American Society for the History of Rhetoric (ASHR) Symposium

EXCESS!!!! in/and the History of Rhetoric

UPDATE: March 30, 2020

Dear ASHR Members:

We hope you are doing alright in these upset and upsetting times.

We write to update you on the status of the ASHR Symposium. In consultation with the presenters, we have decided to avail of a different and optional format: presenters have been invited to create 3-5-minute audio or video files that tease the content of what would have been their presentations. We will host these files on the ASHR website. Expect another message from us in June with instructions on how to access them.

Until then,

Wishing you well,
Michele Kennerly, ASHR President
with the Steering Committee


Thursday, May 21, 2020
Pavilion West, Hilton, Portland Downtown (RSA convention hotel)

Coffee & Opening Remarks
Michele Kennerly, Penn State University, ASHR President 

Session 1: Overwhelming Bodies and Minds

Madeline Denison, Northwestern University
“Madness, Excess, and Rhetoric Beyond Phaedrus

Timothy Barr, Northeastern University
“The Enthusiast in English Baroque Rhetoric”

Miles Young, Penn State University
“Patty Hearst’s Potassium: Bodies, Brainwashing, and Excessive Rhetorical Power”

Chair TBD

Session 2: Working through Excesses that Trouble the Study of Historical Women

Brittany Knutson, University of Minnesota
“Excessive Expressions in Anne Askew’s Examination: The Importance of Accurate Attribution”

Diana Bowen, Pepperdine University
Zazil Reyes García, University of Incarnate Word
“Decolonizing Rhetorical Strategies via Radionovela in the Republic of Ecuador”


Session 3: Broadening the Insular 

Brian J. Stone, Indiana State University
“Hisperic Style and the Third Sophistic”

Bill Endres, University of Oklahoma
“The Age of Rhetorical Wonder: Medieval Reinvention of Rhetoric in the Pages of Early Manuscripts”

Keynote 1 – “Excess in Meaning: How the Ancient Interpretive Stases Create and Mitigate Surplus Readings of Texts”
Martin Camper, Loyola University Maryland

Lunch (on your (plural) own)

Session 4: Democratic Dramatics, 1840-1940

Mark-Anthony Lewis, Bristol Community College
“Buffooning, Not Cooning: The Careful Oratory of Frederick Douglass”

Jane Donawerth, University of Maryland
“Excessorizing Rhetoric in Suffrage Plays”

Jordana Cox, University of Waterloo
“Journalistic Imagination and the Federal Theatre Project’s Living Newspapers”

Session 5: Extravagance as Vice, Extravagance as Virtue

Marissa Croft, Northwestern University
“Slaves to Fashion: The Revolutionary Response to Rococo Excess”

Lois Agnew, Syracuse University
“Excess as Resistance: Thomas De Quincey’s Eddying Thought” 

Cody A. Jackson, Texas Christian University
“Sensation, Temporality, and the Excesses of Autistic Rhetoricity: Toward an Anti-Ableist Rhetorical Education”


Keynote 2 – “Excessively Harsh Critique and Democratic Rhetoric: Bhimrao Ambedkar and the Riddles of Pragmatism in India”
Scott Stroud, University of Texas at Austin

Friday, May 22, 2020

Session 6: Breaking Down and Adding Up Words and Things

Roberto S. Leon, University of Maryland
“The Early Modern Reception of Erasmus’s De Rerum Copia Commentarius Secundus

Damien Smith Pfister, University of Maryland
“Excess Between Grammar and Rhetoric”

Session 7: Inventing and Disinventing Within & Across Borders

Jamie L. Downing, Georgia College and State University
“An Obligation of Excess: Purim Celebrations, Diasporic Memory, and the Reconstitution of Community”

José Manuel Cortez, University of Oregon
“Disinventions: Rhetoric Impassing through the US/Mexico Borderlands”

Ann Meejung Kim, University of Wisconsin-Madison
“Linking Absences: Shaping Memories of the Landscape through Pyoseok Memorials in Seoul, Korea”


Keynote 3 – “Excessive Temper(ament), Flawed Character: Blending the Medical and the Ethical in the History of Rhetoric”
Caroline Petit, University of Warwick

Call for Papers: American Society for the History of Rhetoric Symposium

in/and the History of Rhetoric

May 21-22, 2020 ~ Portland, Oregon, U.S.A.
(immediately prior to the 2020 Rhetoric Society of America convention)

Rhetoric’s strain of restraint and regulation is well known, identified and sustained by concepts like reason, order, fittingness, and civility. Less celebrated is the strain characterized by excess, surplus, riotousness, redundancy, superfluidity, hyperbolicity, emotionality, generosity, infinity, overabundance, extravagance, decadence, exaggeration, abandon, or immoderation.

For its 2020 symposium—which will take place on May 21-22, the day and morning before the Rhetoric Society of America convention begins in Portland, Oregon (U.S.A.)—the American Society for the History of Rhetoric invites proposals for papers that use the history of rhetoric (including its 20thcentury history) to generate conversation about excess or that use excess to generate conversation about the history of rhetoric.

Here are some potential lines of inquiry:

  • What terms for or moments of excess within the history of rhetoric await further development? 
  • Pedagogically or methodologically, how does one account for and do justice to the vastness of the history of rhetoric?
  • When and for whom can excess be a mode of liberation?
  • Who and what are allowed to be excessive, who and what are not, and who decides?
  • What political modes have arisen from a spirit of excess (e.g., caricature; crowd power), and how do they work rhetorically?
  • What aesthetic modes have arisen from a spirit of excess (e.g., Baroque; Dada; camp), and how do they work rhetorically?
  • What kinds of media forms and cultural practices have developed due to excess-panic? What cases are made for their necessity? Who makes them?
  • What’s the relationship between excess and waste? Can we conceive of excess without waste?

Proposals should be:

  • in .doc, .docx, or .pdf, single-spaced, 1-page in length, in English (though translated engagements with other languages are encouraged), with author name/s removed;
  • submitted to incoming ASHR President Michele Kennerly at by no later than September 15, 2019.

There is no cost to attend the Symposium, but all presenters must be members of ASHR (joining can happen after acceptance). For more information on ASHR and becoming a member, visit