Jonathan Alexander

Jonathan Alexander is Chancellors Professor of English and Informatics at the University of California, Irvine, where he is also founding director of the Center for Excellence in Writing and Communication.

Unruly Rhetorics

Protest, Persuasion, and Publics

What forces bring ordinary people together in public to make their voices heard? What means do they use to break through impediments to democratic participation?
Unruly Rhetorics is a collection of essays from scholars in rhetoric, communication, and writing studies inquiring into conditions for activism, political protest, and public assembly. An introduction drawing on Jacques Rancière and Judith Butler explores the conditions under which civil discourse cannot adequately redress suffering or injustice. The essays offer analyses of “unruliness” in case studies from both twenty-first-century and historical sites of social-justice protest. The collection concludes with an afterword highlighting and inviting further exploration of the ethical, political, and pedagogical questions unruly rhetorics raise. Examining multiple modes of expression – embodied, print, digital, and sonic – Unruly Rhetorics points to the possibility that unruliness, more than just one of many rhetorical strategies within political activity, is constitutive of the political itself.