Flesh to Speech: The Problem of Racism for Public Address

Part of Embodying Justice, the 2018 Public Address Conference and this year's Josephine Jones lecture. This event is free and open to the public.

Abstract: In 2010,  University of North Carolina Chapel Hill's Dr. Eric King Watts authored a chapter titled “The Problem of Race in Public Address Research” for the influential Handbook on Rhetoric and Public Address, edited by Shawn Parry-Giles and J. Michael Hogan. In that work, he argued that scholars of public address felt an urgent need to assess the fierce and fiery speech of black protest and civil rights advocates. He contended that such work was necessary, but also inaugurated a set of critical practices that virtually took the character of race for granted as it confronted black speech. His inquiry into such work began with an “intellectual history” of black speakers who emerged in 1968. Now we are met 50 years past that date and it seems appropriate, even necessary, to re-think what I once thought. Back then, he posited race as the “problem” for public address scholarship. In this keynote, he will evaluate the challenges that racism poses for public address. Watts submits that racism speaks through a Post-Truth mode. And so, he inquires how might its Post-Truth work? What does Post-Truth have to do with the discursive and repetitive reproduction of dispossessed (black) flesh as an object of postracial fantasies that also deny—ex-communicate—(black) suffering? 

The Department of Communication's annual public lecture series is funded through a bequest by Josephine B. Jones, a lifelong educator, community activist and longtime resident of nearby Greeley, Colorado.

» Learn more about Josephine Jones and view past speeches at CMCI

Thursday, September 27, 2018 at 5:00pm to 6:45pm

Center for Academic Success and Engagement (CASE), Auditorium