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Rhetorical Studies Reading Group

at the university of illinois

Category Archives: meetings

The Rhetorical Studies Reading Group is excited to announce our next group session. The RSRG will be joined by Jordynn Jack to discuss the rhetoric of neuroscience. Jack is an Associate Professor in the Department of English at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. Her research interests include: rhetoric and composition, women’s rhetorics, rhetoric of science, rhetorical theory, technical and scientific writing, disability studies, medical humanities, science studies, rhetoric of medicine, heath, and disability, rhetoric and/of neuroscience.

Jack has asked us to examine two different texts in advance of her visit. The first is a piece entitled “This Is Your Brain On Rhetoric.” The second is a video entitled “How to Do Neurorhetorics: a Tutorial.”

The RSRG Meeting with Jordynn Jack will take place on March 6th, from 11:30-1:30 in Lincoln Hall 4007. Any questions can be directed to Katie Irwin at

We are looking forward to seeing you there!

– Katie Irwin, Jon Stone, Rohini Singh, Paul McKean


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We hope you all are surviving the end-of-semester. We write bearing news of news of some upcoming events of interest:

Next RSRG Meeting: Thursday, April 25 from 6-7:30. Join us for a special Rhetorical Studies Reading group with guest Christa J. Olson. We will be discussing two pieces by Dr. Olson and you will find them below (along with with some images for reference).

Olson Places to Stand

Olson Chapter 4 Constitutive Visions

Chapter 4 Figures

Dr. Olson will also be delivering a keynote speech the very next day at the Gesa E. Kirsch Graduate Student Symposium, sponsored by the Center for Writing Studies. Her talk will take place at 2pm in GSLIS Building, room 126 and it is entitled “The Persuasions of Travel: Andean Landscapes and U.S. National Vision.”

Here is the description of Dr. Olson’s talk:

The assumption that “America” means “the United States of America” is so ubiquitous—within and beyond the borders of this country—that it hardly occasions comment. And yet, the fact that the U.S. claim to America is unmarked ought to call our attention to the remarkable, long-term, and ongoing rhetorical processes that make that claim possible: the not so hidden work of American exceptionalism. This talk enacts that attention, turning to a relatively early moment in U.S. hemispheric power to track how U.S. publics looking at Latin America learned to see themselves instead of Latin America. It explores how two travelers, the artist Frederic Church and the explorer Hiram Bingham, used visual accounts of their adventures in the Andes to shape U.S. national vision. Church’s spectacular exhibition of his “great painting,” The Heart of the Andes, in 1859 and Bingham’s lavishly illustrated accounts of his 1911 re-discovery of Machu Picchu appeared more than fifty years apart, used quite different media, and circulated through distinct means. Together, however, they speak to how U.S. publics in the first era of U.S. empire came to imagine themselves as [partial] proprietors of the American hemisphere and as the inevitable subjects of inspiring landscapes and impressive cultures. By seeing the Andes through Church and Bingham’s eyes, U.S. audiences learned new national visions appropriate to a period of growing global influence. Ultimately, the talk suggests, examining how those audiences and image makers accomplished the invisibility of Latin America through extensive imagining of it sheds useful light on the subtle, pervasive force of American exceptionalism and the claim to America.

Finally, all rhetoricians of the graduate student variety are invited to attend any or all of the CWS Symposium. The event will last from 8:30 to 4pm in GSLIS Building Room 126 and will feature presentations of graduate student works in progress. RSVP to if you are interested in attending!

Hope to see you at any or all of these great events!

Rohini, Jon, Paul, and Katie

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EDIT March 1st, 2013: Thanks to all who came to the reading group today! Due to copyright, some of the links to this week’s readings have been removed.


Mark your calendars!

Our next Rhetorical Studies Reading Group will be held on Friday, March 1, 2013 from 1pm to 3pm in Lincoln Hall, rm. 4103. For this meeting, we have the pleasure of hearing from three professors from the Center for Writing Studies (Lindsay Rose Russell, Martin Carmargo, Peter Mortensen). They will be discussing the importance of rhetoric to their work as well as helping to map connections between rhetorical studies and the field of Writing Studies / Rhetoric & Composition. Each has supplied a few readings for us to read in preparation for the meeting.

About the Readings:

Martin Camargo – The two essays represent two different ways in which historical rhetoric figures in my scholarship: as a rich source of information about medieval writing pedagogy and as an important context for understanding medieval poetic practice.

Lindsay Rose Russell – Janet Giltrow’s work is helpful for me in as it sets rhetorical genre theory in between what I find value in rhetorical studies approaches (to activity, networks, and/or ecologies) and language studies approaches (which trace traditions of language prescriptivism).

Peter Mortensen – My current book project, Manufacturing Illiteracy in the United States, examines the rhetoric of literacy and its consequences in the early twentieth-century US. I continue to consider how the cultural critique and rhetorical theorizing of Kenneth Burke might be germane to my project. For our meeting on March 1, I’ve assembled some relevant short pieces by Burke and have drafted a two-page overview that suggests how we might approach the readings.

You can access the readings below:

Camargo Readings

Camargo – Chaucer and the Oxford Renaissance of Anglo-Latin Rhetoric

Camargo – Writing Instruction

Mortensen Readings

Mortensen Guide to the Readings

Russell Readings

Giltrow – Meta-Genre


The Rhetorical Studies Reading Group is an IPRH sponsored group of students and faculty from a variety of disciplines and departments who are interested in the study of rhetoric. Several times a semester, the group comes together to discuss issues and research in rhetorical studies. We are often joined by guest scholars from around campus and across the country. Watch this space for updated information and readings.

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On January 30, the Rhetorical Studies Reading Group was lucky enough to have some time to chat with Dr. Richard Graff from the University of Minnesota while he was on campus to deliver the Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities lecture. We were joined by several students from the Department of Communication and the Center for Writing Studies as well as faculty from the Department of Communication to discuss several articles related to Dr. Graff’s research (you can check out the pieces we discussed below).

Dr. Graff discussed several issues and questions that animate his research interests in the oratorical spaces of classical Greece and Rome, including visuality and orality, performance, rhetorical style, and what he called a “synesthetic” approach to studying rhetoric (one that encompasses and connects the multiple senses in sometimes contradictory ways). Graff also noted some of the potential challenges associated with the study classical rhetoric, and a key theme throughout the discussion was the ways in which archaeological evidence informs this research. For Graff, studying the oratorical spaces of classical Greece and Rome is like a puzzle–one must put together a coherent picture based on the evidence available from a variety of sources.

Overall, the discussion was an exciting prelude to Dr. Graff’s fascinating talk later that afternoon. We appreciate the time Dr. Graff took to meet with us, and all the students and faculty who joined the conversation.

The Rhetorical Studies Reading Group is an IPRH sponsored group of students and faculty from a variety of disciplines and departments who are interested in the study of rhetoric. Several times a semester, the group comes together to discuss issues and research in rhetorical studies. We are often joined by guest scholars from across the country. Our next RSRG meeting will take place March 1st. Watch this space for updated information and readings. 

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Tonight, members from the RSA Chapter at the University of Illinois gathered together in Lincoln Hall to watch the first session of the Webinar on Archival Research that has been organized by Dr. Debra Hawhee and Dr. Jack Selzer over at Penn State. Session 1 featured two archivists from the Penn State Burke Archive, who shared some great practical tips about how to engage with an archive, and included some great resources for archival researchers. I’ve included links to these resources as well as some of their tips below.

Archival Research Databases and Directories:

  • Archive Grid ( – a database that links to finding aids, archive locations, contact information etc. Type in a variety of search terms (use their search tips for more information) and get connected to material located in archives across the country. Sometimes features direct links to digital material, but these links will occasionally be broken (feel free to email the archivist if the material is unavailable).
  • Archive Finder ( – A archive directory featuring sources from the US and the UK. Click on “Login through your library or institution” to get access through the U of I library).
  • Online Archive of California ( – Regional focus, but has great digital material.

Information on Copyright

  • WATCH ( – this site identifies the copyright holders for some authors. The archivists noted that this site is not exhaustive, but is continually updated and can be a good way to check who holds a copyright on a particular author’s material.
  • Digital Copyright Slider ( – a guide to copyright rules. Answers the basic question “Is it protected by copyright?” for various categories of material.

Glossary of Archival Lingo

Four Common Mistakes Made by New Archival Researchers (and how to not make them)

  1. Not writing down where material comes from in the archive
    • How to fix: Document everything! Bring a camera and take pictures of the folder, boxes, etc.
  2. Not getting in touch with an archive ahead of time
    • How to fix: Contact an archive before your visit to make sure that all the materials you need are available and ready for you to use.
  3. Not checking up on copyright concerns / not crediting copyright appropriately
    • How to fix: Always ask an archivist to make sure that you have the proper permission to use archival material in your work, especially when quoting or excerpting archival material.
  4. Not anticipating how long archival research will take
    • How to fix: Always double your anticipated timeline, especially when visiting an out-of-state archive.

Thanks to Anita Mixon for reserving a room and organizing our group viewing! Thanks to Professors Hawhee and Selzer for organizing the webinar series!

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Greetings rhetoricians!

We hope you all have had a wonderful and relaxing winter break! The RSRG is thrilled to announce our first event of the semester: a reading group meeting with Dr. Richard Graff from the University of Minnesota.

The RSRG will get the chance to meet with Dr. Graff on Wednesday, January 30 from 11:30am-1pm in Lincoln Hall Room 4007. Dr. Graff has requested that we read a few articles in preparation for the discussion (see below).

Linked below is a word document which sets up each of the readings with some thoughts from Dr. Graff. It also presents a few links to websites of interest. Finally, we have also linked to PDFs of the readings Dr. Graff provided.

We are looking forward to seeing you all at our first meeting on January 30th!

As always, please let us know if you have any questions, suggestions, or feedback.

Rohini Singh
Paul McKean
Jon Stone
Katie Irwin

1. Graff Readings and Websites

2. Lucian_The Hall

3. Aristotle_Rhetoric 3.10_12

5. Johnstone Pnyx 1996 copy

Hawhee_Aristotle Rhetorical Vision 4. 2011

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Last night, a few us got together to discuss what RSRG will be up to this semester. We apologize for the scheduling conflicts for the Writing Studies folks, but we were happy to hear that there is a lot of interest in the group.

If you weren’t able to make the meeting, here are some notes from our meeting:

  • Philosophy behind RSRG:
    • a chance to develop as scholars; professional development; networking rhetoricians from across campus
  • Ideas:
    • Reading Group: student-centered but faculty participate; discuss readings but don’t feel like an extra class; informal and inclusive; pizza and treats!
    • Bring speaker to campus / to RSRG in Spring
    • Lyceum Brown Bag series: give students a chance to present research-in-progress (completed seminar papers, seminar papers in development, conference papers, dissertation research, etc.); informal; hold during lunch time?; one hour (10-15 minute presentations with Q&A); time for feedback, suggestions, and questions
  • Upcoming events:
    • First Reading Group meeting
      • Last week of November / first week of December?
      • Writing Studies folks curate readings
      • Look for Doodle poll for dates / times
    • First Lyceum Brown Bag meeting
      • First week of November?
      • NCA practice presentations?
      • Look for Doodle poll for dates / times
  • Midwest Winter Workshop
    • Productive, informal, and fun conference opportunity
    • Free, January 26th at Indiana University
    • Send abstract of a paper to discuss. Get great feedback from leading scholars in the field.
    • Deadline for abstract: November 1st  (see email for more details!)
    • Do it!

If you weren’t able to make the meeting, we would love to hear any and all ideas / feedback / questions you have about the group. Feel free to contact any of us below.

Rohini Singh:  

Paul McKean:

Katie Irwin: