Keynote Speaker:
David Gold, University of Tennessee-Knoxville

"Beyond Recovery: Contemporary Challenges in Rhetoric and Composition Historiography"

The last several years have seen a welcome explosion of historical work in rhetoric and composition studies. In particular, scholars have complicated and challenged the conclusions drawn by previous histories by considering alternative rhetorical traditions and sites of instruction and production.

Yet we are frequently constrained by those very histories we seek to complicate. While the work of scholars such as James Berlin, Sharon Crowley, and Robert Connors has called attention to the role of ideology in pedagogy, provided a useful taxonomic framework for describing pedagogical practice, and offered us historical master narratives to respond to and resist, contemporary research needs demand that we do more than speak back to this scholarship.

As a field, we are increasingly recognizing that we teach in diverse local institutions with divergent student bodies, each presenting unique rhetorical possibilities and constraints. And yet none of our classrooms exist in isolation. In this talk, I suggest that rhetoric and composition historiography must not simply recover neglected writers, teachers, locations, and institutions, but demonstrate connections between these local and larger, national conversations. Moreover, as recent advances in scholarship demonstrate, we must begin with the assumption of a complex, multivocal, locally situated, nationally engaged past as our starting point for historical inquiry. In short, we must better theorize the local to justify our archival excursions and connect our work to wider scholarly conversations; recognize a more fluid interaction between ideology and pedagogy; and resist the temptation to re-inscribe easy binaries, taxonomies, and master narratives, even when countering them.

About the Speaker

David Gold is an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, where he received the department's Hodges Teaching Award for Assistant Professors in 2009. His scholarly interests include the history of rhetoric, rhetorical theory, and composition pedagogy. He is particularly interested in the voices of marginalized rhetors and seeks to understand how minority, female, working-class, first-generation, and Southern college students have used their rhetorical education in public and professional spheres. His work has appeared in College English, College Composition and Communication, Rhetoric Review, History of Education Quarterly, and other publications.

His first book, Rhetoric at the Margins: Revising the History of Writing Instruction in American Colleges, 1873-1947 (Southern Illinois UP, 2008), received the 2010 Outstanding Book Award from the Conference on College Composition and Communication. He is currently at work on "Higher Education for the New Southern Woman: Rhetoric, Identity, and Race at the Public Women's Colleges, 1884-1945," which he is co-writing with Catherine Hobbs of the University of Oklahoma
(learn more at Gold's UT-K faculty profile]