While rhetoric has been classically understood as seeing the available means of persuasion, contemporary iterations have expanded the concept far beyond its traditional moorings in public address to include such diverse subjects as materiality, sound, animal studies, fantasy, and economics. Accounting for the heterogeneous state of contemporary rhetorical theory is, accordingly, a difficult task that requires a detailed, interdisciplinary approach to the ways in which rhetoricians have revised, troubled, and expanded upon the concept.
In this course, we will strive to engage in such an inquiry, taking an expansive look at current state of work in the field of rhetorical theory. Interrogating a variety of approaches and subjects—new materialisms, human rights rhetoric, rhetorics of crisis, economic rhetorics, feminism, circulation, truth claims—we will attempt to take stock of where the field stands and to chart the connections and commonalities between the differing inquiries and methodologies.
In seeking to locate a center among diverse contemporary approaches, the course will strive to identify what remains endemic to the rhetorical project. Even as emerging rhetorical approaches move away from language and discourse as the site of rhetorical praxis, we will strive to chart the animating themes and concerns that unite the discipline.
Texts under consideration:
Ira Allen – The Ethical Fantasy of Rhetorical Theory (2018)
Dana Cloud – Reality Bites: Rhetoric and the Circulation of Truth Claims in U.S. Political Culture (2018)
Debra Hawhee – Rhetoric in Tooth and Claw: Animals, Language, Sensation (2016)
Byron Hawk – Resounding the Rhetorical: Composition as a Quasi-Object (2018)
Cynthia Haynes – The Homesick Phonebook: Addressing Rhetorics in an Age of Perpetual Conflict (2016)
Laurie Gries and Collin Gifford Brooke – Circulation, Writing, and Rhetoric (2018)
Sheri J. Stenberg – Repurposing Composition: Feminist Interventions for a Neoliberal Age (2015)
Arabella Lyon – Deliberative Acts: Democracy, Rhetoric, and Rights (2015)
Wendy Hesford, Adela C. Lincona, and Christa Teston – Precarious Rhetorics (2018)