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Workshop 6: Posthuman Rhetorics on a Precarious Planet

Workshop Leaders: Casey Boyle, Amy Propen, and Nathaniel Rivers

Workshop Leaders:

Casey Boyle, Amy Propen, and Nathaniel Rivers 

For nearly two decades, rhetorical studies has repeatedly turned to posthumanism to make sense of a rapidly changing world. And with good reason. In the age of the Anthropocene, we bear witness to (and instigate) rampant environmental degradation, accelerated technological development, and decreased faith in and efficacy of our traditional institutions. These developments push us to question the limitations of our lasting humanistic categories and to propose new ways of going on. That rhetoric has turned to posthumanism should be no surprise considering that, since its inception, rhetoric has been accused of being contrary to the humanist mission or, at worst, inhuman in its methods, media, and motives. 

In this workshop, we will examine established and emerging posthumanist scholarship and methods as not only “a generative tool to help us re-think the basic unit of reference for the human” in the age of the Anthropocene, but also as a course that “can also help us re-think the basic tenets of our interaction with both human and non-human agents on a planetary scale” (Braidotti 5-6). In this way, posthumanism proposes to eschew human exceptionalism and acknowledge multispecies entanglements in the age of the Anthropocene, or, as Rosi Braidotti has further described, “the historical moment when the Human has become a geological force capable of affecting all life on this planet” (5). In short, we shall turn, once more, to posthumanism for devising methods of rhetorical practice. 

The workshop will proceed along three strands. First, we will work together on a shared reading itinerary that includes selections/excerpts from multiple strands of posthumanist thought (i.e. Hayles, Haraway, Braidotti, Wolfe, Barad) alongside rhetorical scholarship that has taken up posthumanism (i.e. Brooke, Boyle, Propen, Seas-Trader, Hawk, Davis, Hawhee & Muckelbauer, Rickert, Rivers). Second, participants will work together to discuss and practice in situ methods for researching posthuman rhetorics. Third, workshop leaders will conduct collaborative sessions for participants’ projects. The workshop will conclude with a brief session that charts future directions and possibilities for posthuman rhetorics. 

Contact information:

Casey Boyle:

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