Reconfiguring Rhetorical Studies


The Historical Scope of Rhetorical Studies

Rhetorical studies has, for most of its history, been the integrated study of persuasion in written and oral communication. Through the 19th century, the American university had not yet fragmented into contemporary disciplinary structures. As a result, the study of language, the mind, and society synthesized work now identified as interdisciplinary.

By 1900, literary studies, psychology and philosophy had differentiated. By 1920, public speaking coalesced as its own intellectual field. By the 1960s, scholars in composition studies began to assert their intellectual independence. As a result, the rhetorical tradition, as a more-or-less coherent pedagogical and theoretical tradition, was subdivided. Aspects of rhetorical theory migrated into philosophy, sociology and psychology of language, as well as literary criticism. Aspects of pedagogy and criticism migrated into Departments of Writing Studies and of Communication Studies.

The Current Scope of the Interdisciplinary Graduate Group, Reconfiguring Rhetorical Studies

Contemporary emphases on interdisciplinary research and teaching offer us a unique possibility to cross the divides that have fragmented rhetorical studies. The IDGG is focused on three goals:

  1. The interdisciplinary construction of rhetorical theory, drawing from: (a) the classical tradition; (b) contemporary critical and social theory; and (c) cutting edge research in fields like cognitive science and philosophy
  2. The interdisciplinary practice of rhetorical criticism of a great diversity of texts (including and not limited to political, literary, scientific, professional and popular texts) from a diversity of critical methods.
  3. The interdisciplinary refinement of rhetorical pedagogy for written, oral and new media teaching.


The primary contact for this group is David Beard (Department of Writing Studies, UM-Duluth, Richard Graff (Department of Writing Studies, UMTC) is also a member of the leadership team.





David Beard Writing Studies
David Gore Communication
Richard Graff Writing Studies
Alan Gross* Communication Studies
Mark Huglen Arts, Humanities/Soc Sci
Kenneth Marunowski Writing Studies
Elizabeth Nelson Communication
Juli Parrish Writing Studies
Michael Pfau Communication
Ed Schiappa* Communication Studies
Arthur Walzer* Communication Studies

* These members will participate in the IDGG to the extent permitted by the geographical distance between the Duluth and Twin Cities campuses.

News and Announcements

Inclusive Game Design I: Charles McGregor in conversation with Nic VanMeerten, and Ed Downs
Martin Library Rotunda, UMD Campus
Thursday, October 6, 2016 | 3:30 - 5 p.m | Webcast to UMTC | Free

A Panel Discussion Addressing Community Needs and Players as Creators
Inclusive game development is a rising approach that refers to more directly involving players and community members represented in a game in the design and creation of that game. The intention of inclusive game development is to ensure that the game first and foremost meets the needs of the players, responds to and addresses issues that the community deems important, and more directly respects players as creators rather than simply consumers. Panelists include Charles McGregor, Ed Downs, and Nic VanMeerten.

Inclusive Game Design II:  Janelle Pewapsconias of Neeched Up Games in Conversation with Elizabeth LaPensée, Michigan State University
Research for Indigenous Community Health Center
Suite A, 212 W 2nd St., Duluth, MN 55802
Friday, November 4, 2016 | 4 - 5 p.m. | Free (contact Beth LaPensee to ensure a seat)