The CMS spring colloquium series on Truth kicks off Feb. 23 with a presentation by Dr. Jenny Rice. Every couple weeks the colloquium committee is bringing in scholars who can speak to various aspects of Truth (see tentative schedule below). All members of the CMS community are invited to attend these events and we’ll update this article with zoom links as we get closer to each presentation date.
February 23, 2PM-3:15pm CST: “Metaphor’s Keepers: The Mobile Armies of Post-Truth Rhetorics,” Dr. Jenny Rice, Associate Professor of Writing, Rhetoric, and Digital Studies, University of Kentucky. The talk is co-sponsored by the Center for Media Engagement.
Zoom: https://utexas.zoom.us/j/91938345106, Meeting ID: 919 3834 5106
Nietzsche’s well-known aphorism that truth is a “mobile army of metaphors” suggests that rhetorical constructions of truth are only effective insofar as they remain invisible. The metaphors we mistake as truth, he writes, are simply “illusions about which one has forgotten that this is what they are; metaphors which are worn out and without sensuous power; coins which have lost their pictures and now matter only as metal, no longer as coins.” Yet, while Nietzsche might have also considered himself living in a “post-truth” era, our present rhetorical landscape is flooded by armies of mobile metaphors that have certainly not lost their sensuous power.
Conspiracy theories and white supremacist discourse, for example, are two specific scenes of post-truth rhetoric that have been shaped by explicit doctrines of metaphor. In this talk, Rice examines the role of metaphor-talk within both 21st century anti-Semitic discourse and conspiracy-oriented Christian evangelicalism. From David Duke’s embrace of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion as a metaphorical text to Kenneth and Gloria Copeland’s declaration that prayer is a literal inoculation against COVID-19, both cases reflect a kind of “truth” that is grounded in a deliberate and distinct recognition of metaphor’s rhetorical power. Rather than relying on the overly vague label post-truth to engage this discourse, therefore, we might find it useful to start thinking about neo-metaphorical rhetoric.
Dr. Rice’s work has appeared in such journals as Philosophy & Rhetoric, Rhetoric Society Quarterly, Quarterly Journal of Speech, and College English. Her book Distant Publics: Development Rhetoric and the Subject of Crisis was published in 2012 (University of Pittsburgh Press). She co-edited (along with Casey Boyle) Inventing Texas: Writing Lone Star Rhetorics (2019, Southern Illinois University Press). Her most recent book, Awful Archives: Conspiracy Theory, Rhetoric, and Acts of Evidence, was published in 2020 by The Ohio State University Press.
March 9: Catalina Toma (Wisconsin), 1PM-2:15 PM CST, Via Zoom:
March 23: “¡Viva La Raza!: Tracing Formations of De/Colonial Politics in Chican@ Movement(s)" Joe Izzaguire, UT Austin (Rhetoric and Writing), 2pm-3:15pm, via Zoom
April 1: “Truth, Trust, and Tweets: Perceptions and Judgments of Risk in Health Contexts”
Dr. Joseph McGlynn, Assistant Professor of Communication Studies, University of North Texas, 2:00-3:30 PM CST, Via Zoom:
April 13: “COVID-19 Information, Misinformation, and Potential Communicative
Interventions” Katya Ognyanova (Rutgers University), and Lindsay Young (USC), 11:30 AM - 12:45 PM CST, Via Zoom
April 29: David Beaver (UT Austin) TBA
The current colloquium committee is Scott Stroud (chair), Jurgen Streeck, Maddie Redlick, Jeff Treem, Abigail Hazlett, and Shuting Yao. They decided on the event theme and have identified the speakers for this spring. Committee chair Scott Stroud explained the importance of the theme. “Those who study communication have always been intrigued by its power and complexity. In this time of misinformation, political spin, partisan echo chambers, and a democracy that’s more divided than ever, the simple theme of “Truth” will guide the launch of our department colloquia series. It aims to be a forum that showcases some of the work being done in Moody and beyond on important topics for our society, one that will invigorate our own research programs and teaching opportunities.”