Law and rhetoric at Rhetoric Society of America 2018

Updated 5/25 to correct a couple entries based on the final schedule published this week; 4/30 to put in link to my session’s abstract; and 4/27 to add Maggie Franz’s session.

The 2018 installment of Rhetoric Society of America’s biennial conference also marks the society’s 50th anniversary. Held in Minneapolis (which is beautiful this time of year), the conference is a sprawling four-day event that tackles rhetoric in written and spoken contexts and across the human (and even trans- and post-human) experience. Of special interest to folks here, though, might be the sessions devoted to or connected with law. Here is my overview. If you are giving a law-related presentation and I missed you, tweet or email me, and I’ll add to the list. In some cases below, I’ve noted a single speaker with a law-and-rhetoric angle in a session that is not entirely about law. In others, I’ve identified whole sessions focused on law.

I’ve listed sessions in chronological order. Room locations appear in parentheses. These listings are as of the posting or update date of this post, based on the draft schedule. I’ll update this post later, when the official schedule comes out, but check the schedule yourself to be sure of times and locations.

Disorder in the Court: Ideologic and Public Perception of the Insanity Defense

Speaker: Andrea Alden, Grand Canyon University. In session “A22 – Violence, Psychology, and Law: Rhetorics of Exclusion,” Thursday, May 31, 12:30 PM – 1:45 PM (Symphony 1, 2nd floor).

Session “B04 – Indigeneity in the Time of Law”

Thursday, May 31, 2:00 PM – 3:15 PM (Conrad A, 2nd floor).

The Invention of Jurisdiction, the Future of Inuit Territory. Speaker: Tad Lemieux, Carleton University.

Necessaries of Life: The Rhetorics of Medico-Legal Time and Indigenous Life-Times. Speaker: Stuart Murray, Carleton University.

Before the Law: The Status of the ‘Indian Child’ after Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl. Speaker: Sarah Burgess, University of San Francisco.

Response: Barbara Biesecker, University of Georgia.

If Mêtis and Alloiōsis Had a Baby: The Future of Reproductive Justice Rhetoric

Speaker: Lydia McDermott, Whitman College. In session “B14 – Inventing Rhetoric Otherwise: Imagining and Enacting Alloiostrophic Rhetoric,” Thursday, May 31, 2:00 PM – 3:15 PM (Marquette 2, 2nd floor).

Invention of the Legal Defense for Moral Monday protesters

Speaker: David Deifell, Clarke University. In session “B24 – Religion and Politics,” Thursday, May 31, 2:00 PM – 3:15 PM (Symphony 3, 2nd floor).

Reinventing the Reasonable: Systemic Racism and Legal Fictions in the Shooting of Philando Castile

Speaker: Scott Makstenieks, University of Minnesota. In session “C17 – Race and State Violence: Critical Interventions,” Thursday, May 31, 3:30 PM – 4:45 PM (Marquette 4, 2nd floor).

Session “D20 – America’s Culture of Violence: Inventing the Second Amendment”

Friday, June 1, 8:30 AM – 9:45 AM (Rochester, 3rd floor).

Pistols at Twenty Paces: Justices Scalia and Stevens Duel Over Constitutional Interpretation in D.C. v. Heller. Speaker: Eric Gander, Baruch College.

Inventing Self Defense: The Legal Fiction of Self Defense. Speaker: David Grassmick, Law offices of Roger Higgins.

‘It’s Too Soon to Talk About Gun Control’: Kairic Timing (or Politicizing?) in the Wake of Shooting Sprees. Speaker: Catherine Langford, Texas Tech University.

And the Second Shall Be First: The NRA’s Campaign to Ensure More Guns and not Enforced Silence. Speaker: Jeremiah Hickey, St. John’s University.

Session “E23 – Rhetorics of Law, Justice, and the Courts”

Friday, June 1, 10:00 AM – 11:15 AM (Rochester, 3rd floor).

‘As Uneventful as Possible:’ Materializing Pain in Lethal Injection. Speaker: Megan Eatman, Clemson University.

Gerrymandering and Visual-Deliberative Rhetoric: A Case Study of the 2017 Texas Court Decision on Districts 23 and 35. Speaker: Fernando Sánchez, University of St. Thomas.

The Case of Czolgosz’s Sanity: An Examination of the Use of Judicial Rhetoric in Determining Facts. Speaker: Merci Decker, SUNY New Paltz.

(Re)Inventing Courtroom Rhetoric? Speaker: Lindsay Head, Louisiana State University.

The Paradox of Justice: Derrida’s Death Penalty Lectures Volume II

Speaker: Tim Donovan, University of North Florida. In session “G13 – The Haunting Specter of Death,” Friday, June 1, 1:00 PM – 2:15 PM (Grand Ballroom B, 3rd floor).

Constrained Invention in Law

Speaker: Mark Hannah, Arizona State University. In session “H02 – Investigating Constrained Invention through Three Lenses: Law, Intercultural Communication, and Technical and Professional Communication,” Friday, June 1, 2:30 PM – 3:45 PM (Board Room 3, 3rd floor).

Building and Unbuilding: Island Futures at the Nexus of Climate Change and Maritime Law

Speaker: Peter Goggin, Arizona State University. In session “H26 – Water, Race, and Crisis,” Friday, June 1, 2:30 PM – 3:45 PM (Symphony 2, 2nd floor).

Session “L17 – Will Masterpiece Cakeshop be the icing on the cake for the gay rights movement, or will Jack Phillips be able to have his cake and eat it too?: An Analysis of the Supreme Court’s Decision in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission

Saturday, June 2, 8:00 AM – 9:15 AM (Marquette 3, 2nd floor).

“Off the Shelf,” But Not by Design: A Legal Theory for Cases Involving Same-Sex Marriage and Anti-Discrimination Laws. Speaker: Eric Gander, Baruch College.

Inventing Commerce: Marginalizing People of Faith But Not Corporate People. Speaker: David Grassmick, Law Offices of Roger Higgins.

Discourse of space and identity: Masterpiece Cakeshop, Religious Liberty, and Gay Rights. Speaker: Jeremiah Hickey, St. John’s University.

Fundamental Rights in Conflict: Do We Have a Right Not to Be Offended? Speaker: Catherine Langford, Texas Tech University.

The Passionate Futures of the Law

Speaker: Erin Rand, Syracuse University. In session “L1 – Rhetoric, Affect, Emotion,” Saturday, June 2, 8:00 AM – 9:15 AM (Marquette 4, 2nd floor).

Session “M22 – The Weight of the Second Amendment: Critical Interventions”

Saturday, June 2, 9:30 AM – 10:45 AM (Marquette 8, 2nd floor).

Reinvention or Re-appropriation? The 2016 House Democratic Sit-in. Speaker: Scott Varda, Baylor University.

The Gunslinging, Law-Abiding Citizen(s): Democratic Ideobodies in the HB-2074 Testimonies. Speaker: Dana Comi, University of Kansas.

The Weight of the Second Amendment. Speaker: Craig Rood, Iowa State University.

Agency in the Epoch of the Anthropocene: Rhetorical Ecology and the Law

Speaker: Casey Corcoran, University of Illinois – Chicago. In session “N02 – Post-human Peacemaking: Reinventing Agency as Social Materiality,” Saturday, June 2, 11:00 AM – 12:15 PM (Boardroom 3, 3rd floor).

Session “N11 – Setting Precedent: Analyzing High Court Arguments and Opinions”

Saturday, June 2, 11:00 AM – 12:15 PM (Duluth Room, 3rd floor).

Invention, Reinvention, and Supreme Court Overruling: The Long-Term Consequences of Rhetorical Choices in Two Equal Protection Cases. Speaker: Clarke Rountree, University of Alabama in Huntsville.

“Mark of a Maturing Legal System” vs. “Seat of the Pants Judgment”: Dissociation of Concepts in Peña-Rodriguez v. Colorado. Speaker: Drew Loewe, St. Edward’s University.

Legal Discursive Accessibility: A Comparative Genre Analysis of Supreme Court Opinions. Speaker: Susan Tanner, Carnegie Mellon University.

“The Brooding Spirit of the Law”: The Rhetoric of the Contemporary Supreme Court Dissent. Speaker: Matthew Bridgewater, Woodbury University.

Against Rhetoric: The Development of the Case Method in 19th Century American Legal Education

Speaker: Elizabeth Britt, Northeastern University. In session “N16 – New Investigations in 19th Century Rhetorical Education,” Saturday, June 2, 11:00 AM – 12:15 PM (Marquette 2, 2nd floor).

Loud Approval at the Law Rock: Stasis Theory and the Viking Legal Tradition

Speaker: Robert Lively, Arizona State University. In session “O01 – Rhetoric in the Middle Ages,” Saturday, June 2, 12:30 PM – 1:45 PM (BoardRoom 2, 3rd floor).

Session “O05 – Indigenous Politics and History”

June 2, 12:30 PM – 1:45 PM (Conrad C, 2nd floor).

Becoming Subject to Jurisdiction: The Rhetoric of Competency in the Making of the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924. Speaker: Margaret Franz, UNC Chapel Hill.

You are not the Father: Psychoanalysis, Rhetoric, and Federal Indian Law. Speaker: Alvin Primack, University of Pittsburgh.

Session “P13 – Celebrating Classical Rhetoric & Building Contemporary Law”

(Post with our abstract)

Saturday, June 2, 2:00 PM – 3:15 PM (Grand Ballroom B, 3rd floor).


Kirsten Davis, Stetson University College of Law

Brian Larson, Texas A&M University School of Law

Francis J. Mootz, McGeorge School of Law

Susan Provenzano, Northwestern Pritzker School of Law

Susie Salmon, The University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law

Communication, Media, and Contact: Munera and Natural Law in Humanae Vitae

Speaker: Jon Radwan, Seton Hall University. In session “TU07 – Papal Rhetoric Reinvented,” Sunday, June 3, 8:30 AM – 9:45 AM (Directors Row 1, 3rd floor).

Session “U18 – Re-inventing the Public Work of Rhetoric through Engagements with Law”

Sunday, June 3, 10:00 AM – 11:15 AM (Marquette 8, 2nd floor).

Reinventing Judicial Text. Speaker: Peter Campbell, University of Pittsburgh.

Law’s Problems Are Ours: Reading Law for Ethical Openings. Speaker: Laura Collins, University of Colorado, Colorado Springs.

Inventing Reparations: In Re African-American Slave Descendants and the Future of the Slavery Reparations Movement. Speaker: Sarah Hakimzadeh, University of Pittsburgh.

Action Research Informed by Rhetorical Approaches to Healthcare Law and Policy. Speaker: Dawn Opel, Michigan State University.

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