RSA book award committee has selected Gerard A. Hauser’s Prisoners of Conscience: Moral Vernaculars of Political Agency (University of South Carolina Press) for the 2013 RSA Book Award. One selection committee member wrote, “Prisoners of Conscience is impressive for the breadth and depth of the rhetorical archive with which it is concerned — the discourse of political prisoners — and the author’s inspiring engagement with this archive through wide-ranging scholarship on political oppression and resistance. Hauser’s employment of Giorgio Agamben’s concept of the state of exception, for example, directs our attention to how states govern political prisoners at the level of a population. Contra Agamben’s annulment of political resistance, Hauser convincingly illustrates how political dissent emerges from state-controlled liminal zones in the form of political prisoners’ strategic incursions, rhetoric of indirection, and through the generation of human rights witnessing publics. Prisoners of Conscience marks a timely scholarly intervention in rhetoric and communication studies and will undoubtedly influence scholars from a range of fields for years to come, especially those committed to imagining a new critical humanism.” Another selection committee member observed, “Hauser’s book contributes to important conversations in human rights, rhetoric and embodiment, and moral vernaculars. It adds an international dimension to the study of rhetoric, which is especially welcome. The examination of various modes of resistance employed by those generally deemed most vulnerable to the raw exercise of force offers important insights into rhetoric, power, and the connections between them.” Yet a third selection committee member commented, “Hauser’s book is really smart . . . . Hauser’s is rhetorically rich and rather than following one concept through a number of case studies, . . . Hauser explores the vernacular rhetorics of POCs. I appreciated his case studies and the rhetorical detail he contributes to the text connecting concepts like ethos construction, rhetorical frames, enargeia, etc. to moments of starvation, brutality, and imprisonment.”
Members of the RSA Award selection committee were Antonio DeVelesco, Jessica Enoch, Lisa Flores, David Gold, Wendy Hesford, Lester Olson, Mary Stuckey, and Shevaun Watson. The Dissertation Award process was chaired by David Gold, while the Book Award process was chaired by Lester Olson, who also chaired the RSA Awards committee.