In A Responsive Rhetorical Art, Long sets out a challenging task: to define a ‘responsive rhetorical art’ that is capable of ‘enacting the freedoms of a functioning civil society—including the freedom to hold institutions accountable to the people most acutely affected by their policies and practices.’ To that end she outlines a productive art of creating and critiquing new forms of communication and community. Her case studies include a Gambian American Student Organization and engagements with the Nipmuck Chaubunagungamaug tribe. This book is essential reading for those involved in community literacy and for all who seek a critical theory of social change.
A Responsive Rhetorical Artexplores the risk-ridden realm of wise if always also fallible rhetorical action—the productive knowledge building required to compose and to leverage texts, broadly construed, for the purposes of public life marked by shrinking public resources, cultural conflict, and deferred hope. Here, composition and literacy learning hold an important and distinctive cultural promise: the capacity to invent with other people new ways forward in light of their own interests and values and in the face of obstacles that could not have otherwise been predicted. Distributed across publicly situated strangers, including citizen-educators, this work engages a persistent challenge of early rhetorical uptake in public life: that what might become public and shared is often tacit and contested. The book’s approach combines attention to local cases (with a transnational student organization, the Nipmuck Chaubunagungamaug, and the South Sudanese diaspora in Phoenix) with a revisable guide for taking up wise action and methods for uncovering elusive institutional logics.
Elenore Long is an associate professor in the Department of English at Arizona State University. Grounded in community literacy, her scholarship draws on a wide array of rhetorical methods to test the limits and potential of day-to-day democracy under contemporary conditions.