Dr. Luke Winslow co-authors new book

April 2, 2024

Along with his co-author, Eli Mangold, their book begins with a problem: adults have so dominated the history of communication theory some may assume children have no persuasive potency. But a cursory glance at American history shows children to be visible and vocal communicators, shaping public discourse on contentious social issues related to organized labor, civil rights, gun violence, and climate change. That the communication discipline has overlooked the potency of children reveals a glaring limitation—a limitation their book seeks to redress.

This book examines four case studies featuring children engaged rhetorical struggle: the 1903 Mother Jones-led March of the Mill Children to reform child labor laws, the 1963 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.-led Children’s Crusade to end segregation, the 2018 Parkland student-led March for Our Lives movement to end gun violence, and the ongoing struggle for climate change mitigation known as The Greta Effect, led by Swedish activist Greta Thunberg.

Each case lends insight into the power of rhetorical children. In each, children’s bodies and voices broke out of the private realm and entered the public, rhetorical realm. Children marched, protested, and went on strike. Children organized and mobilized, orated, and tweeted. And children fulfilled the definitional characteristic of communicative agency: they participated in social movements, they responded to democratic challenges with courage and innovation, they shaped public argument to enhance citizenship potential, and they moved people.

Exploring the powerful role children play in shaping public discourse, this book will be of interest to students and scholars in the field of Communication Studies, Rhetoric, Public Address, Social Movements and Cultural Studies.

Children as Rhetorical Advocates in Social Movements