Rhetoric and Public Culture
The study of rhetoric and public culture engages rhetorical theory and practice to analyze, interpret, and critique political life. We value rhetoric as a critical mode of cultural production that addresses democratic tensions and imaginaries as they are negotiated through a wide range of communicative performances, including language, embodied gesture, and visual image. This transformative project is one committed to a more just democratic world. It requires that we take seriously the tasks raised by historical and contemporary contexts, including both oppressive and resistant discourses constituting war and dissent, death and desire, law and judgment, race and ethnicity, feminism and sexuality, nature and environmentalism, and class disparity in a global economy. Such a robust enterprise hones our skills as rhetorical critics and inevitably requires a rigorous interdisciplinary plan of study both within our department and outside, involving areas such as media studies, visual culture, political and social theory, American Studies, and cultural studies. Through examining how rhetorical judgment and invention are articulated by democratic exigencies, we aim to challenge constraints to freedom and to foster a more participatory and responsible citizenry.