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Rhetorics for all of us

Welcome to the Cultural Rhetorics Consortium digital space! The Consortium provides intellectual and community space for academics, activists, artists, teachers, and community members who practice cultural rhetorics. Cultural rhetorics is the study and practice of making meaning and knowledge with the belief that all cultures are rhetorical and all rhetorics are cultural. The Consortium operates to create space in which folks can find engagement, encouragement, support, and collaboration with each other. Similar to culture and rhetoric, the Consortium is a collection of fluctuating makings and practices. Although it was conceptualized and initially formed during an academic conference—the 2014 Cultural Rhetorics Conference—the Consortium strives to work within, across, and beyond the academy, particularly in thinking about local and global community practices that are not necessarily tied to the academy.

Here’s how various scholars have defined cultural rhetorics:

“cultural rhetorics is a practice, and more specifically an embodied practice, that demands much from the scholars who engage in it. First, scholars must be willing to build meaningful theoretical frames from inside the particular culture in which they are situating their work. . . . Constellative practice emphasizes the degree to which knowledge is never built by individuals but is, instead, accumulated through collective practices within specific communities. These collective practices, then, are what create the community; they hold the community together over time even when many of them are no longer practiced day-to-day but are, instead, remembered as day-to-day events.” – Phil Bratta and Malea Powell in “Introduction to the Special Issue: Entering the Cultural Rhetorics Conversations” (2016)


“A cultural rhetorics orientation is to enact a set of respectful and responsible practices to form and sustain relationships with cultural communities and their shared beliefs and practices including texts, materials, and ideas. This orientation rejects the idea that ‘everything is a text’ to be read and instead engages with the material, embodied, and relational aspects of research and scholarly production. One engages with texts, bodies, materials, ideas or space knowing that these subjects are interconnected to the universe and belong to a cultural community with it’s own intellectual tradition and history.” – Andrea Riley-Mukavetz in “Towards a cultural rhetorics methodology: Making research matter with multi-generational women from the Little Traverse Bay Band” (2014)


“To me, cultural rhetorics speak to the material and embodied practices of language and experience that grow out of communal or shared experiences. So much of traditional Western rhetorics have come to us out of an impulse to taxonomize and collate, to force together various culturally distinct practices of communication or knowledge-making into a singular system or tradition. This was Joseph Campbell’s project with the monomyth: erase specificity and claim that everything is ultimately the same. But this only works if you erase the very singularity of practice and experience that makes language and rhetoric interesting and important to actual living peoples. Remembering people and their experiences is to act against the erasure that’s at the center of mono-rhetorical practices.” – Will Banks, East Carolina University