Inventing and Intervening in the bath with ContraPoints
This paper was presented at the 2020 National Communication Association during the Top Papers Panel for the Critical and Cultural Studies division.
Hi all, thank you for coming today and for listening to my paper. I’m Matthew Salzano, a Ph.D. Student at the University of Maryland, coming to you live from my bedroom-office-conference room in Hyattsville, MD.
Through examples as varied as glitch art, urbexer photography, and DIY digital networks, Casey Boyle suggests a redefinition of rhetoric, one summarized in the title of his book: Rhetoric as a Posthuman Practice. “Practice,” like rhetoric, has many definitions; rhetoric is both a social practice and something that individuals practice. But this is not a rhetoric handbook in a posthuman register. Boyle’s project is not simply offering “posthuman methods” that rhetors can use to increase their persuasiveness. Instead, he is attending to the rhetorical consequences of contemporary digital information technology by transcending a humanist framework and theorizing that rhetoric “is a practice that exercises serial encounters within ecologies to inform bodies” (27). Boyle draws from scholarship on rhetorical ecologies and circulation, critical affect studies, and posthumanism to recast well-worn, ancient practices from rhetorical training as ways to exercise rhetorical capacities. Boyle’s work is thus relevant to seemingly disparate subfields of rhetoric and communication studies: rhetoricians engaged with in situ field methods may find his discussions of topoi complementary and provocative, scholars of historic public address may contend with his implication that persuasion is a result of serial encounters, and teachers of public speaking might consider whether assigning self-reflection papers about persuasive speeches is an adequate way to prepare students for contemporary civic life.
I’m excited to announce the publication of my first sole-authored scholarly article, “Lemons or Lemonade? Beyoncé, Killjoy style, and Neoliberalism” in Women’s Studies in Communicaiton. You can read the whole article at T&F’s site. The abstract is below:
This article focuses on the controversy surrounding bell hooks and Lemonade to contend with the neoliberal constraints of digital, feminist, public intellectual argumentation. I argue that hooks’s critique reveals her killjoy rhetorical style. Drawn from Sara Ahmed’s theorization of the feminist killjoy, hooks’s killjoy style provides a rhetorical interruption that reshapes the affective orientations of feminist communities. Its snappy affect opens up the potentiality for critical feminist theory amid the challenges of neoliberalism.
This essay was originally written as my PLU Capstone (pictured above). Thanks to all the killjoys that helped me take this paper from there to here.
Student journalists at private universities do the hard work of turning the lights on in the darkened, pseudo-public spheres on their campus. Without a clear idea of who is obligated to be the teller of unsavory truths on the private university’s campus, student media must often take up the torch. Building on Jurgen Habermas’s and Alexander Kluge’s work on the “public sphere” and Doreen Marchionni’s “journalism as a conversation,” student media publications can be examined for their coorientation, informality, and interactivity. Using two stories from the student media of Pacific Lutheran University as a case study illustrates how a robust student journalism outlet is a vital component of initiating important conversations in the public sphere of the private university. This investigation includes suggestions for implementing these strategies at other private universities.