Rhetoricity is a quasi-academic podcast that draws on rhetoric, theory, weird sound effects, and the insights of a lot of other people. It's something that's a little strange and, with luck, a little interesting. The podcast's description will evolve along with it. Most episodes feature interviews with rhetorically oriented rhetoric and writing scholars.

The podcast is a project of Eric Detweiler, an assistant professor in the Department of English at Middle Tennessee State University. If you are interested in more information, you can get in touch by using the contact information included on his website or sending a direct message to @RhetCast on Twitter.

Transcripts are available for some episodes. Use the "Pdf: Transcript" button at the bottom of individual episode posts to access the corresponding transcript. If you would like a transcript of an episode that doesn't appear to have one, feel free to get in touch.

Rhetoricity has received support from a grant from the Humanities Media Project.

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Aug 31, 2020

This is a short episode to make a quick announcement: Over the last week, a bunch of rhetorically inclined podcasts have been putting out new episodes as a part of The Big Rhetorical Podcast Carnival 2020. Organized by The Big Rhetorical Podcast’s Charles Woods, the carnival’s theme was "The Digital Future of Rhetoric and Composition," and its multitudinous episodes will be music to the ears of many Rhetoricity listeners. You can find those episodes via The Big Rhetorical Podcast's Anchor page or Twitter account.

In addition to plugging the carnival, this episode features a clip from Rhetoricity's contribution, which is entitled "Futures in the Present Tense" and weaves together reflections on the pandemic, Adventure Time, Afrofuturism, and rhetoric and composition.

Jul 14, 2020

This episode of Rhetoricity features contributions from four rhetoric scholars: Kati Fargo Ahern, Ben Harley, Lee Pierce, and Rachel Presley. Their pieces address questions asked by previous guest Damien Smith Pfister: "What juxtapositions in rhetorical studies have you found fruitful, generative, aiding in the process of invention or theorizing, and/or what juxtapositions ought we have? Is there a juxtaposition of two things that we ought to explore but we’re not currently exploring?"

The contributors respond to Pfister's questions from a variety of angles, touching on memoir, sonic rhetorics, everyday life, visual rhetoric, discriminatory design, cartography, and indigeneity. You can find the photos referenced in Pierce's piece here.

This episode features clips from the following songs:

Jun 29, 2020

This episode features an interview with Dr. Ersula J. Ore, recorded at the 2020 Modern Language Association Convention in Seattle, Washington.

Dr. Ore is the Lincoln Professor of Ethics in the School of Social Transformation and associate professor of African and African American Studies at Arizona State University. Her research explores the suasive strategies of Black Americans as they operate within a post-emancipation historical context, giving particular attention to the ways physical and discursive violence influences performances of citizenship. Dr. Ore received the 2018-2019 Outstanding Mentor award from Arizona State’s Center for Global Health, and her book Lynching: Violence, Rhetoric, and American Identity received the 2020 Book Award from the Rhetoric Society of America. Her current research investigates the ways civility discourse masks misogynoir and how such masking reinscribes civility as the racist articulation of a past that expresses the desire for a particular kind of quote-unquote “ordered” present and future. You can check out some of this thinking in her 2019 Organization for Research on Women and Communication keynote entitled “Citizenship, Civility, and the 'Black Looks' of Sandra Bland” as well as “Lynching in Times of Suffocation: Toward a Spatio-Temporal Politics of Breathing,” a co-authored piece with Matthew Houdek that is forthcoming this fall in Women’s Studies in Communication.

In this episode, we discuss Lynching, focusing on the circulation of lynching photographs as a form of epideictic rhetoric, the relation between racism and intention, and experiences that informed Ore's book and her perspective on rhetoric.

A heads-up to listeners that this episode includes extensive discussion of anti-Black violence.

This episode includes a clip from Daniel Birch's "History Repeats Itself."

Mar 19, 2020

Note: The deadline for submissions has passed. But please feel free to get in touch if you have ideas for segments and collaborations, whether related to this call or not!

This is more of an invitation than a regular episode. I'm interested in hearing listeners' responses to the question posed by Damien Smith Pfister and Michele Kennerly at the end of the previous episode. Here is that question:

What juxtapositions in rhetorical studies have you found fruitful, generative, aiding in the process of invention or theorizing, and/or what juxtapositions ought we have? Is there a juxtaposition of two things that we ought to explore but we’re not currently exploring?

I'll be taking proposals for short audio essays responding to that question through April 3. Listen or read the transcript for more details!

Feb 17, 2020

Note: Interested in the intersections of rhetoric and sound? The deadline for submissions to the 2020 Sound Studies, Rhetoric, and Writing Conference is Feb. 21! The CFP and submission instructions are available here.

This episode features Michele Kennerly and Damien Smith Pfister, co-editors of the 2018 collection Ancient Rhetorics and Digital Networks. The interview, recorded at the 2018 Rhetoric Society of America conference, focuses on that collection.

Kennerly and Pfister discuss the important distinction between "ancient" and "classical" rhetoric, the challenges and possibilities of linking ancient rhetorics to digital networks, and the rhetorical and civic power of internet memes.

Michele Kennerly is Associate Professor of Communication Arts and Sciences and Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies at Penn State University. In addition to co-editing Ancient Rhetorics and Digital Networks, she is the author of Editorial Bodies: Perfection and Rejection in Ancient Rhetoric and Poetics and co-editor of Information Keywords, which is forthcoming this fall. She is President of the American Society for the History of Rhetoric and serves on the Council of the International Society for the History of Rhetoric.

The interview also features Damien Smith Pfister. He is Associate Professor of Communication at the University of Maryland, co-editor of Ancient Rhetorics and Digital Networks, and author of the book Networked Media, Networked Rhetorics: Attention and Deliberation in the Early Blogosphere. His next book project is tentatively titled Always On: Fashioning Ethos After Wearable Computing, and he is the newly minted book review editor for the journal Rhetoric Society Quarterly.

Along with past guest Casey Boyle, Kennerly and Pfister will be editing a new book series for the University of Alabama Press. Entitled Rhetoric + Digitality, the series will provide a home for the best work emerging at the intersection of rhetorical studies and digital media studies.

This episode includes clips from the following:

Jan 21, 2020

This episode features an interview with Laura Micciche. It was recorded during her visit to Tennessee for the 2019 Peck Research on Writing Symposium. Dr. Micciche was the keynote speaker at the symposium, an annual event hosted by the Department of English at Middle Tennessee State University. Each year, a rhetoric and writing scholar delivers a talk about their research and facilitates a workshop based on that research. This year’s symposium will take place on February 28, and will also host the annual meeting of MidSouth WPA, an affiliate of the Council of Writing Program Administrators.

Laura Micciche is a professor in the English Department at the University of Cincinnati. Her research focuses on writing pedagogy, rhetorical theory, and writing program administration, and she’s the author of the books Doing Emotion: Rhetoric, Writing, Teaching and Acknowledging Writing Partners. The latter is available as an open-access book through WAC Clearinghouse. Dr. Micciche has also written copious articles, including a recent coauthored piece for College English entitled “Editing as Inclusion Activism,” a College Composition and Communication article entitled “Toward Graduate-Level Writing Instruction,” and an article in the journal WPA entitled “For Slow Agency.” She recently completed a six-year tenure as editor of the journal Composition Studies. Her current research is on the mundane aspects of academic writing, which she focused on in her presentation at MTSU.

In this interview, Micciche discusses Acknowledging Writing Partners, the concept of slowness in relation to teaching and WPA work, the importance of methodological inclusiveness, and her interest in the mundane, including the nonhuman animals and objects that populate the places where academics write.

This episode features a clip of the song "Special Place" by Ketsa.

Dec 2, 2019

For more information on the Rhetoric Society of America's Andrea A. Lunsford Diversity Fund, which is discussed in the introduction to this episode, click here.

This episode of Rhetoricity features an interview with Andrea Lunsford, interviewed by Ben Harley as part of the Rhetoric Society of America Oral History Initiative. Over the past year and a half, Rhetoricity host and producer Eric Detweiler has been coordinating that initiative. At its 2018 conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the Rhetoric Society of America (RSA) celebrated its 50th anniversary. As a part of that celebration, the organization sponsored the Oral History Initiative, which recorded interviews with 25 of RSA’s long-time members and leaders. In those interviews, they discuss their involvement in key moments in the organization’s history, the broader history of rhetoric as a discipline, and their expectations and hopes for the field’s future.

Since then, Eric has been working with Elizabeth McGhee Williams, a doctoral student at Middle Tennessee State University, to transcribe and create a digital archive of those interviews. The two of them wrote an article about the materials that just came out in Rhetoric Society Quarterly. And the archive of the interviews and transcripts themselves is now available for you to peruse.

To help promote that project, this episode features Lunsford's interview from the RSA Oral History Initiative.

Dr. Lunsford is the Louise Hewlett Nixon Professor of English, Emerita, at Stanford University. She was the Director of Stanford’s Program in Writing and Rhetoric from 2000 to 2013 and the founder of Stanford’s Hume Center for Writing and Speaking. Dr. Lunsford also developed undergraduate and graduate writing programs at the University of British Columbia and at The Ohio State University, where she founded The Center for the Study and Teaching of Writing. She’s designed and taught courses in writing history and theory, feminist rhetorics, literacy studies, and women’s writing and is the editor, author, or co-author of 23 books. Those books include Essays on Classical Rhetoric and Modern Discourse; Singular Texts/Plural Authors; Reclaiming Rhetorica; Everything’s an Argument; The Everyday Writer; and Everyone’s an Author. She’s won awards including the Modern Language Association’s Mina Shaughnessy Prize, the Conference on College Composition and Communication award for best article, which she's won twice, and the CCCC Exemplar Award.  A long-time member of the Bread Loaf School of English faculty, she is currently co-editing The Norton Anthology of Rhetoric and Writing and working on a new textbook called Let’s Talk.

Ben Harley, her interviewer, is an assistant professor in the Department of Languages, Literature, and Communication Studies at Northern State University in Aberdeen, South Dakota. His classes provide students with high-impact writing situations that let them compose useful and interesting texts for their own communities, and his research focuses on pedagogy, sound, and the ways that everyday texts impact the public sphere. He’s published work in The Journal of Multimodal RhetoricsPresent Tense, and Hybrid Pedagogy.

The transition music after this episode's introduction is "Creative Writing" by Chad Crouch.

Jun 19, 2019

Edit (08/07/2019): The CFP for the 2020 Sound Studies, Rhetoric, and Writing Conference is now live! Check it out here.


Just in time for the 2019 Computers and Writing Conference, this Rhetoricity episode features . . . an audio recording of Eric Detweiler's 2016 Computers and Writing presentation. A majorly revised reiteration of this presentation came out last year in volume 5 of Textshop Experiments.

In short, this episode/presentation makes the case for embracing weirder conventions in academic podcasting, drawing on the popular podcast Welcome to Night Vale as a model. Because the episode is a recording of a presentation, it's more monologic than the interview-centered episodes of this podcast. But it does come with circus music, sound effects, a parodic advertisement, traffic update, and weather report, so give it a listen if you're up for a slightly odd episode.

Finally, this episode is also a chance to announce two other sound-related happenings in rhetoric and writing studies. First, the official launch of the new sonic projects section in enculturation: a journal of rhetoric, writing, and culture. The first two pieces in that section were just published as part of the journal's 28th issue. Second, the Sound Studies, Rhetoric, and Writing Conference in Detroit, Michigan. That conference will happen from October 1-3, 2020, and builds on last year's Symposium on Sound, Rhetoric, and Writing. The CFP should be available in the next week or two, and this blurb will be updated with a link to that CFP once it's ready.

This episode uses the following sound clips:

Jan 28, 2019

This episode features an interview with Dr. Ryan Skinnell, assistant professor at San José State University and editor of the recent collection Faking the News: What Rhetoric Can Teach Us About Donald J. Trump. That collection is the focal point of the episode.

This interview was recorded at the 2018 Conference of the Rhetoric Society of America in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Because Faking the News is meant to speak to audiences beyond academia, we tried to approach the interview in a way that would be accessible for those who don't have advanced degrees in rhetoric and writing. We discuss what exactly rhetoric and demagoguery are, what sets rhetoric scholars apart from other academic experts, and strategies for maintaining momentum on writing projects. Oh, and pajama pants.

In addition to editing Faking the News, Skinnell is the author of the book Conceding Composition: A Crooked History of Composition's Institutional Fortunes, coeditor of a forthcoming collection called Reinventing (with) Theory in Rhetoric and Writing Studies, and an editor for the website Citizen Critics, which brings rhetoric scholarship to bear on the news of the day for a mainstream audience. He’s also currently researching and writing about rhetoric and guns and fascist rhetoric. And last but not least, he’s editing a forthcoming special issue of the journal Rhetoric Society Quarterly entitled “Rhetoric’s Demagogue | Demagoguery’s Rhetoric.”

This episode features a clip of the song "Grifted" by Literature.

Oct 25, 2018

This episode features Dr. Christine Tulley. Dr. Tulley was the invited speaker at the 2018 Peck Research on Writing Symposium, an annual event hosted by Middle Tennessee State University's Department of English. Each year, the symposium features a rhetoric and writing scholar who gives a keynote talk on their research, then facilitates a workshop based on the classroom applications of that research.

This interview was recorded the day before Dr. Tulley's talk, which focused on the findings of her recent book, How Writing Faculty Write: Strategies for Process, Product, and Productivity. That book features interviews with fifteen prolific and well-established rhetoric and writing scholars, focusing on how they develop ideas, conduct research, draft, revise, and pursue publication.

In addition to writing How Writing Faculty Write, Christine Tulley is the founder and director of the MA in Rhetoric and Writing and Professor of English at the University of Findlay. Her current research focuses on faculty writing within rhetoric and composition, and she partners with Prolifiko, a UK-based research group that studies academic productivity. She has a forthcoming book project entitled "Rhet/Comp Moms: Parenting, Publication, and Professionalism," which we also discuss in the episode.

In addition, we talk about Dr. Tulley’s own writing process, what led her to study how writing faculty write, her writing advice for graduate students and junior faculty, and how learning to play guitar has changed the way she composes. Oh, and Lunchables.

This episode features clips from the following songs:

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