Workshop 19: Practicing Cultural Rhetorics
Malea Powell and Trixie Long-Smith
In “Our Story Begins Here,” the members of the Cultural Rhetorics Theory Lab (CRTL) use the term "cultural rhetorics" to mark an “orientation to a set of intersecting, shifting, and variable methodological and theoretical frames” as well as “the relationships we bring to our scholarly and teaching practices.” They identify the project of this orientation as “to emphasize rhetorics as always-already cultural and cultures as persistently rhetorical” in order to “investigate and understand meaning-making as it is situated in specific cultural communities,” and to do so through the practice of story. It is through story that cultural rhetorics scholars and teachers ask: How are cultural communities made? What rhetorical practices sustain them? How do these practices constellate with other practices, with other communities? What are the rhetorical affordances of understanding these practices? How do these stories and findings map onto one another and across communities of practice?
This workshop will give participants the opportunity to immerse themselves in cultural rhetorics as a practice and to understand how to engage this practice in order to rhetorically engage with cultural communities (aka, any place/space where groups organize under a set of shared beliefs and practices). How will we do this in the 2-½ days of the workshop? First, we’ll briefly trace the ancestral interdisciplinary scholarship that created the space for cultural rhetorics as a field (cultural anthropology, cultural studies, various ethnic/racial studies fields, cultural feminism, material culture studies, etc.) through a collaborative read-around and knowledge-share. Then, we’ll collectively read some of the recent scholarship defining cultural rhetorics as a distinct practice together (CRTL, Powell & Brata, Riley-Mukavetz, Dougherty, Levy et al, etc.). Finally, participants will practice/experience the shift in orientation that cultural rhetorics practices requires for both textual projects and non-textual makings, using proposals or makings that participants bring with them to the workshop.