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PWR194CW: Brave New Worlds: An Introduction to (De)colonial Rhetorics

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Since the time of Columbus, colonial agendas and policies have engendered their own rhetorics of justification and explanation. Particularly, European modernity presumed a universal hegemony over political ideology, cultural meanings, and historical narrative. Modernism, after all, began with the encounter of the New World, and Europe’s own identity was forged in the process of “Latinization” and Mestizaje in the Western Hemisphere.  As a critical response, decoloniality is a rich intellectual tradition forged in the late 1990s in South America and the Caribbean that provides an important critique of Eurocentric ideologies of modernity, coloniality, and the construction of racialized identities therein. In short, decolonial rhetorics bear witness and response to the crisis of European reason in an era of globalization—the material consequences of which are exemplified by the current “immigration crisis” and the separation and mass detainment of families at the border, for example.
This course offers students an introduction to the theories and practices of decolonial rhetorical traditions, across different time periods and geopolitical territories. Providing an immersive exploration of Latinx decolonial rhetorical figures, tropes, and aesthetic practices that both enrich and decenter the Eurocentric rhetorical tradition, this class provides students an opportunity to learn about and critically engage modernity as a rhetorical problem. Students are invited to juxtapose key figures and principles of Western rhetorical traditions (Plato, Locke, and Descartes) with decolonial rhetorical logics and aesthetics (Anzaldua, Baca, Mignolo, and Dussell). Finally, students will explore connections between Latinx decolonial rhetorics and aesthetics to other marginalized rhetorical practices -- indigenous (Cushman and Powell), Asian and South-Indian (Spivak and Bhabha), Afro-and Afro-Caribbean (Kubayanda, Banks), and queer (Bakshi et al). So doing, students will build a holistic self-reflexive rhetorical repertoire informed by a critical approach to rhetoric as a historical and geopolitically contingent techne.

Annotated Assignments

Teaching Collaboratives

  1. Text of the Week

Co-present the text of the week (the assigned book chapters or articles the class is to discuss). Your primary goal is to work in groups to lead the class in discussion and Q&A to understand the text, its concepts, its implications and its limits. Use handouts and slideware of your preference and include a minimum of three to six generative questions for class discussion. You will also submit a 2-page, single spaced review of your assigned text.

     2. In Other Words/Traditions

Beyond the required Latinx course texts, you will work in pairs to research and present a 10-minute analysis of another cultural rhetorical tradition to the class, its (de)colonial rhetorical logics and aesthetics, and its possibilities and limitations. As with the teaching collaborative, you will use slideware and generate a working set of questions for class discussion as well as include a 2-page, single-spaced Word Document critical review of your rhetorical tradition.

"Midterm" Reflective Letter

The ancient Maya Quiché concept vuh (and 14th c. Latin text/textile) invites an analogy between writing and weaving. In this spirit, your “midterm” project asks you to compose a contemporary Vuh, a layering or intertwining of course readings with your own detailed reflections. The goal is to do so in the format of a letter, to whomever you like (a local congressman, a family member, your future self), that explains, in your own words, your understanding of the concepts and issues discussed in the first part of the course.

Brave New Worlds Project

  1. Manifest@

You final project asks that you compose a manifest@ to read as a spirited proclamation of intent and/or action that speaks to pressing issues, urgent topics, or challenges of “decolonial” rhetoric and its present-day application—for example,  its application to writing, pedagogy, research, rhetoric history and historiography; application to institutional affairs and politics or to governmental policies and the enduring legacies of global/colonial conflict, both past and present. This two or more single spaced page document will declare your positions, which will directly or indirectly reflect your academic identity, intellectual investments, and professional trajectory.

    2. Codex

In order to practice the deeply pictographic and multimodal medium of decolonial literacies, you will also create a visual complement to your manifesta in the form of a codex that draws on and applies decolonial rhetoric and aesthetic practices to visualize your manifesta’s central argument for a public audience (think decolonial comic or graphic novel). For support, will study samples of New World codices as well as other examples of decolonial aesthetic art, in conjunction with secondary texts regarding decolonial aesthetic practices.

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Catalog: PWR194CW

Prerequisites: PWR1, PWR2