The Center for Writing Studies

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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Graduate Resources

Writing Studies Graduate Student Symposium

April 30, 2010

8:30 – 9:45: Session 1: Rhetorics of Activism and Advocacy

Alexandra Cavallaro, “‘We wanted people to have to think twice about something they do everyday': The Gay Illini and the Role of Image Events in Social Protest"

This paper uses a case study of the Gay Illini to examine the rhetorical practice of image events, a term used to describe "staged acts of protest designed for media dissemination" that use image, rather than language, as their main method of communication (DeLuca). The Gay Illini used multiple rhetorical and literate acts in their activist work, but arguably their most successful event was the 1977 "If you're gay, wear blue jeans day," (as evidenced by an increase in documented response from the community) which suggests the powerful potential of an image event in social protest. However, what made this image event particularly successful was the fact that it forced participation from the University of Illinois community by assigning temporary meaning to a common item of clothing.

Martha Webber, “Tensions in the Field: Community-Based-Learning and Service-Learning Models in Composition”

This presentation explores key community-based and service-learning definitional models from the field of rhetoric and composition to identify the tensions between conceptions of community, learning, and action.

Patrick Berry, “Reading, Writing, and Recidivism: Rhetorics of Literacy in the Prison Classroom”

What good are writing practices and rhetorical training in the lives of student-prisoners as they live and learn within prison walls? How do student-prisoners draw on rhetorics of literacy to reconstruct their past and to imagine their lives beyond the prison walls? My presentation considers how we might distinguish a rhetoric of literacy as liberation as defined by critical pedagogy from a rhetoric of literacy as myth.

Lauren Marshall Bowen, “The Absent Presence: AARP and the Curriculum of Aging.”

Through many strands of publication distributed by AARP to its 40 million members, the organization forwards far-reaching propositions about how to live well at age 50 and beyond (what I call the "curriculum of aging"). Although AARP's original mission was to establish clear social roles for seniors, rhetorical analysis of AARP's recent published material reveals over-emphasis on aging adults' hyper-awareness of their declining health, perpetuating the idea that aging is purely a state of physical decline.


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