“Recanonizing Rhetoric: The Secret IN and OF Discourse” in the Journal for the History of Rhetoric

I’m happy to share my newly published, open access article on the secrecy of rhetoric’s canon, just published in the Journal for the History of Rhetoric! “Recanonizing Rhetoric: The Secret in and of Discourse” takes stock of current scholarly conversations about rhetoric’s ancient Greek canon and why we should and should not make a “return” to these commonplaces. My hope is that it will be useful for folks who teach the ancient Greek canon as a problematic point of departure for rhetoric; that is, a beginning that cannot be accepted at face value, but demands relentless scrutiny.

It also offers two examples of why it is productive to imagine of this canon as a twofold secret. On the one hand, this secret may be understood as a history of acts of violence that have been deeply buried, repressed and concealed (in discourse). On the other hand, this secret is a retroactive realization (of discourse) in which concepts and terminology transform to reflect theorists’ investments in empire and conquest.

Here is the abstract from the publication:

Challenges to rhetoric’s canon often occur under the rubric of revising that canon and its foundational, shared meaning. Read through the strategies of deconstruction, the secret offers a common ground for recanonizing approaches by centering either a concealed quantity in ancient rhetoric’s granular archive (the secret in discourse) or an unfolding idea whose transformation has rendered it unrecognizable to its original version (the secret of discourse). This article draws on Jacques Derrida’s “White Mythology” (1974) and A Taste for the Secret (2001) before addressing how the secret’s registers in and of discourse animate de- and recanonizing readings of ancient Greek and Roman rhetoric. Its implications address scholars distressed by the durable forms of oppression ensconced in rhetoric’s ancient canon.

“Reading Rhetorical Theory” featured in UMN Libraries’ “Targeting Textbooks Project” Fundraiser

As part of UMN Libraries’ “Give to the Max” campaign, Mark Engebretson, Shane Nackerud, and former students Rory King and Anna Larson (and yours truly) collaborated to produce this short video. Please check it out! Open access materials like Reading Rhetorical Theory can save students a significant amount of money, and ensure that course materials remain accessible across a range of modalities.

“COMM Students Save Money on Textbooks Thanks to the Libraries”

If you are teaching a class where this textbook might be useful and are seeking additional course materials, please reach out to rhetoricaltheoryuntextbook@gmail.com! I’m happy to answer your questions and share additional resources.

“Rhetorical Forms of the Secret” and Other Presentations at NCA 2022

This year at the 2022 National Communication Association Convention, I am presenting (remotely/virtually) a truncated version of the introduction to my book, This Page Left Intentionally Blank: Rhetorical Forms of the Secret. The presentation is scheduled to appear during a Thursday 11/19 11:00am-12:00pm session entitled “Secrecy and Memory in Popular and Political Culture.” (Sheraton, Napoleon Ballroom C2 on the 3rd Floor) If you are interested in the topic, there is other excellent work being presented there by Christopher Wernecke and Virginia Massignan of Georgia State University, Julia Khrebtan-Hörhager of Colorado State University, and Patrick K Jones of Northeastern University. Please do attend if you have the opportunity!

If you are/were unable to attend the panel and would like to see what I am up to, I’ve included the abstract and my video presentation below.

Presentation Abstract: Secrets are part of a longstanding rhetorical situation best understood as a “spectacle” that draws public audiences in through the promise of revelation. They also comprise a longstanding topos for Rhetorical Studies as a mode of public address, a hidden meaning uncovered by a hermeneutics of suspicion, and a function of discursive totalities like the apparatus and assemblage. Here I add a fourth approach: a tropology of secrecy structured around naming, belatedness, and autoimmunity.

Finally, if you’re at NCA 2022, please consider attending these other excellent sessions I had a small part in assembling. I wish I could be there, but I wish the best to everyone down in New Orleans this week!

Re-Parsing Public Address: Computational Objects, Methods, and Ethics in Rhetorical Studies Thursday, November 17, 8:00am-9:15am (Marriott, Galerie 4 – 2nd Floor)

Session Description: Rhetoric’s objects and methods are changing amidst the spectacular rise of computational methods and big data analysis. Reflecting on rhetoric’s changing objects (e.g., tweets, memes, blogs, chatbots, cybersecurity, infrastructures, and networks) and methods (e.g., LDA, web scraping, TensorFlow, network analysis) this panel stages a conversation between rhetorical scholars who have expanded the scope of what counts as rhetoric’s objects and its methods. Our discussion takes stock of the ethical mandates and novel innovations in the new digital rhetoric by offering short position papers from a range of scholars with deep investments in the computational, followed by a moderated discussion with the audience.

Featured Roundtable Speakers: Andre E. Johnson, Emma Bedor Hiland, Daniel Faltesek, Heather Woods, Alex McVey, Jennifer Buchan, Jules Wight, Michael Lechuga, Misti Yang, Scott Graham, Sergio Fernando Juarez, Zoltan Majdik

Book Panel for Dr. Emma Bedor Hiland, “Therapy Tech: The Digital Transformation of Mental Healthcare” and Dr. Stephanie Larson, “What it Feels Like: Visceral Rhetoric and the Politics of Rape Culture.” Saturday, November 19, 3:30pm-4:45pm (Marriott, Regent – 4th Floor, River Tower)

Session Description: Rhetorical and Communication Studies scholars respond to two new books: Emma Bedor Hiland’s Therapy Tech: The Digital Transformation of Mental Healthcare, from the University of Minnesota Press, and What it Feels Like: Visceral Rhetoric and the Politics of Rape Culture, from Pennsylvania State University Press. Expert panelists are scholars in Rhetorical Studies with practical/theoretical expertise in rhetorics of mental health, feminism, and gender.

Featured Speakers: Emma Bedor Hiland (author/respondent), Stephanie Larson (author/respondent), Jenell Johnson (presenter), Bryan J. McCann (presenter), Natalie N. Fixmer-Oraiz (presenter), Erin Nicole Gangstad (presenter), Nou-Chee Chang (chair)