Much of my research in environmental communication focuses on rhetoric, especially one approach to rhetorical criticism called critical rhetoric. When I was asked to deliver a presentation for the Humanities Research Forum Series at the University of South Dakota, I brought together several papers in which I had employed critical rhetoric. Below, you can view the Prezi I used to present my presentation aids for the talk:
Critical rhetoric challenges power by deconstructing meaning and identifying and advocating for marginalized voices. That focus makes it particularly useful as environmental communication scholars pursue new ways of articulating the relationship between humans and nature.
The Prezi above addresses several key aspects of the presentation I gave on critical rhetoric's potential. First, it explains the value of laying out environmental discourse about the human-nature relationship on a continuum. Part of the continuum addresses discourses found in newspaper coverage of global warming. These discourses include nature-as-out-of reach, nature-as-antagonist, and nature-as-co-present, the latter of which represents an important alternative perspective that challenges its more dominant counterparts. Next, the continuum adds components through an analysis of the Web site, The Featured Creature. Together, the discourses from the newspaper coverage and The Featured Creature provide a fuller picture of the human-nature relationship.
The presentation also discusses how an analysis of The Nature Conservancy's Liquid Courage Web site suggests that elements of physical distance can be added to a public participation model to enhance research into environmental communication. Liquid Courage demonstrates the value of physical-distance elements in our relationship with nature.
As our environmental issues grow more complex and the urgency to address them increases, critical rhetoric presents us with an important tool in finding the voices that can help us respond to environmental signals.