Vol. 5.3: Rhetoric and Social Justice

The editors of Present Tense are very pleased to announce a new issue – this one focused on the rhetorical contexts and spaces generated by protests, enacted by laws, produced in documents, and made evident in our classrooms. Many of these rhetorics are about national and cultural identity, and many of our authors in this issue have engaged these sites because they open up new confrontations, complications, and opportunities for social change. In this issue, we learn that what gets written into law is as important as what gets intentionally omitted and that campus timely warnings are likely neither timely nor warning. We also learn the value of hashtags in cultivating concerned publics, how cynicism can be productive, and how public rhetoric can be a symbolic and material activity. Many of our authors are also ultimately determined to find spaces – in discourse, online, or in the classroom – where voices can promote and fight for social justice.

Further, we feel these conversations are part of a broader trend in rhetoric and composition-oriented research and publishing – in more than one way. That is, this issue is clearly an extension of Present Tense‘s special issue on Race, Rhetoric, and the State, which we recently published. We see authors in this issue as continuing to ask questions about race, identity, politics, and rhetoric, especially as those issues impact the many communities of which we are a part. As a journal, we are proud to publish on these issues, and proud to represent a place where scholarship on social justice is welcomed and encouraged. We hope scholars from a diversity of communities, approaches, identities, and perspectives continue to see Present Tense as a journal that welcomes cutting-edge research on social justice. At a time when our journals, disciplines, schools, and communities are not as diverse and inclusive as we want, Present Tense will continue to try to make an impact in these ongoing conversations.

Volume 5.3 includes the following articles and review essays:

Rhetoric Matters: Race and ‘Slavery’ in the Trafficking Victims Protection Act“: John Gagnon analyses the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) to understand how the law has functioned in both constructing and affirming specific cultural discourses about human trafficking.

Eight Years a ‘Wooden Opponent’: Genre Change (and its Lack) in Campus Timely Warnings”: Kate Pantelides, Derek N. Mueller, and Gabriel Green trace the life of the Timely Warning, examining the discrepancy between what the Timely Warning genre was designed to with its new focus – attempting to make the campus community responsible for its own safety.

Ecologies of Race in the Public Rhetoric Classroom“: Nathaniel A. Rivers presents three pedagogical and rhetorical strategies that he has used in order to work through and discuss race.

Re-seeing Abu Ghraib: Cynical Rhetoric as Civic Engagement“: Laura Sparks explores how a “cynical rhetoric” helps us engage with and respond to evidence of detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib.

Anti-racist Activism and the Transformational Principles of Hashtag Publics: From #HandsUpDontShoot to #PantsUpDontLoot“: James Alexander McVey and Heather Suzanne Woods analyze the rhetorical properties of hashtags, explore how these rhetorical principles play out in the exemplary hashtag #HandsUpDontShoot, and study the appropriation and manipulation of #HandsUpDontShoot through the circulation of #PantsUpDontLoot.

Holly Willis reviews Lisbeth Lipari’s Listening, Thinking, Being: Toward an Ethics of Attunement.

Jaclyn M. Wells looks at Amy J. Wan’s Producing Good Citizens: Literacy Training in Anxious Times.

Josephine Walwema critiques Kevin Adonis Browne’s Tropic Tendencies: Rhetoric, Popular Culture, and the Anglophone Caribbean.


Ehren Helmut Pflugfelder, Managing Editor
Megan Schoen, Managing Editor
Cristyn L. Elder, Style Editor
Elizabeth L. Angeli, Annotated Bibliography Editor
Caitlan Spronk, Technical Editor
Allen Brizee, Review Editor
Alexandra Hidalgo, Multimedia Editor
Joshua Prenosil, Business Editor
Don Unger, Social Media Editor
Jessica E. Clements, Style Editor
John Williford, Design Editor

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