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Places of Invention: Topoi, Media, Locales

Workshop Leaders: John Ackerman, Peter Simonson

Workshop Leaders:

John Ackerman,
Peter Simonson,

This workshop will explore intersections of rhetorical theory, field methods, and critical practice as they gather around questions of place, materiality, and invention. It will consider topos, medium, and locale as architectonic concepts for investigating and engaging with rhetorical places of varying sorts. We begin from the assumption that location matters in public and everyday life—situated places within broader social, cultural, technological, political economic, and material ecologies and assemblages. We are committed to finding productive intersections among traditional and contemporary rhetorical theory; rhetorical field methods, including participant observation, interviewing, archival research, advocacy, and reflexive pedagogy; critical analysis; and recent interdisciplinary work on place, space, media, polity, and the senses. We court a “hermeneutics of place” that invites questions of agency, affiliation, ritual, geography, memory, image and imagination, movement, and material practices of signification, sense-making, mediation, and the arrangement of bodies—all in the service of invention broadly defined as the generation and re-generation of rhetorical discourse and related forms of energy (as George Kennedy has helped us to think about).

We invite scholars and graduate students working on theoretical, methodological, or empirical projects related to place as a rhetorical concept, heuristic, and location of investigation. We welcome those working on both geographical and media sites and interested in considering them further as rhetorical places.

Ackerman and Simonson have team-taught graduate and undergraduate seminars on the topic of rhetorical places. Ackerman studies materiality and memory through urban settings, as demonstrated in The Public Work of Rhetoric (University of South Carolina Press, 2010) and is currently working on “a rhetoric for everyday life” based on his fieldwork and theories relevant to this workshop. Simonson has considered locales and other media of invention in his recent rhetorical history, Refiguring Mass Communication (University of Illinois Press, 2010) and is currently working on a theoretical essay on the subject. He delivered the plenary address, “Our Places in a Rhetorical Century,” at the 2011 RSA Institute in Boulder, CO.

Questions should be directed to John Ackerman at John.Ackerman@Colorado.EDU.

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