Rhetorical Studies: Rhetorics of Resistance (WI Capstone-Eligible)

ENGLSH 4045/4045W/7045
Section 01
Becca Hayes
Course Description

Every day, people join together to challenge the political, social, cultural and economic systems we’re enmeshed in: they petition and picket, they march and sit-in, they strike and circulate hashtags, they write and make art, they sing and tell stories. In this course, we will study collective efforts of resistance through a rhetorical lens as they have been shaped by communities speaking back to power. We’ll consider questions such as: How do we understand resistance within and across communities? What paths of resistance do rhetorics make available? What are rhetorical theories and strategies of resistance? How have individuals and collectives mobilized these theories and strategies in their social, political, and cultural practices? 

To answer these questions, we examine issues in the scholarship of rhetorics related to protest, social movements, and resistance. In addition to engaging with scholarly work, we’ll look at a variety of sites and types of resistance such as storytelling, music, art, online activism, and more. We’ll examine a range of resistance efforts from the mid-20th century to today by movements and collectives such as the Combahee River Collective, ACT UP!, #NODAPL, #MeToo, and Black Lives Matter, as well as protests and movements on college campuses.  

Assignments may include reading responses and discussion posts, learning reflections, collaborative class discussion leads, and written analyses. As a class, we’ll make some  decisions together about the work we want to undertake as individuals and as a group.