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Diana Martinez Analyzes Visual Rhetoric of the Civil Rights Sit-ins

Diana MartinezSeaver College assistant professor of communication Diana Martínez published her essay, “Visualizing a Civil Rights Archive: Images of the Sit-in at the Counter and Other Objects,” in the June 2020 collection Like Wildfire: The Rhetoric of the Civil Rights Sit-Ins. The collection, edited by Sean Patrick O'Rourke and Lesli K. Pace, offers powerful analyses of the rhetorical elements of the Civil Rights sit-ins. 

“While each piece is significant, the journey of the artifact provides meaningful layers, albeit sometimes competing, of memory,” Martínez argues in the opening of her analysis.

Martínez’s essay masterfully shows how public memory is impacted by museum archives that simultaneously fragment and connect objects, visuals, and spaces. Martínez reflects on the prominent symbols of the Civil Rights movement—the countertop and barstools and the protesters’ act of demanding space—that existed in both physical spaces, transferred across museum archives, and in photographs and images in collective memory. The viewer “suddenly creates a multiplicity of connections between old and new...past and present, and everything in between” while still interacting with the rhetorical devices of each layer.

Diana Martínez’s research focuses on social, political, and cultural spaces with a special interest in these spaces that impact or influence movements, public memory, and rhetoric. Her research has been published in Communication Quarterly, The Journal of Multimodal Rhetorics, and other collections and journals. She has taught Seaver College students in topics such as rhetoric and leadership and communication since joining the college’s faculty in 2018.

To learn more about the publication, visit the University of South Carolina Press website