Diversifying the History of Rhetoric Project
Rhetoric has always been a flexible and imaginative tradition, engaging and appropriating a range of other figures, traditions, or ideas throughout its history. The American Society for the History of Rhetoric has long embraced the engagement and pluralism inherent in rhetoric, and has encouraged wide-ranging explorations into rhetoric in all of its forms and cultural instantiations.
At the 2018 ASHR Symposium on “Diversity and Rhetorical Traditions,” we initiated a conversation among leading rhetorical scholars about the promises and challenges of diversifying our courses in the history of rhetoric. Some teachers of rhetoric recognized the need to add further diversify their syllabi and courses with the addition of overlooked figures, traditions, or cultures, but they indicated that they often did not know where to start in expanding who and what they teach in the history of rhetoric.
It is with this challenge in mind that we are embarking on two related projects.
First, we will begin hosting a variety of syllabi submitted by its members. These will help us see the range of content that others are teaching in their history of rhetoric courses.
Second, ASHR is initiating a project on “Diversifying the Teaching of the History of Rhetoric.” Rhetoric and those that teach it have always been attuned to and respectful of diversity and difference in the development of the rhetorical tradition. But there are always cultures, traditions, groups, and figures that we could find reason to give more attention to in our courses.
As this project develops, ASHR will share a variety of concise but informative teaching resources on its website and social media channels. These will highlight traditions, figures, and cultures that some might want to include in their courses on rhetoric and its histories.
By briefly exploring often-overlooked contexts and texts, figures and groups, these documents will show interested teachers a path forward to further diversify their courses. Topics such as forgotten female voices in the history of rhetoric and traditions such as African and Arabic rhetoric are slated to be covered in the initial stages of this project.
ASHR’s syllabi repository and teaching resources will be free for all to use. If ASHR members have an interest in and knowledge of an area, tradition, figure, or culture that might be of use to others wanting to expand their rhetoric courses, feel free to propose a teaching resource unit on this topic by contacting me here.
— Scott R. Stroud, ASHR President