As a rhetorician and literary critic interested in how we use symbols, Kenneth Burke fameously described the human being as the symbol-making, symbol-using and symbol-misusing animal. He argued that our interpretations, perceptions, judgements and attitudes are all influenced and 'deflected' by the symbols that we make, use and misuse, and that we are at the same time used by these symbols. This implies that we can approach the world either symbol-wise or symbol-foolish.
This conference aims to explore how rhetorical concepts, theories and methods from a broad range of rhetorical traditions can be used as tools - equipment - to make students, teachers, scholars, activists and citizens symbol-wise: to understand the way linguistic, cultural, narrative, affective... symbols work, and to develop critical engagement with, as well as on behalf of, those symbols. At the same time the conference aims to critically unpack what it implies to become symbol-wise within different institutional contexts. It furthermore wants to explore if and how rhetoric can still be relevant in an increasingly media-saturated knowledge society that is continuously in transition and that is becoming ever more complex and paradoxical by political, economic and cultural differences on a global scale.
We welcome proposals for papers and panels that broadly explore the theme of Rhetoric as Equipment for Living in relation to topics such as education, politics, citizenship, art, literature, literacy, technology, games and (new) media; from the perspective of rhetorical fields such as argumentation, persuasive communication, deliberation, public speaking, composition and new rhetoric; and/or embedded in disciplines such as pedagogy, social work, psychology, cultural studies, heritage studies, management and communication.
The Culture & Education research group focuses on language, culture, rhetoric, multiliteracies and media. More »
The Culture & Education Research group is part of the Department of Educational Studies at the Ghent University. More »
The conference will be hosted by the Ghent University, one of the major universities in the Dutch-speaking region of Europe. More »