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Rhetorics of Citizenship

Seminar leaders:

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

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

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

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

Questions should be directed to Karma R. Chávez, krchavez@wisc.edu


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