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Cornelis Cort's engraving, "Rhetoric" (Plate 4 from "The Seven Liberal Arts"), 1565, Netherlands

“Rhetoric in Dark Times” is a week-long summer seminar for faculty and graduate students in rhetorical studies. RDT is intended as an introduction to kinds of rhetoric that have grown in the dark, the dark that has grown from rhetoric, and some of the uncertain, flickering, and often weak lights that rhetoric makes available in dark times as well. This seminar is a production of the Rhetoric Society of America’s Summer Institute.

Seminar Leaders

Who We Are

Trish Roberts-Miller

Trish Roberts-Miller is a recently-retired Professor of Rhetoric and Writing and former Director of the University Writing Center at the University of Texas at Austin. Author of Speaking of Race: How to Have Antiracist Conversations that Bring Us Together (Experiment 2021), Rhetoric and Demagoguery (2019), Demagoguery and Democracy (2017), Fanatical Schemes: Proslavery Rhetoric and the Tragedy of Consensus (2009), Deliberate Conflict: Argument, Political Theory, and Composition Classes (2004), and Voices in the Wilderness: Public Discourse and the Paradox of the Puritan Rhetoric (1999).

Ryan Skinnell

Ryan Skinnell is an Associate Professor of Rhetoric & Writing at San José State University. He is also an SJSU faculty media expert in political speech, politics, and rhetoric and an OpEd Project Public Voices Fellow. He has published six books, including Rhetoric & Guns (forthcoming 2021), Reinventing (with) Theory in Rhetoric and Writing Studies (2019), Faking the News: What Rhetoric Can Teach Us About Donald J. Trump (2018), and Conceding Composition: A Crooked History of Composition’s Institutional Fortunes (2016). He is currently working on a book about Adolf Hitler’s rhetoric.

Rhetoric Society of America

The Rhetoric Society of America is a scholarly and professional society that welcomes scholars, teachers, and students of rhetoric in all of its manifestations. RSA’s purpose is to support and advance the work of people who study rhetoric in a variety of disciplinary contexts.

Meet us better

RDT by the Numbers


seminar participants


days’ worth of learning crammed into 1 week


fascist leaders on the reading list


satisfied customers (probably)

Why You’ll Love Us

There is never been a better time to study rhetoric’s dark arts. We’re all rhetorical up in here, and we’re really coming into a fantastic time for darkness.

  • Informative
  • Relevant
  • Mildly Sustainable
  • Artisanal
  • Useful

Rating: 5 out of 5.

“Super Dark!”

Plato should take this seminar. He would hate it, but what great fodder for a dialogue.


Rating: 5 out of 5.

“So much demagoguery, but in, like, a good way”

There was rhetoric, too!


Rating: 4 out of 5.

“Heckin’ rhetoric! Very learn!”

I don’t give grades higher than a B-.


Friday Happy Hour

Our Favorite Recipes

Dark & Stormy (spirited)


  • 2 ounces Gosling’s Black Seal rum
  • 1/2 ounce lime juice, freshly squeezed
  • Ginger beer, to top (about 5 ounces)
  • Garnish: lime wedge


  1. Add rum and lime juice to a tall glass filled with ice.
  2. Top with the ginger beer.
  3. Garnish with a lime wedge.

Recipe found at:

Mango Mule (non-alcoholic)


  • 4-5 slices of cucumber
  • 1 oz honey syrup
  • 1.5 oz mango puree
  • 1.5 oz fresh lime juice
  • 1.5 oz ginger beer
  • Ice


  1. Muddle cucumber and honey syrup in the bottom of a cocktail shaker.
  2. Add the mango puree and lime juice and shake with ice vigorously.
  3. Strain into a copper mug.
  4. Top with ginger beer and stir.

Recipe found at: Town & Country

Beet & Blood Orange Spice Smoothie (non-alcoholic / vegan)


  • 1 cup non-dairy milk
  • 1 medium beet, peeled and diced
  • 1 small blood orange, peeled and torn into segments
  • ½ ripe banana, preferably frozen
  • 1 tablespoon almond butter
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • big squeeze of lemon juice
  • ice (optional)


  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender.
  2. Blend until smooth.
  3. Enjoy immediately.

Recipe found at: The First Mess