What, when & where
Rhetoric as Strategic Thinking
8th Rhetoric in Society Conference
Eberhard Karls University, 26–28 May 2021
Organized by the Rhetoric Society of Europe in collaboration with the
Institute for General Rhetoric and the Institute for Media Studies at Tübingen University
With its focus on ‘strategy’ and ‘strategic thinking,’ the Rhetoric in Society 8 conference discusses the ways we define rhetoric as a specific form of communication, argumentation, persuasion, or mediation. Strategic thinking as a complex cognitive activity involves the mental representation of a goal as well as an understanding of the ways and means to achieve this goal through communicative action. Rhetors are expected to imagine a number of possible scenarios before deciding on a specific strategy and even to adjust this strategy during a campaign or even during a single speech. As Quintilian famously put it in his Institutio oratoria (II, 13, 2, transl. Butler): “If the whole of rhetoric could be thus embodied in one compact code, it would be an easy task of little compass: but most rules are liable to be altered by the nature of the case, circumstances time and place, and by hard necessity itself. Consequently, the all-important gift for an orator is a wise adaptability since he is called upon to meet the most varied emergencies.” The bellicose metaphor of the commander (strategos) is often used in ancient rhetorical theories to conceive of the orator’s ability to adjust a strategic plan to specific circumstances or specific audiences. Like the commander, Quintilian’s orator has to find answers “in the circumstances of the case.” (Institutio oratoria, II, 13, 5, transl. Butler).
The conference endeavors to discuss rhetoric as strategic thinking in order to both define and question a key characteristic of rhetorical communication. It does so by exploring different concepts from different disciplinary backgrounds, such as argumentation, strategic maneuvering, imagination and mental simulation, rhetorical agency, situational rhetoric, literature and linguistics, political theory, communication and media studies, organizational rhetoric/communication, public relations, philosophy of language and many more. We would also like to discuss the blurring boundaries between rhetoric and other forms of strategic communication such as manipulation, propaganda, or populism, to assess the strategies applied by human and non-human actors in scripted or artificial media environments, and to explore the conditions responsible for the success or failure of rhetorical strategies and tactics in societies that are increasingly coping with polarization, radicalization and deception.
We also invite proposals for papers and panels more generally concerned with the theory, practice or analysis of rhetoric. This may include, for example, historical scholarship, theoretical analysis and contemporary cultural or political critique; work grounded in political theory, philosophy, languages and linguistics, argumentation, literary studies, communication studies, composition, media studies, psychology, sociology, history, cultural studies and more. Papers might be comparative, national or international in focus, concerned with particular orators, ideologies or movements and focus on spoken, written or audio-visual communication.
We welcome proposals for forms of presentation other than panels and papers. This might include: roundtables addressing key rhetorical themes, works or phenomena; debates between contending positions; other, novel and effective ways of communicating research findings, claims and arguments.
Deadline & how to apply
Please submit your paper proposals by September 30th 2020 to firstname.lastname@example.org
We will inform you about our decision December 1st 2020.
Please do not submit more than two proposals. Panel proposals should not comprise more than four individual papers.
Other info, Links & conditions