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Rhetoric and Race

Mark Lawrence McPhail

Subject Communication Studies » Rhetorical Studies

People DuBois, W.E.B.

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405131995.2008.x


Early studies of race and rhetoric focused on literary and → discourse analyses and tended to emphasize black communication (→ Rhetorical Criticism ). Over time, research on rhetoric and race expanded to address gender and sexuality, white power and privilege, and → cultural studies . Rhetorical studies of race and racism offer important opportunities for examining the symbolic and social dimensions of identification and division, and, perhaps most importantly, the potential for discourse to promote social transformation and change. Rhetorical studies of race and racism pose provocative challenges to a society that has struggled throughout its history to overcome what W. E. B. Du Bois presciently coined “the problem of the color line,” the struggle for racial equality and social justice. Before the 1960s , few studies in either composition or communication addressed issues of race either directly or indirectly, with the exception of Kenneth Burke's considerations of race in several of his early works. Discussions of rhetoric and race were “an unlikely tandem” in composition studies ( Campbell 1999 ), and in speech communication scholarship before the 1950s, much of the research that appeared in print focused mainly on “Negro” language practices. In the 1960s, both European and African-American scholars began to focus their research efforts on the relationship between rhetoric ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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