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Public Speaking Tips

Yesterday, in a meeting for instructors of Rhetoric 1223, Oral Presentations in Professional Settings (which I'm teaching in Spring 03). I've been going to lots of teaching workshops lately. This afternoon, Richard Graff, the Course Coordinator for 1223, sent the 1223 instructors a link to public speaking tips from The Onion. Here are my favorites:

It's probably best to leave unverified allegations that Saddam Hussein tried to obtain uranium from Africa out of your State Of The Union address.

"Weird Al" Yankovic performs in front of large groups of strangers all the time. If that freak can do it, you ought to be able to manage.

Response to "Activistology"

Erin O'Connor critiques what she is calling "Activistology," a tailoring of teaching and curriculum development that encourages activism and social change. She considers it all indoctrination, of course, and I knew she'd say that, but when I encounter this kind of teaching and curriculum development, I think of paideia and classical rhetorical pedagogy--preparing students to be thoughtful, socially responsible citizens of the city-state.


I've gotten a couple of warm fuzzy emails from students. One said:

Thank you for your hard work teaching us the last couple of months. I really feel as though I have learned a lot about technical and professional writing.

Another said:

I learned a lot in this class in terms of technical writing. I don't like writing but now I tend to like it. I hope this will continue.

They may be ploys to get better grades, but I hope not. I did work very hard teaching this summer, and now I feel as though it was worth it.

Feminism(s) and Rhetoric(s) presentation

One week from today, I'll be at the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival. I want to take photographs and notes that will accompany a material rhetorical analysis of the festival that I've done for one of my classes. My professor said that for a more grounded analysis, I will need to attend the festival myself, which I had planned on doing anyway. It will be a much-needed vacation...I'm done with teaching, but I have to turn in grades by Wednesday, and I have lots of other stuff to do between now and the time I leave too. Here's an abstract of the paper:

Since the mid-1970s, women have been gathering every summer for the Michigan Womyn

Cyborg Bill of Rights

Chris Hables Gray has published a Cyborg Bill of Rights. I see that it was last updated in 1997, so it might be played out by now, but I'm sorry; I have to weigh in on this. It's one of the most right-wing (in the libertarian sense) things I've ever read! The word "individual" appears in it 16 times; the individual is privileged above all other things. This flies in the face of Haraway's strong critique of Western individualism--her use of the cyborg as metaphor for the fact that nothing is really individual anymore. We're all amalgams, and the fact that I'm part machine and part human, thanks to my prosthetic hammer, anvil, and stirrup, contact lenses, etc. can be analogized to community. Western individualism, Haraway argues, has interfered with unity among people, community. It seems to me that this Bill of Rights, which invokes the individual so frequently and earnestly, shouldn't invoke the cyborg at all. Consider this quotation:

Freedom of Consciousness. The consciousness of the citizen shall be protected by the First, Fourth, and Eighth Amendments. Unreasonable search and seizure in this, the most sacred and private part of an individual citizen, shall be absolutely prohibited. Individuals shall retain all rights to modify their consciousness through psychopharmological, medical, genetic, spiritual and other practices in so far as they do not threaten the fundamental rights of other individuals and citizens and if they do so at their own risk and expense.

What are the implications of this for community? If I want to take 100 hits of acid, that's my individual prerogative, right? MY self, my modified consciousness. That would surely kill me and affect my community, but so what?


Link courtesy of Dr. B.

Student Introduction Writing and Dialogic Discourse

I've found that more and more often, my first-year comp students are writing introductions to research papers in this manner:

MONROVIA, Liberia -- Dozens of civilians have been killed as fighting continues between rebels and Liberian government forces for control of the West African country's second-largest city of Buchanan.

Rebels seeking to oust President Charles Taylor turned back a counter-attack by forces loyal to the government Tuesday -- one day after they seized the strategical port city, about 70 miles [112 kilometers] southeast of Monrovia.

"There are bodies all over the place. Dozens of people have been killed," one Buchanan resident told Reuters by telephone. "The wounded are on the streets and there is no way to treat them."

Another resident said the dead were being carted away in wheelbarrows when it was safe to retrieve them, Reuters reported.

Why is there so much conflict in Liberia? In this paper, I will attempt to answer this question, going back to the founding of Liberia by the American Colonization Society in 1817 as a home for emancipated slaves. I will trace the historical events that led up to the current civil war and argue that white imperialism and colonialism led to a corrupt government...

Why is that? (See, I did it too.) I haven't read any Bakhtin on dialogic imagination or dialogic novel or whichever it is, but will do so this fall in my genre theory class. I wonder what he would say. Discourse, especially "academic discourse," whatever that is, has always been a conversation, to use the Burkean metaphor, but it hasn't been common in my experience to see it presented in such an outright way. I never know quite how to respond to introductions like these. On the one hand, that's how composition is, and where it's going, but shouldn't they be able to write an introduction without relying on this kind of "prompt"? Sometimes it's easy to rely too heavily on this model of introduction--and sometimes it's better to be able to summarize and paraphrase events and arguments.

(Oh, here's the link to the Liberia story if anyone wants to see it. Here's another one that I used for fact-checking.)

Kairos Bio

I emailed the Kairos list yesterday and asked if I may edit my bio on the Kairos staff bios page. Right now it says:

Clancy Ratliff

University of Tennessee

News Assistant Editor

Bio forthcoming.

Heh, I'm no longer at the University of Tennessee, the email address isn't right, and my title has changed. Also, I want a bio, dangit!

Update--here it is:

Clancy Ratliff
University of Minnesota
Associate Editor, Kairosnews

Clancy Ratliff is a graduate student in the Rhetoric and Scientific and Technical Communication program at UMN. She teaches First-Year Composition, Technical and Professional Writing, and speech, and her research interests include weblogs, feminist rhetoric, intellectual property, genre theory, and material rhetoric. She is Feminist Rhetoric Field Editor of rhetcomp.com, and you can find out what's on her mind on any given day by reading her weblog, CultureCat.

Resources on the ERA and Constitutional Equality Amendment

I've created this list of links for the women of NOW, but it's also for anyone else who's interested. I'll most likely add to it as I go along.

Equal Rights Amendment

Wikipedia entry for ERA

Collection of links on equalrightsamendment.org

Constitutional Equality Amendment

Frequently Asked Questions on the CEA, from Virginia NOW

Collection of links on NOW homepage on CEA

A breakdown of the language used in the CEA from NOW

Mormons for ERA

Wikipedia entry for Sonia Johnson, leader of Mormons for ERA

History of Mormons for ERA

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