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Rhetoric and Race

Leaders: Keith Gilyard, Penn State University; Kevin A. Browne, Penn State University; Ersula J. Ore, Penn State University

  Rhetoric and Race

Keith Gilyard (Penn State University)
Kevin A. Browne (Penn State University)
Ersula J. Ore (Penn State University)

As evidenced by the Obama campaign, no matter how post-racial some want to construe it, race continues to be an unavoidably vital topic in civic discourse and a major area of interest for rhetoric scholars. Questions engaged by whiteness studies or critical ethnicity studies remain pressing. For example, what does it even mean in political discourse to be or try to be post-racial? Moreover, what does the readily available argument "playing the race card" actually signify to pundits and their audiences? How does the signifier race function overall in American discourse? Why, despite numerous scholarly efforts to shift the conversation about race away from biological notions to ones about ethnicity or to talk about race outside of a black-white binary (Gilyard 1999; Gilyard and Nunley, 2004) do phenotype-based arguments prevail and the black-white construct remain dominant? And why the quiescence about discussing racism, a discussion that always needs to be updated (Villanueva 1999, 2005)? Workshop leaders and participants will tackle these and other questions in a collaborative environment over the course of three days.

In advance of the workshop, participants will be expected to submit abstracts and are welcome to send full papers as well. The abstracts are important in terms of giving all attendees a sense of participants' intellectual interests or scholarly projects. Both abstracts and papers will be incorporated into the presentations made by workshop leaders. Participants can expect to receive a useful bibliography, a thorough overview of race studies as related to rhetoric, have ample time to engage workshop leaders and each other in critical dialogue, and garner elaborate feedback on their own projects.      

For inquiries, please contact Keith Gilyard:  


Gilyard, Keith, ed. Race, Rhetoric, and Composition. Heinemann, 1999.
Gilyard, Keith, and Vorris Nunley, eds. Rhetoric and Ethnicity. Heinemann, 2004.
Villanueva, Victor, Jr. "On the Rhetoric and Precedents of Racism." College Composition and Communication, Summer 1999, 89-105.
-----. "The Rhetorics of the New Racism and the Four Master Tropes."
First Year Honors Composition: An Online Journal, October 2005.

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