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Rhetorics of Whiteness

Rhetorics of Whiteness

Postracial Hauntings in Popular Culture, Social Media, and Education

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Edited by Tammie M. Kennedy, Joyce Irene Middleton, Krista Ratcliffe, with a foreword by Lilia D. Monzó and Peter McLaren


E-book (Other formats: Paperback)
17 illustrations


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  • Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

About the Book

Winner, CCCC Outstanding Book Award in the Edited Collection Category, 2018

With the election of our first black president, many Americans began to argue that we had finally ended racism, claiming that we now live in a postracial era. Yet near-daily news reports regularly invoke white as a demographic category and recount instances of racialized violence as well as an increased sensitivity to expressions of racial unrest. Clearly, American society isn’t as color-blind as people would like to believe. In Rhetorics of Whiteness: Postracial Hauntings in Popular Culture, Social Media, and Education, contributors reveal how identifications with racialized whiteness continue to manifest themselves in American culture.

The sixteen essays that comprise this collection not only render visible how racialized whiteness infiltrates new twenty-first-century discourses and material spaces but also offer critical tactics for disrupting this normative whiteness. Specifically, contributors examine popular culture (novels, films, TV), social media (YouTube, eHarmony, Facebook), education (state law, the textbook industry, dual credit programs), pedagogy (tactics for teaching via narratives, emotional literacy, and mindfulness) as well as cultural theories (concepts of racialized space, anti-dialogicism, and color blindness). Offering new approaches to understanding racialized whiteness, this volume emphasizes the importance of a rhetorical lens for employing whiteness studies’ theories and methods to identify, analyze, interpret, and interrupt representations of whiteness.

Although whiteness studies has been waning as an active research field for the past decade, the contributors to Rhetorics of Whiteness assert that it hasn’t lost its relevancy because racialized whiteness and issues of systemic racism persist in American society and culture today. Few whiteness studies texts have been published in rhetoric and composition in the past decade, so this collection should quickly become mandatory reading. By focusing on common, yet often overlooked, contemporary examples of how racialized whiteness haunts U.S. society, Rhetorics of Whiteness serves as a valuable text for scholars in the field as well as anyone else interested in the topic.


Tammie M. Kennedy is an associate professor of English at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. She has published essays in a number of journals, including Rhetoric Review, JAC, Feminist Formations, and the Journal of Lesbian Studies, and chapters in several books.

Joyce Irene Middleton is an associate professor of English at East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina. Her work has appeared in Rhetoric Review, JAC, and College English, and in a number of rhetoric anthologies

Krista Ratcliffe is a professor and the head of English at Purdue University. Her books include Anglo-American Challenges to the Rhetorical Traditions: Virginia Woolf, Mary Daly, and Adrienne Rich; the award-winning Rhetorical Listening: Identification, Gender, Whiteness; and Silence and Listening as Rhetorical Arts.

Contributors include Sarah E. Austin, Lee Bebout, Jennifer Beech, Cedric Burrows, Leda Cooks, Sharon Crowley, Anita M. DeRouen, Tim Engles, Christine Farris, Amy Goodburn, M. Shane Grant, Gregory Jay, Ronald A. Kuykendall, Kristi McDuffie, Nicole Ashanti McFarlane, Alice McIntyre, Peter McLaren, Keith D. Miller, Lilia D. Monzó, Casie Moreland, Ersula Ore, Annette Harris Powell, Catherine Prendergast, Meagan Rodgers, Nicole E. Snell, Jennifer Seibel Trainor, Victor Villanueva, and Hui Wu.


“As the editors point out in their introduction, events of the last few years have disproven the idea that we are in a ‘post racial’ era; therefore, it’s urgent that we preserve the understanding of racism we’ve gained from the study of whiteness. This volume reminds us of what we have achieved (and failed to achieve) and introduces to new students valuable perspectives on topical issues.”—Wendy Ryden, coauthor with Ian Marshall, Reading, Writing, and the Rhetorics of Whiteness
 “The caliber of the scholars who contribute to Rhetorics of Whiteness, the issues these scholars address, and the manner in which they tackle these issues are provocative, bold, and interesting.”—Vorris Nunley, author, Keepin’ It Hushed: The Barbershop and African American Hush Harbor Rhetoric