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Rogue Publics in a Digital Age

G. Thomas Goodnight, University of Southern California
David B. Hingstman, University of Iowa

The advance of new media has re-energized the long-standing discussion of public spheres. Well-disciplined populations are mobilizing to direct digital petitions, visual contestation, and verbal debate against the hybrid state-private institutions that would delimit civic life to various dependent roles. Recently, revolts over diverse state-private policy changes by Netflix, Bank of America, Komen Foundation, Apple in China, and federal-state government policy on reproductive rights and health care indicate that publics can arise with interest, direction, affect and success with speed and scale that can neither be easily or successfully resisted.

This workshop will focus on the transformation of rhetorical inquiry into digital public spheres. Its aim is to develop strategies of critical inquiry into interactive spaces providing venues of public participation, rhetorical movement, and social change. Have neo-liberal values, global markets, and new media networks created novel conditions to multiplying and connecting publics across the globe? Or does going rogue merely engage in anonymous, maverick politics that furnish an uncertain substitute for the absence of a vital, unified deliberative public sphere?

After considering some case studies to talk and think through these questions, the remainder of the workshop will be devoted to helping participants develop their own digital sites of investigation and critical texts. We welcome scholars of all levels.

Questions should be directed to Thomas Goodnight at gtg@usc.edu.


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