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2011 RSA Institute at the University of Colorado at Boulder - Recap

2011 RSA Institute at the University of Colorado at Boulder 

During the week of June 20 to 26 over 350 scholars and teachers convened on the UC-Boulder campus for the 4th Biennial Rhetoric Society of America Institute.  Participants came from as far away as Korea, Australia, and Denmark as well as representing the range of colleges and universities in the US.  The Institute program was organized by Jeanne Fahnestock and John Ackerman with guidance from the RSA Board and past Institute directors and hosts.  Local arrangements were made by John Ackerman and Jennifer Malkowski from the UC-Boulder campus and by CU Conference Services.  Planning, correspondence, and registration were coordinated with RSA through the able assistance and guidance of Kathie Cesa and Gregory Clark. 

The week began with seminars for over 90 participants and led by 11 session leaders.  Two seminars addressed digital rhetoric: Multi-modal Rhetorics was led by Anne Wysocki and Dennis Lynch; and Digital Humanities and the History of Rhetoric was led by Ned O’Gorman, Katya Haskins, and Kathleen Lamp.  Other seminars focused on criticism and science: Alan Gross led a seminar on Communicating Science for 21st century Audiences and Jim Jasinkski, Chuck Morris, Kirt Wilson, and Vanessa Beasley led a session on Rhetoric’s Critical Genealogies.  The demand for these sessions was very high, and we regret turning away over 80 applicants. 

The fifth seminar, Rhetoric in the Public Schools, was slightly smaller but its purpose was unique in that it fostered a local, national and international conversation of how and why rhetorical theory and pedagogy could contribute to secondary education.  We recruited local high school teachers from Boulder and Denver school districts to join high school and university colleagues from outside Colorado, with support by Continuing Education and the School of Education at UCB.  From the responses of participants and the session leader, Roger Cherry, RSA has opened a broad based dialogue on rhetorical practice in high school language arts. 

The Workshops began after the Friday Luncheon in the Kittredge Commons East Dining Hall.  At the luncheon about 300 people were welcomed by RSA President, David Zarefsky, and the Dean of Arts and Sciences at UCB, Todd Gleeson. The luncheon address was given by Peter Simonson from the Department of Communication at UCB, and he has provided the RSA community with a copy of his address, entitled “Our Places in a Rhetorical Century”.

The weekend Workshops followed lunch, offering sessions that ranged across discourse, science, medicine, social justice, materiality, mass communication, human rights, free speech, ethnography, local publics, genres, technology, leadership, practical criticism, remembering, Jewish studies, Latino/a studies, The New Rhetoric and “non-rational” rhetoric.  Forty faculty led these sessions, which attracted over 200 participants.  For descriptions of these sessions, as well as to know the participants and leaders for all of the Seminars and Workshops, please visit the RSA-I at UCB web site:
We have posted pictures of social events and an example of the intellectual exchange at one of the workshops.  We offer this website as an archive for RSA and to guide the planning for the next Institute to be held in 2013 at the University of Kansas in Lawrence. 

The RSA Institute has grown steadily because of the enthusiasm of faculty and friends inside and outside of RSA.  We estimate that 25% of those attending and leading were new to RSA, and thus we invite them to join this dynamic organization.  Financial support for the Institute largely comes from registration fees, but approximately 30% of the 2011 operating budget came from local and national donations.  UCB sponsors for the 2011 Institute were the Program for Writing and Rhetoric’s Calderwood Foundation, the Department of Communication, Continuing Education, the Graduate Schools and the Department of English.  Subventions and gifts also came from Routledge/Wiley and Fountainhead presses and Gregory Clark and Jean Goodwin. 

Thanks also go to CU Conference Services as they strove to provide lodging, rooms, and social events at the lowest possible costs, savings that combined with subventions to allow the local hosts to hold social events at the home of Jerry and Jean Hauser for the Seminar leaders, the Friday luncheon, the Friday reception at Folsom Stadium and the Saturday dinner at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. 

For the Boulder community, thanks for coming and join us in Philadelphia, Lawrence and beyond.  

John Ackerman
Co-director and Local Host

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