Notes: Catherine Chaput, “Rhetorical Circulation in Late Capitalism: Neoliberalism and the Overdetermination of Affective Energy”

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


Chaput critiques the situated/situation premise within rhetoric as enabling neoliberalist ideologies to operate uninterrogated within them and poses rhetorical circulation, in its insistence on moving between spaces, as an alternative.

Keywords: affect, capital, materiality, neoliberalism, rhetoric, rhetorical theory, theory


“Conceptualizing discursive practices as a form of labor rather than a form of political signifi cation sidesteps anxiety about well-chosen language and emphasizes the life-affi rming activity involved in deciphering issues, inventing paths through those issues, and communicating new ideas to others” (p. 2).

“Put differently, security converts human beings into self-entrepreneurs whose freely chosen education, work, and leisure decisions operate instinctually according to the economics of risk and reward. Such a schema no longer enforces appropriate subjectivities (normalization) but regulates the point at which individual actions impinge on the statistically favored rates of population success (normation)” (p. 5).

“From this perspective, rhetoric is not an isolated instance or even a series of instances but a circulation of exchanges, the whole of which govern our individual and collective decisions. Understanding rhetoric as circulating within an overdetermined ecological space helps illuminate the biopolitical reaches of contemporary capital, while the social connectivity of aff ective energy produced through communicative labor helps explain the persuasive capacity of these reaches” (p. 8).

“The rhetorical  situation, that is, makes rhetoricians comfortable within the disciplinary status quo of rhetorical production understood as transpiring within  discrete sociohistorical, political, and cultural situations. Th e negative  aff ectivity of the rhetorical situation— its organization and  interpretation of life structures in terms of fi xed origins—stems, in part, from its reproduction of philosophical divisions: materiality and consciousness; reason and emotion; objects and subjects; past and future; the situated place and the open space” (p. 18).

“In the rhetorical circulation model, success derives from a better understanding of diff erently situated positions and an enhanced ability to engage diff erently situated people, processes that open dialogue rather than win debates” (p. 19).

Notes: Martin Stempfhuber and Michael Liegel, “Intimacy Mobilized: Hook-up Practices in Location-Based Social Network Grindr”

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.


Stempfhuber and Liegel examine Grindr practices as a renegotiation of the sociology of intimacies, seeing Grindr practices as remediating, instead of alienating, intimacy: further, they articulate the uses of Grindr as augmented space, wayfinding, place making/writing, and mapping.

Keywords: Grindr, human geography, mapping, mobility, place, sociology, space, technology


“It seems as though the sociology of intimacy is lagging behind technological advances which have long instantiated new regimes of mobility and have instigated a process of renegotiation of what it means to ‘be with’ someone else or be co-present. Taking issue with the humanistic, body-centric, and romanticist notion that intimacy becomes alienated when technologically mediated—something which is still lingering in the sociology of intimacy—we suggest that it is time to ask how the (im)mobilities (Büscher and Urry 2009) of ‘hook-up’ practices are being reconfigured by a ubiquitous use of mobile digital media” (p. 52).

“The very use of the plural in the designation of a sociology of mobilities, on the other hand, points to the mobility of the category of mobility itself; it is also a metaphor for the contested identity of categories that are touched by it. The study of mobilities, then, is concerned both with physical mobility and informational mobility” (p. 53).

“Mobile apps such as Grindr even have the engagement with one’s physical surroundings explicitly at their core. By identifying addressable interlocutors in physical proximity, such apps help to mediate the interaction constraints of urban public space, but in thus populating the vicinity they also serve as a place-making (or place-writing) device. Grindr uses location information as a resource for hooking up, but location, as we will see, can shift from a resource to the topic of the practice” (p. 57)

Notes: Sarah Orem and Neil Simpkins, “Weepy Rhetoric, Trigger Warnings, and the Work of Making Mental Illness Visible in the Writing Classroom”

Orem, Sarah & Neil Simpkins. (2015). Weepy rhetoric, trigger warnings, and the work of making mental illness visible in the writing classroom. Enculturation, 20.


Orem and Simpkins develop an idea of trigger warnings as ‘weepy rhetoric’ that performs outwardly a reclaiming of assumptions of mental illness.

Keywords: Trigger warnings, mental illness, disability rhetorics


“Trigger warnings have long been used in feminist-, queer-, and disability-activist settings online, but the public discussion of trigger-warned syllabi came specifically on the heels of the ratification of Oberlin College’s 2013 Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act” (para. 2).

“We believed that navigating academic careers while mentally ill demonstrated our resilience, but as journalistic and scholarly op-eds on trigger warnings populated our computer screens, we learned that the opposite conclusion was being drawn by some: only recently, we participated in a highly public online conversation about trigger warnings in which a fellow academic declared that ‘PTSD is the new ‘my dog ate my homework’'” (para. 3).

“[W]e argue that trigger warnings function as what we term weepy rhetoric, a mode of crying through text. Pouring out difficult, messy emotions in academic spaces, trigger warnings function as reverse discourse, reclaiming damaging assumptions about the mentally ill” (para. 6).

“Weeping, therefore, is a dramatic performance of making visible the complex interrelation of emotional and physical, visible and invisible pain. It is a concept rooted in the embodiment of emotional pain” (para. 11).

“A trigger warning, we suggest, weeps. It is weepy rhetoric—a method of calling attention to pain through language, while foregrounding the interrelation between emotional pain (such as mental illness) and physical pain (including assault or sexualized violence). Visibly displaying through text a history of surviving physical and psychological injury, a trigger warning (TW) is itself a Textual Weeping” (para. 13).

“Because trigger warnings point, unflinchingly, to pain and hurt, they position users as performing the wrong affect for the classroom, collective, or digital space; they defy the drive to be pleasant or decorous” (para. 41).

Notes: Christina B. Hanhardt, “Safe Space Out of Place”

Hanhardt, Christina B. (2016). Safe space out of place. QED: A Journal of GLBTQ Worldmaking, 3(3), p. 121-125.


Hanhardt traces a dominant narrative within safe space discourses that sees particular subjects as always vulnerable to violence, while reproducing spatially raced and classed hierarchies.

Keywords: Safe Space, Place, LGBTQ, Queer, Culture, History


“These ideas are not new to the response to Pulse, but have provided a long-standing common-sense basis for understanding GLBTQ people as subjects who are always vulnerable to violence and for whom designated spaces might provide protection” (122).

“These convictions are anchored in a deep history of exploitation and survival: GLBTQ people have forged counter-institutions in the context of social exclusion, targeted attacks, and material and ideological structures that install and reward gender and sexual inequality” (122).

“Increased assimilation for a small but dominant segment of GLBTQ people has led some to question the importance of GLBTQ-specific institutions in general” (123).

“As a safe space in need of protection, political responses often leaned on discrete if multiple motives, most of which revolved around the presumed interior life of the actual (or potential future) shooter and called for an expansion of state power. In this way, proposals for more gun control and increased anti-terrorism funding actually had much in common, and arguments that sought to emphasize the fact that the patrons were a majority people of color were still absorbed into a dominant framework of GLBTQ marginality and homophobic violence” (124).

“Of course, the use of the term “safe space” is often more about crafting headlines than making a precise argument, but the idea of safety-in-place is a durable one that, although rooted in real needs, is always bound up in the spatial production of racial and economic hierarchy” (124).

“Thus the effort to put “safe space” out of its familiar place—rhetorical and geographic—ultimately is not about what a single essay (in the mainstream media, or an academic journal) may or may not offer, but is made possible as part of a process—often messy and untidy—in which collective debating and planning might lead us not only to safety but to something or somewhere better that we have not yet known” (125).

Notes: David Sibley, “Bounding Space: Purification and Control” in Geographies of Exclusion

Sibley, David. (1995). Bounding space: Purification and control. in Geographies of exclusion. New York: Routledge, 72-89.


Sibley examines the way in which constructions of self and other create ‘purified’ spaces that desire conformity and construct deviance.

Keywords: Geography, Human Geography, Place, Space, Borders


“There seems to me to be a continuing need for ritual practices to maintain the sanctity of space in a secular society. These rituals… are an expression of power relations: they are concerned with domination. Today, however, the guardians of sacred spaces are more likely to be security guards, parents or judges than priests. They are policing the spaces of commerce, public institutions and the home rather than the temple” (72).

“We cannot understand the role of space in the reproduction of social relations without recognizing that the relatively powerless still have enough power to ‘carve out spaces of control’ in respect of their day-to-day lives” (73).

“We can envision the build environment as an integral element in the production of social life, conditioning activities and creating opportunities according to the distribution of power in the socio-spatial system” (73).

“An appreciation of power relations gives meaning to space. Variations in the control and manipulation of different spatial configurations reflect different forms of power relations” (76).

“The anatomy of the purified environment is an expression of the values associated with strong feelings of abjection, a heightened consciousness of difference and, thus, a fear of mixing or the disintegration of boundaries” (78).

“[The panopticon principle] ‘colonizes’ social life and erects boundaries between normal and deviant at all levels, irrespective of legal codes which define criminal behavior. Thus, control, discipline and carceral forms of punishment are diffused through society and social control on the panopticon principle becomes much more than confinement under a particular regime” (83).

“Self and other, and the spaces they create and are alienated from, are defined through projection and introjection. Thus, the built environment assumes symbolic importance, reinforcing a desire for order and conformity if the environment itself is ordered and purified; in this way, space is implicated in the construction of deviancy” (86).

Notes: José Muñoz, “Queerness as Horizon: Utopian Hermeneutics in the Face of Gay Pragmatism” in Cruising Utopia: The Then and Now of Queer Futurity

Muñoz, José E. (2009). Queerness as horizon: Utopian hermeneutics in the face of gay pragmatism. in Cruising utopia: The then and there of queer futurity. New York: New York University Press, 19-32.


Muñoz insists on queerness as a not-quite-here and that queerness as utopian and uses this positioning of queer as a means to be beyond the pragmatic and neoliberal.

Keywords: Queer, Queer Theory, Queer Futurity


“This ‘we’ does not speak to a merely identitarian logic but instead to a logic of futurity. The ‘we’ speaks to a ‘we’ that is ‘not yet conscious,’ the future society that is being invoked and addressed at the same moment. The ‘we’ is not content to describe who the collective is but more nearly describes what the collective and the larger social order could be, what it should be… This is to say that the field of utopian possibility is one in which multiple forms of belonging in difference adhere to a belonging in collectivity” (20).

“The not-quite-conscious is the realm of potentiality that must be called on, and insisted on, if we are ever to look beyond the pragmatic sphere of the here and now, the hollow nature of the present” (21).

“I suggest that holding queerness in a sort of ontologically humble state, under a conceptual grid in which we do not claim to always already know queerness in the world, potentially staves off the ossifying effects of neoliberal ideology and the degredation of politics brought about by representations of queerness in contemporary culture” (22).

“Indeed, to live inside straight time and ask for, desire, and imagine another time and place is to represent and perform a desire that is both utopian and queer” (26).

“Indeed it is important to complicate queer history and understand it as doing more than the flawed process of merely evidencing. Evidencing protocols often fail to enact real hermeneutical inquiry and instead opt to reinstate that which is known in advance. Thus, practices of knowledge production that are content merely to cull selectively from the past, while striking a pose of positivist undertaking or empirical knowledge retrieval, often nullify the political imagination” (27).

“These ephemeral traces, flickering illuminations from other times and places, are sites that may indeed appear merely romantic, even to themselves. Nonetheless they assist those of us who wish to follow queerness’ promise, its still unrealized potential, to see something else, a component that the German aesthetician would call cultural surplus. I build on this idea to suggest that the surplus is both cultural and affective. More distinctly, I point to a queer feeling of hope in the face of hopeless heteronormative maps of the present where futurity is indeed the province of normative reproduction” (28, original emphasis).


Notes: David Sibley, “Mapping the Pure and the Defiled” in Geographies of Exclusion

Sibley, David. (1995). Mapping the pure and the defiled. in Geographies of exclusion. New York: Routledge, 49-71.


Sibley traces how geographies are constructed which mark persons and places as defiled and thus othered.

Keywords: Geography, Human Geography, Cultural Studies, Space, Place, Class


“In constructing these geographies, the imagery… is drawn on to characterize both people and places, reflecting the desire of those who feel threatened to distance themselves from defiled people and defiled places. Thus, values associated with conformity or authoritarianism are expressed in maps which relegate others to places distant from the locales of the dominant majority” (49).

“[T]here are enduring images of ‘other’ people and ‘other’ places which are combined in the construction of geographies of belonging and exclusion, from the global to the local” (69).