A Journal of Rhetoric, Writing, and Culture

About Enculturation

enculturation is an anonymously refereed journal devoted to contemporary theories of rhetoric, writing, and culture, and invites submissions on rhetoric, composition, technology, and education. While most scholarship in the journal is grounded in rhetorical theory, this often works in conjunction with other theories such as critical race theory, actor-network theory, new materialism, feminist theory, performance studies, queer theory, media studies, or disability studies. In addition to traditional scholarly articles and reviews of academic books, enculturation also invites special themed and guest-edited issues devoted to timely topics, important figures, and particular subject areas that engage in intersectional approaches to disability, gender, sexuality, class, race, among others; responses that take up contemporary events, controversies, topics, themes, terms, and ideas and respond to them through short essays or media projects that are theoretically informed but publicly accessible for wider audiences; theoretically-grounded rhetorical scholarship that consists primarily of sound in the form of audio essays, collections of soundscapes, or richly edited audio-recorded interviews; and creative scholarly works in the liminal space between the article and the monograph that consider a variety of topics from within and without academia and experiment with form, style, content, and medium.

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As a concept, enculturation is the process of learning the norms, values, and practices of a culture through unconscious, tacit repetition. The totality of actions within a culture—everything from institutional procedures to everyday behaviors—sets the conditions for what is possible in a society. Learning in this context becomes a life-long process that increasingly includes forms of speech, textual commands, modeled images, and sonic cues along with countless gestures and practices, all of which co-produce the technological, economic, political, social, ideological, and philosophical bases of the culture. This sense of learning is a critical concept for anyone working in the areas of rhetoric, culture, and education. Rhetoricians, for example, cannot ignore the emergence of social media as a new context for enculturation, from the productive global circulation of cultural forms to the disruption of enculturation processes by both state actors and non-state organizations. Likewise, educators cannot ignore the unconscious, habitual elements of their own classrooms, both the ways they continue to tacitly model norms and the ways they create new or alternate conditions for enculturation. In short, enculturation makes it possible to internalize the norms of a culture but also to enact cultures differently and remake them otherwise, even co-producing new cultural systems that displace established ones. 

enculturation began in 1996 at the University of Texas at Arlington with Byron Hawk and David Rieder as founding co-editors. During the early days of the internet, there were very few academic journals online and the freedom to start a journal was very much of the times. The journal grew along with the web. As a two-person team, Byron and David produced six issues, and after David stepped down as co-editor in 2003, Byron continued to produce issues as a boutique journal published at George Mason University. In 2008 the editorial team began to grow. Jim Brown came on as managing editor and brought new energy to the journal. In 2011 Casey Boyle came on as book review editor and quickly moved up to managing editor along with Jim. Their efforts expanded the journal’s scope and solidified its consistent publication. Laurie Gries came on as managing editor in 2015 and the journal expanded in both scholarly scope and editorial teams, sporting it largest number of editors and editorial board members to date. With the continued generous support of the University of South Carolina, Scot Barnett stepped in as managing editor in 2020 with a vision for further expanding the journal’s ability to showcase outstanding work from emerging and established scholars in the field.