A version of this lengthy email is available online in the News section of the rhetoricsociety.org website. If you prefer to read its contents in your web-browser or want to refer to it later, please follow this link.
We are now one week away from the start of the 2018 Rhetoric Society of America biennial conference in Minneapolis, MN. No doubt you are putting the final touches on your presentation and looking through the online version of the conference program or our mobile app. As you do so, allow me to share a few pieces of information and highlight the 3 evening events of the conference.
The co-directors have planned multiple events for you each evening of the conference. I want to describe them in detail below, so although the remainder of this email is long please feel free to jump to the section(s) that correspond to your interests and schedule.
The Writing Studies Department and the Department of Communication Studies at the University of Minnesota will host a reception at the Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum starting at 5:30 on Thursday, May 31st. Reservations for this event are now full, but if you have tickets please remember that you can take a cab, an Uber/Lyft or an RSA provided Shuttle Bus beginning at 5:15 from the hotel to campus.
What if you don’t have a ticket for the Weisman reception? Well, there is STILL ROOM to attend the second event at the Coffman Memorial Union on the UMN campus!
At 7:30 PM we will start a panel titled, “Minnesota Politics in the Age of New Populism: Race, Immigration, and Religion.” This event will be moderated by RSA member Dr. Aric Putnam, faculty at St. John’s University and the College of St. Benedict. Dr. Putnam is also a candidate for the House of Representatives, District 14A in St. Cloud, MN. He will lead a conversation among five distinguished state legislators who are members of the “People of Color and Indigenous Caucus” of the Democratic Labor Party. Currently, Representatives Rena Moran, Ilhan Omar, Fue Lee, Mary Kunesh-Podein, and Erin Maye Quade are scheduled to appear. This promises to be a fascinating conversation.
The distance between the main hotel and the events on the UMN campus is 2.5 miles by car. The price for a Lyft or Uber ride should be about $8.00 for a regular car or $13.00 for a “plus” vehicle. The Hilton hotel informs us that a cab ride is around $15. You might consider using public transportation to campus. Walking down Nicollet Avenue .5 miles, you will arrive at the “Nicollet Mall Train Station” on 5th street. The Eastbound Green Line train arrives every 10 minutes. For $2.50 one-way, you can get on the Green Line train at Nicolette Ave. and jump off again at the “East Bank Station” on the University of Minnesota Campus. A one-way trip takes only 9 minutes once you are on the train.
RSA has hired three shuttle buses to transport attendees between the conference hotel and the University of Minnesota campus. Each shuttle holds 55 people, so they will be running staggered roundtrips from 5:15 to the start of the panel event (7:30 PM) and then from 8:50 PM until 9:30 PM. To cover the cost of these shuttles, we are asking everyone who uses them to pay at least $5 one-way or $10 for a round-trip. Members who will attend only the panel event at 7:30 are also welcome to take the shuttle. To pay by credit card before you arrive in Minneapolis, click here to fill out a form and provide payment. You may also pay for shuttle transportation at a table next to conference registration in the Hilton Hotel (3rd Floor), but we will ONLY accept cash on-site.
At 5:45 PM on Friday, we will gather in the Grand Ballrooms on the 3rd Floor of the Hilton to listen to a Keynote Address by Dr. Andrea A. Lunsford, Louise Hewlett-Packard Nixon Professor of English emerita at Stanford University. The title of her talk is “RSA at 50: (Re)Inventing Stories.” Professor Lunsford has provided us with a wonderful description of what promises to be an exciting talk.
Throughout its history and across time and space, rhetoric has told stories—invented, shaped, and served as keepers of stories about how people create, understand, and share knowledge, about what it means to be “symbol-using, symbol-abusing animals.” I will begin these reflections on and celebration of RSA’s fiftieth birthday by invoking the pivotal year of 1968 and the conflicting, cacophonous, dangerous, and inspirational narratives that contextualized our founding. I will ask what story our organization told about itself and our discipline and how that narrative has been interrogated, and on a number of fronts. Most important, I hope to challenge RSA and all of its members to take on the responsibility for creating an expansive and inclusive narrative about who we are, what we value, and what we do—and to work together to reject the current “master” narratives that seek to disenfranchise and disempower millions while advancing the interests of only a few while pursuing what I am calling narrative justice.
After the keynote address, we will adjourn next-door to a reception in honor of the Society’s 50th Anniversary. Food and a cash-bar will be provided, along with a celebratory champagne toast and cupcakes. Professor David Tell will preside over a brief ceremony in recognition of RSA’s golden anniversary.
Saturday evening at 5:30 PM we will reconvene in the space that we used for the Keynote Address to hear from three presidents of the Society. Current President, Professor Greg Clark will be joined by the RSA’s past-presidents Professor Kendall Phillips, and Professor and Chair Krista Ratcliffe to discuss the evolution that they have witnessed in RSA. In addition, they will challenge members about the future that we might (re)invent together. After their remarks, audience members will be invited to ask questions of the panel.
Following the Presidents Panel, we will honor the scholars who have received awards from the Society in 2018. Led by the Chair of the Committee on Awards, Dean Vanessa Beasley, RSA will recognize and celebrate the remarkable work that members have performed in the past year.
These evening events are only a small portion of what awaits you next week. The co-directors of this conference have scheduled special panels that focus on the conference theme of re-invention, senior / junior scholar conversations, 6 terrific Super Sessions on Saturday afternoon, research networks and so much more. There will be something at this conference for everyone who attends. The challenge you may face is what to choose when there are so many compelling options. That isn’t a bad problem to have though, is it?
With fingers crossed for good weather,
Kirt Wilson Co-Director,2018 Conference President-Elect Rhetoric Society of America