Rhetorical Critic(ism)'s Body: Affect and Fieldwork on a Plane of Immanence

George F. McHendry, Michael K. Middleton, Danielle Endres, Samantha Senda-Cook, Megan O'Byrne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Rhetorical interventions, witnessed from Tahrir Square to Zuccotti Park, demonstrate the potential of local political collectivities and grassroots communities to rhetorically craft broadly shared oppositional identities, commonly held ideologies, and communally constructed symbolic resources. Likewise, they confront rhetorical theorists with a proliferation of everyday, ephemeral, and mundane rhetorical actions that demand a rethinking of what constitutes the object of rhetorical criticism. In this article, we join efforts to theorize the shift from focusing on traditional rhetorical artifacts to attending to rhetorical exchanges encountered by in situ rhetoricians. We expand on contemporary efforts to theorize this shift by focusing on immanent participation as a critical practice through which critics embed their bodies in a web of interpersonal relationships, affective claims on the critic, potential vulnerabilities, and political choices. We augment our theoretical arguments with vignettes from our own fieldwork to illuminate these tensions. And, we consider the implications of immanent participation for rhetorical field research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)293-310
Number of pages18
JournalSouthern Communication Journal
Volume79
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Communication

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