1st Edition

Activism and Rhetoric
Theories and Contexts for Political Engagement

ISBN 9780415878562
Published September 10, 2010 by Routledge
208 Pages

USD $52.95

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Book Description

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.

Table of Contents

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

Jonghwa Lee

Chapter 3: The Work of a Middle-Class Activist: Stuck in History

Charles Bazerman

Chapter 4: Speaking Truth to Power: Observations from Experience

Lee Artz

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

Catherine Chaput

Chapter 9: (Re) Politicizing the Writing Process: An Exhortation and a Cautionary Tale

Seth Kahn

Chapter 10: "Looking for the Left in Russia"

Katie Feyh

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

Matthew Abraham

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

M.J. Braun

Chapter 14: You Can’t Get There from Here: Higher Education, Labor Activism, and Challenges of Neoliberal Globalization

Kevin Mahoney

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

Rebecca Jones

Chapter 18: Reclaiming Activism for Students

Amy Pason

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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.


"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