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Posts Tagged ‘Rhetorical Citizenship’

Occupy, out of focus

Let’s be honest about this, coverage of the Occupy movement has neither been fair nor balanced in most cases.  What coverage there has been has usually centered on 1) how much of a mess these sites are making, 2) on how the absence of explicit demands makes them “incoherent”, and 3) on how the major political parties may or may not try to turn the frustrations of the protesters to their advantage in the coming national election cycle.  Much of the coverage that I’ve seen has focused on the second of these items, on how the protests seem to be just a sort of collective “acting out”.  “With no clear message”, so goes the refrain, “how can the Occupy protesters hope to achieve their aims (whatever they are)?” (more…)

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Call for Papers

Rhetoric in Society 4

“Contemporary Rhetorical Citizenship:

Purposes, Practices, and Perspectives”

Department of Media, Cognition, and Communication

Section of Rhetoric

University of Copenhagen

January 15-18, 2013

This is the first bulletin of the fourth biennial Rhetoric in Society Conference to be held January 15-18, 2013 at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark.

With this bulletin, we want to invite you to do two things: mark your calendars and start thinking about how you might contribute to the conference with your scholarship.

Below, we introduce the theme of the conference and provide basic information about the various presentation formats.

Within a few weeks, we will contact you again with more information about the conference program, key-note speakers, and how to submit an abstract.

In the planning of the conference we wish to promote discussion among conference attendees. One way is to set time aside for discussion in all meetings, another is to allow for regular breaks, and a third way is to arrange social gatherings suitable to networking and amicable conversation. We hope you will come and be part of the discussion!

Theme

The theme for this fourth conference on Rhetoric in Society is “Contemporary Rhetorical Citizenship: Purposes, Practices, and Perspectives”.

With the concept of rhetorical citizenship we want to draw critical attention to the ways in which being a citizen in a modern democratic state is in many respects a discursive phenomenon. Citizenship is not just a condition such as holding a passport, it is not just behavior such as voting; citizenship also has a communicative aspect: Some perform citizenship when they watch a political debate on TV or discuss a program about homeless people with their colleagues over lunch – or when, one day, they don’t duck behind the fence but engage their cranky neighbor in conversation about her views on city street lighting. Others enact citizenship when they engage in political debates on Facebook or Twitter or join their friends in coming up with the most poignant wording for a protest sign the day before a street demonstration. And for others still, “rhetorical citizenship” is a distant ideal far from the realities of their everyday life; because the legal citizenship, literacy, and media access that such a conception of citizenship often presupposes aren’t within their reach, their experience with rhetorical citizenship is one of exclusion.

Rhetoric, with its double character as academic discipline and practice, stands in a unique position to engage the linguistic and discursive aspects of collective civic engagement. Drawing on and in collaboration with neighboring fields of inquiry such as political science, discourse studies, linguistics, media studies, informal logic, practical philosophy and social anthropology, scholars of rhetoric are able to study actual communicative behavior as it circulates in various fora and spheres – from face to face encounters to mediated discourse. With our diverse theoretical and methodological backgrounds we hold many keys to pressing concerns such as the alleged polarization and coarsening of the ‘tone’ in public debate, the turning away from political engagement toward smaller spheres of interest, and the general difficulty in making politics work constructively in many parts of the world, not least the EU.

We invite attendees – scholars, teachers, students, and citizens across a range of disciplinary traditions – to extend our knowledge of the social roles of rhetoric through theoretical and critical study, and to consider our roles as public intellectuals: how are we to name, describe, criticize, analyze, and, indeed, undertake or teach rhetorical action on matters of communal concern whether locally, nationally, or internationally?

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