Keynote Speakers

Mike Lee

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Dr. Michael J. Lee teaches and researches in the areas of rhetoric and political communication at the College of Charleston. 


Trump, Trumpism, and the Conservative Political Language

What does conservatism mean after Donald Trump’s campaign, and what does Trump’s campaign mean after decades of conservative activism?  Is Trump’s nativism a deviation from or an extension of American conservatism?  I approach conservatism (or any body of thinking) as a political language, not as some set of ethereal ideas.  It is a language in the sense that conservative ideas are formed rhetorically, are encountered in interactions with media, and are central to the political identities of individuals and social movements.  In this talk, I look deep within the foundational texts and formative campaigns of American conservatism to locate the Right’s racist roots.

David Beard

davidbeard_seDr. David Beard is an associate professor of rhetoric in the Department of Writing Studies at the University of Minnesota Duluth.


Collaboration, (Imagined) Community and the Construction of Scholarly Identity: Steampunk Rhetoric as a Metaphor for Rhetorical Studies

Bruce Sterling said to a convention of Steampunks:  “If you like to play dress-up, good for you. You’re probably young, and, being young, you have some identity issues. So while pretending to be a fireman, or a doctor, or a lawyer, or whatever your parents want you to be, you should be sure to try on a few identities that are totally impossible. You will meet interesting people your own age who share your vague discontent with today’s status quo. Clutch them to your velvet-frilled bosom.”  (“User’s Guide to Steampunk” 30)

Do rhetoricians in the 21st century have “identity issues”?  What are the “impossible identities” that young rhetoricians try on as they begin their career?  In a soup of theoretical insights drawn from Clockwork Rhetoric: The Language and Style of Steampunk (edited by Barry Brummett).  Benedict Anderson’s Imagined Communities, literature on disciplinarity (including the Writing Studies Tree), and my next project, on national identity and intersectionality in rhetorical scholarship, I will map some of the challenges faced by the rhetorical scholar in the 21st century, and I will exhort all of us to find interesting people (who share our vague discontent with today’s status quo) to clutch to our velvet-frilled bosoms.