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Live Theory: Living Writing & Rhetoric

Live Theory is a Writing Program podcast in the Dornsife College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences at USC on writing and rhetoric, which Ryan Leack co-hosts with a rotating colleague. 


Since the Writing Program manages the core lower and upper division writing courses for USC students, theory for us begins not in the clouds but at the ground level. Theory neither originated in nor belongs to the Ivory Tower. Rather, theory is a way of living, an "aesthetics of existence," as Michel Foucault writes. For this reason we approach theory in writing, rhetoric, and related disciplines as that which informs our lives, our teaching, acting, and, as linguist James Paul Gee writes, our saying-doing-believing-writing-valuing combinations. We invite scholars to not only share their work with us, but to discuss and listen with us, question our assumptions, and reshape our lives and classrooms.

Our podcast is a productive entanglement of an academic talk, a reading group, and a typical podcast. We have a live audience, but keep it rather small (5-6 participants). We record each episode via Zoom and broadcast the audio soon thereafter. For each episode a notable scholar in our field shares their work with us, which we read beforehand, if published, thereby coming to the talk with material prepared for discussion.


Our podcast not only attends to scholarly matters and their applications to writing and rhetoric, but also to professional topics, like editing and publishing. Here, scholars and editors share their experience and strategies with us on doing research and publishing in rhetoric and composition and related disciplines. In this way, Live Theory hopes to make a powerful impact at the intersection of reading, writing, thinking, publishing, and teaching, each of which is necessarily intertwined with the other.

Live Theory is brought to you by the Professional Development Committee of USC's Writing Program, which Ryan co-chairs with a colleague. Ryan designs and maintains the Live Theory website as well as the audio editing and production of episodes.

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