For my individualized reading/writing project, I am investigating how transnational/locational feminism has taken up rhetoric and how rhetoric has taken up transnational/locational feminism. The ultimate goal of this investigation is to develop an understanding of what role rhetoric plays in transnational/ locational feminism and how rhetoric and composition may make use of transnational feminism in our research, scholarship, and methodologies. What interests me in the few texts I have read thus far about locational feminism and rhetoric, as well as a number of articles I have read in each of my classes about the rhetorical canon, is: a.) the variety of authorized rhetorical sites, on which transnational feminists are focusing b.) the language and methodologies used to investigate these various rhetorical sites; c.) the ways in which rhetorical theory is used to deepen our understanding of these rhetorical sites; and d.) the various other theories, such as feminist, post-colonial, and critical race theory, used to study them.
I first became interested in what constitutes an authorized rhetorical site when reading “De-Canonizing Ancient Rhetoric” for the Contemporary Rhetorical Studies course I am taking from Louise. In this article, Robert Gaines calls for a constitutive rhetorical canon, which establishes a sphere of authorized investigation into texts, artifacts, and discourse venues normally dismissed as fair game for investigation. What interests me so much about the work being done with transnational feminism, or locational feminism, is the language and theories employed in looking at various geopolitical rhetorical sites in focus—women’s bodies in transnational spaces, testimonial narratives, autobiographies, documentaries and other “realist” rhetorical genres, multi-national corporate labor rhetorics, human rights rhetorics, rhetorics of rescue, rhetorics of the UN, rhetorics of US War on Sex Trafficking, Rhetorics of Liberation as Justification for War, Rhetorics of War, etc.–. I am eager to explore how Susan Stanford Friedman’s feminist grammar of the geopolitical is being used in conjunction with rhetorical theory as a means of analyzing and critiquing these various geopolitical rhetorics. I am intrigued with how Hesord and Kulbaga weave this grammar with Kenneth Burke’s theories of identification/division and consubstantiality to interrogate the “labored realisms” in Behind the Labels and Sweatshop Warriors. Part of my investigation then will focus on what constitutes rhetorical sites of investigation in transnational feminism, the discourse of transnational feminism, and the conclusions inferred about the role of rhetoric in this scholarship. I also want as I said to see what role transnational feminist analysis plays in rhetoric, looking to Wendy Hesford, Mary Queen, Rebecca Dingo and others for answers.
The reason I think I am so attracted to this work at this moment is in part because as a nascent scholar in our field, I am feeling the multipositionality Friedman speaks of in “Locational Feminism: Gender, Cultural Geographics, and Geopolitical Literacy.” When I first read her essay, I could not help but wonder how spatial rhetorics might apply in useful ways to the field of Rhetoric and Composition. As a budding scholar, I recognize the power relations embedded in the rhetoric of our disciplinary epistemology and the consequential multipositionality that defines the subjectivity of our field– a recognition that has caused some discomfort, confusion, and resistance among me. I originally wondered how an examination into how the geopolitics of rhetoric might serve as a means to “re-singularize” our transdisciplinary field into a locational rhetoric. For those of us budding scholars in the field (and veterans), this examination might help us recognize the “multiple contact zones and migratory identities that produce [interdisciplinary] exchange and hybridized combinations of ways of being and becoming” (Friedman 21). In fact, for the Research Network Forum proposal I said that in my work-in-progress, I am investigating the spatial rhetoric of Rhetoric and Composition in an effort to develop a locational rhetoric and geopolitical reconception—a reconception that may offer new insights into not only our multipositional field but also our multipositional subjectivities. In reading back on this proposal, I realize I don’t even know what that means (hah!), but what is apparent to me is that the work being done by Friedman, Hesford, Eileen and others is really useful, not only in understanding who we are as scholars in our field, but also in better understanding the complexity of our field and the rhetorics at work in the geopolitical arena.
Therefore, overall in the simplest of terms, this project is most important to me because it will help me figure out who I want to be as a scholar in our field and how I can synthesize and utilize the disciplinary multipositionality I feel within.