GW4 Rhetoric in Society


Awarded: July 2020

GW4 community leads
University of Bath: Sophia Hatzisavvidou
University of Bristol: Paul Earlie (PI)
Cardiff University: Elisabeth (Lisa) El Refaie
University of Exeter: Helena Taylor and Michelle Bolduc

Project overview

A new research community bringing together scholars from a range of disciplines with a shared interest in rhetorical language in all its forms.


Rhetoric, the theory and practice of persuasive communication, has a long and rich tradition, but its recent resurgence in the populist political sphere has given new impetus to scholars to work together to study its power and uses.

Rhetoric naturally cuts across disciplines as diverse as literary studies, sociology, linguistics, history, and education. Our GW4 community will be the first in the UK to harness this cross-disciplinary energy by bringing South West-based scholars in the humanities and social sciences together to share expertise and develop new solutions to a number of pressing problems in society today. Our key challenge areas are:

  • Rhetoric in the Public Sphere: Continuities and Transformation
  • Rhetoric across Media: From Verbal to Visual and beyond
  • Rhetoric and Civic Education
  • Rhetoric in the Digital Age

To address these challenge areas, GW4 Rhetoric in Society aims to make the South West a hub for research in rhetoric by sharing expertise across disciplines. We will develop cutting-edge methodologies for understanding rhetoric’s functioning today and in the past. We will promote our research by building links with existing research groups and explore potential pathways to impact while stimulating ambitious grant-capture, nationally and internationally.

Project Summary

GW4 Rhetoric in Society established an online hub ( to connect scholars of research in rhetoric across the South West region and beyond. The community held four online workshops with different themes which enabled interdisciplinary discussions and allowed researchers to share expertise and research resources. These workshops reached nearly 150 attendees, setting up interdisciplinary collaborations with academics from across GW4 universities, and establishing connections with external stakeholders. The community used these workshops to explore potential pathways to impact while stimulating ambitious grant-capture, nationally and internationally.

Following the workshops, the community were successful with a British Academy grant and have other larger applications in progress. They are also planning an annual interdisciplinary seminar series on rhetoric.


Community site (GW4 Portal)