Research in Rhetorical Studies (Post-1800)

L756 — Spring 2020

Scot Barnett
Days and Times
11:15a - 2:15p T
Course Description

TOPIC: Nonhuman Rhetorics

Department Authorization Required (Non-English Department students please contact the instructor first.)

In recent decades, scholars across the disciplines have begun to turn their attention to the nonhuman. For the humanities in particular, work in the areas of posthumanism, environmental humanities, new materialism, and animal studies (among other fields and theories) has sought to expand the scope of inquiry beyond that of human knowledge, language, interests, and experience. Working with and building upon key interdisciplinary accounts of the nonhuman by Stacy Alaimo, Karen Barad, Bruno Latour, Donna Haraway, Timothy Morton, and others, this seminar turns its attention more directly to how the figure of the nonhuman has been taken up in rhetoric and writing studies and what this means for these fields in terms of theory, methodology, and pedagogy. Specifically, we will be concerned with the following questions: What roles have/can/should nonhumans play(ed) in composition, literacy, and rhetoric? What does a nonhuman theory of composition, literacy, or rhetoric look like? To what extent does the nonhuman—and the prospect of a nonhuman rhetoric—reshape or reimagine scope and future of rhetoric and writing studies? In addition to the authors mentioned above, we will engage several recent works in rhetoric and writing studies that explore nonhuman rhetorics from a variety of theoretical traditions, methods, and perspectives. These will include Debra Hawhee’s Rhetoric in Tooth and Claw: Animals, Language, Sensation, Marilyn Cooper’s The Animal Who Writes: A Posthumanist Composition, Diane Davis’ Inessential Solidarity: Rhetoric and Foreigner Relations, Laurie Gries’ Still Life with Rhetoric: A New Materialist Approach for Visual Rhetoric, as well as selected essays and excerpts. Assignments will include short response papers, a culminating seminar-length essay, and lively participation in class discussions.

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