The Rhetoric@Davis Research Cluster


Rhetoric is a field of study--both ancient and fully contemporary--that informs every discipline in its needs to communicate information or points of view to an audience. Because we perceive rhetoric as “the art of knowledge-making” (Covino and Jolliffe, 1995), we believe that every field of study can benefit, learn from, and draw upon rhetorical principles. Consequently, the Rhetoric @ Davis research cluster has created a forum to meet, discuss, and share research related to rhetoric for scholars from an array of disciplines and departments at the University of California, Davis. Our aim is to promote awareness of the field of rhetoric on campus, and to foster connections. 

The Rhetoric@Davis Research Cluster is a consortium of faculty and graduate students from across disciplines devoted to deeper understanding of the many shapes and trajectories of rhetoric in the university and the wider community. We consider rhetoric historically, strategically, and technologically: to cite just a few examples,

  • how open access video and social networking can promote political change
  • how Quintilian’s teaching methods have influenced education for two thousand years
  • how research scientists can make their findings resonate with the public and influence policy
  • how students in any discipline can use rhetorical awareness to make their writing and speaking more effective with different audiences
  • how the ancient debate between Socrates and the Sophists plays out today in concern over the impacts of political and commercial marketing 
  • how individual creativity and motivation are sparked by rhetorical training
  • how diversity of cultures and languages influences global and local communication   

Our quarterly schedule includes two events (six per year): first, a featured speaker from on- or off-campus leading a discussion on a relevant theme; second, an open forum/meeting of the cluster membership and other interested faculty and students, often facilitated by a panel.

Recent and upcoming speakers include Ramon Martinez, Stanford University; Thomas Sloane, UC Berkeley; Andrea Lunsford, Stanford University; Thomas Cahill, UC Davis; James J. Murphy, UC Davis; Jeanne Fahnestock, University of Maryland; Charles Bazerman, UC Santa Barbara; Cheryl Ball, West Virginia University; Elizabeth Losh, UC San Diego; Laurent Pernot, University of Strasbourg (France); Sarah Arroyo and Bahareh Alaei, California State University, Long Beach; Krista Ratcliffe, Purdue University.

Rhetoric@Davis receives partial funding from the Davis Humanities Institute, with events co-sponsored by interested departments and programs.

Watch for announcements of upcoming events. For more information, contact cluster co-chairs D.J. Quinn (, Sophia Bamert (, or Stacy Whittstock (, or faculty chair Rebekka Andersen (