Cultural Rhetorics 2018 Recap

On November 15th-17th, WRAC hosted the biennial Cultural Rhetorics Conference at the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center. Started in 2014 by managing coordinators Malea Powell and Phil Bratta, this conference has since grown into a Consortium. It has also spawned the constellations journal, an online publishing space focused on cultural rhetorics. The 2018 conference featured many interesting presentations, roundtables, poster and make-in sessions, and performances on topics ranging from Professional Writing in other schools to queer rhetorics and teaching. This article will highlight but a fraction of the conference’s offerings.

Grad students Elise Dixon, Rachel Robinson, and Kate Firestone and R&W alum Katie Manthey facilitated the Make-In space “Rage Against the Ma-Zine.” This space ran throughout the conference and encouraged participants and attendees to create their own “zine” out of old magazines and other paper material. A “zine” is a small booklet created by one person or a small group of people and is a combination of text and images that center around a topic of interest. Example zines ranged in topic from babies to fashion.

Grad student Hannah Brady Espinoza presented her journey of cultivating a garden in “Growing Decolonial Methodology.” She talked about the connection between her relationship to the land and how her garden related to her studies and teaching. She used a slideshow with pictures of the progress of her garden and read from journal entries on the musings of the garden and how she is giving back to the land. Hannah concluded by talking about her relationship with the garden today. She has a young son and is not able to take care of the garden as much as she used to, but is teaching her son about how to tend to the garden and what that land means to both of them.

R&W alum Andrea Riley Mukavetz and WRAC professor Kathleen Livingston took part in a performance titled “Bearing Witness, Building Community: Constellating Stories of Survivance.” Held in the Kellogg Center’s auditorium, which provided the performance with an appropriate sense of gravitas, the performance contained several tales of Native American survivance. Readers shared poems and other pieces that painted vivid images of multiple difficult topics, such as racism, sexism, gender-based violence, genocide, and human trafficking. Many of the pieces were dedicated to victims of murder and other heinous crimes. Some included multimedia aspects, such as a slideshow to correspond with different parts of a story about an investigation.

The cultural rhetorics conference was rife with diversity, in regard to its attendees’ identities, the topics covered, and the storytelling methods on display. Even so, the conference’s mission remained consistent. It exists to foster an environment of collaboration and engagement, to provide a place for people to discuss cultures on small and large scales alike. Professor Bill Hart-Davidson said it best: “We appreciate your amazing efforts to create space and opportunity for this important work.” Thank you to all who attended this amazing conference and made such conversations possible!

Written by Andrea Mackey and Tim Snyder

Photos by Ja’La Wourman