American Society for the History of Rhetoric (ASHR) 2022 Symposium

Baltimore, Maryland | May 25-27, 2022
Immediately prior to the 2022 Rhetoric Society of America Convention

Rhetoric in Motu

Many definitions of rhetoric center around the ability to move, inspire, motivate, or energize. From the ability to call masses to action, to the catalyzing of social movements that interrogate and redefine the status quo, rhetoric is about mobility, motion, movement, potentiality, and energy.

Rhetoric in motu, a counterpart to our past symposium theme of rhetoric in situ, is the theme of the 2022 American Society for the History of Rhetoric (ASHR) Symposium, the first after a global pandemic that had forced many to stop and stay mostly in one place, location, nation, while challenging notions of presence and movement through technological and digital innovations. The COVID-19 pandemic has amplified and made visible inequalities, differences as systemic, historic, stubborn in their stasis, yet moving many to new or renewed action. Rhetoric in motu is about mobility, motion, movement, energy, corporeality, connecting back to the 2020 symposium theme of excess, superfluidity, infinity, extravagance, and immoderation.

Keynote Speakers:

We are excited to announce three keynote speakers who will address the theme of the 2022 ASHR Symposium, rhetoric in motu: Maryam Ahmadi, Dr. Rudo Mudiwa, and Dr. Karrieann Soto Vega.

Maryam Ahmadi is a PhD candidate in the Rhetoric, Politics, & Culture program in the Department of Communication Arts at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She holds a BA in English and an MA in Political Sociology from the University of Tehran. Her research explores the possibilities and limits of the rhetorics of epistemic decolonization, with current work focused on the discourse of gharbzadegi [occidentosis] within the context of the Iranian Revolution of 1979. By engaging rhetorical theory and history, postcolonial and decolonial studies, and theories of political economy, Maryam examines the rhetoric of gharbzadegi as a geo- and body-politically specific genre of epistemic decolonization to consider how non-Western rhetorics and knowledges resist and/or replicate the machinery of epistemic and economic violence.

Dr. Rudo Mudiwa is an interdisciplinary scholar of race, rhetoric, and gender whose research focuses on the politics and promise of decolonization in Africa. She is presently working on a book manuscript titled, A Nation of Prostitutes: Sex Work, Policing and the Invention of Zimbabwe, which examines how anxieties about the mobilities of black women in urban space—symbolized by the figure of the prostitute—animated the early years of Zimbabwe’s independence. This research was funded by the Social Science Research Council and earned the American Society for the History of Rhetoric’s 2019 Dissertation Award. Mudiwa is currently a Presidential Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Princeton. In the fall of 2021, she will be joining UC Irvine as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Gender and Sexuality Studies.

Dr. Karrieann Soto Vega is Assistant Professor of Writing, Rhetoric, and Digital Studies at the University of Kentucky, where she is also affiliated with the Department of Gender and Women’s Studies, and with the Latin American, Caribbean, and Latinx Studies Program. Her research and pedagogical interests span Puerto Rican and Latinx rhetoric, decolonial and transnational feminisms, social movements and sovereignty struggles across oceanic borderspaces and modalities. The 2018 American Society for the History of Rhetoric Dissertation Award in 2018 was awarded to her dissertation, titled “Rhetorics of Defiance: Gender, Colonialism, and Lolita Lebrón’s Struggle for Puerto Rican Sovereignty.” More recent work can be found in the Journal for the History of Rhetoric, Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies, and in Enculturation: A Journal of Rhetoric, Writing, and Culture. She served as board member of RSA from 2018-2022 and is looking forward to serving the discipline in other ways in the near future.

Additional Details and Submission Information:

The goal of the symposium is to generate conversation about mobility, motion, energy, environmental and physical practices around the movement, habits, ideas and practices of people throughout the history of rhetoric.

Following recent decisions in and around academe to feature and support the work of emerging, independent, and untenured scholars (e.g., the American Council of Learned Societies), we invite submissions exclusively from early-career scholars (pre-tenure, non-tenure track, post-docs, graduate and undergraduate students), independent scholars, artists, and practitioners in the history and practice of rhetoric.

We invite proposals for contributions that include but are not limited to academic and non-academic papers, such as: art, poetry, dance, film performances/exhibits/installations and other creative formats and ways to engage with and challenge the history and historiography of rhetoric.

Potential lines of inquiry include:

+ What terms or ideas around mobility, motion, energy, corporeality within the history of rhetoric await further development?

+ When and for whom can mobility, movement, and energy be modes of liberation?

+ Who and what are allowed to be mobile, free to move or to have and display energy, who and what are not, and who decides?

+ What political modes connect to discourses of mobility, motion, movement, energy for corporeal and inhuman objects, and how do they work rhetorically?

+ What aesthetic modes have arisen from a spirit of mobility, movement, motion, energetic forces and how do they work rhetorically?

+ What kinds of media and other innovative forms and cultural practices have developed because of/through mobility, motion, movement, energy? What cases are made for their necessity? Who makes them?

+ What’s the relationship between mobility and immobility? Can we conceive of movement without stoppage? 

+ Pedagogically or methodologically, how does one account for and do justice to the vastness of the history of rhetoric? How does pedagogy connect and relate to movement/motion/energy, especially considering the ways COVID has warped teaching and our classrooms?

Use this form for all submissions of proposals: no later than September 15, 2021, at midnight (EST). 

There is no cost to attend the Symposium, but all presenters must be members of ASHR (joining can happen after acceptance) and must register for the RSA 2022 conference (see the RSA call for papers here:

For more information on ASHR and becoming a member, visit

Email questions to Alessandra Von Burg,

2022 ASHR Symposium @RSA Planning Committee:

Natalie Bennie, Penn State University

Marissa Croft, Northwestern University

Cory Geraths, Wabash College

Jordan Houston, Wake Forest University

Ruby Johnston, Penn State University

Jennie Keohane, University of Baltimore

Michele Kennerly, Penn State University

Allison Prasch, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Alessandra Von Burg, Wake Forest University