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Seminar 6: Fugitive Planning and White Knowledge Disruption: Building an Alternative Space for Rhetoric, Politics, and Culture

Primarily Asynchronous (May 24-June 4)

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Seminar Leaders:

Carmen Kynard, Texas Christian University:
Bryan McCann, Louisiana State University:

In this seminar, we will interrogate the racializing politics and processes of the University. We understand the University as an assemblage of disciplinary technologies that coalesce around knowledge production and whose alibis find expression through rhetorics of diversity and inclusion, as well as merit and rigor. These technologies include but are not limited to pedagogy, publishing, promotion and tenure processes, and professional development. As an alternative to the current neoliberal and white supremacist logics that shape the University, we turn to abolition politics, decolonial thought, and Black studies to theorize what Stefano Harney and Fred Moten call the undercommons. Our goal is to guide new questions and critical praxis for theorizing and teaching. We also approach this seminar in a reflexive spirit as founding co-editors of the new journal, Rhetoric, Politics, and Culture. We are calling on seminar participants to come build with us and archive our discussion/disruption together. We will engage in a collaborative envisioning process that critiques the racialized norms that prevail in rhetorical studies and its cognate fields and envision alternative futures. 

To this end, we plan on addressing the following themes:

  • The racialized and colonial politics of the canon, theory, and method
  • Racialized structures of seniority, merit, and professional networks
  • Evaluation practices related to matriculation and tenure 
  • The regimes of knowledge that shape norms of graduate pedagogy
  • Anti-racist campus and disciplinary activism, especially among graduate students

Furthermore, we will ask: What does disruption look like? What could it achieve? What are our critiques of the past and where we are now? What is our vision of a radical futurity?

In addition to a week of energizing discussion, seminar participants will produce written work addressing the seminar’s themes. The resulting documents will serve as the foundation for the continuation of these conversations in a future issue of Rhetoric, Politics, and Culture.

Carmen Kynard Carmen Kynard is the Lillian Radford Chair in Rhetoric and Composition and Professor of English at Texas Christian University. She interrogates race, Black feminisms, AfroDigital/African American cultures and languages, and the politics of schooling with an emphasis on composition and literacies studies. Carmen has published in Harvard Educational Review, Changing English, College Composition and Communication, College English, Computers and Composition, Reading Research Quarterly, Literacy and Composition Studies and more. Her first book, Vernacular Insurrections: Race, Black Protest, and the New Century in Composition-Literacy Studies won the 2015 James Britton Award and makes Black Freedom a 21st century literacy movement. Her current projects focus on young Black women in college, Black Feminist/Afrofuturist digital vernaculars, and AfroDigital Humanities learning. Carmen traces her research and teaching at her website, “Education, Liberation, and Black Radical Traditions” (


Bryan J. McCann Bryan J. McCann is Associate Professor in the Department of Communication Studies at Louisiana State University. He is a rhetorical critic whose research and teaching interests include black studies, crime and public culture, hip-hop, masculinity, social movements, and whiteness studies. He teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in argumentation and debate, Black studies, crime and public culture, intersectionality, the politics of citizenship, rhetorical criticism, social movements, and social theory. He also serves as affiliate faculty in African and African American Studies, as well as Women’s and Gender Studies at LSU. Dr. McCann is the author of The Mark of Criminality: Rhetoric, Race, and Gangsta Rap in the War-on-Crime Era (University of Alabama Press, 2017), as well as numerous scholarly essays that have appeared in journals such as Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies; Communication, Culture, and Critique; Critical Studies in Media Communication; Quarterly Journal of Speech, and Rhetoric Society Quarterly.

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