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Seminar 4: The Rhetorical Spaces of Memory: Memorials, Cities, and Civic Life

Seminar Leaders:

Carole Blair, University of North Carolina
Greg Dickinson, Colorado State University

            For more than a quarter of a century, rhetorical scholars have fixed on the relations among rhetoric, memory, and space. The interest in these relations is stronger now even than in the 1980s and 1990s, when rhetorical scholars, writing especially about the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, reanimated long-dormant interests in memory and the materiality of rhetoric. In contemporary times, engaging the rhetorical space of memory compels scholars to consider diverse critical and theoretical concerns, including the rhetorical force of memory, understandings of space and the built environment, issues of rhetoric’s materiality, and the appropriate critical approaches for addressing such matters. The rhetorical space of memory serves as the generative focus for this seminar.

            The seminar will commence by tracing some of the strands of historical and theoretical relations among rhetoric, memory, and space. We will then turn attention to two major figures around which these relations are played out: sites of commemoration and sites of daily, public life, such as cities and suburbs. While these major figures appear rather different in type (e.g., sites of commemoration often reference preferred civic values overtly, whereas in everyday spaces these references are less explicit), powerful issues of civic, public, and corporate life resound in these spaces alike.

            The seminar will proceed in two broad and interwoven segments. First, we will share a combined reading list that will ground our collective conversations regarding the major critical, theoretical, historical, and methodological concerns produced within the study of rhetoric, memory, and space. Second, working with participant-generated projects, we will map the possible procedures for completing new scholarship.          

            The goals of the seminar are to allow participants to develop a deeper and more complex understanding of the relations imbued in rhetorical spaces of memory; to animate renewed energy and direction towards the pursuit of pursue research projects on memory, space, memorials, and/or cities; and to encourage the creation of rhetorical spaces of memory where, for at least a week, we can study ancient and contemporary relations among rhetoric, memory, space, and civic life.

            We invite participants in all stages of their careers as scholars interested in the rhetorical spaces of memory to apply for this seminar.

Questions should be directed to Greg Dickinson, Greg.Dickinson@ColoState.EDU


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