There are many ways that activism interfaces with rhetorical theory and criticism. Below, I have listed some of the ways that rhetoricians have begun to think of the relationship between scholarly "theory" and activism as a practice.
- rhetorical criticism is uniquely attuned to the strategies and tactics used by activists in situ.
- activist texts are rhetorical in their own right; activist theory is rhetorical theory and activists are rhetoricians.
- activism is a theoretical intervention into commonplaces of the discipline that seeks the transformation of scholarly activity and the systems of value that accord "service" and "organizing" different weights.
- activism is a transformation of the culture of scholarly production.
Together, these different approaches pose the following question: what is the place of activism as scholarly work? As a critical purpose of theory, how else might activism inhabit this work?
Activist-scholars and -scholarship also offer good examples of how to state one's critical purpose in writing. In the document titled “Exercise: Scanning Articles for Content,” you will find a marked-up version of several pages from the Pezzullo and Chavez articles. Please write a brief description of what is happening in the essay (e.g. “thesis statement,” “purpose statement,” “scholarly conversation entry-point”) next to the numbers below.
Additional Sources on Activism and Activist Strategies
- Chávez, “Beyond Inclusion: Rethinking Rhetoric’s Historical Narrative”
- McCann, “Borders of Engagement: Rethinking Scholarship, Activism, and the Academy”
- Pezzullo, “Resisting Breast Cancer Awareness Month”
- Combahee River Collective, “The Combahee River Collective Statement.”
- Cox, “Beyond Frames”
- Cloud and Feyh, “Reason in Revolt”
- DeLuca, “A Wilderness Environmentalism Manifesto”
- DeLuca and Peeples, “From Public Sphere to Public Screen”
- Fraser, “Rethinking the Public Sphere”
- Hallsby, “Resisting the Demand for Transparency”
- hooks, “Theory as a Liberatory Practice”
- Killingworth and Palmer, “The Discourse of 'Environmentalist Hysteria'“
- Larson and McHendry Jr., “Parasitic Publics”
- Manthey, “Mario Savio, “An End to History” (2 Dec 1964) (Speech)
- May, “Spinoza and Class Struggle”
- Warner, “Publics and Counterpublics” (abbreviated) (full)