Notes: Herbert W. Simons, “Requirements, Problems, and Strategies: A Theory of Persuasion for Social Movements”

Simons, Herbert W. (2001). Requirements, problems, and strategies: A theory of persuasion for social movements. In Morris Charles E. and Stephen H. Brown (eds.), Readings on the Rhetoric of Social Protest (p. 35-45). State College, PA: Strata Publishing, inc.


Giving a general theory of the rhetorics of social movements, Simons draws on sociological theory to offer a way into social movements’ rhetorical considerations. The outlines Simons provides offer ways of delineating exigencies, practices, and issues the leadership of social movements often deal with.

Keywords: activism, advocacy, social movements, protest, sociology


“Designed for microscopic analysis of particular speeches, the standard tools of rhetorical criticism are ill suited for unraveling the complexity of discourse in social movements or for capturing its grand flow” (p. 35).


This text could have served me well in developing a foundational understanding of the intersections of rhetoric and activism early on, and Simons’s search for theory and strategies reminds me of the Beautiful Trouble. And I think I see this text as asking for new methods for investigating rhetorics of social movements, but these methods seem to be searching for something whose claims from inquiry are generalizing and universalizing. Though maybe that is the disposition of a rhetorical criticism instead of other methodological frames that subvert these totalizing gestures.

I suppose I am a bit hung up on the enumeration strategies the text employs in creating this heuristic (in a static sense instead of an inventional one). While my own experiences in activism and advocacy work align with much of Simons’s descriptions, I can’t help but find the taxonimizing and leadership-centric approach binarizing and reductive.

I felt this most when reading the section on rhetorical strategies (p. 40-43), where the text identifies ‘militants,’ ‘moderates,’ and ‘intermediates’ as the types of strategies employed as though each were options in responding to the same exigency. Material conditions, access, privilege, lived experiences all shape the available means that shape strategies deployed. It seems there’s far more nuance in what shapes a social movement’s actions than the text addresses, in addition to these three being identified as the kinds of strategies.

Notes: Danielle Endres and Samantha Senda-Cook, “Location Matters: The Rhetoric of Place in Protest”

Endres, Danielle, and Samantha Senda-Cook. (2011). Location matters: The rhetoric of place in protest. Quarterly Journal of Speech, 97(3), 257–82.


Endres and Senda-Cook analyze the ways that place participates in social protest as an argument or as a rhetoric of (re)constructed meaning. Place is thus performed in social protests.

Keywords: activism, affect, communication, embodiment, materiality, place, rhetoric


“(Re)constructing the meaning of place, even in temporary ways, can be a tactical act of resistance along with the tactics we traditionally associate with protest, such as speeches, marches, and signs… place (re)constructions can function rhetorically to challenge dominant meanings and practices in a place. Place is a performer along with activists in making and unmaking the possibilities of protest” (p. 258).

“Place in protest allows us to understand how social movements use both place-based arguments and place-as-rhetoric” (p. 258).

“[M]aterial rhetoric is always temporary. Place in protest acts as a reminder that places are always being reconstructed or deconstructed. We are interested in material aspects of place that are best revealed when we consider materiality as fluid, temporary, and embodied” (p. 262).


2017 Summer Reading List (so far…)

4/24-5/5: Ahmed, Sara. (2017). Living a feminist life. Durham: Duke University Press.

4/24: Sewell, John I. (2014). “Becoming rather than being”: Queer’s double-edged discourse as deconstructive practice. Journal of Communication Inquiry, 38(4), 291-307.

4/25: Morris, Charles E., & Sloop, John M. (2017). Other lips, whither kisses? Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies, 14(2), 182.

4/26: Samek, Alyssa A. & Theresa A. Donofrio. (2013). “Academic drag” and the performance of the critical personae: An exchange on sexuality, politics, and identity in the academy. Women’s Studies in Communication, 36(1), 28-55.

4/27: Fox, Ragan. (2013). “Homo”-work: Queering academic communication and communicating queer in academia. Text and Performance Quarterly, 33(1), 58-76.

4/28: Bessette, Jean. (2016). Queer rhetoric in situ. Rhetoric Review, 35(2), 148-164.

4/29: Pamela VanHaitsma. (2016). Gossip as rhetorical methodology for queer and feminist historiography. Rhetoric Review. 35(2), 135-147.

4/30: Horst, Heather & Daniel Miller. (2012). Normativity and materiality: A view from digital anthropology. Media International Australia, Incorporating Culture & Policy, (145), 103-111.

5/1: Muñoz, José Esteban. (2000). Feeling brown: Ethnicity and affect in Ricardo Bracho’s “The Sweetest Hangover (And Other STDs)”. Theatre Journal, 52(1), 67-79.

5/2: Chávez, Karma. (2015). The precariousness of homonationalism: The queer agency of terrorism in post-9/11 rhetoric. QED: A Journal in GLBTQ Worldmaking, 2(3), 32–58.

5/3: Yep, Gust A. (2002). From homophobia and heterosexism to heteronormativity: Toward the development of a model of queer interventions in the university classroom. Journal of Lesbian Studies, 6(3-4), 163-76.

5/4: VanHaitsma, Pamela. (2014). Queering the language of the heart: Romantic letters, genre instruction, and rhetorical practice. Rhetoric Society Quarterly, 44.1, 6–24.

5/5: Villarejo, A. (2005). Tarrying with the normative: Queer theory and black history. Social Text, 23.3–4, 69–84.

5/6-5/19: Thompson, Peter & Slavoj Žižek (eds.). (2013). The privatization of hope: Ernst Bloch and the future of utopia. Durham: Duke University Press.

5/6: Portolano, Marlana. (2012). The rhetorical function of utopia: An exploration of the concept of utopia in rhetorical theory. Utopian Studies, 23(1), 113-141.

5/7: Happe, Kelly E. (2015). Parrhēsia, biopolitics, and occupy. Rhetoric & Philosophy, 48(2), 211-223.

5/8: Newman, Eric H. (2015). Ephemeral utopias: Queer cruising, literary form, and diasporic imagination in claude McKay’s home to Harlem and banjo. Callaloo: A Journal of African Diaspora Arts and Letters, 38(1), 167-241.

5/9: Stempfhuber, Martin & Michael Liegl. (2016). Intimacy mobilized: Hook-up practices in the location-based social network Grindr. Österreichische Zeitschrift Für Soziologie, 41(1), 51-70.

5/10: Harvey, David O. (2011). Calculating risk: Barebacking, the queer male subject, and the De/formation of identity politics. Discourse, 33(2), 156-183.

5/11: Chaput, Catherine. (2010). Rhetorical circulation in late capitalism: Neoliberalism and the overdetermination of affective energy.” Philosophy and Rhetoric, 43(1), 1–25.

5/12: Endres, Danielle, and Samantha Senda-Cook. (2011). Location matters: The rhetoric of place in protest. Quarterly Journal of Speech, 97(3), 257–82.

5/13: Walker, Paul. (2017). Let’s disagree (to agree): Queering the rhetoric of agreement in writing assessment. Composition Forum, 35. Web.

5/14: Thieme, Katja, & Shurli Makmillen. (2017). A principled uncertainty: Writing studies methods in contexts of indigeneity. College Composition and Communication, 68(3), 466.

5/15: Bacha, Jeffrey A. (2016). The physical mundane as topos: Walking/dwelling/using as rhetorical invention. College Composition and Communication, 68(2), 266.

5/16: Stormer, Nathan, & Bridie McGreavy. (2017). Thinking ecologically about rhetoric’s ontology: Capacity, vulnerability, and resilience. Philosophy & Rhetoric, 50(1), 1-25.

5/17: Wingrove, Elizabeth. (2016). blah Blah WOMEN Blah Blah EQUALITY Blah Blah DIFFERENCE. Philosophy & Rhetoric, 49(4), 408-419.

5/18: Daniel, James Rushing. (2016). The event that we are: Ontology, rhetorical agency, and Alain Badiou. Philosophy & Rhetoric, 49(3), 254–276.

5/19: Bowen, Lauren M. (2017). The limits of hacking composition pedagogy. Computers and Composition, 43, 2017, 1-14.

5/20-5/28: Cooper, Davina. (2014). Everyday utopias: The conceptual life of promising spaces. Durham: Duke University Press.

5/20: Vallerand, Olivier. (2013). Home is the place we all share, Journal of Architectural Education, 67:1, 64-75.

5/21: Jennex, Craig. (2013). Diva worship and the sonic search for queer utopia. Popular Music and Society, 36(3), 343-359.

5/22: Faris, Michael J. (2014). Coffee shop writing in a networked age. College Composition and Communication, 66(1), 21.

5/23: Dean, Tim. (2015). Mediated intimacies: Raw sex, truvada, and the biopolitics of chemoprophylaxis. Sexualities, 18(1-2), 224-246.

5/24: Heard, Matthew. (2013). Tonality and ethos. Philosophy and Rhetoric, 46(1), 44-64.

5/25: Scott, Tony and Lil Brannon. (2013). Democracy, struggle, and the praxis of assessment. College Composition and Communication, 65(2), 273-298.

5/26: Walker, Paul. (2013). Composition’s akrasia: The devaluing of intuitive expertise in writing assessment. enculturation, 15.

5/27: Bhattacharya, Kakali. (2007). Consenting to the consent form: What are the fixed and fluid understandings between the researcher and the researched? Qualitative Inquiry, 13(8), 1095–115.

5/28: Cole, Daniel. (2011). Writing removal and resistance: Native American rhetoric in the composition classroom. College Composition and Communication, 63(1), 122–44.

5/29-6/11: Butler, Judith, Zeynep Gambetti, & Leticia Sabsay (eds.). (2016). Vulnerability in resistance. Durham: Duke University Press.

5/29: Schotten, C. Heike. (2015). Homonationalist futurism: “Terrorism” and (other) queer resistance to empire. New Political Science, 37(1), 71-90.

5/30: Migraine-George, Thérèse & Ashley Currier. (2016). Querying queer African archives: methods and movements. WSQ: Womens Studies Quarterly, 44(3&4), 190-207.

5/31: Adams, Heather, Jeremy Engels, Michael J. Faris, Debra Hawhee, & Mark Hlavacik. (2012). Deliberation in the midst of crisis. Cultural Studies ↔ Critical Methodologies, 12(4), 342-345.

6/1: Stormer, Nathan. (2016). Rhetoric’s diverse materiality: Polythetic ontology and genealogy. Review of Communication, 16(4), 299-316.

6/2: Pflugfelder, Ehren H. (2015). Rhetoric’s new materialism: From micro-rhetoric to microbrew. Rhetoric Society Quarterly, 45(5), 441.

6/3: Agnew, Lois P. (2015) The Materiality of Language: Gender, Politics, and the University. Rhetoric Review, 34(1), 106-110.

6/4: Burnett, Cathy, Guy Merchant, Kate Pahl & Jennifer Rowsell. (2014). The (im)materiality of literacy: The significance of subjectivity to new literacies research. Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, 35(1), 90-103.

6/5: Richardson, Timothy. (2014). The authenticity of what’s next. Enculturation, 17.

6/6: Yergeau, Melanie, Elizabeth Brewer, Stephanie Kirschbaum, Sushil K. Oswal, Margaret Price, Cynthia L. Self, et al. (2013). Multimodality in motion: Disability and kairotic spaces. Kairos, 18(1).

6/12-6/17: Rand, Erin. (2014). Reclaiming queer: Activist and academic rhetorics of resistance. Tuscaloosa, AL: University of Alabama Press.

6/12: Rand, Erin J. (2013). Queer critical rhetoric bites back. Western Journal of Communication, 77(5), 533-537.

6/13: Bessette, Jean. (2013). An archive of anecdotes: Raising lesbian consciousness after the Daughters of Bilitis. Rhetoric Society Quarterly, 43(1), 22-45.

6/14: West, Isaac. (2013). Queer generosities. Western Journal of Communication, 77(5), 538-541.

6/15: Ahlm, Jody. (2017). Respectable promiscuity: Digital cruising in an era of queer liberalism. Sexualities, 20(3), 364-379.

6/16: Nichols, Garrett W. (2013). The quiet country closet: Reconstructing a discourse for closeted rural experiences.” Present Tense: A Journal of Rhetoric in Society 3.1.

6/17: Scott, J. Blake. (2003). Extending rhetorical-cultural analysis: Transformations of home HIV testing. College English, 65(4), 349-367.

6/18-6/23: Waite, Stacey. (2017). Teaching queer: Radical possibilities for writing and knowing. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press.

6/18: Waite, Stacey. (2015). Queer literacies survival guide. College Composition and Communication, 67(1), 111-114.

6/19: Kopelson, Karen. (2013). Queering the writing program: Why now? how? and other contentious questions. Writing Program Administration, 37(1), 199.

6/20: Coles, Gregory. (2016). The exorcism of language: Reclaimed derogatory terms and their limits. College English, 78(5), 424.

6/24-6/30: Shipka, Jody. (2011). Toward a composition made whole. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press.

6/24: Shipka, Jody. (2009). Negotiating rhetorical, material, methodological, and technological difference: Evaluating multimodal designs. College Composition and Communication, 61(1), W343-W366.

6/25: George, Diana. (2002). From analysis to design: Visual communication in the teaching of writing. College Composition and Communication, 54, 11-39.

6/26: Marback, Richard. (2009). Embracing the wicked problems: The turning to design in composition studies. College Composition and Communication, 61(2), W397-W419.

6/27: Davis, Matthew, & Kathleen B. Yancey. (2014). Notes toward the role of materiality in composing, reviewing, and assessing multimodal texts. Computers and Composition: An International Journal for Teachers of Writing, 31, 13-28.

6/28: West-Puckett, Stephanie. (2016). Making classroom writing assessment more visible, equitable, and portable through digital badging. College English, 79(2), 127-151.

6/28: Fortune, Bonnie. (2013). Queering the hackerspace at miss baltazar’s laboratory and beyond. Make/shift, (14), 38.

6/29: Kohtala, Cindy. (2016). Making “Making” critical: How sustainability is constituted in fab lab ideology. The Design Journal, , 1-20.

7/1-7/7: Sirc, Geoffrey. (2002). English composition as a happening. Logan, UT: Utah State University Press.

7/1: Ball, Cheryl E. (2004). Show, not tell: the value of new media scholarship. Computers and Composition, 21, 403-425.

7/2: DeVoss, Dànielle Nicole, Ellen Cushman, & Jeffrey T. Grabill. (2005). Infrastructure and composing: The when of new-media writing. College Composition and Communication, 57, 14-44.

7/3: Symposium. (2014). The maker movement in education: Designing, creating, and learning across contexts. Harvard Educational Review, 84(4), 493-494.

7/4: Martin, Lee. (2015). The promise of the maker movement for education. Journal of Pre-College Engineering Education Research (J-PEER), 5(1), 30-39.

7/5: Kera, Denisa. (2014). Innovation regimes based on collaborative and global tinkering: Synthetic biology and nanotechnology in the hackerspaces. Technology in Society, 37, 28-37.

7/6: Halverson, Erica R., & Kimberly M. Sheridan. (2014). The maker movement in education. Harvard Educational Review, 84(4), 495.

7/7: Charlton, Colin. (2014). The weight of curious space: Rhetorical events, hackerspace, and emergent multimodal assessment. Computers and Composition: An International Journal for Teachers of Writing, 31, 29-42.

“They Are Not Us”—An Open Letter

To Students, Faculty and Staff:

The Eastern Michigan University Police Department is investigating the presence of a business card advocating hate and racism found in Halle Library this morning. The card was quickly removed once discovered.

I want to stress again, as I did last fall, that such attacks are hurtful to all of us in the campus community – students, faculty and staff – who work every day to make Eastern a welcoming and inclusive campus. We must continue to work together in this way, embracing our unity and common purpose in being a University of opportunity for all. These messages are not Eastern; they are not us. And they may not stop anytime soon, likely due to the actions of a few people who seek to divide our community and gain attention for their hateful messages. Indeed, these are polarizing times, calling for diligent work by all of us to further mutual understanding and support.

I assure you that this investigation and identifying those responsible will be a high priority for our Police. I also want to note that the racist vandalism incidents of last fall remain under active investigation, with police having spent hundreds of hours on that effort. Also, the $10,000 reward remains in effect for information in connection with those crimes.

There will be further updates as the situation warrants. Please join me in standing together with our students, faculty and staff and all in our community who condemn hate and racism.

I want to remind our community that we have many avenues to discuss concerns related to these matters, including our Department of Diversity and Community Involvement. In addition, Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) offers free and confidential counseling to students seeking additional support. Students can make an appointment to talk to a counselor by calling 734-487-1118 during business hours. Students may also access CAPS’ after-hours phone support in the evenings and weekends by calling 734-487-1118. Students whose first language is not English may talk to a counselor in their preferred language. To access the International Student Support Program (ISSP), students may call 1-866-743-7732 or chat online with a counselor at

President Jim Smith

Dear President Smith:

Documents such as the hateful business card found in Halle Library this morning impact us all. They harm us all. They are a part of us all.

There are those of us who have the privilege to decide whether or not this is a part of who we are or not, to choose to see how or how not this participates in our lives. But it always participates in our lives—it’s in our silences, it’s in our inaction, it’s in our punishing students of color for advocating for their own safety on campus, it’s in our ever-enduring inability to put forward plans of action, our forcing students of color to “manage” their responses with therapy in the face of our punishing student advocating, our not acknowledging our own complicity within white supremacy in every level from administration to our every conversation.

As you did last fall, distancing EMU from these actions ignores that this is exactly who we are. This is an extension, part of the broader context that we have sponsored at this institution through our inability to respond to student voices, to speak back to hate, to fail to acknowledge our white supremacist culture. We might pretend that this is not us, but this only serves to turn a blind eye, to not act, to allow future acts to continue.

EMU is not separable from these acts of hate—we are these acts. Each of us carry the experience of these acts of hate. Those of us who choose to pretend that these acts are not us can only do so because we are privileged enough to do so—to ignore how this document impacts every one of us and affects us disproportionately across differences, communities, and identities. What actions will you take? Or must our students march every day reminding us that “EMU’s President is Racist” before action will be taken again—as you did last fall?

“They are not us.” Who or what is not us? Those who would commit those acts of hatred? The acts themselves? Those acts that happened within Halle Library, on the side of King Hall, Wise Hall? Those messages that are heard and felt by our students, faculty, and staff?

It may be uncomfortable to admit your complicity—but being a university administrator, working within a university, being a responsible human is not comfortable. It involves understanding your values that are given both explicitly and implicitly. It involves being honest about what you have allowed to happen, and what you have not. It involves acknowledging the privilege you have to make these decisions.

So I will stand together with you, President Smith, but will we do more than stand?


Thomas Passwater