Geopolitics of Writing, Knowledge, and Resistance

Course Overview: 

This 4000-level course introduces students to postcolonial and decolonial theories of rhetoric and writing. With a particular focus on rhetoric in the Americas, this explores the links between writing, colonization, modernity, and identity and studies how rhetorics of resistance emerge in various contact zones to struggle against diverse forms of power. 


Formal Assignments:

Critical Responses, Journaling on Course Blog, Rhetoric of Resistance with accompanying rhetorical analysis 


Key Themes: 

Contact zones, borderlands, survivance, Eurocentricism, postcolonialism, colonization, decolonization, modernity, hybridity, rhetorics of contact, rhetorical othering, Mestiz@ rhetorics, subaltern, border thinking, rhetorics of empire, transmodernity


Primary/Supplementary Texts: (Small Sample)

Immanuel Wallerstein’s European Universalism for its persuasive connections between colonization, modernity, and rhetoric

Ernest Stromberg’s edited collection American Indian Rhetorics of Survivance for its insightful essays into Native American rhetorics

Damián Baca's Mestiz@ Scripts, Digital Migrations, and the Territories of Writing for its astute rhetorical analysis of Mesitza writing 

Mary Louise Pratt’s “Arts of the Contact Zone” for its clear conceptualization of contact zones

Gómez-Peña, Chagoya, and Rice’s Codex Espangliensis for its unique and profound rhetorics of resistance

Enrique Dussel’s “Beyond Eurocentrism” for its provocative challenge to rethink “modern” paradigms of thought and contribute to “transmodernity

Excerpts from Anzaldúa’s Borderlands for its introduction to autohistoria as radical genre and mestiza consciousness in action

Manuel Castell’s “Communal Heavens: Identity and Meaning in the Network Society" for its productive definitions of identity construction

Walter Mignolo’s “Globalization, Civilization Processes, and the Relocation of Languages and Cutlures for its explanation of the “denial of coevalness” and “barbarian theorizing”

Carl Beam’s art for his material practice of trickster rhetorics in a culture of manifest manners 


Course Description:

This course explores how writing emerge as contested spaces in Postcolonial and Decolonial Studies and investigates various forms and expressions of cultural resistance. Throughout the course, students engage with the postcolonial theories of Edward Said, Anne McClintock and Chandra Mohanty. Students also engage with the scholarship of Walter Mignolo, Ileana Rodríguez and Enrique Dussel – among other Latin American theorists and philosophers – who interrogate the geopolitics of knowledge and advocate for a decolonial shift in epistemology. Such studies challenge students to confront how “writing,” “seeing,” and “knowing” have been entangled in longstanding histories of dominance and control.

Focusing heavily on "postcolonial" contexts in the Americas, students also study how words, images, artifacts, and the body are employed to achieve personal, cultural, and political survival. The following genres are explored as acts of cultural resistance: autohistoria, collage, cartography, manifesto, codex, performance art, and more. In studying such resistance, students encounter the provocative works of Gloria Anzaldua, Vine Deloria, Carl Beam, Guillermo Gómez-Peña, and others. In the formal seminar project, students generate acts of resistance that challenge dominant ways of seeing and knowing and/or attempt to rewrite history on their own terms. Students are challenged to craft their own acts of resistance in genres of interest to them.

Course Reflections:
This course typically attracts students interested in 
Cultural Rhetorics, Postcolonial Theory, and Latin American Studies.