This collection attempts to answer the question of how do people who are defined as outsiders create agency - how do they become agents of change, of social, political, spiritual, and cultural power - outside of those spaces that we traditionally understand as belonging to the powerful? The subjects in this collection vary: authors discuss contemporary hip-hop music; early twentieth-century literature; prison publications; post-Civil War treatment of "free" African Americans; queer culture; and, more. They are loosely categorized as covering issues of race, class, gender, and contemporary issues of technology and globalization. The common thread in each essay is the study of how the groups have managed to successfully use rhetoric to exert social power and establish agency in a world that denies them privileged status. Each of these groups' work helps to establish a constitutive rhetoric of otherness, a contribution to a genre of 'Outsider Rhetoric' in which the rhetor(s) create a narrative in which they as subjects have legitimacy as rhetors, and in which the audience is then reconstituted to perceive this legitimacy.
Anne Meade Stockdell-Geisler is Assistant Professor of English at the University of Tampa.