My research engages with the ways that rhetorical practices and power intersect. I am especially interested how rhetoricians and activists understand the links between everyday rhetorical practices and transnational systems of power. 

My book, Activist Literacies: Transnational Feminisms and Social Media Rhetorics, will be published November 3, 2022 with the University of South Carolina Press. Activist Literacies responds to a problem in contemporary public discourse: many discussions and analyses of digital and transnational activism rely on inaccurate language and inadequate frameworks. For example, protests that involve people in multiple places are often referred to “global” and “worldwide,” yet these terms don’t help people think about how and why a protest circulates or what it looks like in different places. Similarly, social media campaigns are persistently evaluated through the lens of “slacktivism,” which often collapses varied criticisms into a conversation about effort. These discourses are oversimplifications. In this book, I argue that rhetoricians and activists need different tools for engaging with activist rhetorics, which I call activist literacies. Activist literacies are practices that people can use to understand and engage with efforts to contribute to social change. The activist literacies I outline in this book show how transnational feminist theory and rhetorical analysis can be used to understand feminist activist rhetoric that engages with “global” concerns and circulates via social media.  The purpose of Activist Literacies is to help students, researchers, and members of the public build literacies with which to understand the relational work of transnational and social media activisms.

My three ongoing projects build on the work I began in Activist Literacies to answer additional questions and explore new topics related to activism, digital rhetoric, and globalization:

  1. My next book project, tentatively titled Post-viral: ME, Long Covid, and Disability Activism, explores the activism and advocacy of people and organizations focused on chronic post-viral diseases during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  2. I am currently completing coding and analysis of a series of in-depth phenomenological interviews with student activists, conducted in 2018 at the American University of Beirut. The interviews explore how students interested in gender and sexuality activism narrate their political participation and rhetorical education. This project will culminate in a series of articles that explore how social media participation is part of a larger ecology of rhetorical education and activist participation.
  3. A third project draws on my experience as the writing program administrator at the American University of Beirut to examine the relationship between writing program administration and globalization. I argue that rhetoric and composition needs to cultivate more opportunities to listen to and engage with scholars and practitioners working outside the United States.

Nish, Jennifer. Activist Literacies: Transnational Feminisms and Social Media Rhetorics. University of South Carolina Press. Nov. 3, 2022.

Nish, Jennifer. “Representing Precarity, Disavowing Politics: The Exceptional(ist) Appeal of Humans of New York.” Peitho, vol 20, issue 2, 2018.

Nish, Jennifer, Kimberly A. Williams, and L. Ayu Saraswati. “Marching and Crossing Borders: A Transnational Conversation.” Feminist and Queer Theories: A Transnational Reader, eds. L. Ayu Saraswati and Barbara Shaw. Oxford UP. 2021.

Nish, Jennifer. “Spreadable Genres, Multiple Publics: The Pixel Project’s Digital Campaigns to Stop Violence against Women.” Genre and the Performance of Publics, eds. Mary Jo Reiff and Anis Bawarshi. Logan, UT: Utah State University Press. 2016.

Sinno, Zane, Lina Bioghlu-Karkanawi, Dorota Fleszar, Najla Jarkas, Emma Moughabghab, Jennifer Nish, Rima Rantisi, Abir Ward. Shifting Narratives: A Reader for Academic Writing. Beirut: Educart, 2015.