Activists and Activism

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.

  1. rhetorical criticism is uniquely attuned to the strategies and tactics used by activists in situ.
  2. activist texts are rhetorical in their own right; activist theory is rhetorical theory and activists are rhetoricians.
  3. 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.  
  4. 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

Examples of Blended Activism and Scholarship

Other Examples of Manifestos