#DR16 3rd Annual “Doing Rhetoric at the U” Conference — This Weekend!

15 Sep


It is an important time to discuss what it means to do political rhetoric at the University of Minnesota. Not only is 2016 an election year, but, moreover, much of what we do as students, teachers, and emerging scholars of rhetoric is highly politicized. The conference theme, “Political Style and the Politics of the Rhetorical,” is highly inclusive. Graduate students are encouraged to submit abstracts of works in progress that engage the intersection between rhetoric and politics by exploring issues such as (but not limited to) campaign rhetoric, media rhetoric, visual rhetoric, government rhetoric, the rhetoric of social movements, environmental rhetoric, ethics and rhetoric, legal rhetoric, the rhetoric of science and technology, and rhetorical theory.

The conference will offer graduate students an opportunity to present and discuss their current research in a workshop setting. Consider projects you are already working on. Why or how is your research (or research topic) political? What insights might rhetorical theories and methods have to offer to contemporary political problems? How might contemporary political problems shape new insights in scholarship of the rhetorical?

The conference is for all graduate students at the University of Minnesota with an interest in rhetoric, many of whom are spread out across disciplines and departments such as Writing Studies, Communication Studies, English, Cultural Studies and Comparative Literature, Classical and Near Eastern Studies, American Studies, Political Science, and Gender, Women and Sexuality Studies.

See you this weekend! 


Summer Events

15 May


  • A new hub for communication conferences.
  • Ph.D. public defense presentations this month from Raechel Tiffe and Melody Lynn Hoffmann.
  • Upcoming conference deadlines: RSA and GPACW. 

Conference Central 

???????????????????????????????Check out our new page titled “Conference Hub” here. This page displays essential information about all the conferences that might be of interest to us. Keeping up to date, planning your academic year, and never missing a deadline just became a lot easier. With your help this page can become the go-to place for scheduling our graduate lives.  

Communication Studies, Ph.D. Public Defense “Series” 

Raechel Tiffe,  “Towards a Queerer Labor Movement: The Politics and Potential of LGBT-Labor Coalition.” Adviser: Gilbert Rodman.

May 20 2013 – Ford Hall 151 –  2:00-4:00.

Queer-Workers-Rights bigTowards a Queerer Labor Movement: The Politics and Potential of LGBT-Labor Coalition examines the relationship between the contemporary US labor movement and LGBT workers. Through an investigation of the ways in which minoritized subjects resist injustice in our contemporary neoliberal climate, I provide a new theory social movement building. Using a combination of media analysis, ethnography, and participatory action research, I argue that the union movement is an ideal place from which to struggle for LGBT justice—through and alongside the struggle for racial and economic justice. Further, given the weakened state of organized labor in the US, I contend that labor’s explicit inclusion of and attention to LGBT workers will also strengthen the union movement. In many ways, the labor movement is already doing this important work, and LGBT and labor communities are benefiting from the shift toward what some scholars and activists describe as social movement unionism. Rather than approaching oppression and discrimination through a single-issue lens, union members and leaders have developed campaigns, trainings, and strategies that acknowledge how the struggles faced by LGBT workers are connected to the struggles faced by the working-class more generally. More than just suggesting that these issues are interrelated, the coalitions I discuss have worked to point out that these positionalities are not mutually exclusive—unlike the mainstream gay rights movement, LGBT-union efforts center the fact that not all LGBT people are wealthy and white. However, there are still ways in which some facets of organized labor fail as a vehicle for social change, and through this critique, I argue that a truly liberatory social movement unionism could be possible with the guidance of radical militancy and critical queer politics.

Melody Lynn Hoffmann, “Our Bikes in the Middle of the Street: Community-building, Racism and Gentrification in Urban Bicycle Advocacy.”  Adviser: Dr. Mary D. Vavrus

May 29th Ford Hall 151,  1-3 p.m.


In this dissertation, I complicate the many iterations of bicycle advocacy in U.S. cities by arguing that the bicycle is a “rolling signifier”—in other words, the bicycle means very different things to different people. Cities across the country are becoming more committed to making their spaces welcoming to bicyclists which include bicycling events, bicycle lanes, and businesses that cater to cyclists, but this welcoming is also met with anger and resentment by some community members. In this dissertation I ultimately argue that the “rolling signification” of the bicycle contributes to its ability to build community, influence gentrifying urban planning, and reify systemic race and class barriers. The importance of a neighborhood’s history as it intersects with bicycle advocacy is made clear through my case studies in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Portland, Oregon, and Minneapolis as neighbors both build community and erupt into heated fights about who is hailed in bicycle culture. I also highlight a shift in bicycle advocacy as it leaves its radical, counterculture roots and begins to be taken up by city governments for marketing and recruitment purposes. This dissertation intervenes in Communication Studies scholarship by highlighting the importance of rich description, spatial analysis, and ethnography when studying communities. I also build upon cultural bicycle scholarship by presenting intersectional research, making race and class the forefront points of inquiry throughout the case studies.

Upcoming Conferences 

RSA  “Border Rhetorics” 

16th Biennial Rhetoric Society of America Conference in an Antonio, Texas

Deadline for submissions: July 1, 2013.

“Border Rhetorics” not only invites consideration of these kinds of geographic, political and cultural borders but also invites consideration of a wider range of borders: the borders between identities, between roles, between disciplines, between concepts, etc.  The 2014 conference theme seeks to spur a broad conversation about the borders that unite and divide us, the ways in which these borders are constructed and deconstructed, confirmed and contested.

All submissions must be submitted through the electronic submission platform available here.

Full CFP here.


“Beyond Computers and Writing”

 17th annual Great Plains Alliance for Computers and Writing


 Deadline: Midnight Monday, August 12, 2013

The Department of Writing Studies is hosting the 17th annual Great Plains Alliance for Computers and Writing, Friday, November 8, 2013 at the Continuing Education Conference Center on St. Paul campus.

As the personal computer era wanes and use of mobile devices and cloud-based computing increases, computers and writing become at once more ubiquitous and less visible than they were when our first conference convened seventeen years ago. Times and places for writing with computers are increasingly ad hoc, mobile, and transitory.  While writing within networked spaces, we inhabit virtual yet grounded networks where we share who we are and what we know. Virtual landscapes map our daily lives, our professional development, the evolution of our thinking, forever and hourly.  MOOCs, shared media, mobile technologies, and competency-based standards for credit all challenge traditional conceptions of teaching and learning.

Full CFP here.

Keynote Speaker: Ann Hill Duin. “Connected Learning: Past, Present, Future”

ann hill

Throughout her career as scholar, educator, and university administrator, Professor Duin has followed–and been part of designing the infrastructure in support of–the trends and transformations in connected learning. From the days of Appletalk to today’s enhanced networks and to the emergence of a sea of Google Glass(es)… each decade ignites an increase in learner engagement. During this keynote, Ann will engage us in active exploration of personal learning networks (PLNs), encouraging us to re-imagine and re-create ourselves and our programs amid a future of connected learning.

Thursday evening pre-conference event: Richard Graff  “Oratorical Performance Space in Ancient Greece: Digital Reconstruction and Interpretive Visualization”


Professor Graff presents chief findings of a long-term collaborative, interdisciplinary study of the physical settings in which ancient Greeks practiced the art of rhetoric. These include a variety spaces and structures from the late-Archaic, Classical, and Hellenistic periods (ca. 500-100 BCE) utilized throughout the Greek world as venues for the performance of formal oratory–principally, buildings that housed meetings of city councils (bouleuteria), auditoria utilized for larger citizen assemblies, and various structures fitted for use as law courts.

The Digital Evolution of “Doing Rhetoric at the U”

1 May
Digital Doing Rhetoric at U
Doing Rhetoric at the U, in its virtual manifestation, does not have to go into hibernation until next year.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you for helping us build a robust online presence for “Doing Rhetoric at the U.” The blog was viewed more than a thousand times in the short span of few days. Organizers and participants alike live-tweeted the panels extending the reach of the conference proceedings beyond the brick and mortar confines of the Weisman museum. Our Facebook page increased the visibility of the conference and amplified its voice beyond what we originally envisioned. At the same time, we shared a # with a new Belgian beer, making for some confused party goers somewhere in the world; the blog’s internal clock rushed in advance of the real time by 7 hours, undermining our adamant assertions of keeping you “up to date;” and the RSA’s “The Blogora” ( http://rsa.cwrl.utexas.edu/ ) spontaneously relayed our links and twitter feeds.

These digital tools and their unexpected articulations persuaded us of the online potential of our coming together. Evidently, the insights pertaining to the communicative prospects of this “series of tubes” are not particularly ground-breaking. What is of interest, however, is the way the Internet worked for us, here at the U, helping us organize this conference, in April 2013. As we pleasantly found out, “Rhetoric at the U” has many more friends out there interested in being a part of this experience than we were able to appeal to in our inaugural attempt.

In a relatively short span of time we moved from an idea to a fully fledged conference and from a simple email call for papers to a functional system of interconnecting blogs, social media, and people. All these elements, from securing a space for the conference to creating a virtual one, came together seamlessly to buttress a community of interests emerging from two distinct departments with a great deal to share. In virtue of these reasons we strongly believe that “Doing Rhetoric at the U,” in its virtual manifestation, does not have to go into hibernation until next year.

Consequently, we would like to explore with you the possibility of continuing the conversations started at Weisman. Perhaps rhetoric at the U can “shape shift” in productive ways, oscillating between an on and an offline existence. Advertising our respective departments’ research meetings to a wider audience and extending the scope and reach of all our calls for reading and writing groups are but a few and simple suggestions. We are certain that the collective intelligence of our two departments can dream up of new, productive, and unexpected uses for these forums. In the same vein of a creative hive mind, we also imagine a directly democratic and blissfully chaotic control over these interfaces. Without a hierarchical command structure the conference planning committee worked in perfect sync animated solely by the desire for new and productive encounters between people at the U doing rhetoric. We are confident that this experience can be scaled up.  

If you are a graduate student at UMN in WS or CS interested in being part of the conference in its multimodal mutations please let us know. We would happily share our access to the “Doing Rhetoric at the U”’s three interrelated and linked accounts—blog, Facebook, and Twitter—ready to be put to whatever uses we can imagine. As for the rest of our friends interested in this community, please let us know how would you like to link up with our efforts. 

Digital Doing Rhetoric at U glitchedThe Conference Planning Comittee