EP2: Vorris Nunley: Incivility, AOC, and the Limits of Persuasion (?)


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Vorris Nunley, Associate Professor of English at the University of California, Riverside, discusses with USC and UCI faculty a talk entitled “Re-Doing Rhetoric: Incivility, AOC (Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez) and the Limits of Persuasion (?).” Here, he discusses AOC’s response to Representative Ted Yoho referring to her as a b***h to think with and through trope, incivility, affect, and the neoliberal composition classroom. In conceiving of rhetoric beyond persuasion, he examines the ways in which tropes, in circulating preconsciously in cultures throughout various realms, use us just as much as we use them. In this way, tropes are not simple figures or metaphors individual rhetors deploy toward specific persuasive ends. Rather, that tropes permeate social fabrics as potentialities in the domains of (non)discursive rhetoric means that we “choose” tropes for a particular reason only insofar as they have already affected, shaped, and influenced us in definite ways. Vorris closes on the uses of his work in the multimodal composition classroom and on what he terms a “pedagogy of discomfort,” one which unsettles students in the pursuit of transformative education.


Ryan Leack
Meridith Kruse
Vorris Nunley
Jan Osborn
Liz Blomstedt
Maureen Fitzsimmons
Shenishe Kelly
Steven Mailloux
Susan Jarratt

Sources Referenced

Alexander, Jarratt, Welch. Unruly Rhetorics, 2018.
Angelou, Maya. Phenomenal Woman, 1995.
Beard, Mary. Women & Power, 2017.
Berg, Ulla D. and Ana Y. Ramos-Zayas. Racializing Affect, 2015.
Burke, Kenneth. “Terministic Screens," 1966.
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DeGruy, Joy. Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome, 2005.
Erlmann, Veit. Reason and Resonance, 2010.
Halberstam, Jack. Wild Things, 2020.
Hartman, Saidiya. Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments, 2020.
Horton, Randall. Cultural Memory and the Black Radical Tradition, 2011.
Jung, C.G. Red Book, 2009.
Kakutani, Michiko. The Death of Truth, 2018.
Murray, Joddy. Non-Discursive Rhetoric, 2009.
Plato. Republic, 375 BC.
Rea, Joshua M. The Fiery Furnaces of Hell, 2020.
Sharpe, Christina. In the Wake, 2016.
Solnit, Rebecca. Men Explain Things to Me, 2014.
—. Recollections of My Non-Existence, 2020.
Tatum, Alfred W. Reading for Their Life, 2009.
Walker, Alice. “Everyday Use," 1973.
Notable Quotes from Vorris

“I’m interested in what tropes do . . . . When the congressman saw AOC, he didn’t see her, he saw a trope, and he responded to a trope because tropes like that, they erase, they deprivilege the personal.”
“And for me it’s not the notion that there’s a rhetorical being. What I would argue is that being is indeed rhetorical.”
“I’m calling it a pedagogy of discomfort. If you go all the way back to Plato in the allegory of the cave, he makes it very clear that folks learn when they get shocked. It is not comfortable. Pedagogy works as a discomfort, or as Paulo Freire says, and as Ice Cube says, it’s about unlearning. So I think multimodal composition allows me to address issues of neoliberal affect, and at the same time have them think about their writing as thinking and not just writing as conveying information.”
“All of these expectations about what writing is about and what should occur in a writing class is exactly what gets in the way of writing.”

9 episodes