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Transnational Rhetorical Research

Seminar leaders:

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

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

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

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

Questions should be directed to Sara McKinnon, smckinnon@wisc.edu


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