PWR 2GMI: Our Future is Each Other: Collaborative Rhetorics
“To be in the we was to belong,” writes activist and scholar john a powell, of the opening words of the US Constitution (“We the people”). What creates belonging? Is belonging (always) predicated on excluding and/or othering? Is it possible to create an all-inclusive, global state of belonging? What happens to us as individuals, as competitors, as solitary souls when we set community as a goal? To ground these questions in our class, we will ask, and test, more concretely: Can we create a feeling of belonging, among ourselves, in just ten weeks? To find out, we will study, practice and reflect on a number of rhetorical modes that set ‘belonging’ as their goal. Together, we will try and discover what makes (or fails to make) a classroom community, so that you can more confidently practice collaborative community building for yourself and others, outside this class.
Course texts will engage with a diversity of cultural practices and rhetorics. While there is more than enough writing on all the ways things fall apart between people, we will focus instead on rhetorics of successful bridging between individuals, cultures, communities. Each week will be devoted to a different rhetorical strategy: When we listen to and read James Baldwin on the blues, we will attend to its tradition of speaking to people not a person, its refusal to withdraw (via irony), and practice this in our own oral delivery workshops. When we read/watch performance artist Marina Abramovic’s practice of silent receptivity, we will practice her performance piece in the classroom, one-one. When we read Selby Schwartz’s essay on the all-male ballet drag troupe, Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, we’ll try out their radical reimagining of competition as collaboration. For final projects, students will be asked to research and design a community-building activity for the class. After each activity we will reflect on it and this feedback will provide fuel for your revised research essay and final presentation.
Examples of Research Topics
You might research subversive, celebratory communities built through events like Carnevale or Burning Man, an interest that might lead you to studying the “carnivalesque.” You might explore dialogue as a form of shared problem solving, studying philosophical texts from Socrates to Kierkegaard. You might study local projects aimed at bringing together communities divided by race, religion, ability, nationality, political affiliation, such as “Fandango at the Wall’ which brings musicians from both sides of the US-Mexico border to the wall to play in harmony and celebration together.
PWR 2 Assignment Sequence
(5 minutes of oral presentation, written text of 900-1200 words) Students will research and propose a class activity that fosters belonging. supported by workshops, conferences, trips to the library—you will present on the key texts, questions and methods that will inform your class activity.
Written Research-Based Argument
(10-12 pages or 3000-3600 words of research-based writing) In this assignment, students will develop an essay that describes the research informing their project and that embodies the strategies of rhetorical belonging central to it.
Delivery of Research
(10 minutes of live oral presentation with multimedia support) Students will present their findings in a live oral presentation with multimedia support.
The activity that you design and enact with us as a class will fulfill the Genre-Mode Assignment.
Dance I, 1990 by Schumacher, Klaus-Dieter (Herstellung) (Fotograf) - 1909 - Deutsche Fotothek, Germany - In Copyright - Educational Use Permitted.