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The Journal of Multimodal Rhetorics

ISSN: 2472-7318


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Themed Issue: Invisible Labor in the Academy, Fall 2020 [Update: Submissions now due 9/15]

A ragged woman carried a heavy sack before a parade of wealthy white men in fur coats.

 "The Road to Dividends" by TAD, ca. 1913

Academia relies heavily on labor that goes unrecognized. Those who perform such work are typically undervalued and, too often, underpaid if they receive compensation at all. Contingent faculty feel pressured to do more work for less pay to ensure contract renewal. Graduate students feel they must outperform their predecessors and peers to secure employment in the current job market. Untenured faculty take on additional service and research to prove they deserve their tenure and promotion. Success in these areas may be deemed stellar but not necessarily acknowledged as extra. At all levels, people’s physical and mental well-being is being affected. At all levels, people are being forced out.

Women and members of marginalized groups are hit especially hard by academia’s high demands for invisible labor. Eve Tuck and K Wayne Yang make clear who suffers most under this labor regime.

Universities make public commitments to effective sexual violence policies, to diversity, to “indigenizing,” to welcoming more Black faculty and students, to improved gender diversity policies and supports; yet, it is clear that they can’t possibly do this without the already overburdened presence of people of color, sexual violence survivors, Black people, queer people, nonbinary people, gender-nonconforming people, and Indigenous people (of course, these are not mutually exclusive peoples!). Universities that herald these needed changes as part of new and emerging definitions of excellence thus are legitimated by the presence of those who have historically been systematically and purposefully excluded; indeed, those upon whose backs entire disciplines have been forged. (2018, p. 2)

Women are expected to nurture students, not just teach them; center research rather than family; and even self-regulate their appearance lest they be accused of lacking in professionalism (Chenoweth et al., 2016). Sexist expectations intensify the conditions of racism, creating the “revolving door” of academia that claims the careers of many women of color, especially Black women, when editors and tenure committees decide their research is either not scholarly enough or not universally applicable (Billngslea Brown, 2012, p. 27). Native scholars must learn and work in institutions that erase these universities’ complicity in settler colonialism, displacement, and genocide, compelled to continuously remind others that prestigious schools have gained their reputations through dispossession and the sale of Native lands (Landry, 2017). Every day, BIPOC scholars are forced to perform the “emotional work of diversity work,” foisted on individuals by institutions that pledge their commitment to diversity but do nothing to effect real material and ideological change (Ahmed 2009, p. 43). This “insidious and invisible economy of service” makes people choose between health and professional advancement (Hogan, 2010, p. 55), a choice that can severely compromise disabled people’s safety even if accessibility were not a major problem on campuses everywhere (Davis, 2015). Queer, trans, nonbinary, agender, and gender nonconforming teachers and students must expend vital energy responding to different forms of bigotry (see Evans, 2017). The list goes on and on, especially when one considers the impact of interactive -isms and -phobias on those who are multiply marginalized.

Tuck and Yang argue that the term “invisible labor” doesn’t adequately describe the work imposed on marginalized people since the labor itself is evidenced in the institution’s ability to function. However, bringing to bear Adela C. Licona’s work that highlights invisibility and visibility as power-full and constructed conditions (2005; 2014), this issue deliberately draws on the tensions present in the term “invisible labor.” The term itself can draw attention to or distract from particular concerns, include or exclude different kinds of work, and demand action or encourage empty virtue signaling. Authors are encouraged to consider such inconsistencies and their bearing on everyday instantiations of invisible labor. Testimonios are certainly welcome, since they can highlight the voices of marginalized people, allowing us to inscribe our experiences and strategically repurpose academic spaces and practices (Chávez, 2012).  However, the author’s approach may vary.

Preferably, submissions will 1) speak to multiple forms of marginalization and/or provide critiques of the issue “from below,” 2) make use of multimodality in proving what’s at stake in these discussions, and 3) range from 2,500-4,500 words (excluding References) so that we may include as many voices as possible in one issue. Authors may address the following questions and concerns.

  • What are the diverse politics of in/visibility surrounding academic labor?
  • How do whitestream academic expectations regarding comportment, speech, dress, and social interactions impose additional forms of labor on students and instructors from “non-traditional” backgrounds?
  • What kind of pedagogical moves must instructors from marginalized backgrounds make to be “heard” in the classroom?
  • What professional risks do members of marginalized groups take to be “seen” at their institutions and in the discipline, and how can we better recognize visibility as a form of labor?
  • How does the imposition of additional unrecognized labor become a vehicle for erasure and/or dehumanization?
  • How do conditions of in/visibility complicate or refute traditional boundaries between academia and the “real world,” and how does that relate to invisible forms of labor?
  • How do hyper-real spaces like the internet render labor invisible and who is most affected?
  • What demographics and types of action tend to be ignored by discussions about invisible labor?
  • How do multiply-marginalized individuals contend with unique intersections of invisible labor?
  • What are the different kinds of labor demanded by micro- and macroaggressions?
  • What must academia do to acknowledge and honor invisible labor at the local and comprehensive levels?
  • How does the work members of minoritized populations must do to maintain vital relationships within and outside of the academy constitute invisible labor?
  • What other issues do scholarly conversations about the invisibility of marginalized labor continue to ignore?

Potential authors may suggest additional topics.


  • Submissions due: Sept 15, 2020
  • Authors notified: October 1, 2020
  • Revisions due: November 20, 2020
  • Publication: December 2020


Please email queries or questions to JOMR at



Special Issue of The Journal of Multimodal Rhetorics, Spring 2020

Guest Editors: Ames Hawkins and Maria Novotny

This special issue explores the practice of curation as a multimodal form of creative-critical scholarship. Creative-critical scholarship often employs creative practice as methods and methodologies (Anderson, 2014). It does so in order to not only articulate, but to demonstrate and make material, the relevance of arts practice as scholarly inquiry (Wysocki, 2004). We see  creative-critical scholarship as an artistic scholarly method facilitating action and engagement in critical social issues. We intend, then, for this special issue to call further attention to creative-critical scholarship as a multimodal rhetorical practice.

As a field, rhetoric and composition has begun to embrace a similar public turn towards community-engaged rhetorical action. Yet, we find curation, as a rhetorical and multimodal practice, has yet to be explicitly discussed as relevant to this endeavor. The CCCC Statement on Community-Engaged Project in Rhetoric and Composition has made space for the field to recognize the many forms of socially-engaged work, identifying examples such as community writing workshops, policy debates, the facilitation of public discussions, and digital storytelling projects, to name a few. Curation, we argue, should also be identified as a multimodal practice supporting rhetorical action in communities, classrooms, and our scholarship.

We take the position that the field should examine curation as a practice supportive of community-engaged action as it, too, “differ[s] from traditional scholarly modes of communication [which] involves both deep disciplinary knowledge and extensive critical and collaborative intellectual labor” (CCCC Statement)This special issue then seeks to make space for curation as a recognizable and valid practice of scholarly labor that when effectively performed is a conduit for social, rhetorical action. Given this, we invite contributors, both within the field of rhetoric and composition as well as in fields such as art and art history, arts education, arts and media management, digital humanities, multimedia arts, and library science to consider how curation, when enacted as a rhetorical, multimodal performance, creates an assembled and relational space for socially engaged action.

In practice, curation, is traditionally understood within the context of exhibitions, where the curator must consider: “exhibition layout, juxtaposition, and museum signage, shape [of] the floor plan of an exhibition and suggest, if not prescribe, not only visitor itinerary and movement but also ways of feeling about the cultures from which the objects on display derive (Tyburczy, 2016, p. 103). This definition of curation assumes then that “the role of the curator is seen as a creative, relational practice of mediation between artists and local communities to ensure that meaningful encounters occur” (Linden & Campbell, 2016 p. 19). As co-editors, we draw on these definitions to argue that the curator’s role is to not only think about relationality but evoke it by designing scenes of and for public learning. The curator makes decisions about what is shown, how it is shown, where it is shown, and the interactivity between the content and audience. Such decisions are rhetorical in themselves and collectively evoke what we see as multimodal, embodied moments inviting “people to learn about themselves, their culture and society, and the larger world around them” (Camic & Chatterjee, 2013, p. 67). Curation is thus a relational, public, meaning-making practice.

Given this, we invite potential contributors to reflect and draw upon the role of the curator, as well as the rhetorical practice of curation, in order to make more explicit the connections between curation, multimodality, and socially-engaged action. We seek proposals that address a variety of questions, including, but not limited to:

  • How may we measure and/or argue for curation as engaging in social change?
  • What is the intellectual/rhetorical work of curation and how does it make civic and social impact?
  • What methodologies and methods must the curator consider when curating?
  • What ethics must the curator consider when curating?
  • How does curation enact scholarly creative activity that engages in social change?
  • What may we learn from community-engaged work that curates for social change?
  • How may we act as curators in our classrooms? How may curation inform our pedagogy?
  • How may definitions and/or theories of curation contribute to or extend conversations in rhetoric and composition?
  • What are some limits or challenges of practicing curation for social change?
  • How may tenure and promotion materials better account for creative-critical forms of multimodal scholarship, like curation?

Given these questions, we hope that this special issue may make space for recognizing curation as a form of creative-critical scholarship with contributors submitting proposals that address issues of methodology, theory, disciplinarity, and public pedagogy. 

With curation as the foci of this special issue, we, as co-editors, simultaneously view our position as co-curators. In particular, we find that The Journal of Multimodal Rhetoric is well-suited to support our vision of a curated special issue by allowing for multimodal and performative pieces to be submitted. As co-editors, we also see our role as co-curators. We thus seek to curate this special issue as an online gallery space. Contributions to this special issue will take up these scholarly conversations by showcasing curation as a multimodal rhetorical performance by scholar-artists who do creative-critical scholarship, community-engaged projects, and/or the teaching and situating of curation within the classroom. 


  • Proposals (500 word max) due:  January 15, 2019
  • Authors notified: March 15, 2019
  • Full articles due: July 1, 2019
  • Revised manuscripts due: January 15, 2020
  • Anticipated publication date: Spring 2020

Submission and Contact Details

Individuals, co-authors, or collectives should submit a 500 word proposal that clearly situates curation as a rhetorical, multimodal and performative practice. We are especially interested in proposals that consider how their submission performs curation as multimodal, rhetorical practice. It is encouraged that proposals consider the format at of the journal and address how their piece will operate through the journal’s platform. If you have questions or would like to pitch an idea prior to formally submitting a proposal, feel free to contact the editors. Proposals should be submitted to Ames Hawkins at and Maria Novotny at




Special Issue of The Journal of Multimodal Rhetorics, Fall 2019

Guest Editor: Katie Manthey

This special issue seeks to explore the multifaceted ways that dress practices can function as embodied multimodal rhetoric. Part “What I Wore Today” blog and part resource guide for theorizing and practicing “professional” dress for academics, this special issue invites participants to interrogate their own dress practices in the academy with an eye towards the problematic (racist, sexist, sizeist, classist, ageist) implications of both implicit and explicit dress codes.

In their 2015 piece, “Embodiment: Embodying Feminist Rhetorics,” Johnson et al. posit that “the physical body carries meaning through discourse about or by a body. But embodiment theories suggest that meaning can be articulated beyond language. All bodies do rhetoric through texture, shape, color, consistency, movement, and function” (39). This CFP takes up this notion and extends the “texture, shape, color, consistency, movement, and function” of the body to include body modifications that fall under the umbrella term of “dress practices.” Drawing from dress studies scholars Eicher et al, dress practices can be defined as any “actions undertaken to modify and supplement the body in order to address physical needs in order to meet social and cultural expectations about how individuals should look” (p. 4). This definition of dress extends the practices it encompasses to include any body modification or supplement, and grounds these practices in culture. While this definition creates a broad opening for examining dress, this special issue focuses on the academic workplace. Workplaces can be important spaces to think critically about bodies because most traditional workplaces have some sort of dress code. Often, the underlying values of an institution are colonial notions of what constitutes “acceptable” bodies. Carmen Rios explains that “dress codes make room to turn a lot of ‘isms’ into policies—especially since typical standards of professional dress are, at the core, racist, sexist, classist, and xenophobic.” There are many examples of how oppression manifests through dress codes in the workplace: from dreadlocks and natural hair being banned in professional settings to employers admitting that they judge applicants’ competence by how conventionally attractive they are.

In academia, dress practices (and the body more broadly) are often dismissed as frivolous or less important than the work of the mind. When dress practices are discussed, it is often anecdotally, such as op-ed pieces in the Chronicle of Higher Education and Inside Higher Ed. Green takes this a step further and claims that, “little attention has been paid to the ways in which women academics…use clothing strategies to ‘place’ themselves within academic cultures which marginalize and exclude them” (98). It’s critical to note that many of the stories that get told are those of people in relatively privileged bodies: cisgender, white, middle class, etc.

This special issue takes up dress practices in the academy as embodied multimodal rhetorical action, arguing that in order to fit in and/or be subversive, one must pay careful attention to audience, purpose, context, and genre. This special issue will include a wide range of submission types, including photo essays, blog entries, videos, written text, and more. Submission topics may include (but are not limited to):

  • Individual dress practices as interpretations of implicit or explicit dress codes
  • Academic dress practices/codes and intersectionality
  • Instructor appearance and student evaluations
  • Implicit academic dress/codes
  • Explicit academic dress/codes
  • Professional writing and dress/codes
  • Subverting dress codes
  • Teaching dress codes
  • Clothing as embodied rhetoric
  • The body as embodied rhetoric
  • The connection between multimodality and embodiment


  • Proposals (500 word max) due: September 15, 2018
  • Authors notified: November 1, 2018
  • Full articles due: May 15, 2019
  • Revised manuscripts due: August 15, 2019
  • Anticipated publication date: Fall 2019


Dr. Katie Manthey:,,



Special Issue of the Journal of Multimodal Rhetorics, Spring 2019

Guest Editor: Dale Jacobs

In “The Critique of Everyday Life,” their introductory essay to the first issue of The Journal of Multimodal Rhetorics, Christina V. Cedillo and M. Melissa Elston write, “Multimodal practices not only facilitate communication; they also transmit values and traditions.” Like other multimodal texts, comics act as such sites of communication and complex rhetorical practice, with meanings, values, and traditions continuously negotiated between comics creators, publishers, and readers. Comics provide a rich terrain through which to explore the ways in which multimodal rhetorics and literacies are and can be enacted in everyday life.

This special issue will examine the rhetorical uses of comics and the rhetoric surrounding comics in order to think through important questions of multimodality and rhetorical theory. To that end, we might consider for what rhetorical purposes are comics used? In what rhetorical situations? With what audiences? What happens, for example, if we consider diverse texts such as Wimmen’s ComixLove and RocketsCaptain AmericaMausDykes to Watch Out For, or The Cross and the Switchblade through the lens of multimodal rhetoric? What if we were to think of the processes of creating and reading comics as fundamentally rhetorical? In other words, how can comics complicate our ideas of rhetoric and how can rhetoric complicate our ideas about comics? 

Through this special issue of The Journal of Multimodal Rhetorics, we seek to explore broadly how we can think about comics and/as rhetoric. Articles in both prose and comics form are welcomed. Possible topics include (but are not limited to):

  • Specific comics as rhetorical texts.
  • The comics form and its affordances as part of a rhetor’s available means.
  • Comics and the rhetoric of seriality.
  • Comics and/as political rhetoric.
  • Comics and/as cultural rhetoric
  • Comics and/as religious rhetoric.
  • Graphic medicine and/as rhetoric.
  • Comics and rhetorical genre theory.
  • Comics and the intersection between material and multimodal rhetorics.
  • Comics and the creation of discursive space.
  • Comics and the rhetorical creation of knowledge.
  • Comics and the rhetorical construction of identity.
  • Comics and/as collaborative rhetoric.
  • Comics, rhetoric, and critical multimodal literacy.


Full-length submissions due August 1, 2018

Submission determinations sent by November 1, 2018

Revised Manuscripts due February 15, 2019


Direct queries about the special issue and full-length manuscripts in .doc or .docx formats to Dale Jacobs at djacobs[at] Direct general questions about the Journal of Multimodal Rhetorics to journalofmultimodalrhetorics[at]