Rhetoric

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Finally, 100 Things About Me

I know I'm kind of late to this party, but what the heck:

  1. Every time I see a bottle of calamine lotion, the song "Poison Ivy" gets stuck in my mind.
  2. Every time I fly, during takeoff the song "Keep Their Heads Ringin'" gets stuck in my mind. (In the video, they steal a plane.)
  3. I love the show Everybody Loves Raymond.
  4. I am the biggest misocapnist you know. I guarantee it.
  5. Sometimes, when my feet feel really good and I feel good all over (my feet have to feel good in order for this to happen), I think that if other people could experience how good it feels to be me, they'd never want to be themselves again.
  6. I drive a 1998 Honda Civic with the following stickers: Keep Abortion Legal, a Lucinda Williams World Without Tears sticker, and a Kasey Chambers The Captain sticker.
  7. I lived with my parents until I was 24 years old.
  8. The biggest regret of my life is caving in to family pressure and going to college in my hometown rather than going away.

Notes on Feminisms & Rhetorics 2003

I got back from Feminisms & Rhetorics yesterday morning, and I want to transcribe my notes while they're fresh. Pardon the length of this post!

On Thursday, the first session I attended was "Performing or Reforming Gender in Classroom Spaces," and I heard the following papers:

  • Donna LeCourt, University of Massachusetts "Performing or Reforming Gender: Agency and Structure in a Feminist Cultural Studies Course"
  • Sara Jane Sloane, Colorado State University "From Cyborg to Oncogen to How Like a Leaf: Teaching Donna Haraway’s Theories of Knowledge and Being to Graduate Students in Digital Rhetorics and Composition"
  • Sarah Rilling, Kent State University "Challenging Notions of Gender and Power in Second Language Teacher Education"

Unfortunately, I lost the notes I took during that panel, and I wasn't fully present anyway as my panel was next and I was nervous, but here are a couple of highlights: First, I found LeCourt's choice of theory to be excellent (specifically, she talked about Butler). Hearing her talk, I got the impression that she really knows her stuff in Women's Studies as well as in Rhetoric. Sloane, obviously, discussed Haraway's uses of optical metaphors, AND her students in the class she was discussing in her talk kept blogs.

My session went okay; the people who presented with me did a fantastic job:

  • Michele Polak, Miami University "We Hear you, Ophelia: Mary Pipher and her Rhetorical Mark in the Girl Culture Movement"

  • Lanette Cadle, Bowling Green State University "Commonplaces and the Camp Fire Girls: A Feminist and Rhetorical Analysis of What It Is (and Was) to Be Useful"
  • Mary P. Sheridan-Rabideau, Rutgers University "Bubbles, Girl Power, and Commodity Culture: Contested Literate Activities at One Community Organizations"

Michele and Mary went before I did, so my attention was again divided. When it came my turn, we could not get the laptop and the projector to talk to each other, so the projector was showing "no signal," and I had to do my talk without all the images I had to show. I should have brought overheads, but oh well, whatareyagonnado. Lanette's presentation was after mine, and I got to appreciate fully how great it was. She was talking about the Campfire Girls and all the things they did in their groups, including reading books about women who made a difference in their history, government, or culture. They read, for example, Helen Keller's biography and Louisa May Alcott's biography. They also learned useful skills that they could use to support themselves (as well as survival skills). Unfortunately, we don't have groups like that anymore. These girls, in the 1920 and 1930s, learned so much from their experience in Campfire Girls, and one of the overarching themes of Campfire Girls is to teach other girls what you learned. Wow.

Next, I attended a panel titled "Contesting Intimacy: Hegemony and Legitimization in Discourses of Female Sexuality."

  • Lili Hsieh, Duke University "A Queer Sex, or How to Have Sex Without Phallus"

Roundtable on the Status of Qualitative Internet Research

On Sunday, I attended a roundtable discussion at AoIR called "Broadening Options and Raising Standards for Qualitative Internet Research: A Dialogue Among Scholars." Speakers included Annette Markham, University of Illinois-Chicago; Nancy Baym, University of Kansas; Susan Herring, Indiana University Bloomington; Shani Orgad, London School of Economics; and Kate Eichhorn, York University. First, let me say that this was a PACKED affair: The chairs were filled (luckily, I got one in the front row), people were sitting on the floor in the center aisle and along the perimeter of the room, and there was even a crowd standing in the doorway. The goals of the roundtable were to build the strength of qualitative inquiry and to improve the state of credibility of qualitative internet research. Keep in mind that these are just notes I'm typing up from that discussion, and they shouldn't be cited as the absolute truth of what went on at the session; I'm paraphrasing when I represent what these people said.

The Problem of Experience in Feminist Theory

The notion of experience in feminist theory has been a powerful and empowering one for many feminist women. For example, radical cultural feminist Sonia Johnson, in the introduction to her 1987 book Going Out of Our Minds: The Metaphysics of Liberation, argues that often, women do not see themselves as theorists, because “philosophy has been so mystified by the men” (p. ii). For Johnson, it is crucial that women see themselves as always already feminist theorists who “spin theory out of the strands of our lives” (p. ii). Johnson claims that

Feminist analysis, more than any other analysis of the human situation, has its origins in direct experience. All feminist theorists first observe and draw conclusions from their own lives; all feminist theory results from the transformation of that experience and observation into principle. But not all feminist theory reveals its underlying process, the specific experience and the analysis of it that led to the generalization. (p. ii)

Johnson calls for a “show your work” approach to feminist theory, and Going Out of Our Minds is an account of five years of lived experience that led to her conclusions.

Experience has been an important epistemological stance in opposition to the dominant practices of aligning oneself with and building upon the work of Plato, Kant, Heidegger, and other white, male, European philosophers. However, the impact of poststructuralist and postmodernist theoretical interventions led feminist theorists to problematize the authority of experience as evidence and epistemology. How can experience have any verisimilitude when two people, even two women, who are at the same place at the same time can give completely different accounts of it? Joan W. Scott (in her 1991 article "The Evidence of Experience") and Chandra Talpade Mohanty (in her 1992 article "Feminist Encounters: Locating the Politics of Experience") both address this problematic, Scott with the goal of producing historical knowledge, and Mohanty with the goal of building a feminist politics.

Flesh and Bones Available Free as a .pdf

AKMA is making his book of sermons, Flesh and Bones, available as a .pdf file. If you want to buy it, the money from the book sales will benefit St. Luke's Church. I've got my Christmas shopping (for my family) done!

Writing Conclusions

I'm trying to think of some techniques for writing essay conclusions (to give to my students), other than just the "summarize what you've already said" method, which harks back to the 5-paragraph essay model: tell us what you're going to tell us, tell us, then tell us what you told us. Here's what I've come up with so far:

  • Call for awareness: Several students are writing about new issues, so ending with a call for awareness seems fitting.
  • Unanswered questions/Implications for further study: What issues can be resolved in this essay, and what questions remain about the issue?
  • Rationale: Why is this an important thing to study? (This is mainly for people doing comparison papers.)
  • Call for action/What you can do: Kind of like a call for awareness, but with specific directions for the audience on how they can get involved and combat this problem.

Can anyone think of any more?

2 conferences this month...

...and already, anxiety dreams. In 8 days, I'll be going to Toronto for the AoIR conference, and then the following weekend, to Ohio for the Feminisms & Rhetorics conference. Last night, I had a dream about AoIR, only instead of being in Toronto, it was on the beach somewhere--perhaps a subconscious fast-forward to Computers & Writing in Hawai'i. I lay down in the wet sand very close to the water, mesmerized by the waves. There was a big, high swing set a few yards from the shore, and I swam out, got into a swing, and swung in tandem with the waves. Later I realized I had forgotten to bring my paper, but that didn't matter; I had missed my presentation because I had been out there for so long. Then I found out that the White Stripes were playing and, as I was trying to find the venue, I woke up.

Water is hardly ever present in my dreams. What could this mean?

Intersectionality, and I *heart* Nomy Lamm

It's cool when the reading you're doing for two of your classes runs together, isn't it? It is for me. In my Gender, Rhetoric, and Literacy class, we're reading selections from the anthology Available Means, including Nomy Lamm's essay, "It's a Big Fat Revolution." It just so happens that what Lamm's saying fits very well with this week's problematic in my Women's Studies class: Theorizing the Multiplicitous Subject, or Intersectionality. Here's my response to the texts ("The Combahee River Collective Statement," "The Impossibility of Women's Studies" by Wendy Brown, "U.S. Third World Feminism: The Theory and Method of Oppositional Consciousness" by Chela Sandoval, and "Notes from the (Non)Field: Teaching and Theorizing Women of Color" by Rachel Lee).

When I think about all the marks I have against me in this society, I am amazed that I haven't turned into some worthless lump of shit. Fatkikecripplecuntqueer. In a nutshell. But then I have to take into account the fact that I'm an articulate, white, middle class college kid, and that provides me with a hell of a lot of privilege and opportunity for dealing with my oppression that may not be available to other oppressed people. And since my personality/being isn't divided up into a privileged part and an oppressed part, I have to deal with the ways that these things interact, counterbalance and sometimes even overshadow each other. For example, I was born with one leg. I guess it's a big deal, but it's never worked into my body image in the same way that being fat has. And what does it mean to be a white woman as opposed to a woman of color? A middle-class fat girl as opposed to a poor fat girl? What does it mean to be fat, physically disabled and bisexual? (Or fat, disabled, and sexual at all?)

Nomy Lamm, “It's a Big Fat Revolution.”

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