University of Cincinnati
On September 23, 2020, the New York Post reported that “President Trump had signed an executive order expanding a ban on government agencies receiving sensitivity training involving critical race theory to federal contractors” (Moore). By the time this executive order passed, I had already planned to teach a course titled “Rhetoric of Storytelling” that included a Critical Race Theory (CRT) reading from Aja Martinez advocating for counterstory. In response to the murder of George Floyd and subsequent protests during the summer of 2020, my academic department, like many institutions nationwide, issued a statement in support of Black Lives Matter. In addition, my department formed a reading group and working group on anti-racist pedagogy that discussed texts and strategies for incorporating more voices of color into curriculum. Still, when my department met at the beginning of the quarter, I was in a breakout session with a white, male colleague, who expressed confusion as to how he might incorporate non-white voices into his first-year and advanced writing courses. With all the shade intended, I told him that the first week alone of first-year writing featured three women of color, Gloria Anzaldúa, Michelle Obama, and Amy Tan.
While “Rhetoric of Storytelling” was not labeled a “diversity” course within my university’s core curriculum, the course meets the advanced writing requirement for all students at my institution, and the inclusion of BIPOC writers and scholars in such a course demonstrates how courses can avoid upholding white supremacist practices that center white voices as authoritative and necessary. Through the inclusion of voices of color, we can recognize authors from diverse backgrounds as holders and creators of knowledge, too. “Rhetoric of Storytelling” looks at the purposes of storytelling across different rhetorical traditions, beginning with Ancient Greek and Roman traditions and traversing African American, Indigenous Latin American, American Indian, feminist, and Latinx rhetorical traditions. The course operates from the assumption that storytelling is an epistemic practice, and that storytelling and narration serve similar, if not the same, purpose as academic writing, drawing on the lived experiences of the writer. In fulfilling the course’s goals, the students are to: 1) formulate and articulate the significance, role and purpose of storytelling based on course material; 2) participate actively and responsibly as a member of a small learning community to build knowledge on writing, rhetoric, and storytelling; 3) effectively analyze, interpret, and evaluate literary, critical, and theoretical texts; 4) recognize commonplace arguments about storytelling and articulate counterarguments; and 5) design and complete a substantial and original research or writing project.
Medina, Cruz. "Core Advanced Writing: Rhetoric of Storytelling (Course Design)." Composition Studies vol. 49, no. 2, 2021: 96-104.