The RSA Awards Committee is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2013 RSA Doctoral Dissertation Award and the 2013 RSA Book Award. Both award recipients will be recognized at the RSA Institute this upcoming June in Lawrence, Kansas, with a public citation on Friday June 7 at the luncheon; both recipients will be recognized again during the luncheon at RSA 14 at San Antonio, Texas.
The committee awards the 2013 Rhetoric Society of America Dissertation Award to Lindsay Rose Russell for “Women in the English Language Dictionary” (University of Washington, co-chairs Anis Bawarshi and Colette Moore). This ambitious project, vast in historical scope and rich in historiographical significance, examines women’s participation in the English language dictionary from the early modern period to the present. Committee members variously described it as an “elegant study with astounding historical depth…fascinating and timely, impeccably researched, well theorized, and…beautifully written.” Dr. Russell does not merely recover women’s participation in the history of the dictionary; she asks us to rethink how we conceptualize dictionaries as a rhetorical genre, calling particular attention to both their historical gendering as well as a longstanding but heretofore hidden history of women’s rhetorical critique, from contributions as readers, writers, and patrons of the emerging dictionary genre in the early modern period to contemporary feminist dictionary projects. Applying both feminist and genre theory to a careful archival recovery project, and displaying a deep knowledge of English language history, “Women in the English Language Dictionary” makes a significant contribution to rhetorical studies.
RSA book award committee has selected Gerard A. Hauser’s Prisoners of Conscience: Moral Vernaculars of Political Agency (University of South Carolina Press) for the 2013 RSA Book Award. One selection committee member wrote, “Prisoners of Conscience is impressive for the breadth and depth of the rhetorical archive with which it is concerned — the discourse of political prisoners — and the author’s inspiring engagement with this archive through wide-ranging scholarship on political oppression and resistance. Hauser’s employment of Giorgio Agamben’s concept of the state of exception, for example, directs our attention to how states govern political prisoners at the level of a population. Contra Agamben’s annulment of political resistance, Hauser convincingly illustrates how political dissent emerges from state-controlled liminal zones in the form of political prisoners’ strategic incursions, rhetoric of indirection, and through the generation of human rights witnessing publics. Prisoners of Conscience marks a timely scholarly intervention in rhetoric and communication studies and will undoubtedly influence scholars from a range of fields for years to come, especially those committed to imagining a new critical humanism.” Another selection committee member observed, “Hauser’s book contributes to important conversations in human rights, rhetoric and embodiment, and moral vernaculars. It adds an international dimension to the study of rhetoric, which is especially welcome. The examination of various modes of resistance employed by those generally deemed most vulnerable to the raw exercise of force offers important insights into rhetoric, power, and the connections between them.” Yet a third selection committee member commented, “Hauser’s book is really smart . . . . Hauser’s is rhetorically rich and rather than following one concept through a number of case studies, . . . Hauser explores the vernacular rhetorics of POCs. I appreciated his case studies and the rhetorical detail he contributes to the text connecting concepts like ethos construction, rhetorical frames, enargeia, etc. to moments of starvation, brutality, and imprisonment.”
Members of the RSA Award selection committee were Antonio DeVelesco, Jessica Enoch, Lisa Flores, David Gold, Wendy Hesford, Lester Olson, Mary Stuckey, and Shevaun Watson. The Dissertation Award process was chaired by David Gold, while the Book Award process was chaired by Lester Olson, who also chaired the RSA Awards committee.