RSA at JMU

On April 12, 2011, in Spring 2011, by flanarja

By: Katie Woloshin
WRTC Student

This year James Madison University adopted a chapter of the Rhetoric Society of America (RSA). According to rhetoricsociety.org, “RSA is the umbrella organization for scholars and teachers in every discipline who are interested in rhetoric, the art of effective communication.” This organization addresses the vast amount current issues in rhetoric and persuasive language.

Retroricsociety.org also states, “The study of rhetoric dates to ancient times, and the rhetorical tradition remains the subject of robust inquiry today. RSA defines rhetoric quite broadly and therefore also addresses a range of current issues related to the persuasive dimension of language and visual symbols.”

RSA has about 1700 members including professors, undergraduate, and graduate students from disciplines including English, communication, linguistics, political science, history, and philosophy. According to Dr. Lunsford of the WRTC department, “The RSA student chapter was established in the fall of 2010 in order to provide the undergraduate and graduate student community at JMU with a forum for gathering as rhetoricians. Its goals include advancing discussion and scholarship among the students as well as supporting their professional development.”

Professor Elizabeth Gumnior explains what makes the JMU chapter so different, “Because this is a newly formed chapter, we are still in the beginning stages of figuring out what services we might be able to offer our members and what service(s) we can contribute to both the JMU and the Harrisonburg communities.  That is what makes the chapter an interesting opportunity for students right now; they can take an active role in determining our direction and future.”

RSA also hosts a biennial conference; in 2012, it will be hosted in Philadelphia over Memorial Day weekend. During the off years from the conference, RSA hosts workshops and seminars on rhetoric. The next workshop will be in Boulder, Colorado June 20-26, 2011. Also, RSA has a journal called the Rhetoric Society Quarterly, which is interdisciplinary and covers all areas of rhetorical study. As a member of this society, one can receive this journal 5 times a year.

The national president of RSA, David Zarefsky, encourages people in various disciplines, to become members of this educational society.

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