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This essay aims to break through an impasse in scholarship about the uses and limits of invitational rhetoric for social change. After analyzing the arguments about invitational approaches to communication, the essay focuses on a case (concerning freedom of expression after September 11) wherein invitations to listen have been refused. In examining the refusal stage of the invitational encounter, I find that what interlocutors chose to do after being refused is as important as the gesture of invitation itself. The choice to publicize refusals to listen, for example, reveals previously unconsidered ways that invitational rhetoric succeeds in getting marginalized points of view heard, and reinvigorating democratic practice. Using the example of Terry Tempest Williams's book The Open Space of Democracy, the online journal she kept during her book tour, and student activism surrounding her campus visit at Florida Gulf State University, I examine ways out of binary constructions of rhetorical modes in their conceptual, isolated forms, and into studying the dynamic ecologies of modes like invitational rhetoric.




This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis Group in Women's Studies in Communication on June 4, 2015, available online:

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