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College of Arts & Sciences
Speech Communication & Rhetoric

Conference on Rhetorical Theory

The need to reflect on the possibilities of written and oral discourse is ongoing. What becomes of the word is neither timeless nor sheerly contingent. The grounds, operations, and power of human expression are a gift not (a) given. The event, potential, and limit of rhetoric is disclosed within the signs of the times, including the alleged exhaustion of utopian energy, the condemnation of theory as self-indulgence, and the failure of rhetoric itself to reflect on how its various historical-disciplinary idioms might energize social-political critique.

The University of South Carolina Conference on Rhetorical Theory is a conference series dedicated to the critical and interdisciplinary study of rhetorical theory. Convened by the USC Rhetoric Program, the series seeks to open and sustain a space for scholars from a variety of perspectives and fields to undertake dialogue and advanced study that maps, traverses, and builds the terrain of rhetorical theory. Foremost, the forums creation is rooted in the apparent need to ask the question of theory, the problem of what may yet be disclosed by directed inquiry into the ontological, conceptual, performative, and ethical standing of rhetorical life. Through a series of events that thematize various historical and contemporary problematics, the conference series seeks to support and sustain a conversation amongst those interested to imagine rhetorics unspoken possibilities.

Inaugurated in October 2008, the conference reconvened on October 15-17, 2009 and will hereafter be held on a biannual basis. Requests for information and questions about the conference may be sent to the conference directors at

Conference Directors: Erik Doxtader, Mindy Fenske, and John Muckelbauer