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Workshop 16: Rhetorics of Sport and Protest

Workshop Leaders: Abraham Khan and Kyle King

Workshop Leaders:

Abraham Khan and Kyle King 

Referencing the surge of protest activity among professional athletes, most notably in the National Football League and National Basketball Association, Vice Sports declared 2014 “the year of the activist athlete.” Developments since then, such as the University of Missouri’s football strike, Colin Kaepernick’s decision to kneel during the national anthem, and the WNBA’s emergence as a home to radical consciousness, demonstrate that the surge of activism among athletes has only intensified over the last five years. This workshop engages this trend by inviting rhetorical scholars to attend to sport as a locus of protest speech, resistance, and/or dissent.  

The workshop will be divided roughly in half. On the first day, common readings will help to generate a discussion that attempts to come to terms with the state of the art in the rhetoric of sport. On the second day, participants will be invited to present works-in-progress relevant to the workshop theme. Participants can expect that our hands-on approach to papers and projects will be informed by theoretical and critical reflection drawn from conceptual resources in rhetoric, political theory, and cultural studies.  

Though we are especially interested in work that makes use of sport as a generative site for rhetorical theory and critical invention, we welcome projects that engage the sport/rhetoric interface according to one or more of the following themes:   

  • public memory of protest in sport, e.g. memories of the 1968 Olympics
  • the rhetoric of social movements
  • sport and social media logics
  • the politics of identity, i.e race, gender, and sexuality
  • the politics of labor and/or class
  • sport and the critical politics of intersectionality
  • the politics of amateurism, the NCAA, and/or intercollegiate athletics
  • the political economy of sports institutions, including the mass media
  • other work which engages the creation and maintenance of novel solidarities or provocative articulations

The list above is by no means exhaustive. We are most interested in work that is rigorous, innovative, creative, and which addresses the contemporary moment of athletic activism. Please address inquiries regarding submissions to Abraham Khan, 

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