international rhetoric workshop

2018 WORKSHOP is coming up

About IRW

The International Rhetoric Workshop (IRW) is an international workshop for emerging scholars and PhD students in rhetoric. The workshop offers a space for young scholars in the global rhetoric community to engage each other’s work and to connect with internationally renowned scholars. Held over the course of three days, IRW consists of: workshop sessions in which participants review and discuss drafts of ongoing research with faculty; an opening keynote address on each day from internationally renowned scholars; and faculty discussion panels engaging with topics relevant to the theme and to workshop participants’ research.

The 2nd International Rhetoric Workshop will take place in August 2018 with the theme «Rhetorical Cultures: Mapping Global Publics and the Crossroads of Democracy.» Location and Call for Papers will be announced soon.


2016 Workshop

The previous workshop was hosted at beautiful Uppsala University between the 17th and the 19th of August 2016. The theme, “Crossing Traditions: Reimagining the Political,” pursues questions of how various traditions of rhetorical theory meet and merge within global rhetorical practices, and how these crossings can change and develop the concept of the political. IRW is designed as an inclusive workshop and the organizers strive to make it possible for young scholars with limited resources to meet others from around the globe and discuss research.

IRW 2016 (1)


Dilip Gaonkar

United States

Debra Hawhee

United States

Participating Faculty

Robeson Taj Frazier

United States

Jiyeon Kang

South Korea/United States

Alan Finlayson

United Kingdom


Day 1: 17 August 

09.00-09.40 Breakfast

09.40-10.00 Welcome

10.15-12.00 Keynote Lecture: Debra Hawhee, “Deliberative Imagination and Democratic Life”

12.00-13.00 Lunch

13.15-15.00 Paper Workshop Sessions

15.00-15.30 Coffee Break

15.30-17.00 Panel Sessions 1 & 2

  • Panel 1: “Globalizing Rhetoric: Practices, Theories, and Challenges”
    • Robeson Taj Frazier, María Alejandra Vitale, Dilip Gaonkar
  • Panel 2: “National, Parliamentary, and Presidential Rhetoric in a Global Context”
    • Kari Palonen, Alan Finlayson, Jairos Kangira

18.00 Dinner with all participants


Day 2: 18 August

09.30-10.15 Breakfast

10.15-12.00 Keynote Lecture: Kari Palonen, “The Rhetoric of Dissensus: On the singularity of parliamentary politics”

12.00-13.00 Lunch

13.15-15.00 Paper Workshop Sessions

15.00-15.30 Coffee Break

15.30-17.00 Panel Sessions 3 & 4

  • Panel 3: “Classical Rhetoric and the Political Present”
    • Debra Hawhee, Mats Rosengren
  • Panel 4: “Mediating Publics: Protest and Propaganda”
    • Anne Ulrich, Jiyeon Kang

18.00 Dinner with faculty


Day 3: 19 August

09.30-10.15 Breakfast

10.15-12.00 Keynote Lecture: Dilip Gaonkar, “Re-Membering Rhetoric and its Global Futures”

12.00-13.00 Lunch

13.15-14.00 Workshop Closure Session

14.15-15.00 Closing Remarks

Call for Papers

“Crossing Traditions: Reimagining the Political”
International Rhetoric Workshop
Uppsala University, Sweden
17-19 August 2016

The International Rhetoric Workshop (IRW) invites PhD students and emerging scholars to participate in developing the study of political rhetoric and its theoretical traditions. At beautiful Uppsala University, Sweden, we will meet in the last days of summer to advance rhetorical scholarship on “Crossing Traditions: Reimagining the Political”.

In an informal setting with a focus on engaging discussion, developing scholarship, and extending community, IRW welcomes everyone interested in rhetoric’s relation to politics, theory, history, power or its formative concepts to join us. The workshop theme addresses questions of how various traditions of rhetorical theory meet and merge within global rhetorical practices, and how these crossings can change and develop the concept of the political.

Contemporary rhetorical studies include the study and criticism of contemporary persuasive practices, theoretical discussions on the conditions for communal meaning-making, and historical studies of rhetorical practices and rhetorical thinking in different times and places. The emphasis rhetorical studies places on cross-fertilization between these different forms of inquiry opens opportunities to take on the challenges posed by contemporary politics.


Suggested themes or questions to be furthered at the workshop:

  • How to understand geographically structured traditions of rhetorical practices: their local, regional, and national negotiations.
  • What happens when these traditions crosses boundaries: how they are compared, merged or intersected with other specific practices globally.
  • How political and rhetorical theories change and merge across academic traditions.
  • Theoretical or conceptual contributions to the rhetorical conditions of possibility for the political to emerge.
  • Politics and its relations to established power structures and resistance movements.
  • How rhetoric’s multifaceted, transnational intellectual history has crossed borders: its ancient heritage, its Arabic-European transformations, its mutation into post-colonial settings across the world and various histories of thought.
  • How rhetoric’s continuous engagement with political, philosophical, and aesthetic thought is played out in global political settings.


Format and participants

The format consists of a three-day workshop at Uppsala. The core activities are breakout sessions in which workshop participants review and discuss work-in-progress of their ongoing research with faculty. In addition, each day will open with a keynote address and conclude with faculty discussion panels on topics relevant to the theme and the participants’ research interests.

IRW will include three keynote addresses from internationally recognized scholars working at the intersection of rhetorical and political thought: Debra Hawhee (Penn State University, USA), Kari Palonen (University of Jyväskylä, Finland), and Dilip Gaonkar (Northwestern University, USA).

Papers will be pre-circulated to a small group of about 5-6 workshop participants and one member of the invited faculty and everybody is expected to come with suggestions and offer comments on each other’s work.

IRW will also have panel sessions, led by the invited faculty, on methodological and theoretical topics relating to the theme and participant’s research interests (more on that as soon as we have all applications!). The invited faculty consists of: Mats Rosengren (Uppsala University, Sweden), María Alejandra Vitale (University of Buenos Aires, Argentina), Jiyeon Kang (University of Iowa, USA), Jairos Kangira (University of Namibia), Anne Ulrich (University of Tübingen, Germany), Alan Finlayson (University of East Anglia, UK), Robeson Taj Frazier (University of Southern California, USA) and our three keynote speakers. They work in the fields of postcolonial intellectual history, securitization, neo-liberal forms of governmentality, the changing forms of protest movements, the challenge of the political to continental thought, and national political rhetoric at the intersection of geopolitical rhetorical practices.

Abstracts should be no longer than 300 words and submitted through the form below. Abstract submission is open to PhD students and emerging scholars who have received their PhD no earlier than January 2012.


Deadline for abstract: 15 April 2016. (23.59 GMT)

To submit your abstract, please follow this link to the submission form.

Letters of acceptance will be sent no later than 30 April 2016. Please note that if an abstract is accepted for the conference, a full draft paper of your work-in-progress should be submitted by 30 June 2016. Final papers should be 3000-6000 words in length, excluding notes and references.  

Registration fee (includes participation in the workshop with pre-circulated paper, one informal dinner, as well as breakfast and lunch for three days): 100 EUR

The Planning Committee understands that the financial burden for attending a workshop can be heavy for young scholars, and we have made every effort to make IRW a low-cost event. It means that besides having a low registration fee, we include most of the food throughout the three days. If you are in need of support to participate in the workshop and cannot acquire this from your home university, please contact the planning committee to discuss options. We are also happy to provide practical suggestions on how to keep the costs down when in Uppsala!

Please join our mailing list:

From the Planning Committee

“You know how it goes: the previous presenter runs late and you have to run through your paper, and then at the Q&A you get two questions and one was not even related to your talk. It seems like a lot of effort to go to a conference for that kind of feedback.”

Frida, sometime in November 2014

That statement was the beginning of IRW. We were discussing the general state of rhetoric in academia and how hard it is to meet and actually engage with scholars from around the world.  Then Frida voiced her concern that, even if you do go to international events, it often does not quite deliver–and usually the best development for your research happens over dinner or at the bar. So, even though we are big fans of conference food and drink, we decided to develop an event where the key features are engaged dialogue and the development of research. This means no more sprint readings of papers, no more wasted Q&A, and a lot more time for discussion with others who share similar scholarly interests.

As we worked to establish the IRW over the past year, we’ve had our sights set on offering a different kind of conference: a workshop where young scholars (PhDs and recently dissertated) get the chance to have their work closely read by 4-5 other young scholars and one established faculty member with similar interests. This comes with the extra bonus of getting the opportunity to read other young scholar’s work, participate in panel discussions and development sessions, and hearing some amazing lectures by distinguished keynotes.

One additional, central feature of IRW is that it offers an international meeting place with rotating host universities. If the study of rhetoric is to continue to extend its global reach, an international network of graduate students and emerging scholars should be a central site for this work. The IRW thus provides an opportunity to connect scholars worldwide to pursue how this globalization–along with the globalization of many other commercial, cultural, and political practices–might transform the study of rhetoric.

IRW has already received significant international interest. Besides invited faculty from eight different countries, the workshop has applicants from China, USA, Brazil, Germany, Iran, UK, Argentina, Ghana, the Netherlands, Israel, Denmark, Croatia, Namibia and Qatar, to mention a few. We are thrilled to see this development and hope that more scholars will join us as IRW gathers momentum.

With the promise of a different type of conference, in which each scholar’s work becomes part of the general conversation,


Frida, Erik, Rob and Dave


IRW Planning Committee

Erik Bengtson, Uppsala University 
Frida Buhre, Uppsala University 
David Miguel Molina, Northwestern University
Robert TopinkaUniversity of East Anglia


The International Rhetoric Workshop has received the endorsement of: 



The 2016 workshop is made possible through the generous support of: