RSA Bi-Annual Conference

Just Rhetoric

RSA 2024

21st Biennial Conference of the Rhetoric Society of America

Denver, Colorado

May 23-26, 2024


You can submit your proposals here:

Conference Co-Chairs: Gwendolyn D. Pough, Bernadette Calalfell, Tamika L. Carey, Andre E. Johnson, Lisa M. King, Erin J. Rand

The theme of the RSA 2024 biennial conference, “Just Rhetoric,” is meant to be generative and provocative. The theme allows us to imagine the possibilities of rhetoric as well as grapple with the meaning and place of rhetorical studies in this contemporary moment. “Just Rhetoric” allows us to examine rhetoric in relationship to social justice and freedom movements of the past and present. “Just Rhetoric” calls on us to question what is just, what is fair, and how rhetoric can help us achieve justice today. “Just Rhetoric” encourages us to explore the possibilities of public-facing rhetoric and gives us cause to question rhetoric’s role in the public sphere. “Just Rhetoric” is a space for us to just do rhetoric. And “Just Rhetoric” is about reclamation. For too long “just rhetoric” has been used to dismiss rhetoric. The 2024 conference will be a place to refute and refuse such dismissals.

When we gather in person for our 21st biennial conference we will continue some of the discussions we started in the 20th biennial conference in Baltimore when we were tasked with “The Charge for Change” and inspired by dynamic feminist rhetorician Roxane Gay. Change is at the core of many discussions about social justice because change must occur for us to create the fair and just world that we want to live in. We ask members to consider what is a just rhetoric and how might our field leverage our rhetorical skills in the creation of a more just society. How can rhetoric help further the goals for inclusivity, diversity, equity, and accessibility? What is rhetoric’s role in social justice movements geared toward change? What can rhetoric offer to movements such as Land Back, Reproductive Justice, Disability Justice, Environmental Justice, LGBTQ Rights, and Black Lives Matter? What is the usefulness of rhetoric when Black people are being shot, beaten to death, and choked to death by an overzealous murderous police state? What can rhetoric do to halt the current assaults on the rights of transgender people? What is rhetoric’s role when politicians can’t talk to each other within their own political parties to select a speaker of the house and reaching across the aisle feels like wishful thinking? What can rhetoric do to make the discussions about gun control productive even as we enact rhetorics of mourning in response to the mass shootings and school shootings that have become an almost daily occurrence? What is rhetoric’s purpose when books are banned, and teachers are restricted by “anti-woke” laws and “don’t say gay” bills? “Just Rhetoric” asks members to push rhetoric towards social justice.

“Just Rhetoric” is also a space to do whatever your heart desires as long as your heart desires to do rhetoric. It is an invitation for rhetoricians to get together and just be rhetoricians. We can wax nostalgic about ethos, logos, and pathos. We can delve into the history of rhetoric, the methods of rhetorical analysis, and the tools of rhetorical pedagogy. We can think about public address or cultivate the rhetorical archive. We can explore global and transnational rhetorics. RSA is the one time every two years when we get to come together and just do rhetoric. Just rhetoric. We welcome all proposals that spark rhetorical inquiry and further the intellectual endeavor that is Rhetorical Studies. 

“Just Rhetoric” is also our refusal and reclamation of the dismissal implied whenever someone says something is “just rhetoric.” We rhetoricians have always known the power of rhetoric and know that those who dismiss rhetoric do not know all that rhetoric is and can be. The 2024 RSA conference is our time to highlight the power of rhetoric. The 2024 RSA conference is our time to show that a public-facing mission of rhetorical studies might just change the world. The 2024 RSA conference is our time to take back “just rhetoric” and reclaim to show the world that it was never just rhetoric.

We invite members to join us in the magnificent and scenic city of Denver as we continue old discussions and spark new ones. The submission portal will be open from May 15th through August 15th, 2023. It will feature more guidance and instructions for submitting:

  • Individual paper abstracts (maximum of 500 words)
  • Panel proposals of no more than 4 presenters (maximum of 1250 words)
  • Roundtable proposals of no more than 6 presenters (maximum of 1250 words)
  • Special format sessions of non-traditional design (maximum of 500 words)
  • Discussion Group Proposals (maximum 1250 words, please see Discussion Group call below)

Individuals may not submit more than two proposals either individually or as part of a panel or session. Discussion Group proposals do not count against the two submissions. All participants who are accepted will be required to renew their membership or join RSA to present at the conference. We encourage members to attend the May 5 RSA Remote, “Writing and Reading Conference Proposals: Tales from Longtime Conference Presenters and Reviewers,” for tips on writing a successful proposal.

JUST ADDED (to help with your RSA 2024 Conference Proposal!) :  Writing and Reading Conference Proposals: Tales from Longtime Conference Presenters and Reviewers presented by Timothy Oleksiak and Sara VanderHaagen on May 5, 2023.

Academic conferences (nerd camps) offer participants a great deal – formal and informal networking structures; deadlines to write; introductions to new/emerging ideas; a chance to present ideas to a community you want to be a part of. But getting into academic conferences as a presenter can be difficult for a number of reasons. During this RSA Remote, participants will think through the conference proposal from both the composer and the reviewer perspectives.

The presentation is designed for those looking for advice on how to compose proposals and for faculty across ranks and institutions looking for ways to talk about proposalwith graduate students or develop mentorship strategies.

We are excited to read your proposals and look forward to seeing you all in Denver, Colorado in 2024.

The Co-Chairs

All inquiries can be sent to

Proposals Due: August 15, 2023, 11:59 PM EST

RSA Call for Discussion Group Proposals

The Rhetoric Society of America welcomes members to participate in its inaugural Discussion Group platform. These special interest groups are meant to “provide opportunities for focused interaction and collaboration among RSA members who share an interest in exploring particular questions and problems in rhetorical studies. Discussion Groups are to advance the RSA project of supporting development of intellectual common ground among people who study and teach rhetoric in a variety of disciplinary locations.” The discussion groups will be given space to meet at the biennial conference and advertised in the conference program.

The discussion groups should conform to RSA’s present initiative to have members from both Comm Rhet and Comp Rhet involved in all RSA activities. Proposals should come from a team of RSA members and include the names of at least 12 RSA members who have committed to attending the conference. (For the initial stage of the Discussion Groups the number of members can flexible.) The proposals should “articulate a project for the Discussion Group that involves exploration of an area of interest shared by people from these two disciplinary locations. That area of common interest may be, a conceptual or theoretical question, a pedagogical practice, a professional challenge or problem, or a project of public-facing rhetoric appropriate for academic rhetoricians to address.”

This is the perfect opportunity for graduate student chapters to form innovative Discussion Groups that might spark the next promising new area of research in rhetorical studies. It is also an opportunity for more seasoned scholars and researchers to meet and work on topics that could turn into publications. Discussion Groups can be on traditional rhetorical areas of study like the History of Rhetoric or African American Rhetoric or Feminist Rhetoric. Or they might explore pedagogical interests in the teaching of rhetoric. Possible Discussion Group topics could include debates on Critical Race Theory, Reproductive Justice, Academic Labor Issues in the Teaching of Rhetoric, and Decolonizing Rhetoric, to name only a few possibilities. The Discussion Groups are an opportunity to break the usual panel format and offer an occasion to hold an open reading or view a film and then hold an open discussion or engage in hands-on projects like building a digital archive. What these Discussion Groups can and will be is totally up to the interests of our members. We look forward to seeing what you come up with.

Discussion Group proposals should be no more than 1250 words. The deadline for proposals is August 15th, 2023.

Questions can be sent to