RSA Chapter Kicks Off at NCSU with Sound Advice for Responding to Calls

(Not from Advice Dog, thankfully.)

As we promised earlier, NC State’s Rhetoric Society of America (RSA) chapter held its first meeting with several CRDM students in attendance. Dr. Carolyn Miller, one of our program’s co-founders and the current editor of the journal Rhetoric Society Quarterly, was there as well to offer advice on responding to calls for articles and conference presentations on rhetoric. Dr. Miller suggests you should:

  1. Have something to say. What people are looking for are interesting claims. You want to position an abstract or proposal in a way that shows that you have already done enough to have something to say rather than just laying out a trajectory of exploration.
  2. Position yourself. As the Burkean statement goes, you are part of a conversation. You are making a contribution in an ongoing exchange. If you are giving a response and you don’t know who you are talking to then that is not really an example of well-positioned disciplinary discourse.
  3. Make sure that the conference organizer or editor is able to see a clear connection between your proposal or article and the call, if it concerns a specific topic or theme. Sometimes, repeating key words from the call (or clear synonyms) can be useful. Some calls, on the other hand, cast a very wide net. Check out Berkenkotter & Huckin’s study of submissions to 4Cs (ch. 6 in Genre Knowledge in Disciplinary Communication).
  4. Know the place you are sending your proposal or paper in to. Know your audience. That goes without saying in journal submissions, but still needs to be said is to read the journal. Don’t submit a journal article to a journal you have never read.
  5. Early on in your career it can be important and useful to look at fit between your work and a variety of different audiences by going to a variety of different conferences. However, when in doubt it does not hurt your research identity to continue to go to the largest of national conferences in your field. When in doubt (or restricted travel funding) sacrifice the regional conferences.
  6. Balance conference attendance; do not over-commit and find yourself unable to produce. You can always withdraw a conference paper if you are unable to produce quality work, but do so ahead of time and with notice.
  7. Check out listservs such as hrhetor, CRTNET, and U Penn’s website for more info on calls. If you joint RSA, you will receive timely messages about RSA conferences and other calls.

Thanks to Dr. Miller for these helpful tips and for helping us resurrect our chapter of RSA.


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