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Rhetorical Studies Reading Group

at the university of illinois

Tag Archives: Christa Olson

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 singh53@illinois.edu 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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