The CCCC Post

Many have posted about 4Cs already, including Charlie with his notes on the CCCC-Intellectual Property Caucus, Collin with his well-linked notes on panels he attended, Mike's behemoth-like annotations here, here, here, here, here, and here, Arete's notes on blogging at 4Cs, and Samantha's March 29 and 30 posts. [Update: Jeff Ward blogs about the blogging special interest group, Kress's talk, and he has some nice photos of the Riverwalk. Another update: Answergrape also has posts here, here, here, here, and here.] What could I possibly add? Not much, but I'll try. First off, I attended the Intellectual Property Caucus with Charlie. We brainstormed and ranted, and all was well, but then the conversation took a turn from righteous indignation over the dwindling of the public domain to plagiarism in the composition classroom. I ask the following question oh so timorously: Why must our conversations about intellectual property inevitably take such a turn? I realize that we're still trying to get people mobilized for the copyleft/Creative Commons cause, and to do that we have to sell it and make it relevant to composition pedagogy, but I wish the people we're trying to persuade would approach IP issues with a more open mind, not so constrained by disciplinary blinders. Just my $0.02. I know it's informed by my interest in the public domain and free culture. I think we need a way to explain IP issues clearly while circumventing the plagiarism discussion, something like: I want to be able to use "Stairway to Heaven" in a documentary film, not tell you I'm the one who wrote it. :) Anyway, one of the highlights for me from the caucus was Andrea Lunsford's call for two types of research: detailed case studies of encounters with copyright law (especially hindrances it presents and the way these encounters with copyright law result in work that doesn't appear as well-researched and thorough as it actually is) and historical research on the concept of common knowledge. What is common knowledge? Is there still such a thing? I agree that the research is important; I'd read it.

And now I'll blog the panels I attended as they come to me. I went to the "Wicked Wiki Rhetoric: How Fast, How Far" panel, with Joe Moxley, Matt Barton, M.C. Morgan, and Mike Palmquist presenting. I would have taken better notes, but why bother when it's all here? :) Seriously, a few evaluative comments: I learned quite a bit about wikis from attending this session--for example, M.C. talked about how wikis are dialogic writing, embodying heteroglossia and polyvalences, but moving them toward a document. "Refactoring," they explained, is the way to move from a threaded discussion to a monologue--to freeze the wiki and make the conversation a document. It brings up important editing and voice issues. Also, someone in the panel used the metaphor "seed" to talk about an alternative to a thesis statement. Perhaps one of them will comment here and say a little more about that--right now it seems to be a rhizomatic structure to me. Matt's choice of theoretical framework for his presentation on wikis was apt: "What Is an Author?" by Foucault and Barthes' "Death of the Author." Thinking about it now, it seems obvious and intuitive to use those pieces to analyze wiki composition, but I hadn't thought of it until Matt articulated the connection so well.

After that, I went to "Writing 'Outside': Ecocomposition and the Production of Difference." I attended this session for a few reasons--first, well, it was at the Hyatt like the wiki session, and I didn't have to worry about trucking it back over to the Gonzalez Center and possibly walking into a panel late. Second, I've always liked Jeff White a lot and wondered what he'd be presenting, and third, I have a peripheral interest in environmental rhetoric. I enjoyed the presentations--Tim Catalano gave a case-study kind of presentation about his experience teaching a rhetoric of science class in which his students, many of which were majoring in the sciences, read Silent Spring by Rachel Carson. Patrick Clauss gave a presentation on his use of the principle of prolepsis in his teaching (and his students' use of it in their writing). Actually, now that I look at the online resources on prolepsis, I find that Hyperdictionary, Silva Rhetoricae, and Wikipedia have slightly different definitions. Clauss was focusing not so much on the placing of an element out of its expected syntax or prolepsis as a figure of temporal anticipation, but more on the placing of an opposing argument in particular before the writer's argument. Then Jeff presented on a phenomenon he'd encountered in his teaching in Alaska, that Alaskans tend to see themselves as insiders and residents of other states in the U.S. as outsiders. He traced this through a debate on the possible development of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. He then brought Burke's concept of the five dogs into the paper, but I don't feel confident enough that I understood his points to represent his reasoning here.

Another panel I attended was "Composing Intellectual Property: The Politics of Ownership and Attribution in Contemporary Academia." In the session, Candace Spiegelman discussed practical concerns involved in publishing, particularly when one negotiates with NCTE. She addressed three questions:
  1. When I publish this article, can I publish it on my personal web site? [Yes. You have more freedom than you realize here. If you post the article on your site, you should preface it with a statement of educational intent.]
  2. Can I photocopy it and hand it out to my students? [No--especially if you do it more than one semester...although there is that "inspiration" loophole, whatever that's called.]
  3. Can I reprint it in an edited collection? [If I understood her correctly, it is OK to do this, but unethical not to disclose this to NCTE.]
She also pointed out that putting CCC online has not affected subscriptions (of course it hasn't; only subscribers can view the full text of the articles).

John Logie talked about authorship on the web, claiming that blogging does not fit in with the Romantic paradigm of the solitary, originary, proprietary author. In blogging, we often see pseudonymity and a lack of authenticity (or lack of an impulse toward authentication, rather). He used Eschaton as an example of such a blogger.

Jeff Galin's talk was a cautionary tale, urging us to know our rights and find out what our universities' intellectual property policies are. Sometimes they can claim ownership of your work, especially during tight financial times.

And of course I had a great time outside of the sessions as well. What you've heard is true; I really do a slammin' rendition of "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'."