Heather Palmer specializes in rhetorical history and theory, gender studies, and continental critical theory. Her most recent work can be found in the compendium, Best Independent Rhetoric and Composition Journals and in Re-framing Identifications from Waveland Press. She is currently working on projects in the fields of critical animal studies, affect theory, and feminist protest groups. Professor Palmer teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in ancient rhetoric, rhetorical analysis, and modern rhetorical theory. She has been interim director for the Women’s Studies program for one year and has been awarded the College of Arts and Sciences Outstanding Teacher Award.
Rhetorical theory and histories; critical animal studies; rhetorical education; women's rhetoric; visual/ specular rhetorics; feminist theory; gender studies
Rhetorical theory and histories; critical animal studies; rhetorical education; women's rhetoric; visual/ specular rhetorics; feminist theory; gender studies; affect theory; new materialisms
. . . there are times in life when the question of knowing if one can think differently than one thinks and perceive differently than one sees is absolutely necessary if one is to go on looking and reflecting at all. --Michel Foucault
This quote really frames how I approach knowledge-making practices: I mean a pedagogy of critical knowing that is simultaneously a philosophical practice on un-knowing, a concept that the foundational philosopher-rhetoricians were well aware of. Rhetorical theory touches practice in application, in the classroom, in our writing, and this is why conceptualizing teaching and writing as theory keeps both fields alive and vibrant. I believe that my work on ethos and student engagement imbricates the two fields and invigorates my teaching and writing, the generative potential of which I see in class on a daily basis.
This type of student engagement greatly informs my pedagogical beliefs and practices: considering ethics and our relationship to community moves us beyond an egocentric, interior, and closed self-reflexive subjectivity that is ultimately defensive in motivation. Classroom discussions emphasize openness and flexibility, along with academic rigor, as my student evaluations reveal. I am seeking to establish a climate of what I call “an ethics of affect” considers being as an unfolding, an exteriorization of the intensities and forces of becoming in an engagement with language and the movements of desire. I’m interested in how we might develop pedagogies that encourage students to express their desires in relation to the desires of others without this expression reducing itself to defensive self-interest. I believe a focus on engaging student ethos as a dynamically relational concept provides us a space to consider and re-work these concerns over subjectivity and desire in language in our analysis of rhetoric, literature, and our students' writing practices. I seek moments of spontaneous identification with course material and fellow students rather than ideological indoctrination.