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Rhetorical Studies Reading Group

at the university of illinois

Category Archives: Readings

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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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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The first RSRG meeting of 2012 will feature Professor Marita Gronnvoll of Eastern Illinois University, who will discuss with us a selection of her work, both published and in progress. We will meet from 7-9 pm on Thurs., Jan. 26, 2012, in the IPRH basement seminar room.

Professor Gronnvoll holds a B.A. and an M.A. from University of Washington and a Ph.D. from University of Georgia. She studies rhetorical theory and criticism with an emphasis on gender and feminism. She is the author of Media Representations of Gender and Torture Post-9/11 (Routledge, 2010).  Her current projects include research on media discourses regarding women suicide bombers and the use and censorship of violent images in media reporting.

READINGS: There are three readings for our meeting. The first is a chapter from Marita’s book, which analyzes discourses surrounding women interrogators at Guantanamo Bay. The second reading is a coauthored piece with Kristen McCauliff, and is an analysis of mass media discourses surrounding female suicide bombers in the “war on terrorism.” It’s currently under review at a journal. The third essay is still in process, which compares discourses surrounding the death of Pat Tillman in Afghanistan to those of Lori Piestewa’s death in Iraq.

Chapter 3 Sex, Blood, and Degradation

Bodies that Shatter constitutive rhetoric CURRENT

A Real Stud and an Unwitting Young Mother

Hi all:

Here are the readings for our time with Catherine Squires. I’ve also attached the flier for her talk. Looking forward to it!



Squires Flier


The first 2011 meeting of the RSRG will be on Monday, Oct. 10 from 7-8:30 pm in the basement seminar room of the IPRH building (Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities, 805 W. Pennsylvania Avenue in Urbana). At the meeting we will briefly sketch out a calendar for the rest of the semester, then discuss three articles from a recent Rhetoric Society Quarterly special issue on Human Rights Rhetoric. The essays  — linked below as pdfs — are: Lester Olson and Arabella Lyon, “Human Rights Rhetoric:Traditions of Testifying and Witnessing”; Jacqueline Jones Royster and Molly Cochran, “Human Rights and Civil Rights: The Advocacy and Activism of African American Women Writers”; and Cindy Patton, “Rights Language and HIV Treatment: Universal Care or Population Control?” If you are curious about the full issue, it’s available online at our library.




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