Workshop 14: Queer(s in) Publics
Jonathan Alexander and Jacqueline Rhodes
Queer publics break boundaries. Queer publics shatter norms. Queer publics provide safe spaces. Queer publics critique dominant publics. Queer publics celebrate alternate ways of being. These assumptions and others have been central to the practice and study of queer rhetoric for years. And yet, two decades after heralding the world-making potential of queer publics and counterpublics (Berlant and Warner) the goals, needs, politics, challenges, and potential of queer(s) in public spheres have changed. As such, following broader considerations by queer theory scholars, rhetorical scholars and activists must ask “what is queer about queer publics now?” At the heart of answering this question is not just a re-evaluation of what we mean by “queer” or “public” in the 21st century, but a reconsideration of what we mean by “queer publics,” how queer publics function, and who they address or fail to address.
In this workshop, we will investigate challenges, issues, and strategies for circulating queer rhetoric across, within, and beyond the academic queer public. This workshop will consist of a set of shared activities over the course of two days, including: the discussion of a half-dozen paired readings bridging both academic and popular publics and counterpublics; workshopping participant projects in small groups; and off-site interactions with queer collectives and communities engaged in public rhetorical work in the Washington, D.C. area (if possible).
Prospective participants will be asked to submit a 2-3 page pitch for a queer project that straddles or breaks the boundaries between academic and non-academic (counter-)publics. Project pitches should detail how the participant imagines their past, future, or in-progress queer rhetorical scholarship/activism/artistry could be circulated effectively beyond the academic queer public.