Clancy's blog

Deadline for blog collection: TODAY

I haven't posted this CFP here yet, so thought today would be a good time to do it! :-)

Call for Papers
Into the Blogosphere: Rhetoric, Community, and Culture of Weblogs

Ed. by the University of Minnesota Blog Collective
Smiljana Antonijevic, Laura Gurak, Laurie Johnson, Jim Oliver, Clancy Ratliff, Jessica Reyman, Sathya Yesuraja

The editors invite submissions for a new online edited collection exploring discursive, visual, and other communicative features of weblogs. We are interested in submissions that analyze and critique situated cases and examples drawn from weblogs and the weblog community. Although we are open to a wide range of scholarly approaches, our primary interest is in essays that comment upon specific features of the weblog and that treat the weblog as always a part of a larger community network.
Categories around which essays may cohere include:

  • Social and Psychological Perspectives
  • Visual Features, including Interface Design and Navigation
  • Rhetorical and Linguistic Features of Weblog Discourse
  • Pedagogical Implications
  • Intellectual Property
  • Race, Class, and Gender
  • Intercultural Communication

Because blogs, like the Internet, have a global reach, we encourage an international scope as well.

Along with this being the first scholarly collection of its type focused on weblog as rhetorical artifact, we are also taking an innovative approach to publishing and intellectual property. Weblogs represent the power of regular people to use the Internet for publishing. The ethos of blogging is collaborative and values the sharing of ideas; bloggers are not dependent on publishers to get their words out. In the same manner, the editors of this collection will publish the collection online. We will use a peer-review process to ensure scholarly quality. But like a weblog, the collection will be available to all, although authors will retain their own copyrights. We intend to obtain a version of a Creative Commons license.

The members of the collective welcome the opportunity to discuss the scope of the collection or directions for essays with prospective authors. We may be contacted at

Abstracts of approximately 250 words should clearly identify the disciplinary focus as well as the specific case or artifact to be studied. Send abstracts via email by midnight, June 30, 2003. Our editorial collective will review the abstracts and make an initial selection. We will respond by early August. Full submissions of approximately 3,000 words will be due in November; these essays will be peer-reviewed.

New Issue of Sexing the Political

The June 2003 issue of Sexing the Political is out! You can bet I'll be blogging about specific stories in there, but for now I need to drop some stuff off at Goodwill. The apartment I just moved into isn't any bigger than my old one, and I'm trying to make my living space more sparse and open, which is hard in an apartment the size of a matchbox! Anyway, I'm getting rid of the stuff I don't wear all the time, and any white or light-colored shirts. They just don't work with my skin and hair color. Plus, I'm getting rid of all my pants that are too short. I have several pairs of pants that are just a *little* too short. From now on, I'm only going to have tall pants in my closet. I stopped buying any pants that weren't a tall size some time ago, and now I just need to get rid of any short stuff that is still hanging around. :-)

New (used) Music!!!

What a fantastic trip I had to CD Warehouse tonight. Amy and I went to see Winged Migration (great film, by the way--I've seen it two times so far) and afterward, on a whim, I suggested we go look at CDs. I walked out of there very happy with:

  • 3 Years, 5 Months and 2 Days in the Life of...--Arrested Development (after reading Brave New World last summer, I now think that's the best name for a band ever. What an apt, slicing comment on society...and an awesome, talented group of musicians.)
  • Made in USA--Pizzicato Five (a CD I've been looking for for years. I wore the tape out.)
  • Cycle Sluts from Hell--Cycle Sluts from Hell (another tape I wore out!)
  • Sonic Temple--The Cult (A.T.I.W.O.)
  • To Bring You My Love--PJ Harvey (A.T.I.W.O.)
  • and, finally, Madonna: The Video Collection 93-99

Woo-hoo! I love finding cool used CDs, especially ones that are out of print that I never thought I'd find, like Cycle Sluts and Pizzicato Five. Hey, Paul, how do you like these gems? Remember nights at Scott Weaver's apartment listening to Made in USA over and over? :-)

I'm not much of a war blogger, but...

I was watching the Today show the other day, and Matt Lauer was interviewing Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN). Lauer started off asking Frist about the new Medicare prescription bill with the "doughnut hole." Then, Lauer steered the interview toward the weapons of mass destruction (WMD) that many are starting to doubt seriously that Iraq has or has ever had. Lauer asked Frist where the WMD were, and Frist was saying that they're minute amounts of chemicals, tiny, tiny little germs and viruses...that they're invisible. Talk about Orwellian!

More on "Where are the WMD?" and doubts about Iraq:

10 Appalling Lies We Were Told About Iraq

Where Are the WMD? by Robert Novak

Where Are the WMD? (Thread on Wicked Good)

Iraq's Free Fall from Yellow Times

Where's the WMD? from the Council for a Livable World

Blogs as Talk Shows

I've been thinking about this lately. Some time ago (in the mid-1990s, probably), I was listening to a panel of people talk about the phenomenon of talk shows. They were exploding back then; every celebrity (and has-been celebrity) was getting his or her own talk show. Someone said, "I think, in the future, everyone will have a talk show." I think blogs are kind of like talk shows, in a funny way. The blogger chooses a topic, puts it out there, and then has a comment function--an analogue of the microphone that the host passes around to the studio audience. :-) Eh, just a thought. Up next--shocking paternity test results! Makeovers to make butchy girls look more feminine so their parents will be happy! :-P

In other news: Ms. Lauren is hilarious.

Thoughts on Open Source Software

For the past few days, every time I've opened Microsoft Word to view a file or create a new file, as soon as I opened it, it would say "This program has performed an illegal operation and will be shut down." Then, when I'd click "Details," it would give me the "INVALID page fault at 151.8375.938493 blah blah." Stymied, I'd go to my office. But today, I decided to uninstall and reinstall Word to see if that would help. First I tried selecting the "Repair Word" option on my installation CD, and it didn't fix the problem. So I completely uninstalled Word, and when I went to reinstall, it of course asked for the 25-digit special number that is on my certificate of authenticity. Wherever that is!--I've moved three times since I got this computer (Word came with my Gateway, which I got in 1999 before I was wise to Microsoft and the fact that Macs are better).

Today is the day I decided to ditch Word entirely and go open source. I had heard that Abiword and Open Office can handle .doc format, so I tried to download Open Office, which will have to wait for another day as it would have taken about 6 hours to download with my 56k connection. Abiword's site was having problems, so Charlie did a temporary upload of Abiword to his web space so I could download it. I've been viewing my existing .doc files in Abiword and creating new ones too. I heart Abiword. It's a beautiful thing! Didn't cost me a penny, and it's a decent word processing tool that isn't giving me that "illegal operation" crap! I'm starting really to see the awesomeness of open source. Abiword isn't, of course, my first open source tool; Kairosnews is run on PostNuke, and this tool I'm using right now to blog is open source too. I've always been an advocate of open source in general, but have never quite understood the implications of it: a software tool that people work on as a labor of love for the community in general, open source is really activist work. I'm a member of the Digital Divide listserv, and there has been a lot of talk about using open source in low-income communities, but now I see how great it would be and how within reach it puts software. I wouldn't have bought another copy of Microsoft Word even if I could have afforded it, but I can still create documents.

Today I attended a needs assessment tour of the computer labs on the St. Paul campus. Three administrators, another graduate student, and I discussed what the labs need and what our vision is for them. When we got to the question of software, I asked if we might have Inspiration, a fantastic mind-mapping tool, and then I asked, "What's stopping us from going open source?" I knew they wouldn't decide to start using it, but I just wanted to know what their reasons were for using commercial software. Their argument centered on the fact that commercial software is more dependable, as it often comes with tech support, better documentation, and some kind of recourse if the software doesn't work. That's a good argument, but my interest has been piqued by the potential of open source, so I'm going to do some more thinking and reading about it.

As a side note, Charlie pointed out that Abiword doesn't automatically associate .doc files (or any files with a certain document extension, like .rtf) with Abiword. The user has to specify if he or she wants certain file extensions associated with Abiword. He said that there's a feminist study to be done on the design of tools like Word, which don't give the reader a choice and do many things upon installation for the user. I've been thinking more about this, and I'm reminded of a phrase my adviser from the University of Tennessee, Mike Keene, used to use: dummy user. The user is very often feminized and made to be passive. Charlie's on to something! If I still had Word I'd make more notes on this idea. :-) Heh, seriously, it can be a little project I do on the computer at my office.

Teaching and the Sunshine Law

I was checking out Erin O'Connor's weblog early this morning and have been meaning to blog about this post in which she comments on a proposed bill that would "bolster the academic freedom of professors by denying public access to books, films and other resources being used in classrooms." We have a conflict--on the one hand, a professor wants to feel like she or he can speak freely without a Big Brother's monitoring; on the other hand, the public has a right to know what is going on in public universities.

O'Connor says:

This has to be one of the more convoluted pieces of academic self-justification I've seen in a long time. Academic debate will be chilled if it is second-guessed? Debate is second-guessing. Allowing the public to see what's taught at public colleges and universities threatens the civil liberties of professors? Only if you think professors have the right never to be questioned. Syllabi should be treated as sensitive information? Only if the professor has something--perhaps lack of seriousness or lack of competence--to hide. The above quotes are the rationalizations of professors who don't want to be criticized, who don't believe John Q. Public is qualified to criticize them, and who don't want to acknowledge either their snobbery or their thin skin.

Anyone who knows me should guess right away the extent to which I agree with this. I really believe in a sunshine policy when it comes to education. That's why I write about my teaching on a public weblog, and why I upload my syllabi to my public Web space--it's not guarded by usernames, passwords, and a secure connection. Sure, teachers feel exposed, but that feeling is temporary. I think that any criticism I get will improve my teaching, which is O'Connor's point too. But at the same time, I can see that this is a debate not only about teaching technique, expectations of students, and types of assignments, but ideology, politics, and "indoctrination." With the current political climate and right-wing-majority in office, I suspect that feminist- and Marxist-influenced pedagogies would come under fire more so than pedagogies influenced by colonialism and capitalism. Still, though, I am persuaded by the sunshine policy; I haven't heard a strong enough argument against it.

Cross-posted at Kairosnews.

Silence as a Feminist Rhetorical Strategy

Back in March, I did a presentation at CCCC titled "Looking to Lorde and Daly: When It's Not Okay to Be Silent in Feminist Rhetorical Theory." It was part of a panel titled "Actions Speak Louder Than Words? Using Feminist Rhetorical Theories to Rethink the Relationship Between Silence, Power, and Culture." I've provided the panel proposal below (proposal written by Merry Perry of the University of South Florida):

This session offers new ways of rhetorically conceptualizing silence as more than just the response of marginalized people to oppressive circumstances. Instead, each presenter uses feminist rhetorical theories to
analyze the interlocking relationships among language, power, knowledge, identity, and culture to argue that silence can serve as a rhetorically powerful tool. Moreover, because this panel is predicated on a belief in the intimate connections between theory and practice, each presenter explains the cultural implications and transformative possibilities of feminist rhetorics that acknowledge the power of silence.

In "The Rhetoric of Silence," Speaker #1 interweaves interpretations of classical rhetoric with marginalized theories of rhetoric in order to lay the groundwork for an understanding of women's silence as rhetoric. By
analyzing the assertive, active, and expressive qualities of silence, Speaker #1 argues that it may be a rhetoric of choice for women communicators. Thus, silence may be understood as a rhetorical strategy and the silent rhetor as an agent who actively participates in shared discourse.

In "Neither Seen Nor Heard: The Rhetoric of Birthmother Silence in Adoption Policy Debates," Speaker #2 uses the theories of Iris Marion Young and Kenneth Burke to explain how silence speaks louder than words in matters of public policy concerning birthmothers and adoption policy. By addressing the relationship between shame and secrecy in out-of-wedlock births, Speaker #2 explains how advocacy organizations appropriate this rhetoric of silence for their own purposes.

In "Looking to Lorde and Daly: When It's Not Okay to Be Silent in Feminist Rhetorical Theory," Speaker #3 analyzes how conflict and dialogue between feminist rhetors serves to erase the uncomfortable silence that may erupt over unexamined matters of identity such as race, class, sexuality, and so on. Using a debate between Audre Lorde and Mary Daly as a template, Speaker #3 considers contemporary feminist debates over voice and agency and offers useful theoretical alternatives to a rhetoric of silence.

In "Men Not Allowed: Silence About Masculinity in Feminist Composition Theory and Pedagogy," Speaker #4 argues that feminist compositionists have been conspicuously silent about masculinity studies. While many compositionists incorporate an analysis of femininity and of women's experiences into their scholarship and into their classrooms, discussions of masculinity remain largely ignored. In response, Speaker #4 argues for a move toward a feminist cultural studies approach to composition that centers on analyzing how cultural representations of women and men reinscribe power imbalances and reveal cultural assumptions about gendered identities.

By considering the unexamined theoretical implications of silence within multiple locations-rhetorical theory, public policy debates, feminist theory, and composition studies-this session offers new ways of envisioning feminist rhetorics that can transform relationships of power in theory, language, and culture.

[end snip]

My presentation was greatly influenced by recent work by Cheryl Glenn and Krista Ratcliffe on silence as a rhetorical strategy. At first (and I said this in my presentation too) I was skeptical of silence as feminist. How can women's silence, in a patriarchal society, ever possibly be feminist? Glenn and Ratcliffe work showed me, though, and today in my reading of From Housewife to Heretic by Sonia Johnson, I saw a particular moment in which silence could have served a feminist purpose. Johnson was engaged in one of many debates she had with church officials on the church's subjugation of women:


I touched on this issue of insensitivity to women in the church. They turned the full force of their scorn--and of their bottomless ignorance about women--upon me and launched into what I call 'the exalted woman rhetoric' of the church. Finally, as the grand slam of logic, intended to knock me over the brink once and for all into belief in the church's great love for women, [Gordon] Hinckley intoned, 'You know that [Mormon church] President Kimball has done more for women than any living man!'

'Such as what?' I asked quietly.

Taken completely by surprise--Hinckley is not accustomed to having to account for his information, to being challenged; he simply hands down such pomposities for the nodding, unquestioning acceptance of the obedient mass--he flushed, swiveled his chair completely around, picked at his tie, cleared his throat and, trying to maintain his confident authoritative tone, trying to disguise the dreadful, threadbare weakness of the anticlimax he was about to create, said, 'He treats his wife so well.'

At that, I should have left a large silence while this excrescence slowly dripped down the air between us and gathered in turgid blobs on his desk. In absolute silence I should have made him watch this disgusting mess congeal before his eyes. But afterthought being by definition always too late, instead I said, 'A good many living men treat their wives well.'

'Yes, yes, exactly, exactly!' he burbled triumphantly, as if he had actually scored a point.

[end excerpt, emphasis mine. p. 155 of From Housewife to Heretic.]

See how it works? Such a "click moment" for me...I wanted to share it with you too.

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