Edited by Amanda K. Booher (University of Akron) and Julie Jung (Illinois State University)
This collection engages emerging scholarship in feminisms, rhetorics, and science studies for purposes of theorizing the most recent “material turn” in the scene of feminist rhetorics. On the one hand, the material turn invites more robust theorizations of materiality that have long been a concern for feminist rhetoricians. Posthumanist theories and object-oriented philosophies, for example, resonate with existing scholarship that studies rhetoric in excess of human symbolic action. Such inquiries consider how, for example, embodiment is rhetorical (Hawhee; Micciche; Selzer and Crowley); embodied experiences exceed normative narratives and thus resist discursive incorporation (Hesford; Wiederhold; Worsham); embodiment functions as an originary and prediscursive site of rhetorical agency (Cooper; Davis); and rhetorical interactions can be understood as dynamic ecologies of material and discursive objects (Hawk; Rice; Rickert). The significance of the material can also be seen in the re-turn to questions of methodology and the concomitant need to understand research as embodied practice situated in space and time (Jack; Schell and Rawson; Royster and Kirsch). Studies of archival practices in particular emphasize the affordances of conceptualizing historical inquiry as the study of interactions between discourses and material artifacts (Donahue and Moon; Enoch; Kirsch and Rohan; Ramsey, et al.; Rawson; Ritter; Wells). Paramount in all these inquiries is the impetus to theorize rhetoric as being inextricably connected to issues of language and human agency, but not limited to only them.
On the other hand, while emerging theories of materiality are attuned to important issues in contemporary rhetoric scholarship, they also raise concerns for scholars doing work in feminist rhetorics. Specifically, mainstream posthumanism’s emphasis on the symmetry between humans and nonhumans, and object-oriented philosophy’s claim that everything is an object, eclipse issues of difference within the category of “human” and thus elide questions about how such distinctions get made, why, and to what effect. Undertheorized uptakes of posthumanist scholarship thus risk resinscribing a privileged position that allows one to minimize the body—-its agencies, variances, e/affects—-by placing it on an immanent plane with all other objects.
To contest this privilege, this collection attends to the rhetorical complexities of differentiated embodiment (in terms of both its production and effects) by forging a collective via the heading feminist rhetorical science studies (FRSS). Broadly defined, feminist science studies (FSS) examines the ways in which scientific theories emerge within specific historical, social, and economic contexts; challenges scientific research used to legitimate oppression and violence; and considers how categories of difference affect the making and meaning of scientific knowledge, and how these have led to exclusions, both in terms of who does science and what science does. Feminist rhetorical science studies enhances this ongoing inquiry by conceptualizing rhetoric as a discursive-material phenomenon via Karen Barad’s articulation of posthumanism: an investigation of “the material-discursive boundary-making practices that produce ‘objects’ and ‘subjects’ and other differences out of, and in terms of, a changing [dynamic] relationality” (93).
This collection thus studies rhetoric in excess of language use and conscious intentionality, while also examining how differences within the category of “human” get made and how dominant interpretations of what these differences mean produce material effects that benefit some and do violence to others. In short, _Feminist Rhetorical Science Studies_ investigates the discursive-material relationalities of gender, race, ability, and other corporeal differences as theorized in the physical, biological, and social sciences. It contextualizes and re-politicizes relationships between objects, materials, and bodies of all different sorts. In so doing, it fills gaps in both feminist science studies and rhetoric studies by articulating a theoretically complex body of scholarship that makes important contributions to each.
Given the above, the editors welcome theoretical submissions that consider but are not limited to the following themes: scientific racism; scientific ableism; environmental justice; the biology of persuasion; western appropriations of Indigenous science; transnational feminisms and rhetorics of science; language, embodiment, and the un/making of difference-as-deficiency; feminist rhetorical histories of science; research methodologies in feminist rhetorical science studies. Rhetorical analyses that theorize the implications of those analyses for feminist rhetorical science studies as described above are welcome. Possible questions to consider include:
• What dis/connections can we make between contemporary scholarship in feminist rhetorics and feminist science studies? What sorts of feminist interventions do these dis/connections make possible?
• What theory can we build in feminist rhetorical science studies by productively engaging-—through extension and/or critique—-scholarship in areas including
• posthumanist feminist science studies (Barad; Braidotti; Haraway;
Hayles; Squier: Stengers);
• new materialist feminisms (Ahmed; Braidotti; Coole and Frost;
• object-oriented ontologies (Bennett; Bogost; Bryant; Harman; Latour);
• systems theories (Clarke and Hansen; de Landa; La Duke; Kauffman;
Luhmann; Maturana and Varela; Mazis; Stephens; Wolfe)?
• What interventions might theories of bodies/embodiment (e.g., critical race theory, disability/ableism studies, queer theory, biopolitics, etc.) bring to feminist rhetorical science studies?
• How might social inequality be theorized as both an ontological fact as well as an emergent property of systems in which categories that mark bodies-as-deficiencies are but one element?
• What are the risks and affordances of using posthumanist theories as methodologies for research in feminist rhetorical science?
• What theories and methodologies for studying the production and uses of science from a feminist framework exist in other disciplines? What can we learn from these projects? What can we contribute to them?
500-word proposals are due by April 4, 2014. Notifications of acceptance will be sent by June 15, 2014. Completed manuscripts will be due December 15, 2014.