Rhetoric

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I Watched It

...the State of the Union address, I mean: and while I understand the reluctance and dread I've seen expressed on a good number of lefty blogs and cited as reasons they didn't watch the speech, I can't help but think it's important to watch it anyway. Confront it, study it -- not just "it" as in the content but the way the content is presented, explained, and delivered. As can be expected, having watched the speech I have a much more vivid understanding of the setting and the affect experienced by the audience, Bush, the other officials, and the "special guests." I absolutely do not, in any way, want to reprove anyone who chose not to watch the speech, but that's what I think.

New Issue of JCMC

The new issue of the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication is out, and it features an article on blogs by teenagers. I'm thinking Lanette might find it useful for her CCCC presentation. :-)

Blog Post Online Readers, CC Licensed

There's a good discussion on Kairosnews about free, collaboratively authored, online, Creative Commons-licensed, open-access composition textbooks. As you might guess, I like the idea, but the planning and execution are going to be very tricky if a group actually gets together and does this thing. But as I was writing my comment, it occurred to me how easy it would be to assemble an online reader for a first-year composition course. There's so much writing talent in the blogosphere, and many bloggers have Creative Commons licenses. I might just do it: Find great, essay-style posts that model qualities of good writing style and argumentation, group them into themes, and copy them into my course site. I could use Drupal's collaborative book module. I'm excited! I'm already thinking of posts I might want to use, like for a unit on the war, I'm thinking of Mike's post titled The Photos and Jeanne's And in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink: A scattered and contradictory post on responsibility and Abu Ghraib (To be sure, Jeanne doesn't have a CC license, but maybe she'd give permission for her work to be reproduced for educational, noncommercial purposes.). I'm also thinking of Jeanne's recent post titled Democrats, Aristocrats, and the Torturer's Assistants.

Such a reader could be assembled for any class; I'm thinking too of an intro to Gender Studies class. I might use something along the lines of Dr. Crazy's "Why Women's Studies Sucks" series (Part I and Part II, and hat tip to Jonathan for those), and the responses from The Little Professor and others. Ummmm, yeah, my argument would be stronger if these blogs actually had CC licenses, I know (heh), but again, they might allow their work to be used for this purpose. If not, there are many with CC licenses who have excellent work on their blogs, like Rad Geek, Lauren, and many more. The more I think about this idea, the more I like it. Reduced cost to students, more freedom for the instructor to design the course around themes, and more opportunity for the students to be an active audience, conversing with the authors of the work if the students also blog, or even if they don't, as most bloggers have an email address displayed.

Network(ed) Rhetorics

Many of you have seen it already, but if you haven't visited it lately, you really ought to check out Network(ed) Rhetorics, the course blog for the graduate seminar Collin Brooke is teaching this semester. Most recently, seminar participants have been discussing academic blogging and the use of weblogs in pedagogy, and readings include essays from Into the Blogosphere and lots of other interesting stuff.

My, this is a good idea

Rosa Eberly at The Blogora offers academics a useful prompt:

you are a professor. you have a phd; your days are divided among the different kinds of people who need to see you -- the people you supervise, students, colleagues, the higher-ups, people who want something from you, loved ones, community members, categories not exclusive.

you have a "discipline" or some combination of commodified kinds of academic expertise.

1. make a list of at least one thing -- generate as many ordinals as you like, not worrying about hierarchy -- that you think your discipline(s) or kind(s) of expertise have done to damage democracy.

2. then make a list of at least one thing -- generate as many ordinals as you like, not worrying about hierarchy -- that you think your discipline(s) or kind(s) of expertise could do to sustain democracy, its habits and practices.

3. finally -- or not finally -- talk with a colleague, a student, someone, anyone, about this exercise and your lists.

I only saw the post a second ago, so I'll have to think on it, but I'll be posting a response, and I encourage others to participate in this activity as well. Andrew Cline responds in the comments to Rosa's post.

Blog Research Bibliography

Kaye Trammell has put together a blog research bibliography that I saw a while back and meant to link to here, but I'm just now doing it.

Response to "Mommy (and Me)"

Via Prof. B., I see that the New York Times story on parents' weblogs has been published. I'm dismayed but not all that surprised with what's in there, and I'll tell you why.

I was interviewed for this story because part of my dissertation research focuses on women's weblogs, many of whom are mothers. When David Hochman was talking to me about the story, he used the words "narcissistic" and "confessional" to describe parents' weblogs, albeit in a questioning way ("Aren't they just kind of narcissistic and confessional?" that kind of thing). As I told him about my dissertation, I tried so hard to explain to and persuade him that "baby blogs" are often -- almost always -- so much more than "the new baby book," that they're a way for parents to express what's on their minds, but children figure in prominently, obviously. By the way, I'm still working on communicating my dissertation topic in a sound bite, but here's my attempt: I'm doing a feminist rhetorical analysis of political discourse on weblogs, particularly an exploration of what gets interpreted as a political weblog and what perhaps doesn't, and how this difference is gendered (a personal-reflective approach to political writing as opposed to punditry). For an illustration, see the difference between this Eschaton post and these posts by Prof. B.* Different in terms of style and topic, but both political, to be sure. I actually emailed Hochman the links to those posts, as well as links to 11D and Laura's excellent Family Politics category of posts. Laura was also interviewed, and her comments -- again, not surprisingly -- aren't mentioned.

It's nothing personal against Hochman. He was friendly and great to talk to, but comparing my initial conversation with him to the finished product I just read, it's clear to me that he'd already made up his mind about "baby blogs," "mommy blogs," "daddy blogs," what have you: "The baby blog in many cases is an online shrine to parental self-absorption." Parents are "insecure," and they crave "attention and validation." And the thing is, I'm sure a lot of people agree with this attitude, as though there's some sense of undue entitlement about wanting to blog about one's experience as a parent. I wonder if those who espouse this view would say the same about political bloggers "proper," who have the apparent decency not to bother us with their personal lives, or if so, very seldom.

* I'm looking at differences, and I realize that what I'm doing may sound very Chodorow/Gilligan/Belenky et al., but I'm not interested in saying "men write this way; women write that way." If you can think of a good way for me to show that I'm distancing myself from theories criticized for essentialism, I'd appreciate hearing it. I'm more interested in the gendering of the discourse itself as well as the Where are all the women political bloggers? question. There's such a pronounced disconnect for so many people in what counts as political writing, from the issues discussed to the writing style/rhetorical approach, and the disconnect is brought up over and over again, to the point that many have likened the debate to a dead horse or poked fun at it, though none as well as flea:

Popular, Liberal Male Blogger: Why don't women blog? I've looked on my blogroll and I don't see any women bloggers. Therefore, they must not exist. Women must not be interested in thinky stuff like politics or computers.

45 Women Bloggers respond in the comments section: WTF? We all have blogs!

Liberal, Male Blogger: I don't mean blogs about tampons**. All women do is talk about feminine hygiene products. I mean, Where are all the women who blog about important stuff; the stuff *I'm* interested in.

45 Women Bloggers: You're right. We only talk about feminine hygiene products. Here's more talk about feminine hygiene products: You are a douche.

Liberal Male Blogger: Wahhhh! You're oppressing me! Censorship! My civil rights are being violated!

One Asshole Woman: I am so embarrassed to be a woman right now! Don't you listen to those hairy bitches, Liberal Male Blogger! *I* understand you!

Liberal Male Blogger: See there? One woman has validated me! That means you all are wrong and I am right!

45 Women Bloggers: douche.

Liberal Male Blogger: Wahhhh!

Repeat in three months with a different blogger. I'll point it out next time it happens.

** Link added to demonstrate the political bent of many women's weblogs.

From around the globe to your frontal lobe

Just some linking:

The Directory of Open Access Journals, via Byron.

Give Us Real Choices, a new NARAL campaign. Although I support the cause, the tactic -- protest "Chastity Awareness Week" in Pennsylvania by requesting a chastity belt -- seems about as rhetorically effective as crowning a sheep at the 1968 Miss America Pageant. I don't and have never lived in Pennsylvania, so I have no real sway over members of the Pennsylvania State Legislature, but I'm posting this anyway. An employee of M&R Strategic Services emailed me asking me to post it, and as it didn't read like link-exchange spam to me, I decided to email her back and ask her a few questions about her organization, including: Did you send this email to other feminist bloggers? What does your organization think of weblogs as a way to disseminate information, awareness, etc.? How does your organization view weblogs' role in activism? She wrote a substantial and very friendly note back and explained that M&R believes it's important to engage the blogosphere in its outreach efforts, and she said she was sending the link to other feminist bloggers. Anyway, I thought it was pretty interesting.

For lack of funding, Wellesley's Women's Review of Books ceased publication with the December 2004 issue. I don't think this should go without being duly noted. Navigating through the directories is cumbersome, but you can access the archives online, or you may search by reviewer name, book/essay title, or author name.

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