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Environmental Rhetoric in a Material World

Workshop Leaders:

Bridie McGreavy, University of Maine
Stephen Depoe, University of Cincinnati

We write this proposal after the hottest June in modern history, amid reports of more than one hundred deaths from flooding in China, and while fires sweep across California. Rhetoricians have long considered how symbolism shapes our individual and collective responses to environmental exigencies such as these. In this workshop, we intend to explore the contributions environmental communication makes to broader material turns in rhetorical theory and forge new connections between scholars in environmental communication, rhetoric, ecology, and related disciplines. The workshop will inspire and advance ecological thinking, demonstrating its value for rhetoric as well as for environmental thought and action.

During the workshop, participants will discuss common readings that reflect this evolution (including but not limited to Herndl & Brown; Killingsworth & Palmer; Peterson; Rogers; Endres and Senda-Cook, Cox, McGreavy, etc.) and we will also ask participants to suggest possible readings for the group. We will participate in a walkabout activity which will engage environmental communication concepts in situ, drawing from local resources such as sustainability and environmental justice initiatives and the campus-based Center for the Study of Institutions, Population, and Environmental Change. We will also present information about current research projects that draw upon environmental communication themes and contexts with an eye toward finding opportunities for collaboration. Finally, we will encourage participants to share and develop innovative ways to connect theoretical perspectives in rhetoric and the environment in classrooms and communities.. We expect to draw participants from a variety of fields, including rhetoric and composition, eco-philosophy, eco-lingustics, and communication studies. We will also seek to connect with campus-based scholars in ecology, geography, and in the school of public and environmental affairs. Our interdisciplinary approach demonstrates a commitment in environmental communication and will contribute to the conversation and mutual learning.

Direct questions to Bridie McGreavy, bridie.mcgreavy@maine.edu


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