RSA Conference 2024

May 23–26, 2024, Denver, CO

About The Conference

Conference Co-Chairs: Gwendolyn D. Pough, Bernadette Calalfell, Tamika L. Carey, Andre E. Johnson, Lisa M. King, Erin J. Rand

The theme of the RSA 2024 biennial conference, “Just Rhetoric,” is meant to be generative and provocative. The theme allows us to imagine the possibilities of rhetoric as well as grapple with the meaning and place of rhetorical studies in this contemporary moment. “Just Rhetoric” allows us to examine rhetoric in relationship to social justice and freedom movements of the past and present. “Just Rhetoric” calls on us to question what is just, what is fair, and how rhetoric can help us achieve justice today. “Just Rhetoric” encourages us to explore the possibilities of public-facing rhetoric and gives us cause to question rhetoric’s role in the public sphere. “Just Rhetoric” is a space for us to just do rhetoric. And “Just Rhetoric” is about reclamation. For too long “just rhetoric” has been used to dismiss rhetoric. The 2024 conference will be a place to refute and refuse such dismissals.

When we gather in person for our 21st biennial conference we will continue some of the discussions we started in the 20th biennial conference in Baltimore when we were tasked with “The Charge for Change” and inspired by dynamic feminist rhetorician Roxane Gay. Change is at the core of many discussions about social justice because change must occur for us to create the fair and just world that we want to live in. We ask members to consider what is a just rhetoric and how might our field leverage our rhetorical skills in the creation of a more just society. How can rhetoric help further the goals for inclusivity, diversity, equity, and accessibility? What is rhetoric’s role in social justice movements geared toward change? What can rhetoric offer to movements such as Land Back, Reproductive Justice, Disability Justice, Environmental Justice, LGBTQ Rights, and Black Lives Matter? What is the usefulness of rhetoric when Black people are being shot, beaten to death, and choked to death by an overzealous murderous police state? What can rhetoric do to halt the current assaults on the rights of transgender people? What is rhetoric’s role when politicians can’t talk to each other within their own political parties to select a speaker of the house and reaching across the aisle feels like wishful thinking? What can rhetoric do to make the discussions about gun control productive even as we enact rhetorics of mourning in response to the mass shootings and school shootings that have become an almost daily occurrence? What is rhetoric’s purpose when books are banned, and teachers are restricted by “anti-woke” laws and “don’t say gay” bills? “Just Rhetoric” asks members to push rhetoric towards social justice.

“Just Rhetoric” is also a space to do whatever your heart desires as long as your heart desires to do rhetoric. It is an invitation for rhetoricians to get together and just be rhetoricians. We can wax nostalgic about ethos, logos, and pathos. We can delve into the history of rhetoric, the methods of rhetorical analysis, and the tools of rhetorical pedagogy. We can think about public address or cultivate the rhetorical archive. We can explore global and transnational rhetorics. RSA is the one time every two years when we get to come together and just do rhetoric. Just rhetoric. We welcome all proposals that spark rhetorical inquiry and further the intellectual endeavor that is Rhetorical Studies.

“Just Rhetoric” is also our refusal and reclamation of the dismissal implied whenever someone says something is “just rhetoric.” We rhetoricians have always known the power of rhetoric and know that those who dismiss rhetoric do not know all that rhetoric is and can be. The 2024 RSA conference is our time to highlight the power of rhetoric. The 2024 RSA conference is our time to show that a public-facing mission of rhetorical studies might just change the world. The 2024 RSA conference is our time to take back “just rhetoric” and reclaim to show the world that it was never just rhetoric.

We invite members to join us in the magnificent and scenic city of Denver as we continue old discussions and spark new ones. The submission portal will be open from May 15th through August 15th, 2023. It will feature more guidance and instructions for submitting:

  • Individual paper abstracts (maximum of 500 words)
  • Panel proposals of no more than 4 presenters (maximum of 1250 words)
  • Roundtable proposals of no more than 6 presenters (maximum of 1250 words)
  • Special format sessions of non-traditional design (maximum of 500 words)
  • Discussion Group Proposals (maximum 1250 words, please see Discussion Group call below)