Rhetoric in Contemporary Theory (Post-1800)

R770 — Spring 2020

Freya Thimsen
Days and Times
1:00p - 4:00p M (4 CR)
Course Description

*DEPARTMENT AUTHORIZATION REQUIRED (Non-English Department students please contact the instructor first. C701 permission to be obtained from Cultural Studies.)

TOPIC: Democracy, Counterpublics, and Movements

This course will introduce the study of counterpublics, social movements, populism, and democracy from a humanistic, interdisciplinary perspective. We will look at the tactics, ideologies, language, and technologies of contentious politics, primarily in contemporary North America. We will read about research conducted by scholars in rhetorical studies, radical politics, media technology, and cultural studies. Alongside this research we will read influential humanistic theories that continue to shape the analysis of contentious politics. This may include hegemony theorists such as Ernesto Laclau, Chantal Mouffe, and Stuart Hall, public sphere work developed out of the thought of Jürgen Habermas, Nancy Fraser, and Michael Warner, pragmatist democratic theory from John Dewey, Jacques Rancière’s notion of democratic dissensus, and Jodi Dean’s advocacy for communism. Along with such texts we will read specific research in rhetorical studies, movement studies, and communication studies and identify key research questions. These questions may include: What is the continued value of liberal democracy as a form of political organization? How are movement politics in the U.S. shifting in response to decolonial and other perspectives from the Global South? What are the roles of the body and physical space in protest politics? How do movement politics organize themselves according to shared values? How are political coalitions built across and through intersectional understandings of identity? What are the roles of communication technologies, “older” and “newer,” in movement politics and establishment politics? To what extent can concepts and methods for studying left-leaning movements also be useful for studying ascendant right-nationalist politics? What are the relationships between the practice of scholarly critique, critical theory, and contentious politics? Please enroll with a case study (or several) you might like to write about.

Interested in this course?

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

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