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Queering Public Address
Sexualities in American Historical Discourse

Edited by Charles E. Morris III

Queer perspectives on interpreting the innerconnectivity of rhetoric, history, and sexuality

In Queering Public Address ten noted rhetorical critics disrupt the silence regarding nonnormative sexualities in the study of American historical discourse and upend the heteronormativity that governs much of rhetorical history. Reconfiguring Quintilian's mandate that an orator is a good man speaking well, contributors grapple at the intersection of rhetoric, history, and sexuality as they interrogate historically situated discursive performances, politics, and meanings of the "good queer speaking well." Enacting both political and radical visions, these scholars articulate the promises of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender public address and the critiques that work to deepen their fulfillment.

Charles E. Morris III introduces the volume by offering a portrait of the queer historical/rhetorical critic, one vexed by disciplinary disorientation, seeking to reverse what Morris terms the "queer impoverishment" of the field of public address studies. Continuing the discourse, Dana L. Cloud, Ralph R. Smith, Russel R. Windes, Karen A. Foss, Julie Thompson, and Morris critically approach from nonnormative perspectives various principles, objects, methods, and theories that have explicitly or implicitly directed the practice and judgment of rhetorical-historical analysis.

In the latter part of the volume, John M. Sloop, Eric King Watts, Robert Alan Brookey, Lisbeth Lipari, and Lester C. Olson examine specific historical subjects, voices, styles, and performances by means of various discourses that intersected in relation to ideologies, issues, and events constituting queerness over time. The contributors consider figures such as Abraham Lincoln, Eleanor Roosevelt, Harvey Milk, Marlon Riggs, and Lorraine Hansberry and issues as diverse as collective identity, nineteenth-century semiotics of gender and sexuality, the sexual politics of the Harlem Renaissance, psychiatric productions of the queer, and violence-induced traumatic styles.

Author Charles E. Morris IIICharles E. Morris III is an associate professor in the Department of Communication at Boston College and an editor of Readings on the Rhetoric of Social Protest. For his scholarship on queer history, he has received the National Communication Association's Karl Wallace Memorial Award and Golden Anniversary Monograph Award.


"Queering Public Address is a long overdue and welcome intervention into rhetorical histories, and it persuasively establishes the necessity of accounting for the role of sexuality in the ways that we make sense of both public discourse and public address scholarship. While simultaneously respecting and interrogating the traditions of public address inquiry, this collection of theoretically and historically rich case studies usefully elucidates as well as complicates what it can mean, at various moments and for various purposes, to be queer, to be queered, and to think, read, and write queerly."—Bonnie J. Dow, author of Prime-Time Feminism: Television, Media Culture, and the Women's Movement Since 1970, and coauthor of The Sage Handbook of Gender and Communication

"The essays in this collection prove by example the value of using sexuality as a prism through which to view public discourse. Rather than being merely an anthology of queer rhetors, the book demonstrates how considerations of sexuality can 'queer' our understanding of public address itself. These studies thus warrant the attention of scholars of public discourse whether or not they are especially interested in studying sexuality. The essays creatively complicate our understanding of what counts as public address and thereby suggest the richness of public discourse in the American experience."—David Zarefsky, Owen L. Coon Professor of Communication Studies, Northwestern University

"The studies in Queering Public Address call attention to the centrality of sexuality to the study of public address and move us one step closer to a thoroughgoing reconceptualization of rhetorical inquiry. The contributors to this volume offer theoretical frameworks that will inspire public address scholars to queer many more artifacts from the rhetorical, historical past."—Kent A. Ono, professor of Asian American Studies and the Institute of Communications Research, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign



book jacket for Queering Public Address


6 x 9
304 pages
1 illustration
ISBN 978-1-57003-664-4
hardcover, $49.95s
Studies in Rhetoric/Communication
Winner of the 2008 Everett Lee Hunt Award, Eastern Communication Association


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