Successful SCoR Seminar at SSCA in Louisville

The Regional in a Cosmopolitan World

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Thanks to the Public Address programmer for 2013, Wendy Atkins-Sayre, SCoR, for the 5th year, held a seminar at the annual meeting of SSCA.

The topic for the 2013 meeting was “The Regional in a Cosmopolitan World” and took inspiration from Dallas Dickey’s 1947 essay in the
Quarterly Journal of Speech “Southern Oratory: A Field for Research” and from a 2012 special issue of the Rhetoric Society Quarterly on the theme From Architectonic to Tectonics:  Introducing Regional Rhetorics” (42:3).

Dickey’s essay was the beginning of LSU’s storied history as the preeminent program for the study of Southern rhetoric. But the LSU focus on the regional and the idea of the regional as a site of study slowly gave way to a focus on the global and on global audiences. In a cosmopolitan environment, the idea of the regional came to be seen as provincial. The regional, though, as the special issue of
RSQ demonstrates, has proved to be tenacious, and scholars, including scholars in rhetoric, are returning to considerations of local sites as loci for study.

The SSCA meeting in Louisville, KY was a perfect venue for a discussion of the issues of the renascent regional in a global world. The South has long been recognized as having one of the most distinctive and enduring regional identities in the United States, and the South was also the locus of our discipline’s only regionally identified body of scholarship. In our seminar, we revisited Professor Dickey’s 1947 essay to consider what wisdom it may still contain in a world of global media and the World Wide Web.

SCoR seminars are almost always grounded in real-world texts, empirical touchstones for our theoretical speculation, and for our meetings at SSCA, we have generally tried to make a connection between our texts, our theme, and the convention site. For the Louisville seminar, we chose two speeches by the senior senator from Kentucky and the minority leader of the US Senate, Mitch McConnell. Sen McConnell represents the state of Kentucky in the US Senate. As a representative of Kentucky, McConnell is obligated to represent a state that has a strong sense of identity and of the locality of many issues important to it. But Sen McConnell is also the minority leader in the Senate, and, as such, is often required to speak on the national stage on behalf of the Republican Party. Our choice proved prescient. Less than a month after our seminar, NPR’s “Morning Edition” aired the story McConnell Tries To Show He's Still At Home In Kentucky

The format for the SSCA SCoR seminar was brief statements from panelists followed by open discussion. This is a seminar session more than it is a traditional panel, and the best, most lively, and fulfilling discussions occur, as they do in any seminar, when a good number of the participants have done their homework.


As it turned out, there was a healthy number of attendees who had done their homework, and after opening position were presented by Megan Foley (Mississippi State) and Brandon Inabinet (Furman), there was a lively discussion. James Darsey (Georgia State) opened the second half of the seminar with a position statement, and the discussion continued.


Sen Mitch McConnell’s remarks of March 3, 2011 on introducing the Mining Jobs Protection Act in the US Senate. The speech is interesting because McConnell is placed in the position of advocating for his region against the federal government (specifically, the EPA) and, some would say, against the long-term interests of the environment. McConnell speaks out against the federal government while being one of the most powerful representatives of that government.

For additional photos of seminar participants,
click here.

For an illuminating example of McConnell addressing the local audience on the same issue, see his
speech to the Kentucky Coal Association three months later (June 01, 2011).

Theoretical background readings:

Dickey, Dallas C. "Southern Oratory: A Field For Research." Quarterly Journal of Speech 33.4 (1947): 458.

Rice, Jenny, “From Architectonic to Tectonics: Introducing Regional Rhetorics,” RSQ 42:3 (2012); 201.

Tell, Dave. “The Meanings of Kansas:  Rhetoric, Regions, and Counter Regions,” RSQ 42:3 (2012); 214-232.

Greene, Ronald Walter & Kuswa, Kevin Douglas, “‘From the Arab Spring to Athens, From Occupy Wall Street to Moscow’:  Regional Accents and the Rhetorical Cartography of Power,” RSQ 42:3 (2012); 271-288.

Wood, Andrew, “Regionalization and the Construction of Ephemeral Co-Location,” RSQ 42:3 (2012); 289-296.

For information on previous SCoR colloquia, look under “Past Events.”

For information on upcoming SCoR events, check back here.