Indigenous Rhetorics

“Mountain Chief, Blackfeet War Leader” by Terrance Guardipee, Siksika (Blackfeet), 2008. (photo by Joseph Mehling ’69)

Indigenous knowledges and stories are mapped onto the land beneath your feet and mediated through oral and material modes. Indigenous knowledges and stories continue to be sovereign, embodied through various methods of meaning-making. This course focuses on the rhetorical practices of Native/American Indian communities and how those practices “make” meaning within Indigenous communities. Considering a continuum of meaning-making practices, from ancient (such as petroglyphs) to precontact (such as weaving, wintercounts) to postcontact (such as creative and academic writing, music, video games, apps, comic books, and other multimedia compositions), this course seeks to honor multiple ways of knowing, particularly through the lens of the three Rs: respect, reciprocity, and relationality.

This course also locates itself in local histories. Before Clemson, there was “Esseneca.” This place now lies under the Clemson organic farm. We will place institutional texts (such as archaeological and institutional reports) into conversation with local oral histories and Indigenous rhetorical practices to constellate various ways that the story of Esseneca has been, is, and could be mediated. Likewise, this focus in local land-based indigenous histories will foster conversations regarding sovereignty, survivance, and story. Who tells the stories? How are those stories told? In what ways do those stories demonstrate respect, reciprocity, and relationality as well as survivance and sovereignty?

By learning about Indigenous rhetoric, we will become more effective writers paying special attention to persona, audience, medium, genre, design, and persuasive appeals. We will learn about and engage in visual, written, oral/sonic, and digital rhetorics by using, analyzing, and producing images, video, audio, and web texts. Our projects and assignments will build on this knowledge, providing us with the scaffolding and tools needed to engage in digital creativity and literacy.

[…] words like “other,” “alternative,” “marginal,” “non-traditional,” etc. These terms imply a norm, a stable center in which a “main” rhetorical tradition exists and is augmented by “additive” traditions.

The Cultural Rhetorics Theory Lab

Click here to access the Clemson University Spring 2020 course website.