Activism and Rhetoric
Theories and Contexts for Political Engagement
Edited by Seth Kahn, JongHwa Lee
Routledge – 2011 – 208 pages
This volume examines the role of rhetoric in today’s culture of democratic activism. The volume takes on two of the most significant challenges currently facing contemporary rhetorical studies: (1) the contested meanings and practices of democracy and civic engagement in global context, and (2) the central role of rhetoric in democratic activist practices. In presenting a variety of political and rhetorical struggles in their specific contexts, editors Seth Kahn and JongHwa Lee allow contributors to reflect on and elaborate possibilities for both activist approaches to rhetorical studies, and rhetorical approaches to activist projects, facilitating better understanding the socio-political consequences of this work.
With contributors from widely known scholars in communication and composition studies, the collection offers practical cases that highlight how rhetoric mediates, constitutes, and/or intervenes in democratic principles and practices. It also considers theoretical questions that acknowledge profound voids in the rhetorical tradition (e.g., Western, neo-Aristotelian, liberal) and expand the horizon of traditional rhetorical perspectives. It advocates new knowledge and practices that further promote civic engagement, social change and democracy in the global context.
Activism and Rhetoric will be appropriate for scholars and students across disciplines, including rhetoric, composition, communication studies, political science, cultural studies, and women’s studies.
"The relationship between rhetoric and civil action within a democracy has been the subject of renewed interest in the past decade or more. What role the professoriate should play, as instructors in the classroom, and as citizens is also a continuing subject of discussion. This text cuts across both issues, with scholars from communication and composition studies asking and answering questions about the nature of a rhetorical democracy, and the active engagement of professors and students in critiquing and improving civil society. The authors do not all agree with one another, but they provide, collectively, richly textured narratives about their experiences as activists." - Raymie E. McKerrow, Ohio University
"This broad vision provides a stimulating read for those who want to connect intellectual analysis to social change." - Present Tense: A Journal of Rhetoric in Society
"…the collection that Kahn and Lee have put together provides a good introduction to the subject and reveals the tension between reflection and action." - CHOICE, April 2011
Foreword: Philip C. Wander
Introduction: Seth Kahn and JongHwa Lee
Part I. (Re)Framing Rhetorical Activism: How Activists Theorize Rhetoric and Vice Versa
Chapter 1: The Only Conceivable Thing To Do: Reflections on Academics and Activism
Dana L. Cloud
Chapter 2: Reflections on Activist Scholarship: The Consequences We All Have to Face
Chapter 3: The Work of a Middle-Class Activist: Stuck in History
Chapter 4: Speaking Truth to Power: Observations from Experience
Chapter 5: Gadugi: Where the fire burns
Ellen (Drew) Cushman
Chapter 6: Intervention and Rhetorics of War: Classical Insights for Contemporary Activists
Melissa Dey Hasbrook
Part II. Contexts for Rhetorical Activism, Part One: Activism in Non-Academic Settings
Chapter 7: A Conservative Pundit in Liberal Surroundings: An Uneven Odyssey
Richard E. Vatz
Chapter 8: The Role of Communism in Democratic Discourse: What Activist Rhetoricians Can Learn from the World Bank
Chapter 9: (Re) Politicizing the Writing Process: An Exhortation and a Cautionary Tale
Chapter 10: "Looking for the Left in Russia"
Part III. Contexts for Rhetorical Activism, Part Two: Activism within Academic Institutions
Chapter 11: Developing Activist Rhetorics on Israel-Palestine: Resisting the Depoliticization of the American Academy
Chapter 12: Democracy and the Academy: Ethnographic Articulations and Interventions for Social Change
Paige Pettyjohn Edley & Nina Maria Lozano-Reich
Chapter 13: Against Decorous Civility: Acting as if You Live in a Democracy
Chapter 14: You Can’t Get There from Here: Higher Education, Labor Activism, and Challenges of Neoliberal Globalization
Part IV. Contexts for Rhetorical Activism, Part Three: Activist Pedagogy
Chapter 15: Practicing Democracy: An Experience-Based Approach
Ruth Ray, Gwendolyn Gorzelsky, Stephanie Hall-Sturgis, LaWanda Dickens, Thomas Trimble, Kim Davis, Karen Keaton Jackson, Justin Vidovic, Sally Chandler
Chapter 16: BREAKING NEWS: Armchair Activists Access Their Power
Shelley DeBlasis and Teresa Grettano
Chapter 17: Activism in the Ivory Tower: Finding Hope for Academic Prose
Chapter 18: Reclaiming Activism for Students
Seth Kahn, PhD, is associate professor of English at West Chester University of Pennsylvania, where he teaches writing and rhetoric courses, and serves in several positions for APSCUF (Association of PA State College University Faculty). His current research projects are focused on the term "shared governance" and its availability to higher education labor activists as a means to reclaim some authority over our own work.
JongHwa Lee, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of Communication Studies at Loyola Marymount University. He teaches courses on the rhetoric of human rights and human wrongs, tourism and globalization, and the rhetoric of memory and space. He was the chief organizer of the World Conference on Japanese Military Sexual Slavery held in University of California at Los Angeles in 2007.