Rhetoric

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I'm a busy gal right now...working on my CCCC presentation, a couple of other projects that demand my attention right now but that I hope to put to bed tomorrow, and some domestic tasks, including laundry and lots of cooking meals to freeze in individual portions. For one of my projects, I've been doing reading about women and wikis and women in open source development communities. Here are some links I've collected so far; if you (esp. Heather, Sam, and Shelley) have some more, I'd love to have them.

Women and Wikis

GirlsDontWiki
GirlsDoWiki
UseRealNamesForWomen
UseRealNamesForWomenDiscussion
StarlaPureheart

Women in Open Source Development Communities

HOWTO Encourage Women in Linux (by Val Henson, and the more I read about her, the cooler I think she is.)
LinuxChix
Women in Open Source
Debian Women wiki
Interview with Deb Richardson, founder of LinuxChix
Building and Maintaining an International Volunteer Linux Community (PDF)
LinuxChix Live

If you read nothing else tonight...

Please read Hungry for Air, by Deborah Stone. It is exquisite. The essay is a sustained juxtaposition of and reflection upon torture at Abu Ghraib, particularly "water boarding," and Stone's mother's battle with lung cancer. Stone's writing is a stunning illustration of the inseparability of the personal from the political:

There is something surreal about this juxtaposition of my mother’s end and global politics, about the way torture inspires humanity’s most compassionate moments and its most hate-filled engagements. It all makes you wonder: Does the concept of humanity hold any meaning whatsoever? Are we really all the same people?

[. . .]

In the last months of my mother’s life, I lived in two parallel universes, private and public. Both of them were under seismic stress. At a wedding reception in June, one of my political-science colleagues opined, with typical academic hedging, “We have to take seriously the possibility that torture might be the only way to get information.” No one commented on the fact that we were discussing torture-as-public-policy at a wedding reception on an idyllic summer day. No one knew that the victims they imagined as faceless bogeymen with unpronounceable names, I imagined as my mother.

[. . .]

On May 1, the day my mother first coughed blood, the major headlines were about President Bush’s meeting with King Abdullah II in the Rose Garden the day before. With his characteristic playground-bully, I-couldn’t-care-less detachment, Bush said he had told the Jordanian king that “Americans, like me, didn’t appreciate what we saw, that it made us sick to our stomachs.” As a citizen with no clout over American soldiers and as a daughter with no power over cancer, I wonder whether Mr. Bush felt sick to his stomach the same way I did when I first connected air hunger with water boarding and torture.

Just read the whole thing; these snips don't do it justice. I will assign this essay in the next writing course I teach. These are the kinds of connections we all want our students to make.

Assessing Weblogs in Writing Courses

I don't intend this post to be a response to Mike, but a recent post of his got me thinking about assessment of weblogs in writing pedagogy. I'm asked to give talks on the topic more and more often these days, and people always ask about assessment; I also get a good deal of questions about grading weblog posts in f2f conversation and via email. I'll make my argument for how best to assess weblogs a little later, but for now: What I say is, judging from the responses I get, not really what people want to hear, but I preface it by explaining that my method of assessment is specific to my goal for the weblog, which is primarily to enhance community in the classroom, but then they invariably end up learning a lot about audience and rhetorical practices by engaging in the conversation, too.

Another Gender+Blogging Artifact

Here's a source I used in some earlier work I did on gender and blogging in Fall 2002. It doesn't exactly fit with the Where are the women? question, but it's telling nonetheless: Getting Started with Blogging for the Attractive Female Blogger (from September 3, 2002). I find it quite interesting that back in 2002, discussions of gender in the blogosphere dealt with questions of physical attractiveness and whether a given woman blogged about sex or not -- and the effects of those two factors on readership and linking -- and the late-2004 and 2005 discussions are centered more on assumptions such as: Women don't write about politics, women don't enjoy the sporting-event (a.k.a. "food fight," a.k.a. agonistic) character of debates on weblogs, women don't promote their own weblogs as much as men do, etc. Not that this last set of claims just came up in 2004-2005, but it seems to me that bloggers are more interested in talking about them now than the ideas of attractiveness and sexual content. I intend to talk about this slight shift in my dissertation (the prospectus defense was fine, by the way; my committee helped me out a lot, and I think what I've got now is much more manageable and narrow.). The next hurdles are to fill out an application for exemption with the Institutional Review Board and to write a three-page (3!!) dissertation proposal for a university-wide dissertation fellowship for which I was nominated. I also have to write a one-page personal statement, kind of an intellectual history. Maybe I'll post it here.

UPDATE: Then again, it seems the sex-sells issue remains relevant. I had forgotten about Lauren's astute statement addressing it. Durr.

More on Gender and Blogging

Spurred by a couple of recent posts by Kevin Drum and the swift, prodigious response to said posts, I've updated the link portal on gender in the blogosphere. Lauren's right; I do have my work cut out for me. Must prepare presentation for prospectus defense now...

Texts for a first-year rhetoric or composition course

Inspired by a discussion at the Blogora on dream curricula and by Kieran Healy's nod toward an interesting-sounding essay by Harry Frankfurt released as a book*, I'm wondering what books (or films, music, etc.) you'd assign in a first-year rhetoric or composition course, assuming you have total freedom to choose. I say a composition or rhetoric approach because I do think there's some difference between the two in that they're not completely interchangeable (not that you can't do both in the same course, though), a difference that the latest issue of Enculturation explores. Especially provocative is Sharon Crowley's Composition Is Not Rhetoric, which you should read if you haven't yet. Consider this claim:

The fact is that the situation of the first-year composition course, inside a universal requirement, staffed by a scandalously low-paid and contingently-hired faculty (no matter how capable and well qualified), renders intellectual sophistication a luxury. Furthermore, intellectual sophistication that immerses students and teachers in political and social critique, as a full-blown course in rhetoric would do, is dangerous for contingently-employed teachers, particularly in times like the present, when the prevailing regime of truth carefully monitors teachers to insure their intellectual conformity.

But back to my question: What texts would you assign in a first-year rhetoric and/or composition course? I'm thinking maybe A Small Place by Jamaica Kincaid, which I've assigned several times before, George Lakoff's Don't Think of an Elephant! along with several of the articles that criticize Lakoff's argument, and if applicable, perhaps Frankfurt's book.

* I realize the essay isn't new, but I hadn't heard of it before and am now curious.

Review Essay on Blogging, October 2002

I've been hemming and hawing about posting this, but hey, why not. Back in Fall 2002, my first semester in my doctoral program, I took a theory and methods survey course, and one of the assignments was to write a review essay. I wanted to write it on weblogs, but at the time, most of the sources on weblogs were popular rather than scholarly. I pitched the idea anyway, though, explaining that it was a new technology, etc. The essay I've attached to this post is the result. Parts of it make me cringe, well...just about all of it, really, but it is a general representation of what I was thinking around two and a half years ago about blogging.

Prolegomenon on Polarization

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