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Workshop 22: Arguing Argument

Primarily Synchronous (June 1-4)

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Workshop Leaders:

Catherine (Cate) H. Palczewski, University of Northern Iowa:
Jenny Rice, University of Kentucky:
Lisa Storm Villadsen, University of Copenhagen:

This workshop begins from the recognition that the term “argument” signals a variety of meanings, methods, and modes across the discipline of rhetoric. The three workshop leaders will explore three different perspectives on the nature, function, and relevance of argumentation in rhetorical studies:

  1. Argument as communicative mode. We will explore the promise of argument as a particular communicative mode of creating the possibilities for productive disagreement.
  2. Argumentation and deliberation. We will explore the notion of rhetorical citizenship as an approach to cultivating norms and habits of interaction and argumentation in democratic deliberation and disagreement.
  3. Post-Argument rhetoric. We will explore the limits of (and alternatives to) traditional modes of argument and debate in a “post-truth” era.

The workshop aims to offer a nuanced (albeit partial) overview of scholarly (and methodological?) approaches to the overall theme of public argument. Participants with no prior training in argumentation are as welcome as participants familiar with argumentation theory. However, because the workshop’s second aim is to serve as a platform for participants’ development of a specific argument-related aspect of their own work, we recommend that participants have a project (or an idea for a project) that is sufficiently developed to be shared and workshopped. Participants will be asked to share a description or an excerpt of their project, five- to ten- pages, one month prior to the workshop.

In three full-group sessions, we will discuss each of the three overarching approaches described above based on a selection of readings put together by the workshop leaders. After these full-group sessions, participants will be divided into working groups based on shared interests and approaches to argumentation and public debate.

Catherine Cate H. PalczewskiCatherine (Cate) H. Palczewski, Ph.D., is a Professor of Communication Studies and Affiliate Faculty in Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of Northern Iowa, where she also served as the Director of Debate from 1994-2009. She was co-editor for the American Forensic Association journal Argumentation and Advocacy from 2010-2013. In 2001, she was the keynote speaker at the AFA/NCA Biennial Conference on Argumentation in 2001, a conference she directed in 2013. She edited the selected works from that conference: Disturbing Argument. She is co-author of Communicating Gender Diversity (3rd ed., 2018) and Rhetoric in Civic Life (3rd ed., 2021). Her work tends to focus on how marginalized groups rhetorically construct their messages to gain access to, and be legible in, the dominant public sphere. For a full list of her publications, and syllabi for the classes she teaches, see

Jenny Rice Jenny Rice is Associate Professor of Writing, Rhetoric, and Digital Studies at the University of Kentucky. Her work dips into public rhetoric, affect, argument, space/place, and many modes of weirdness. Her most recent book, Awful Archives: Conspiracy Theory, Rhetoric, and Acts of Evidence (The Ohio State Press, 2020) examines the strange and the fringe in order to explore the lifeworld of what we call evidence. She has published essays in Philosophy & Rhetoric, Rhetoric Society Quarterly, College English, Quarterly Journal of Speech, among others. Jenny lives in Kentucky, but has Texas permanently tattooed on her arm (and heart).


Lisa Villadsen Lisa Villadsen holds a Ph.D. in Communication Studies from Northwestern University. She is Associate Professor of Rhetoric and Head of the Section of Rhetoric at the Department of Communication at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark. Her research interests are in rhetorical criticism and theory, particularly issues of rhetorical agency and rhetorical citizenship.

Villadsen is the co-editor of two volumes on rhetorical citizenship: Rhetorical Citizenship and Public Deliberation. Penn State University Press, 2012 and Contemporary Rhetorical Citizenship: Purposes, Practices, and Perspectives. Leiden University Press, 2014 and is currently co-editing a volume with the working title Populist Rhetorics under contract with Palgrave Macmillan. A recent article focused on issues of dissent in connection with public debate on immigration: “Doxa, Dissent, and Challenges of Rhetorical Citizenship: ‘When I Criticize Denmark, It Is Not the White Nights or the New Potatoes I Have In Mind’” in Javnost: The Public 24 (3) 2017: 1-16.

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