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Workshop 9: Engaging Critical Horizons of 21st-Century Feminisms and Rhetorical Studies

Primarily Synchronous (June 1-4)

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Workshop Leaders:

Natalie Fixmer-Oraiz, University of Iowa:
Krista Ratcliffe, Arizona State University:
Stacey Sowards, University of Texas at Austin:

Recent transformations in the broader discipline of rhetoric prompt greater attention to gender, race, ethnicity, nationality, ability, and sexuality—a welcome change for scholars of feminist rhetorical studies. Designed for both emerging and established scholars, the critical questions that animate this workshop include:

  • Reflections on the foundations of feminist rhetorical inquiry—in particular, to what extent and in what ways have feminist rhetorical scholars reshaped the broader disciplines of rhetorical studies and feminist studies?
  • Where might we locate significant new trends, methods, vocabularies, and critical trajectories within feminist rhetorics/rhetorical feminisms, and where might those lead us as feminists/scholars? In addition to discussions of recent work in the field, our conversation will identify and elaborate contemporary keywords in feminist rhetorical inquiry, such as intersectionality. Topically, the workshop will draw heavily on the faciliators’ areas of expertise, including reproductive justice, Latinx rhetorics, rhetorical listening, gendered whiteness, eco-feminisms and environmental justice, third wave feminisms, and transnational feminisms.

In the spirit of feminist collaboration, this workshop will: 1) generate a set of resources—including keywords and a bibliography—that enable participants to locate themselves within the field and to inform teaching and research; and 2) dedicate time to participants’ works-in-progress. Participants should be prepared to circulate drafts of research (a conference paper or proposal, a portion of a thesis chapter, a dissertation prospectus, a book proposal, etc.) in advance in order to ensure full engagement at the workshop.

Natalie Fixmer-Oraiz Natalie Fixmer-Oraiz is an Associate Professor of Communication Studies and Gender, Women’s and Sexuality Studies at the University of Iowa. She is the author of Homeland Maternity: US Security Culture and the New Reproductive Regime (University of Illinois Press, 2019) as well as a number of academic articles about feminism, rhetoric, and reproductive justice. She is currently working on two book projects. Queering Family: Reimagining Kinship and Community examines how we might narrate kin to invite broader understandings of community, belonging, and nation. New Grammars for Reproductive Justice, a collaboration with Dr. Shui-yin Sharon Yam at the University of Kentucky, explores how feminist health care providers and advocates are crafting new vocabularies to address the complexities of gender in reproduction. Fixmer-Oraiz’s research has emerged from a combination of academic training alongside more than fifteen years of experience in reproductive politics as a community organizer and advocate in a number of local and regional contexts.

Krista RatcliffeKrista Ratcliffe is a professor and chair of English at Arizona State University. She earned her Ph.D. from The Ohio State University (1988) and has been a professor and chair of English at Marquette University and Purdue University. Her research focuses on intersections of rhetoric, feminist theory, and critical race studies. Her books include Anglo-American Challenges to the Rhetorical Traditions (1996); the award-winning Rhetorical Listening: Identification, Gender, Whiteness (2006); Performing Feminist Administration (2010) coedited with Rebecca Rickly; Silence and Listening as Rhetorical Arts (2011) coedited with Cheryl Glenn; and the award-winning Rhetorics of Whiteness (2017) co-edited with Tammy Kennedy and Joyce Middleton. Her work has appeared in CCC, JAC, Rhetoric Review, College English, and Rhetoric Society Quarterly. She has served as president of the Coalition of Women Scholars in the History of Rhetoric and Composition (CWSHRC) and the Rhetoric Society of America (RSA).

Dr. Stacey Sowards Dr. Stacey Sowards (PhD, University of Kansas, 2001) is a professor in the department of communication studies in the Moody College of Communication at the University of Texas. She taught at the University of Texas at El Paso for sixteen years before joining the faculty at UT Austin in 2020. Her research interests include the intersections of rhetorical theory and criticism, feminist theories of communication, environmental communication and rhetoric, and intercultural communication and rhetoric. She is especially interested in these areas of inquiries in Asia and the Americas. Her research has also focused on Latinx and Chicanx rhetorical practices, such as her book on Dolores Huerta and the United Farm Workers Union that was published in 2019 (¡Sí, Ella Puede!: The Rhetorical Legacy of Dolores Huerta and the United Farm Workers, UT Press). Her publications appear in Quarterly Journal of Speech, Communication Theory, Philosophy and Rhetoric, Communication Studies, The Howard Journal of Communications, Hypatia, Argumentation and Advocacy, Ethics and the Environment, and other outlets. She also received a William J. Fulbright research grant for her dissertation research in 2000-2001 and a Fulbright-Hays grant in 2005, as well as a $1.4 million grant award from the United States Agency for International Development. She also was selected as Scholar of the Year by the Latina/o Communication Division of NCA in 2017 and the Francine Merritt award, presented by the Feminist and Women’s Studies Division and Women’s Caucus of NCA in 2019.


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