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date: 26 February 2024

Rhetorical Field Methods/Rhetorical Ethnographylocked

Rhetorical Field Methods/Rhetorical Ethnographylocked

  • Roberta Chevrette, Roberta ChevretteDepartment of Communication Studies, Women's & Gender Studies Faculty, Middle Tennessee State University
  • Jenna Hanchey, Jenna HancheyHugh Downs School of Human Communication, Arizona State University
  • Michael Lechuga, Michael LechugaDepartment of Communication & Journalism, The University of New Mexico
  • Aaron HessAaron HessCollege of Integrative Sciences and Arts, Arizona State University, Downtown Phoenix
  •  and Michael K. MiddletonMichael K. MiddletonDepartment of Communication, University of Utah

Summary

Rhetorical scholars have recently taken up rhetorical field methods, rhetorical ethnography, and other participatory methods to augment textual approaches. Following critical rhetoric, field researchers engage emplaced and embodied perspectives, thereby gaining an immediate understanding of rhetoric and its effects on audiences. Rhetorical field methods/ethnography challenge key assumptions and ethics about rhetorical research, including conceptions of text, context, the critic, the rhetor, and audiences. Although antecedent work at this intersection exists, only recently have rhetorical scholars given full attention to how fieldwork orientations and participatory approaches challenge the project of rhetoric. Rhetorical field methods/ethnography have been applied in a wide array of topic areas, including social movement research, public memory, environmental/ecological rhetoric, digital rhetoric, international contexts, and audience studies. Tensions that have arisen as a consequence of taking up participatory perspectives include whether such research engages in critical/cultural appropriation or can effectively be conducted within groups that researchers ideologically oppose. Moreover, incorporating participant perspectives, non-textual elements, and affective considerations opens rhetoric to forms of expression that span well beyond traditional, logos-centered criticism. Such a move may dilute rhetorical research by flattening expression, making nearly all elements of human life open for critical consideration. Finally, rhetorical field methods/ethnography have emerged in a larger context of disciplinary reflexivity, with many questioning rhetoric’s racist and colonial histories and legacies. To this end, we offer anti-colonial landmarks, orienting toward multidimensionality, liquidity, queering, and community, while disorienting from citizenship. These landmarks trouble rhetoric’s legacies, and invite scholars to engage more deeply with de/colonial possibilities of rhetorical fieldwork.

Subjects

  • Communication Theory
  • Critical/Cultural Studies
  • Communication and Culture
  • Rhetorical Theory

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