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Sonic Rhetorics

Workshop Leaders: Byron Hawk, University of South Carolina; Jonathan Alexander, University of California, Irvine

Workshop Leaders:

Byron Hawk, University of South Carolina
Jonathan Alexander, University of California, Irvine

This workshop will address the emergence of sound studies across the humanities and its increasing impact on rhetorical studies. Sound has always been vital to rhetoric, serving as the grounds of orality. But aside from traditional works on delivery and some resent research on the acoustic properties of classical forums, sound hasn’t appeared prominently in the field. With the rise of sound students over the past decade, however, this situation has changed. Work on sound’s cultural and material forms has begun to appear in rhetorical studies and a significant upsurge in sound and multimodality has become increasingly visible in rhetoric and composition. Importantly, sound studies and the study of sound offer more than ways to interpret the meaning of sounds. They provide ways to investigate how sound attunes bodies and open up questions about sound’s ontological status. This workshop asks, then, what can the fields of rhetoric and composition gain from emerging scholarly work on sound for both the practices of rhetoric and its conceptual bases?

The workshop will proceed along three lines. First, we will look at important work in sound studies (Goodman, LaBelle, Sterne, Jasen, Panzner) and representative readings from rhetorical studies (Goodale, Comstock and Hocks, Ceraso, Alexander, Anderson), focusing on how sound studies impact questions of rhetoric, persuasion, and composition, as well as how rhetoric might speak back to sound studies. Second, participants will submit brief proposals for their own sound-oriented projects, and time will be devoted to collaborative feedback. These projects can range from scholarly research to a variety of sonic practices. Third, we will close out the workshop by charting future research questions, problems, and directions for sound studies in rhetoric and composition.

Questions should be directed to Byron Hawk,

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