Dec 042013

[P]eople say things around you all the time that make you feel like you’re not normal, and so even though people probably look at that, “Well how can you say that you loved a pimp?” Or, “How could you even think that a pimp loved you?” Like I said, people put you in a box and label you, and nobody really is normal. How do we know what that is? What does that mean? We’re all human beings. What does that mean that we’re not normal, you know what I mean? We all feel love, pain, hate. We feel all the things that human beings can feel—jealousy, everything! When you consume that abnormality from the people around you, you believe it. It’s complicated.

Image shows Elaine Richardson dancing--arm outstretched and head turned to the side. Her mouth is open as she sings. Behind her is a projected image of her mother with an accompanying news article.

Elaine Richardson dancing and singing during her one-woman show at Syracuse University, October 17, 2013

Episode 16 features a lively interview with Elaine Richardson who performed her one-woman show based on excerpts from her recent memoir—PHD to PhD: How Education Saved My Lifeat Syracuse University on October 17th. In this interview, she and CCR’s Seth Davis discuss the memoir, African American rhetoric and language diversity, the George Zimmerman trial, and even RuPaul (and his rhetorical agility!).

To read a PDF of the full transcript, please download it here: Transcript for Episode 16. Thanks for listening to This Rhetorical Life.

The music sampled in this podcast is “Lost Tape” by Loopez and “ZootSuit” by Tab & Anitek.

May 242013

Overcoming rhetoric is not limited to disability—we see it in motivational messages every day that ask people not to let obstacles get in their way, as if they can so simply choose to make those decisions. And while Jolie’s op-ed is not about disability per se, there are strong overlaps here to how we make choices about our bodies, how we represent our bodies, and how we literally (through reconstructive surgery) construct our bodies to fit the norms set for them by societal conceptions of “beauty” and “women.”

Billboard image that reads, "Threw cancer a curve ball. Overcoming. Pass it On." Image of a boy in a baseball uniform with one leg.

Billboard image: “Threw cancer a curve ball. Overcoming. Pass it On.” (image via

This episode addresses the overcoming rhetoric around cancer and the expectations that we set for women’s bodies—a conversation that stems from Angelina Jolie’s May 14th New York Times op-ed titled “My Medical Choice.”

To read a PDF of the full transcript, please download it here: Transcript for Episode 9.

The music sampled in this podcast is “Quartz Boy” and “Cartoon Friend” by Pixie Lord.