Rhetoric

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Mother's Day

I'm about to call my mom to wish her a happy Mother's Day. And I'm glad there's a day to honor this axis of her subject, this fraction of all that she is, and there's so much more: She's a breast cancer survivor, a watchdog when it comes to local politics (always getting mad when yet another person embezzles money from the city), a quick thinker, and she does right by everyone she knows. I can't think of anyone who knows her and doesn't respect and love her. But I'd be remiss if I didn't point out today that motherhood is revered in rhetoric and reviled in policy, to paraphrase Susan Douglas and Meredith Michaels. The discursive construction of motherhood is damaging to so many women; I'm reminded of one of flea's posts, which sticks with me:

I'm angry that so many of us live our lives with that nagging fear that we could lose our children if we fuck up in front of the wrong person, or even if the wrong person misinterprets what they're seeing. I am angry that baseball players get paid millions of dollars for only doing their job well 33% of the time but mothers don't get paid dick and are vilified for not batting a thousand. I'm angry that I've internalized all this Martha Stewart/Baby Einstein/Perfect Celebrity Mom bullshit, even though I'm fighting it as hard as I can.



I wish it were different. I wish we could detail our fuckups without fear, because God knows we're all in the same leaky boat. But as long as the burden of parenthood falls 90% on the mother, 10% on the father (regardless of how often he co-parents) and 0% on the government, we're going to have to keep whispering our failures to each other while pasting on the "we're all fine here!" smiles.

Douglas writes:

We mothers have no paid maternity leave, no universal healthcare so that all our kids are covered, no comprehensive after-school programs, no genuine, truly revolutionary new support of our public schools that would revive them (No Child Left Behind already has become a massive joke). Too many workplaces have no onsite or nearby daycare, no flexible time, no job sharing. The right to control our own reproductive lives is under total siege.



Mothers feel they have been sold a bill of goods: We're supposed to be eternally nurturing, supportive and ecstatic about child rearing 24/7. We are never supposed to get angry, because the words "mom" and "angry" aren't supposed to go together. But if mothers in this country never got angry about how they and the nation's children were being treated, we'd still have child labor and laws discriminating against married women in the labor force. Mothers' voices have not been heard, especially during this presidential campaign season. It's about time they were. Check out two Web sites, www.mothersandmore.org and www.mothersmovement.org. And remember: Motherhood remains the unfinished business of the women's movement.

I know some of that isn't true for some women; sure, many do have paid maternity leave, comprehensive after-school programs. Some even have on-site daycare at work. That's great, but these women are the exceptions, and as long as that's the case, I consider it a problem.

Two Into the Blogosphere Articles: Sneak Preview

Elijah has posted the two papers he co-authored for Into the Blogosphere:

Lois Ann Scheidt and Elijah Wright, "Common Visual Design Elements of Weblogs"

Susan C. Herring, Inna Kouper, Lois Ann Scheidt, and Elijah Wright, "Women and Children Last: The Discursive Construction of Weblogs"

I encourage you to check them out and draft responses if you like. The collection will run on Movable Type, so you'll be able to post the responses directly under the essays.

Rhetorical Theory Reading List

I've been meaning to post my approved rhetorical theory reading list. As you can see, I'm skewing it more in the direction of the modern era:

Epideictic Piece in the Chronicle about IA

Amanda says that everyone has linked to this story in the Chronicle about Invisible Adjunct. I'm embarrassed to be so slow on the uptake, but thought I would comment on it since I recently posted a paper I wrote about the Chronicle and IA.

The article is nice, quite an encomium. It's written by Scott Smallwood, the same staff writer who interviewed Jill Carroll in an article titled, "Less Whining, More Teaching: Jill Carroll, a Proud Part-Timer, Thinks Many Adjuncts Need a New Attitude." (Subscribers only.) Of course I know that Smallwood shouldn't be held accountable for writing a rather celebratory piece on adjuncts' embracing capitalism and entrepreneurship, as the one on Carroll is. (Interestingly enough, he quotes IA's response to that article: "'For all practical intents and purposes, the adjunct is a low-wage worker without benefits who can be hired and fired at will,' she once wrote. 'So in what way can the adjunct be an entrepreneur, except in his or her own mind?'" but doesn't provide the context.) He's writing for a specific publication with specific generic conventions that, I still argue, uphold the status quo. True, he characterizes the hiring system as "broken," but it remains the case that most of the Chronicle's inculcations about academic labor are jeremiads, not radical critiques such as IA's weblog.

Essays/Research/Conference Notes Link

You might have noticed that I've added a link at the top of the site to my essays, research, and conference notes. It's something I've been meaning to do for some time now; I was thinking that if anyone came here only wanting to see my essays and representations of my research interests, a portal to those would be in order so that sifting through everything in the Rhetoric and Feminism categories wouldn't be necessary. I've been admiring Andrew's "Recent Essays" section of his sidebar and Anne's research section for ages, and finally I've done my own. I'm still working on it; I probably need to break it down into shorter essays and longer essays in each category, and I think I'll take a cue from Anne and include an abstract (or annotation for the shorter essays) of each piece. I also need to put them in some order--chronological, reverse chronological, or alphabetical. Come to think of it, this is a great opportunity for me to write a statement of my research agenda.


Edited to add: I meant for this to be a request for feedback. How do you think I should arrange the work here? Would you like to see it divided into short essays/long essays, rather than rhetoric and feminism? Reverse chronological? What?

Technical Communication Reading List

Now that I've secured approval for my technical communication theory & research reading list, I thought I'd post it. Yeah, I know the formatting's not great; I used the OpenOffice html editor, since there was no way I was going to hand-code all that. Behold, my summer:

GPACW Presentation on Invisible Adjunct and the Chronicle

Tomorrow I leave for the GPACW conference, and I have finally finished my presentation. This time, I used Drupal's collaborative book module, which made the whole thing much more wieldy and easier to edit. Below is the table of contents:

I cut a lot, but I still need to cut more (for my oral presentation--the version here will remain as is). Guess I'll be doing that in the hotel tomorrow night.

Charlie Lowe's Prospectus

Charlie has posted his prospectus, for anyone who's interested. The title is "'The Future Is Open' for Composition Studies: An Alternative Intellectual Property Model for the Digital Age." May it be the inauguration of a movement in scholarly publishing in Rhetoric and Composition.

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