital media.

James J. Brown, Jr. is Director of the Digital Studies Center (DiSC) and Associate Professor of English at Rutgers University-Camden. He conducts research in the areas of digital rhetoric, electronic literature, and software studies, and his work has been published in journals such as Philosophy & Rhetoric, Computers and Composition, and College Composition and Communication. His book Ethical Programs: Hospitality and the Rhetorics of Software examines the ethical and rhetorical possibilities of a number of networked software platforms, and he is currently at work on a project called Hateware that addresses how digital infrastructures enable and sometimes even encourage online abuse and harassment. Brown is also co-founder of the Rutgers-Camden Archive of Digital Ephemera (R-CADE), which invites scholars and artists from around the world to do hands-on research and creative activity with digital technologies.

Jennifer Sano-Franchini is Associate Professor and Director of Professional and Technical Writing at Virginia Tech, where she is also core faculty in the Rhetoric and Writing PhD program. She researches and teaches the cultural politics of design, cultural rhetorics and/of technology, and Asian American rhetoric. Her publications include articles in College Composition and Communication, Rhetoric Review, Enculturation, and Technical Communication, and chapters in Rhetoric and Experience Architecture, Rhetoric and the Digital Humanities, and Cultures of Copyright. She also co-edited Building a Community, Having a Home: A History of the CCCC Asian/Asian American Caucus with Terese Guinsatao Monberg and K. Hyoejin Yoon. Lately, she’s been writing about mediated intimacies on Facebook, Asian American sonic rhetorics, and emotional labor on the academic job search. Throughout her scholarship, she is committed to studying the workings of rhetoric as it exists within/as/among intersecting systems of power and oppression.

W22. Arguing Argument

(Catherine (Cate) H. Palczewski, University of Northern Iowa, Jenny Rice, University of Kentucky and Lisa Storm Villadsen, University of Copenhagen)

Primarily Synchronous (June 1-4)


This workshop begins from the recognition that the term “argument” signals a variety of meanings, methods, and modes across the discipline of rhetoric. The three workshop leaders will explore three different perspectives on the nature, function, and relevance of argumentation in rhetorical studies:

1. Argument as communicative mode. We will explore the promise of argument as a particular communicative mode of creating the possibilities for productive disagreement.
2. Argumentation and deliberation. We will explore the notion of rhetorical citizenship as an approach to cultivating norms and habits of interaction and argumentation in democratic deliberation and disagreement.
3. Post-Argument rhetoric. We will explore the limits of (and alternatives to) traditional modes of argument and debate in a “post-truth” era.

The workshop aims to offer a nuanced (albeit partial) overview of scholarly (and methodological?) approaches to the overall theme of public argument. Participants with no prior training in argumentation are as welcome as participants familiar with argumentation theory. However, because the workshop’s second aim is to serve as a platform for participants’ development of a specific argument-related aspect of their own work, we recommend that participants have a project (or an idea for a project) that is sufficiently developed to be shared and workshopped. Participants will be asked to share a description or an excerpt of their project, five- to ten- pages, one month prior to the workshop.

In three full-group sessions, we will discuss each of the three overarching approaches described above based on a selection of readings put together by the workshop leaders. After these full-group sessions, participants will be divided into working groups based on shared interests and approaches to argumentation and public debate.


Catherine (Cate) H. Palczewski, Ph.D., is a Professor of Communication Studies and Affiliate Faculty in Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of Northern Iowa, where she also served as the Director of Debate from 1994-2009. She was co-editor for the American Forensic Association journal Argumentation and Advocacy from 2010-2013. In 2001, she was the keynote speaker at the AFA/NCA Biennial Conference on Argumentation in 2001, a conference she directed in 2013. She edited the selected works from that conference: Disturbing Argument. She is co-author or Communicating Gender Diversity (3rd ed., 2018) and Rhetoric in Civic Life (3rd ed., 2021). Her work tends to focus on how marginalized groups rhetorically construct their messages to gain access to, and be legible in, the dominant public sphere. For a full list of her publications, and syllabi for the classes she teaches, see

Jenny Rice is Associate Professor of Writing, Rhetoric, and Digital Studies at the University of Kentucky. Her work dips into public rhetoric, affect, argument, space/place, and many modes of weirdness. Her most recent book, Awful Archives: Conspiracy Theory, Rhetoric, and Acts of Evidence (The Ohio State Press, 2020) examines the strange and the fringe in order to explore the lifeworld of what we call evidence. She has published essays in Philosophy & Rhetoric, Rhetoric Society Quarterly, College English, Quarterly Journal of Speech, among others. Jenny lives in Kentucky, but has Texas permanently tattooed on her arm (and heart).

Lisa Villadsen holds a Ph.D. in Communication Studies from Northwestern University. She is Associate Professor of Rhetoric and Head of the Section of Rhetoric at the Department of Communication at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark. Her research interests are in rhetorical criticism and theory, particularly issues of rhetorical agency and rhetorical citizenship.

Villadsen is the co-editor of two volumes on rhetorical citizenship: Rhetorical Citizenship and Public Deliberation. Penn State University Press, 2012 and Contemporary Rhetorical Citizenship: Purposes, Practices, and Perspectives. Leiden University Press, 2014 and is currently co-editing a volume with the working title Populist Rhetorics under contract with Palgrave Macmillan. A recent article focused on issues of dissent in connection with public debate on immigration: “Doxa, Dissent, and Challenges of Rhetorical Citizenship: ‘When I Criticize Denmark, It Is Not the White Nights or the New Potatoes I Have In Mind’” in Javnost: The Public 24 (3) 2017: 1-16.

W23. Writing New Histories of U.S. Presidential Rhetoric & Foreign Policy

(Allison M. Prasch, University of Wisconsin-Madison and Mary E. Stuckey, Penn State University)

Primarily Synchronous (June 1-4)


The history of U.S. foreign policy—and the words and actions U.S. presidents use to justify these policies—is a troubled one. Structured by logics of settler colonialism, racism, imperialism, neoliberalism, and American exceptionalism, this terrain is messy, complicated, and difficult to navigate. In the conclusion to his germinal essay “The Rhetoric of American Foreign Policy,” Philip Wander observed that “[t]he rhetoric of American foreign policy lends itself to cynical and bitter commentaries on lies, half-truths, and macabre scenarios.” The critic’s task, Wander concluded, was to “get beyond denouncing the devil-theory” and instead “to raise real issues and to assist in the creation of publics able and…willing to rise above parochial concerns.”

Almost forty years after Wander’s influential essay, rhetorical critics are faced with similar—if not more urgent—questions about rhetoric’s role in the doing and making of U.S. foreign policy. Drawing on work from rhetoric, history, political science, and critical geography, this workshop will investigate how U.S. presidents talk—or don’t talk—about foreign policy and consider the questions, theories, and methods scholars use to write about this discourse. Participants will examine the overarching themes animating U.S. foreign policy discourse from 1630 to the present and consider what it means to write ethical and responsible rhetorical histories of U.S. presidential rhetoric and foreign policy.

To prepare for this workshop, participants will read exemplars of this type of critical scholarship and prepare their own working paper on a related topic. Workshop sessions will be divided between group discussion of the assigned readings and workshopping of papers in small groups.


Allison M. Prasch is Assistant Professor of Rhetoric, Politics & Culture in the Department of Communication Arts at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she researches and teaches rhetorical theory & criticism, U.S. presidential rhetoric, foreign policy, and the Cold War. Her work has been published in various outlets, including the Quarterly Journal of Speech, Presidential Studies Quarterly, and Rhetoric & Public Affairs. She is the 2017 recipient of the Golden Anniversary Monograph Award from the National Communication Association and the 2016 recipient of the Outstanding Dissertation Award from the American Society for the History of Rhetoric. Her current book project, The Global Rhetorical Presidency: Cold War Rhetoric on the World Stage, examines how U.S. presidents use their rhetoric abroad to extend the United States’ military, geopolitical, and psychological dominance around the world.

Mary E. Stuckey specializes in political and presidential rhetoric, political communication, and American Indian politics. She is the author, editor, or co-editor of fourteen books and author or coauthor of roughly 80 essays and book chapters. She has received the NCA Distinguished Scholar Award, the Michael M. Osborn Teacher/Scholar Award, the Rose B. Johnson Award (with Zoe Hess-Carney), the Roderick P. Hart Outstanding Book Award, the Marie Hochmuth Nichols Award, and the Bruce E. Gronbeck Political Communication Award. She has served as editor of the Southern Communication Journal, as Editor of the Quarterly Journal of Speech and as Interim Editor of Rhetoric and Public Affairs. Her current book project is on the history of deplorable elections.

W24. Mediated Rhetorics of Crisis and Renewal

(Sarah Jackson, University of Pennsylvania, Claire Sisco King, Vanderbilt University and Marina Levina, University of Memphis)

Primarily Asynchronous (June 1-4)


Using an intersectional feminist lens to address the relationships between media and rhetoric, this workshop addresses the ongoing ways hegemonic and discursive structures (like whiteness, masculinity, and ableism) make frequent recourse to crisis rhetoric in order to manage populations, classify difference, and affirm their positions of privilege. As well as a focus on more acute moments of crisis (such as the recent COVID-19 pandemic) and its impacts on already precaritized people, we consider how rhetorics of crisis are used to justify current systems of inequalities and to silence larger efforts for social equity by framing activism and social unrest as threats to established order. In turn we consider how intersectional rhetorics of renewal can challenge and subvert weaponized crisis rhetoric. Special attention will be given to the affordances of media for constructing and circulating such rhetorics of crisis and renewal. For example, these considerations might include attention to the cinema’s capacity as an audio visual medium to approximate the affects of trauma, entertainment television’s frequent recourse to serialized narrative structure to enact ongoing patterns of disruption and reparation, news norms that police engagement with rhetorics of renewal, and digital networked media’s inclinations toward replication, spreadability, and virality. We also consider how mediated texts construct crisis and renewal in relationship to race, gender, ability, age, and sexuality.


A scholar of the public sphere, Sarah J. Jackson studies how media, journalism, and technology are used by and represent marginalized publics, with a focus on communication by and about Black and feminist activists. Her first book, Black Celebrity, Racial Politics, and the Press (Routledge 2014), examines the relationship between Black celebrity activism, journalism, and American politics. Her co-authored second book, Hashtag Activism: Networks of Race and Gender Justice (MIT Press 2020), focuses on the use of Twitter in contemporary social movements. Her work has appeared in a range of academic journals and she is frequently called on as an expert by media. Jackson is an associate editor of Communication Theory, the commentary and criticism editor of Women’s Studies in Communication, and serves on the advisory boards of the Center for Critical Race and Digital Studies and the Social Science Research Council’s MediaWell initiative.

Claire Sisco King is associate professor of Communication Studies at Vanderbilt University, where she is affiliated with the Cinema and Media Arts Department and the Comparative Media Analysis and Practice Program. A feminist and critical cultural scholar of media and visual culture, King has published in such journals as Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies, Critical Studies in Media Communication, Feminist Media Studies, Quarterly Journal of Speech, QED: A Journal in GLBTQ Worldmaking, and Women’s Studies in Communication. She is the author of Washed in Blood: Male Sacrifice, Trauma, and the Cinema (Rutgers University Press, 2011) and is the current editor of Women’s Studies in Communication. King has recently completed a manuscript on celebrity culture, metonymy, and the networked politics of identity and is beginning a new book project on public art as a response to trauma in the city of Nashville, Tennessee.

Marina Levina is an Associate Professor of Media Studies at the Department of Communication and Film at the University of Memphis. Her research is based in critical/cultural studies with the focus on feminist and intersectional theoretical frameworks. She is particularly interested in how mediated cultural landscape constructs bodies, subjectivities, and monstrosities as a part of affective, techno-scientific, medical, and political discourses. She is the author of Pandemics in the Media (Peter Lang, 2015). Her most recent publications include an edited collection Biocitizenship: The Politics of Bodies, Governance, and Power (NYU Press, 2018); special FORUM issue of Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies on “Cruelty in the Age of Trump” (March 2018); and a special issue of Television & New Media on “The Silicon Valley Ethos: Tech Industry Products, Discourses, and Practices” (September 2017). She is a co-editor of Horror and Monstrosity Studies book series (University Press of Mississippi) and a book and media review editor for Women’s Studies in Communication.

W25. The Futures of New Materialism

(Byron Hawk, University of South Carolina, Diane Marie Keeling, University of San Diego and Thomas Rickert, Purdue University)

Primarily Synchronous (June 1-4)


What is called “new materialism” has been around for over a decade now. It has been studied under different names (Critical Realism, Object Oriented Ontology, Speculative Realism, Thing Theory, and more) and across many different fields, using a variety of questions, and motivated by innumerable interests. Nonetheless, it retains a distinctive stance: matter and meaning, ontology and epistemology, are entangled—they presuppose and complexly inflect each other. New materialist perspectives have generated innovative ways to discuss how material objects and phenomena are woven into the fabric of life. They have opened us up in different ways to discussing new body-mind-thing-world circuits, showing how rhetorical work is scaffolded and distributed. They have produced new understandings of connectivity, such as ecologies, networks, and assemblages. New materialism has offered much, and delivered much. But what more does it make possible?

In this workshop, we address new materialism less as an introduction and more as a challenge. As technological advancement and globalization continue apace, new materialist perspectives must also evolve. Given what has been accomplished, what new work is now opened up? If rhetoric is a more holistic art than we have previously understood or articulated, how so? Conversely, what has new materialism not been able to accomplish? What are its omissions or concealments? One way participants could approach these questions is by rethinking major rhetorical concepts or issues that new materialist work has been hesitant or slow to address. These might be related to subjectivity, economy, inequity, politics, justice, idealism, language, or thought, all of which are vital to our understanding of rhetoric and its workings. Participants are also invited to continue thinking about rhetoric’s relationship to other fields, including neurology, biology, environmental studies, or moral psychology. These fields and others beckon us toward new thinking on issues of cognition, feeling/emotion, decisioning, and pressing questions about how we are to flourish in the face of an uncertain future.

Organization and preparation: We will split our time between reading discussion and project development. Readings for the workshop will be shared in a Dropbox folder in advance of the workshop. Prior to the workshop, we will ask participants to share abstracts and drafts of their projects. Authors we read may include Elizabeth Grosz, Karen Barad, Martin Heidegger, Eduardo Kohn, Tero Karppi, Isabelle Stengers, Alfred North Whitehead, Taina Bucher, Edouard Glissant, and Gilles Deleuze.


Byron Hawk is Professor of English at the University of South Carolina. His primary research interests are histories and theories of composition, rhetorical theory and technology, sonic rhetorics, and rhetorics of popular music. He is the author of Resounding the Rhetorical: Composition as a Quasi-Object (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2018) and A Counter-History of Composition: Toward Methodologies of Complexity (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2007), which won JAC’s W. Ross Winterowd Award in 2007 and received honorable mention for MLA’s Mina Shaughnessy Prize in 2008. He has published in journals such as Rhetoric Society Quarterly, Philosophy and Rhetoric, Argumentation and Advocacy, College English, Pedagogy, Technical Communications Quarterly, JAC, and Pre/Text. He is also the editor of the online journal enculturation, a book series for Parlor Press titled New Media Theory, and co-editor of two collections, Small Tech (University of Minnesota Press, 2008), and Digital Tools in Composition Studies (Hampton Press, 2010).

Diane Marie Keeling is an Associate Professor of Communication Studies at the University of San Diego. Her research interests include rhetoric’s intellectual history, feminist new materialism, and rhetoric of science. She collaborates and co-authors with evolutionary biologists, marine ecologists, and physicists to invigorate philosophical orientations of rhetorical theory. Keeling is published in Quarterly Journal of Speech, Rhetoric Society Quarterly, POROI: Project on Rhetoric of Inquiry, Critical Studies in Media Communication, Review of Communication, Rhetoric Review, eLife, Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Communication and the edited volumes Tracing Rhetoric and Material Life and Border Rhetorics. Her current book project addresses the rhetorical emergence of the liberal arts from the myths, geography and archeological record of Bronze Age Crete. Keeling is president of the Organization for Research on Women and Communication ( and the faculty producer of USD’s There’s More podcast (

Thomas Rickert is a Professor of English at Purdue University. His primary research interests include histories and theories of rhetoric, critical theory, digital media, ecology, and music. He published his first book, Acts of Enjoyment: Rhetoric, Žižek, and the Return of the Subject, with the University of Pittsburgh Press in 2007. It won the 2007 Gary A. Olsen Award from JAC for best book of the year published in Rhetoric and Cultural Studies. His second book, Ambient Rhetoric: The Attunements of Rhetorical Being, was published by the University of Pittsburgh Press in 2013. It won the 2014 Outstanding Monograph of the Year Award from the Conference on College Communication and Composition. He has produced numerous essays on rhetorical theory and history, appearing in journals such as Philosophy and Rhetoric, Rhetoric Society Quarterly, Review of Communication, Quarterly Journal of Speech, Enculturation, JAC, and others. His current book project uses new methodological perspectives to argue that rhetoric is a fundamental human commonality that can be traced alongside the emergence of modern humanity in the Paleolithic era.

W26. Pandemic Rhetorics

(Øyvind Ihlen, University of Oslo, Sine Nørholm Just, Roskilde University, Lisa Keränen, University of Colorado-Denver, Jens Elmelund Kjeldsen, University of Bergen, Lisa Melonçon, University of South Florida, Shaunak Sastry, University of Cincinnati and J. Blake Scott, University of Central Florida)

Primarily Asynchronous (June 1-4)


Paula Treichler suggested that pandemics can be approached, in part, as pandemics of meanings, leading her to call for what she famously termed an “epidemiology of signification,” or “comprehensive mapping and analysis of these multiple meanings” (How to Have Theory in an Epidemic, 39). More recently, Priscilla Wald observed the “appeal and persistence” of outbreak narratives, noting their influence in “how both scientists and the lay public understand the nature and consequences of the infection, how they imagine the threat, and why they react so fearfully to some disease outbreaks and not others” (Contagious, 3). Currently, the COVID-19 pandemic is confronting us with a bewildering array of meanings, rhetorical conditions, and challenges for publics and for political, social, and economic institutions. As we continue to live and work through the ongoing pandemic, rhetoricians are well-positioned to contribute to the mapping and analysis of pandemic-related rhetorics, the processes that produce them, and their array of enactments, communities, functions, and effects. We also are (or can be) variously positioned to work with others to develop more effective and ethical rhetorics and to ameliorate harmful ones. If, as Wald suggests, the “interactions that make us sick also constitute us as a community” (3), then contagion compels reconfigured relations of immunity and belonging.

This workshop will explore the roles and responsibilities we as rhetoricians (of various stripes) may take on in relation to communicative responses to pandemics, informed by the vibrant and growing body of rhetorical research about them. This body of work has 1) included a range of rhetorically inflected scholarship that is cross-historical, cross-cultural, transnational, and multi-methodological; 2) emerged from various parts of rhetorical, communication, and composition studies writ large (e.g., biocriticism, risk and crisis communication, studies of outbreak narratives, community-based health communication); and 3) explored the rhetorical contours of smallpox, typhoid fever, HIV/AIDS, SARS, H1N1, Ebola, Zika, COVID-19, and other pandemics, epidemics, outbreaks, and scares.

Our time together will focus on the following: 1) discussions of and exercises around shared readings (chosen for topical and methodological contributions); 2) workshopping of participants’ projects, and; 3) collective planning opportunities for collaboratively advancing our work (e.g., reading and writing groups). Participants will be invited to plan and submit their work (individually or collaboratively) to a designated 2023 special issue of the journal Rhetoric of Health & Medicine.

Possible foci of discussions will include applications and adaptations of cross-historical rhetorical studies of pandemics, emergent opportunities and challenges around studying pandemics-in-process, methodological considerations for rhetorically studying pandemics across changing media landscapes, applications of pandemic rhetoric scholarship for other types of work and topics, and collaboration with other researchers and stakeholders in our rhetorical work on pandemics. Key questions will include, but are not limited to: How do citizens navigate rhetorically in such difficult times? How do public health institutions negotiate trustworthiness? How is uncertainty treated rhetorically? How do politicians demonstrate rhetorical leadership during key moments of pandemic? What rhetoric is used to garner support for political decisions and measures? What rhetoric dominates in legacy media? How are imagined immunities and contagious Others configured and mobilized for political aims? How and with what effect are social media users discussing the pandemic? How is COVID-19 (or other pandemic) rhetoric different in different countries? How does the rhetoric of nationalism and/or populism influence the perspectives in the public debate? How does the health crisis impact particularly vulnerable and/or precarious groups, and how do the needs of such groups figure in the public debate about the pandemic? What does the pandemic look like from a post-colonial perspective? How does the COVID-19 rhetoric compare to rhetoric of SARS, Ebola or other preceding pandemics?

Because this workshop invites participants to adapt or develop rhetorical approaches in their own scholarly projects on pandemics, we will be asking accepted participants to submit twenty- to twenty five pages of writing (which could be at various stages, including notes/outlines and working drafts) to members of a small working group approximately one month in advance of the workshop. Applications should briefly detail your interests in this workshop’s topic and the (planned) focus of your project; projects need not be focused specifically on pandemics, but should be able to benefit from rhetorical work on this topic. Participants will leave the workshop with concrete feedback about their works in progress, an expanded “toolkit” for their projects, and possibilities for ongoing and future collaborations.


Dr. Øyvind Ihlen is professor at the Department of Media and Communication, University of Oslo and co-director of POLKOM—Centre for the Study of Political Communication. He is leading the four-year research project called “Pandemic rhetoric: Risk communication in a changing media landscape,” financed by the Research Council of Norway. Ihlen has over 130 publications, including Public Relations and Social Theory: Key Figures and Concepts (2009, 2nd expanded edition 2018), the award-winning edited Handbook of Communication and Corporate Social Responsibility (2011), and Handbook of Organizational Rhetoric (2018). Ihlen was President of the European Public Relations Education and Research Association (EUPRERA) 2016–2017, and still runs the annual PhD seminar of the association. He has won several awards and had guest stays at various universities, including Purdue, University of Southern California, Waikato, Wollongong, Stirling, and Bordeaux Montaigne. His work has been Translated to Chinese, German, French, and Portuguese.

Sine N. Just is a professor of strategic communication at the Department of Communication and Arts, Roskilde University. Sine has an interdisciplinary background in rhetoric and organization studies. She defines strategic communication as processes of strategizing and seeks to conceptualize these processes as the interrelation of organizational assemblages, technological affordances, and human agencies. She is linking this definition with some of her other projects on the dynamics of legitimacy and identity in the context of public meaning formation. Using this broad lens, she has studied a variety of empirical phenomena, including the public debate about the future of the European Union, the communicative dimensions of the financial crisis, and organizational negotiations of diversity and difference. Sine is the work package leader on organization studies within the project on Pandemic Rhetoric. Further, she is the principal investigator of a project on alternative economic organizing, AlterEcos.

Lisa Keränen is associate professor and Chair of the University of Colorado Denver Department of Communication and is a past president of the Association for the Rhetoric of Science, Technology, and Medicine (ARSTM). Her writings on biosecurity and resilience, bioterrorism, viral apocalypse, and avian influenza, appear in places such Quarterly Journal of Speech, Rhetoric & Public Affairs, Western Journal of Communication, and edited scholarly volumes. Her first book, Scientific Characters: Rhetoric, Politics, and Trust in Breast Cancer Research, received the 2011 Marie Hochmuth Nichols Award from the Public Address Division of the National Communication Association (NCA).

Her most recent book is the co-edited Imagining China: Rhetorics of Nationalism in an Age of Globalization, which contains her collaborative work on influenza A (H7N9) discourses in China. Keränen’s research has also received the Karl R. Wallace Memorial Research Award from the NCA and, most recently, with her co-authors, the 2019 Xiaosui Xiao Award for Outstanding Rhetorical Study from the Association for Chinese Communication Studies (ACCS).

Jens E. Kjeldsen is Professor of Rhetoric and Visual Communication at University of Bergen, Norway. He has written extensively about theory and methods of rhetoric, especially within the fields of visual and multimodal communication and argumentation, speechmaking, speechwriting and rhetorical audience studies.

Kjeldsen is immediate past president of the Rhetoric Society of Europe and co-founder and long-time chief editor of the research journal Rhetorica Scandinavica. Among his publications are Rhetorical Audience Studies and Reception of Rhetoric (ed. Palgrave, 2018), “Visual rhetorical argumentation” Semiotica, 220, 2018, 69-94. “Symbolic condensation and thick representation in visual and multimodal communication (Argumentation and advocacy, 2016, 52), and Speechwriting. Theory and Practice of Writing Speeches for Others (Palgrave, 2019, with Amos Kiewe, Marie Lund, and Jette Barnholdt Hansen). Kjeldsen has worked as professor of Rhetoric at Södertörn University, Sweden, and been a visiting scholar at University of Berkeley, California, and a visiting professor at Northwestern University.

Lisa Melonçon is Professor of Technical Communication at the University of South Florida. She is founding co-editor, with Blake Scott, of the journal Rhetoric of Health & Medicine, which won the 2019 CELJ Best New Journal award. Melonçon specializes in rhetoric of health and medicine, disability studies, programmatic issues in technical and professional communication. Her work has appeared in numerous journals and book chapters. She is editor of Rhetorical Accessibility: At the Intersection of Technical Communication and Disability Studies (2013); co-editor (with Blake Scott) of Methodologies for the Rhetoric of Health and Medicine (2018); co-editor (with Scott Graham, Jenell Johnson, John Lynch, and Cynthia Ryan) of Rhetoric of Health & Medicine As/Is: Theories and Approaches for the Field (2020).

Melonçon’s current work is a book project that merges her interest in technical communication and the rhetoric of health and medicine, Technical Communication and Health Experience Design, to build a new understanding of rhetorical contexts with an emphasis on material places and time. She is also the founder of the biennial Rhetoric of Health and Medicine Symposium.

Dr. Shaunak Sastry, Ph.D., is an associate professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Cincinnati and Affiliate Faculty, Center for Culture-centered Research and Evaluation (CARE) at Massey University, New Zealand. His research and teaching interests are in the areas of health and culture, globalization and health, and the cultural politics of infectious diseases. His work combines ethnographic and field-based methods with critical analysis of public discourses of health. He has published on HIV/AIDS in India, the politics of global HIV/AIDS interventions, and on the 2014 Ebola epidemic.

His work has been published in leading international peer-reviewed journals like Health Communication, Communication Theory, Journal of Health Communication, Culture, Health & Sexuality, Frontiers in Communication, and Journal of International and Intercultural Communication, in addition to several book chapters and more than 30 paper presentations at national and international conferences. He is an incumbent senior editor of the journal Health Communication, and sits on the editorial boards of several other academic journals. He is currently working on a digital ethnography of China’s early response to CoVID-19, and a book manuscript on the politics of mask-wearing in infectious disease outbreaks. sastrysk@UCMAIL.UC.EDU

Blake Scott is Professor of Writing & Rhetoric at the University of Central Florida. He is founding co-editor, with Lisa Melonçon, of the journal Rhetoric of Health & Medicine, which won the 2019 CELJ Best New Journal award. Scott co-led previous RSA workshops on Medicine and Its Publics (with Lisa Keränen) and Theory Building in the Rhetoric of Health & Medicine (with Jeff Bennett and Jenell Johnson).

Scott’s rhetorical-cultural research related to pandemics has focused on HIV/AIDS, and specifically HIV testing and prevention. His book on this topic, Risky Rhetoric, won the 2017 NCA Health Communication Division Distinguished Book Award. His current work includes a funded study to develop training materials to address provider-enacted HIV stigma, and a book project on risk conflicts around pharmaceuticals, the latter of which includes some analysis of the current COVID-19 pandemic. He has also worked transnational health rhetorics and cross-historical responses to pandemics.