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Reclaiming the Rural

Reclaiming the Rural

Essays on Literacy, Rhetoric, and Pedagogy

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Edited by Kim Donehower, Charlotte Hogg, and Eileen E. Schell


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About the Book

In Reclaiming the Rural: Essays on Literacy, Rhetoric, and Pedagogy, editors Kim Donehower, Charlotte Hogg, and Eileen E. Schell bring together a diverse collection of essays that consider literacy, rhetoric, and pedagogy in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. The essays move beyond the typical arguments for preserving, abandoning, or modernizing by analyzing how rural communities sustain themselves through literate action. The contributors explore the rhetorics of water disputes in the western United States, the histories and influences of religious rhetorics in Mexico, agricultural and rural literacy curricula, the literacies of organizations such as 4-H and Academia de la Nueva Raza, and neoliberal rhetorics. Central to these examinations are the rural populations themselves, which include indigenous peoples in the rural United States, Canada, and Mexico, as well as those of European or other backgrounds.

The strength of the anthology lies in its multiple perspectives, various research sites, and the range of methodologies employed, including rhetorical analyses of economies and environments, media, and public spaces; classroom-based research; historical analysis and archival work; and qualitative research. The researchers engage the duality between the practices of everyday life in rural communities and the practices of reflecting on and making meaning.

Reclaiming the Rural reflects the continually changing, nuanced, context-dependent realities of rural life while acknowledging the complex histories, power struggles, and governmental actions that have affected and continue to affect the lives of rural citizens. This thought-provoking collection demonstrates the value in reclaiming the rural for scholarly and pedagogical analysis.



Kim Donehower is an associate professor of English and the director of the Red River Valley Writing Project at the University of North Dakota. Her previous publications include essays in the Journal of Appalachian Studies and Women and Literacy: Local and Global Inquiries for a New Century.

Charlotte Hogg is an associate professor at Texas Christian University, the author of From the Garden Club: Rural Women Writing Community, and a coauthor of Rural Literacies with Kim Donehower and Eileen E. Schell.

Eileen E. Schell is the chair and the director of the Writing Program at Syracuse University and the author of Gypsy Academics and Mother-Teachers: Gender, Contingent Labor, and Writing Instruction.


“The spatial turn in humanities and social science scholarship has given colleagues in rhetorical and writing studies a productive framework for re-envisioning the complexities of literacy. Yet, as Reclaiming the Rural rightly insists, this turn will remain incomplete until we correct the longstanding metropolitan bias in literacy research. Donehower, Hogg, Schell and their contributors embrace this challenge with astonishing resourcefulness. Chapter by chapter, their efforts yield provocative, field-changing arguments that command notice—and immediate engagement.”—Peter Mortensen, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

“With Reclaiming the Rural, Donehower, Hogg and Schell set a sustainable agenda for rural literacy studies in the years ahead.  The essays in this collection are inclusive, engaging, informative, and convincing. They give the wider field better ways to understand relationships among literacy, place, and space. The main message—that rural students deserve language education that can help them voice the interests of their communities—stands as a model for educators everywhere.”—Deborah Brandt, author of Literacy in American Lives

“No matter where you live, no matter whom you teach, you have a stake in Reclaiming the Rural. These essays make urgently clear that educators and scholars do more than a disservice to rural people when we ignore rural communities as irrelevant or prepare rural students to expect that their futures will only be found in cities and suburbs. We cede to corporate ownership the land and resources on which life everywhere depends. The biggest public arguments ahead—about food sovereignty, water access, and energy sources after peak oil —will be played out against rural landscapes. What we do in our classrooms to promote critical rural literacy and foster relationships for effective advocacy across rural, urban, and suburban communities will matter. Reclaiming the Rural equips teachers with the perspectives, histories, and pedagogies we and our students need if we are to have a democratic voice in how our food is produced, how resources are extracted, how the environment is protected.”—Nancy Welch, Department of English, Chair, United Academics Delegates Assembly

Reclaiming the Rural represents an incredibly important volume in its call to re-imagine and re-read, in the broadest possible sense, rural people, communities and society.  This volume is fundamentally multi-disciplinary in scope and should be essential reading for scholars, educators, activists and anyone interested in the sustainability and well-being of rural people and places in the twenty-first century.”—Kai A. Schafft, Associate Professor of Education, Penn State University and Editor, Journal of Research in Rural Education