Intersections of Civil, Critical, and Creative Communication (I-4C)

The I-4C Collective mobilizes resources from rhetoric, performance, and critical-cultural studies to explore the intersections of civil, critical, and creative communication. Through our collaborations, faculty members and graduate students generate research that illuminates our understanding of the human experience in its cultural, contextual, and sociopolitical dimensions. We strive to create knowledge by engaging with communities and catalyzing social change through innovative and critical research methods of inquiry and presentation.

I-4C promotes and models civil communication studies through a focus on dialogue, debate, conflict, and the necessary conditions for discourse in democratic societies. Attending to principles and practices of civility in the multiple contexts of our lives such as work, health, and politics, we also attend to principles and practices of incivility when they are necessary to open up possibilities for social change and transformation.

I-4C enacts critical communication studies through a focus on social structures and material disparities. By posing questions about practices and consequences of power within the context of historical and contemporary conditions for communication, we craft strategies for social critique and social justice. We theorize and practice community advocacy and applied communication research. Our collective research interests include social movements, publics and counterpublics, feminism and womanism, gender and sexuality studies, and critical race theories.

I-4C theorizes and practices creative communication studies through adaptations and syntheses of existing methods and theories, adaptations of traditional scholarship for performance, and innovations in methods of inquiry and methods of presentation, such as trigger scripting, sensory literacies, and general orientation of ‘mindful heresy.’ Treating performance as an epistemology—a way of knowing; as poiesis—a way of making; and as praxis—a way of doing, we support performance activism and a broader range of performance activities among undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, and staff.

Members of The I-4C Collective forge collaborations at the myriad intersections of civil, critical, and creative communication studies.

The primary components of The I-4C Collective are Innovative Inquiry, which promotes the exploration of human communication through methodologies, epistemologies, and practices of alternative representations of knowledge; Civil Dialogue, which integrates rhetorical criticism and theories of performance to provide an innovative tool for productive communication about controversial topics; The Empty Space, a black box theatre that fosters theoretical and practical explorations of performance scholarship; a Graduate Curriculum recommended track; and an undergraduate Certificate in Civil Communication

This Year’s Theme
This year, I-4C is guided by the theme “The Body,” a point of focus for much of the late Associate Professor Dan Brouwer’s research and pedagogy. Some prompting questions might include:

  • What is the role of the body in research? in teaching? in activism?
  • In what ways is the body communicative?
  • What role does the sensorial body play in constituting and securing cultural power?
  • What is the relationship between the body and the global? the body and borders?
  • What are the resonances and dissonances co-constituting flesh and/from body?

In our everyday lives, the body bears the weight of systemic oppressions—though different bodies bear the weight differently. And in light of COVID-19, eugenic politics reveal a structural refusal to center the disabled body as the radical point of departure for shaping humanizing responses to a pandemic. And the US settler state frames Black bodies as expendable and Indigenous bodies as vestiges of the past rather than as the US empire’s fundamental constitutive subjects. And the trans/sexual body reveals onto-epistemic constraints for imagining bodies otherwise. In short, the body matters.