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Workshop 13: Writing Sensory Rhetorics

Workshop Leaders:

Debra Hawhee and Steph Ceraso 

There is a growing body of scholarship on sensation in rhetoric (Hawhee, Rickert, Ott) and adjacent fields—anthropology, philosophy, political theory, media studies, sound studies. Collectively, this work has influenced the ways that we understand and experience a variety of texts, environments, objects, and human and nonhuman interactions. While work on sensation has opened up exciting possibilities for rhetorical studies, it can be difficult to put sensory experiences into words (let alone translate them for academic audiences). How do scholars account for and theorize fleeting sensory encounters? What kinds of research methods and writing strategies are available for scholars of sensation? This workshop will explore a range of critical approaches to sensuous scholarship in rhetoric in order to 1) delineate and 2) meet the challenges that accompany researching and writing about sensory rhetorics.

The allotted time will be split evenly between 1) discussion of select readings that consider methodological and conceptual approaches, and 2) writing workshops. 

Discussion sessions may focus on the following topics:

  • Qualitative methods for sensory rhetorics
  • Disability studies
  • Writing sensory histories
  • Terminological precision: affect or sensation?
  • Sensuous prose, scholarly style

Readings may include selections by Salome Voegelin, Brandon LaBelle, Laura Marks, Sarah Pink, Debra Hawhee, Steph Ceraso, and from the volumes Participatory Critical Rhetoric (authored by Michael Middleton, Aaron Hess, Danielle Endres, and Samantha Senda-Cook) Unruly Rhetorics (Eds. Alexander, Jarratt and Welch) and Text + Field (Eds. McKinnon, Asen, and Chávez). 

This workshop invites participants to adopt and/or develop sensuous research and writing strategies for their own scholarly projects. To prepare, participants will be asked to submit 20-25 pages of writing to members of a small working group one month in advance of the workshop. Applications should briefly detail the planned focus of that writing. Participants will leave the workshop with a list of theoretical considerations and strategies for researching and writing about sensory rhetorics, as well as concrete feedback on their works in progress. 

Contact information:

Debra Hawhee: dhw112@psu.edu
Steph Ceraso: stephceraso@gmail.com  

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