Editorial Policies

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Focus and Scope

Harlot is a digital magazine dedicated to prompting conversations about rhetoric in everyday life among diverse publics. Harlot is not your average publication—it’s neither purely academic nor completely popular. It’s a hybrid, an attempt to bridge those conventional divides in order to prompt conversation across/between/among/through/around a variety of critical readers, creators, and thinkers.


Section Policies


Peer Review Process

All submissions will be reviewed by the Editors for suitability and quality before a work is forwarded for review. Upon acceptance for review, submissions will undergo a thorough assessment by the Harlot Consortium, our review board made up of academic and non-academic reviewers, the same audiences you can expect as readers and viewers of your texts. Each submission will be paired with at least one academic and one non-academic reviewer.

Harlot's mission is all about inclusivity and accessibility for a wide range of audiences, and this review process has been designed with that goal in mind. We ask readers from within and outside academic contexts to consider the following criteria:

  1. Relevance: Is the topic and argument of this piece relevant to a variety of  audiences? Does the article forefront the significance of the topic in everyday life?

  2. Focus: Does this piece reveal something about persuasion in a clear and compelling way? Is the argument sound and well supported?

  3. Style/Appeal: Does this piece seem inviting to a variety of audiences (consider form, writing style, vocabulary, use of citations/scholarship, length). Does the author seem to privilege or exclude certain audiences?

  4. Ethics: Is the work respectful and inclusive of diverse individuals and communities? Does it work to foster productive conversation?

For more information, please see the "For Creators" page.



The Mission

Harlot is a digital magazine and web forum dedicated to provoking playful and serious conversations about rhetoric—from reality television to public monuments, religion to pop music, and everything in between. Harlot's mission is to publish pieces that are relevant, interesting, and provocative to a wide range of audiences, not just academics or specialists in one field.

As a netroots campaign in rhetorical literacy, Harlot promotes critical response to the endless streams of subtly persuasive communication that surround us every day. We at Harlot believe rhetorical analysis and production can help us to better understand and more effectively and ethically influence our communities and world. And so we offer a space for your relevant, accessible criticism and collaborative meaning-making.


The Invitation

Harlot invites adventurous critics, artists, and thinkers to examine the real social, personal, cultural and political powers of rhetoric in innovative and creative ways. In addition to traditional (albeit not conventionally academic) articles, we allow and encourage multimedia texts that exploit the rich rhetorical potential of hypertext, still images, animation, video, and audio. Whatever the form, share your brilliant insights, favorite rants, and pet theories . . . for play with a purpose. Please see our “For Creators” and “For Reviewers” pages for more detailed information on getting involved.


The Origin

The roots of Harlot can be traced to spring 2007 when during a rather heated conversation in a grad seminar on contemporary rhetorical theory we noticed a serious disconnect between the theory and the practice of critical rhetorical studies: Civic-minded criticism and theory has limited impact when published only in academic forms and venues. Harlot emerged as one solution to this counterproductive situation and in response to a clear need for increased public criticism of popular persuasion. We believe these concerns demand analysis and action beyond the borders of the academic institution, just as a critical approach to rhetoric calls for attention to a diverse range of contemporary texts and audience.

Transcending disciplinary and discursive boundaries, the Harlot project is based on the bold assumption that critical rhetorical studies have something important to contribute to public consciousness and civic deliberation — and that nonacademic audiences, as active participants in rhetorical discourses, have much to offer rhetorical studies. Our goal is inclusivity and promiscuity in terms of participation, subject matter, and styles and genres of communication and critique.


The Name

Our choice of title began as a joking reference to traditional disparagement of rhetoric as “the harlot of the arts” — a reference to rhetoric's tendency to, well, get around and be, um, employed by all. Then a little digging into the roots of the word revealed associations of the harlot with a gender-neutral trickster, a figure of the fringe celebrated (and reviled) for messing with comfortable norms and assumptions. Through our promiscuous methods and media, Harlot reflects this combination of subversive fun and serious business.


The Form

Our purpose at Harlot is to provide a venue for asking critical questions, not offering easy answers. The site is a platform and jumping-pad for provocative and playful discussions and conversations. Where else to do that, but the interwebs? A place where we can weave a network of endlessly generated, open-ended debates. A place full of artistic, analytic, creative, and rhetorical potential. With that in mind, a variety of interactive spaces are at your disposal and we encourage you to join one or all of these conversations.

  • Reader-reviewed pieces: These featured articles, in whatever form creators choose (art, text, video, hypertext, etc., etc.), come to you after a careful review by the Harlot Consortium. Of course, in classic Harlot style, all submissions are reviewed by both academic and non-academically affiliated readers. We keep hoping a jets vs. sharks rivalry might unwittingly unfold (just to spice things up), but alas, they're all prodigiously intelligent and tend to come to a remarkably firm agreement on most pieces. They also provide invaluable feedback and responses to help creators revise their pieces towards publication.
  • Shorts: Shorts will provide ongoing, open discussions of topics (ranging from celebrity rags to political gaffes) without the constraints of a quarterly publishing timeline. Posts by various contributors usually appear at least once a week. In the event of flu, existential crisis, or Armageddon, this may be pushed back.


The Team

This project has been made possible with countless hours of collaborative work with colleagues, friends, and partners.

Editors: Sheila Bock, Kelly Bradbury, Kate Comer, Kaitlin Dyer, Tim Jensen, Paul Muhlhauser

Logo Design: James Thornburg

Web Design: Daniel Carter


Comment Policy

We encourage a variety of opinions and voices at Harlot, but we also have a few guidelines to help ensure this space remains a healthy and productive environment.

  1. Treat each other with respect and courtesy. Please do not refer to other Harlot users in derogatory, abusive, or otherwise inappropriate terms.
  2. No spam. Please respond with comments or links that are relevant to the creator's work and Harlot's mission to encourage smart and useful dialogue.
By commenting, the user agrees to and is bound by these rules. We reserve the right to remove or edit any comments that violate this policy and ban consistent abusers by disabling their accounts or banning their IP addresses. This policy may change at Harlot's discretion.