rys comics

Rys, Rachel. “Powerful Marginality: Feminist Scholarship through Comics.” Accepted at the Journal of Multimodal Rhetorics.

My article, “Powerful Marginality: Feminist Scholarship through Comics” transitions from academic prose into comics in order to discuss the epistemological and rhetorical possibilities of the comics form for feminist scholarship. Given the growing academic interest in comics and feminism, I hope to show that the comics medium does more than simply provide texts to analyze; rather, I argue that the comics medium is uniquely able to address many of the epistemological, rhetorical, and representational concerns of feminist scholars. It does so by encouraging situated writing, by enabling the circulation of contested narratives, and by connecting seemingly disparate contexts across time and space. 


Rys, Rachel. 2018. “‘Just’ Emotions: The Politics of Racialized and Gendered Affect in a Graduate Sociolinguistic Justice Classroom.”

In Feeling It: Language, Race, and Affect in Latinx Youth Learning, edited by Mary Bucholtz, Dolores Inés Casillas, and Jin Sook Lee, 29-46. New York: Routledge.

Abstract: Feminist and antiracist scholars have long argued that affect is central to social justice pedagogy and activism. However, dominant frameworks for discussing emotion can lead instructors to argue about classroom emotion in individualized and depoliticized ways that contradict this perspective. In this chapter, I analyze interviews conducted with graduate students and teaching fellows who participated in a seminar on race, language, and education connected to the university-community partnership program, School Kids Investigating Language in Life and Society (SKILLS). Drawing from these interviews, I suggest that even students who declared their support and commitment to critical pedagogy and antiracist and sociolinguistic justice frequently dismissed the role of emotion and personal experience in their own graduate classrooms. I argue that this pervasive dismissal of emotion is underwritten by discourses that characterize emotion as individual, ahistorical, colorblind, and gender-neutral. I conclude this chapter by examining how the definition and goals of sociolinguistic justice proposed by Bucholtz et al. (2014) already require a critical focus on emotional knowledge and change. By recognizing sociolinguistic justice as a fundamentally affective pursuit, I suggest that educators and advocates can center “just emotions” as a critical component of sociolinguistic justice theory and praxis.

“Although her chapter revisits an especially painful moment in the history of the SKILLS team’s collaborative work together, it is a necessary reminder of the often stark yet unacknowledged differences that may divide us from one another, as well as the difficulties many of us face in trying to move from a theoretical and political commitment to emotion to—as Rys puts it—“feeling and fighting for justice” in our own everyday lives.” (from the introduction to Feeling It: Language, Race, and Affect in Latinx Youth Learning)


Rys, Rachel. 2014. “Individual Liability and Structural Injustice: Constructing Responsibility and Punishment in Poverty Discourse.”

M.A. Thesis, University of California, Santa Barbara, ProQuest Dissertations Publishing (1565442).

Abstract: Discussions of personal responsibility are central to conservative U.S. efforts to restructure welfare and restrict the use of public safety net programs. These discourses rely on a neoliberal framing of responsibility as individual liability. In this thesis, I use the tools of discourse analysis to examine how responsibility for poverty is discussed within public and political discourses. In particular, I examine discourses and counter-discourses around Tennessee Senate Bill 132, a 2013 proposal to make families’ welfare benefits contingent on children’s academic performances. I argue that responses presented in opposition to this proposal rely on the same narrow conceptions of responsibility that are deployed by the bill’s supporters. While these opposing discourses ultimately blame different parties, their parallel attempts to identify blameworthy individuals show how the liability model privileges individual responses of surveillance and punishment over structural analyses. This limited framework of responsibility is further reinforced by affective investment and sedimented attitudes about gender and race. I present a material and structural account of poverty in Tennessee as an alternative to these discourses.