Rhetoric is not a rainstorm, it is a groundswell. It doesn’t rain down on us from the sky, from those who have authority. Instead, it rises up from the ground, rhetoric is made by the people and groups who employ it. As a student of social movements, I have always felt that it is more our job as scholars to understand the rhetoric as it rises than to push to fit it within our existing conventions and theoretical frameworks.
Working collaboratively with students, with an emerging generation of scholars, as they re-defined, re-examined, and re-invented rhetoric this semester has solidified my belief in the iterative percolation of the rhetorical tableau. These co-authors urged me to look at conventions with new lenses, to think about the impact of speech in more expansive ways, and to fully divorce myself from any illusion of rhetorical stagnancy. Their passion and creativity enlivened my own rhetorical analysis and I found myself incorporating their interpretations of terms into my own daily rhetorical interpretations.
Shelley Sizemore, Director of Community Partnerships in the Office of Civic & Community Engagement, Wake Forest University