Research in Rhetorical Studies (Post-1800)

L756 — Fall 2021

Katherine Silvester
Days and Times
4:55p - 6:10p TR (4 cr)
Course Description

(This course fulfills one course of the two-course research skill for English Ph.D. students.)

Authorization Required: After the designated pre-enrollment period, English department graduate students and outside minors please email All other students please contact the instructor first for permission.

Topic: Field Work

First and foremost, this is a class about field methods as tools for rhetorical scholarship. But in familiarizing ourselves with what those methods are and what they do, we will also be thinking critically and theoretically about the “field” as both a material and rhetorical space of practice that locates bodies, words, visual symbols, memories, and objects in meaningful interaction. We will encounter theories of text and field that posit them as co-participants in the construction of rhetorical place, space, and practice. We will apply these theories in the interrogation of specific field sites, for the limits and potentials that these sites hold for critical inquiry, including the ethical challenges of doing deeply contextualized, participatory research. Beyond an interrogation of the field as a space of rhetorical practice and critical inquiry, we will also explore ethnography as a field-based methodology for “artful inquiry.” As artful inquiry, ethnography, has many lessons for us about the role of performance, storytelling, vulnerability, identity, and narrative in the production of knowledge. Drawing broadly from scholarship in various disciplines, this class may appeal to students from across our department with interests in ethnographic aesthetics, literature and ethnography, and critical ethnography, as well as the ethnographic as a tool for rhetorical research. More specifically, the ethnographers and rhetorical scholars likely to influence our work this term include, but are not limited to the following: Arjun Appadurai, Linda Tuhiwai Smith, Lila Abu-Lughod, Kamala Visweswaran, Kirin Narayan, Ruth Behar, Candice Rai, Geneva Smitherman Beverly Moss, Ralph Cintron, Kate Vieria, Norman K. Denzin, Yvonne S. Lincoln, James Clifford, Clifford Geertz, Carolyn Ellis, D. Soyini Madison, Sara L. McKinnon, Karma Chavez, Bruce Horner, John Duffy, Dwight Conquergood, Pierre Bourdieu, Richard Bauman, Gregory Bateson, Deborah Brandt, and Krista Ratcliffe.   

There will also be guest speakers, including advanced graduate students currently engaged in field-based projects, to share their works-in-progress with us.   

Assignments include weekly readings and discussion posts, class facilitation, and a seminar project. The seminar project may take many forms, though the overall goal of the project is for you to be able to articulate an emerging theoretical framework and field-based methodology for pursuing critical (and/or artful) inquiry. All projects should target a specific journal or other publication and identify model texts that inspire your methodological approach and organization.

Interested in this course?

The full details of this course are available on the Office of the Registrar website.

See complete course details