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Workshop 12: Revealing the ductwork of rhetorical historiography

Workshop Leaders:

David Gold and Candace Epps-Robertson 

Historiographers, observed John Lewis Gaddis, “don’t like to display ductwork.” Completed historical narratives thus often appear seamless to readers, making it difficult to see the work that went into their crafting. In this workshop, we will work together to reveal the ductwork of rhetorical historiography—the intellectual and emotional labor, methods and ethics of representation, and obligations to both past and present that scholars must negotiate as they research, write, and share their histories. By making our methods and methodologies more transparent, we can collectively contribute to a more robust and ethical historiographic practice within rhetorical studies.  

To prepare for the workshop, participants will read a small course packet of readings consisting of research exemplars and share a sample of a work in progress they would like to further develop over the weekend. During the workshop, we will work together to answer questions critical to the work of rhetorical historiography: How do we effectively work with primary sources, negotiating archival scarcity as well as abundance, physical and online sources, or conflicting memories or interpretive claims? How do we ethically bring our passionate attachments to bear on our research, particularly when we have a strong affinity—or ambivalence—toward our subjects? How do we persuade other scholars of the legitimacy of our research passions, finding an exigence, audience, and venue for our work? And what work can rhetorical historiography do as it circulates, not just in scholarly circles but in classroom and public contexts? Participants will leave the workshop with a greater understanding of the “hidden work” of rhetorical historiography and with a plan of action for advancing their current research projects.  

Questions may be directed to David Gold (dpg@umich.edu).

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