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Queering Rhetorical Studies

Leaders: Charles E. Morris III, Boston College; Isaac West, University of Iowa; Karma Chavez (University of New Mexico)

  Queering Rhetorical Studies

Charles E. Morris III (Boston College)
Isaac West (University of Iowa)
Karma Chavez (University of New Mexico)

A robust yet still emergent area of research in the discipline of rhetorical studies concerns GLBTQ theory, history, culture, and politics. Founding premises of this work aver that sexuality constitutes key domains in the constitution and constraint of human experience, identity, knowledge, values, community, social organization, culture, politics-of being, "truth," and power. Drawing on David Halperin's rich conceptualization, sexuality "knits up desire, its objects, sexual behavior, gender identity, reproductive function, mental health, erotic sensibility, personal style, and degrees of normality or deviance into an individuating, normativizing feature of the personality," and functions as a "social apparatus" comprised of "heterogeneous discourses, practices, mechanisms, structures, agencies . . . form[ing] a vast and complex network, the formation of which correspond[s] to a dominant strategic function (which Foucault called ‘bio-power,' the administration of life)."  Sexuality's specificities and complexities must be understood contingently, of course, but there is no gainsaying its ubiquity and relevance. One cannot speak of rhetorical culture without speaking of sexuality.

In this workshop we will take stock of GLBTQ scholarship in the field of rhetorical studies, its genealogy and trajectories, and assess its contribution to broader interdisciplinary research. In addressing what is entailed by queering rhetorical studies, participants will discuss a diverse array of key issues such as object domain, methodology, and the relationships between theory and practice, theory and history, and the politics of queer scholarship in the academy. To facilitate this discussion, participants will 1) read in advance of the workshop a limited number of selected readings that target key areas of discussion, and 2) submit, by way of application and circulated in advance to all, a brief two-page position paper that addresses the workshop theme (what do you see as the state and promise of queering rhetorical studies?) and articulates your own project (how does your work contribute to queering rhetorical studies?).

We welcome submissions from all those interested in queering rhetorical studies, from graduate students to seasoned scholars.

For inquiries, please contact Charles E. Morris III:

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