Speech 31: Rhetoric of Social Justice: Public Advocacy and Social Justice Movements

"Standing Rock," "BlackLivesMatter," "Arab Spring," "#MeToo," "#NoBanNoWall" and other contemporary social movements in the US and around the world bear strong resemblance to those in the past in that social protests have been, and continue to be, definitively rhetorical. This course focuses on theorizing the relationship between rhetoric and social movements from a historical and contemporary perspective. Our focal point will be rights-based campaigns of movements seeking socio-political legitimacy and equality. This course will also explore the pivotal role strategic communication plays in effective advocacy. We will track common rhetorical appeals in selected social movement manifestos, analyze the roles of digital space for social change, assess the lives and works of public advocates, and jointly draft persuasive intervention proposals on urgent public matters.

Course Details

No prerequisites. Limited enrollment.

Instructor: TBD

Distributive: ART

World Culture: CI

Offered: Not offered in the period 21X through 23S.

View the ORC description.

Course Summary

This course will help you to better understand and develop robust knowledge of social protest as a rhetorical act across different eras, contexts, publics, etc. We will accomplish this broader objective by:

  • Understanding the nuanced relations between rhetoric and social movement in both historical and contemporary contexts
  • Identifying multiple rhetorical situations through which social justice movement manifests, spreads, and influences public policies and opinions
  • Understanding why and how specific rhetorical strategies deployed by social movements shape but also constrain social justice
  • Exploring how social media as a rhetorical space has reshaped and renegotiated social justice movements
  • Recognizing the establishment rhetoric and its response against social protests
  • Walking through relevant case studies of social movements to understand why and how movements fail and succeed.