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Rhetoric and Religion in the Twenty-First Century

Rhetoric and Religion in the Twenty-First Century

Pluralism in a Postsecular Age

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Edited by Michael-John DePalma, Paul Lynch, and Jeff Ringer


Paperback (Other formats: E-book)
288 pages, 6.25 x 9


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About the Book

Expanding the scope of religious rhetoric  

Over the past twenty-five years, the intersection of rhetoric and religion has become one of the most dynamic areas of inquiry in rhetoric and writing studies. One of few volumes to include multiple traditions in one conversation, Rhetoric and Religion in the Twenty-First Century engages with religious discourses and issues that continue to shape public life in the United States.  

This collection of essays centralizes the study of religious persuasion and pluralism, considers religion’s place in U.S. society, and expands the study of rhetoric and religion in generative ways. The volume showcases a wide range of religious traditions and challenges the very concepts of rhetoric and religion. The book’s eight essays explore African American, Buddhist, Christian, Indigenous, Islamic, and Jewish rhetoric and discuss the intersection of religion with feminism, race, and queer rhetoric—along with offering reflections on how to approach religious traditions through research and teaching. In addition, the volume includes seven short interludes in which some of the field’s most accomplished scholars recount their experiences exploring religious rhetorics and invite readers to engage these exigent lines of inquiry.  

By featuring these diverse religious perspectives, Rhetoric and Religion in the Twenty-First Century complicates the field’s emphasis on Western, Hellenistic, and Christian ideologies. The collection also offers teachers of writing and rhetoric a range of valuable approaches for preparing today’s students for public citizenship in our religiously diverse global context.  


Michael-John DePalma, professor of English and director of professional writing and rhetoric at Baylor University, is the author of Sacred Rhetorical Education in 19th Century America: Austin Phelps at Andover Theological Seminary. He is also coeditor of Mapping Christian Rhetorics: Connecting Conversations, Charting New Territories.  

Paul Lynch, associate professor of English at Saint Louis University, is the author of After Pedagogy: The Experience of Teaching and coeditor with Nathaniel Rivers of Thinking with Bruno Latour in Rhetoric and Composition (SIU Press).  

Jeff Ringer is an associate professor of rhetoric, writing, and linguistics at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He is the author of Vernacular Christian Rhetoric and Civil Discourse: The Religious Creativity of Evangelical Student Writers and coeditor of Mapping Christian Rhetorics.  


“Exceptional, even necessary, reading—not only as a starting place for those interested in broadening discussions of rhetoric and religion but for those seeking to challenge their own thinking about the coherence of the ‘rhetorical tradition.’”—Roger Thompson, author of Emerson and the History of Rhetoric 

Rhetoric and Religion in the Twenty-First Century: Pluralism in a Postsecular Age confirms the centrality of religious rhetorics to our discipline and to our nation's civic health. The book's exceptionally argued chapters and compelling interludes masterfully engage Indigenous, Jewish, Arab-Islamic, and Buddhist perspectives and think intersectionally about religion's connection to race, culture, gender, and sexuality. This collection is a must read for teachers and students of rhetoric who must see critical engagements with religion as key concerns for pluralism.”—Jessica Enoch, author of Domestic Occupations: Spatial Rhetorics and Women’s Work 

“This excellent collection is an inclusive, pluralistic example of the next stage in rhetoric’s contribution to the religious turn in the human sciences. The essays provide valuable general accounts of current approaches to reconceiving the interdisciplinary study of traditional religious rhetorics. Also included are chapter interludes with engaging narratives of how authors entered the field.”—Steven Mailloux, author of Rhetoric's Pragmatism: Essays in Rhetorical Hermeneutics 

“With Rhetoric and Religion in the Twenty-First Century: Pluralism in a Postsecular Age, DePalma, Lynch, Ringer, and their contributors continue a set of important conversations—not only about the role of religion in rhetoric, but also about the hybridity of rhetorical tradition(s) writ large. Deliberately building on previous work about rhetoric and religion and by challenging monolithic perspectives, the volume's essays and unique commentary interludes will encourage, if not demand, other useful scholarship to benefit the field of rhetoric and composition.”—Deborah H. Holdstein, author of Lost Texts in Rhetoric and Composition and coauthor of Judaic Perspectives in Rhetoric and Composition

“At this contentious cultural moment, when religious identity is used to draw political boundaries and encourage factionalism, the diverse and illuminating contributions to this volume complicate flattened conceptions of religion in the US and call for renewed appreciation of scholarship rooted in faith. This compelling collection dismisses acts of token tolerance and instead embraces rhetorical contemplation, interanimation, and resonance in the search for religious plurality. Readers come away both critical of shortsighted academic condescension aimed at religion and equipped to incorporate religious rhetoric into classroom discussions—a remarkable achievement.”—Lynée Lewis Gaillet, coeditor of Remembering Women Differently: Refiguring Rhetorical Work

“The coeditors of Rhetoric and Religion in the Twenty-First Century: Pluralism in a Postsecular Age offer a kaleidoscope of insight into the persuasive and rhetorical impact of differing religious traditions, announcing for the reader the good, the bad, and the problematic inherent within the rhetorical power of religious influence. I recommend this work as a touchstone for conversation about a perennial topic of unification and dispute, religion.”—Ronald Arnett, author of Communication Ethics and Tenacious Hope: Contemporary Implications of the Scottish Enlightenment