Thomas R. Dunn, Colorado State University
"Engaging Queer Rhetorics: Archive, Field, and Engagement in the Queer Memory Project of Northern Colorado"
Current scholarly conversations have produced possibilities at the intersections of queer rhetorics and engaged community research. Along one trajectory, Communication Studies and adjacent disciplines have witnessed a veritable explosion of interest, innovation, and capacity in the study of queer subjects, methods, and orientations over the last two-decades. Meanwhile, assumptions about how scholars and researcher in these fields do and share their work—via archival creation, digital humanities, public scholarship and outreach, and rhetorical field methods, among others—has swiftly come under reconsideration, gripping the attention of many while also raising earnest questions from others about what constitutes “scholarship” and how we account for it. Bringing these two conversations together presents compelling opportunities. At their intersection in my own work is the Queer Memory Project of Northern Colorado (http://www.qmpnoco.org) —an educational and community project that works to discover and preserve the LGBTQ+ past of the Northern Colorado region and communicates that past to audiences in meaningful ways for social, cultural, and political change. Using my experiences as founder and director of QMP—as well as a scholar whose training and career has followed more traditional routes—this talk considers the opportunities and challenges of “engaging” rhetorical scholarship, particularly in and with queer communities, and what these engaged research opportunities can offer to public audiences, future scholars and teachers, and the discipline.