Rhetoric

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Hank Johnson Ad on Daily Kos

As if Cynthia McKinney didn't suffer enough indignity when she dared to change her hairstyle, now her opponent, Hank Johnson, has a campaign ad on Daily Kos trotting out one of the most hackneyed woman-bashing tropes there is:

I wonder if any politician would ever make a reference to a male opponent's "shrill, polarizing politics"?

Note to Hank Johnson's campaign: Disagree with her views, her voting record if you want to, but don't embarrass yourself by stooping this low.

UPDATE: Much better. Maybe some Kossacks complained about the first one.

New Issue of KB Journal on Ecocriticism

The new issue of KB Journal addresses Burke and ecocriticism. I know that those of you who are interested in ecocriticism will want to check out the articles, but that's not the only reason why I linked there. I want to call your attention to a couple of other cool things: first (and this must have been done quietly, without making a big fuss), all articles in KB Journal are now Creative Commons licensed. Second, I'm really impressed with the quality of the commentary on the articles there. They've got a small, but extremely thoughtful and articulate, group of folks who comment on the articles, a group which includes the astute Tom Wright. The comments there are not so much like blog comments, but more serious, like the correspondence I expect Burke, Marianne Moore, etc. would have engaged in upon reading each new issue of The Dial.

Over My Shoulder

It's a NotMeme from Rad Geek:

  1. Pick a quote of one or more paragraphs from something you’ve read, in print, over the course of the past week. (It should be something you’ve actually read, and not something that you’ve read a page of just in order to be able to post your favorite quote.)

  2. Avoid commentary above and beyond a couple sentences, more as context-setting or a sort of caption for the text than as a discussion.

  3. Quoting a passage doesn’t entail endorsement of what’s said in it. You may agree or you may not. Whether you do isn’t really the point of the exercise anyway.

Okay, you ready for this? It's from an article in JAC 25.2 titled "Postmodern Pluralism and the Retreat from Political Literacy," written by Donald Lazere.

Nearly three decades after [critical pedagogical ("decode" advertisements, the major media, etc.)] goals for English studies were formulated, while some segments of our profession have continued vigorously to pursue these goals (most prominently, advocates of critical pedagogy and, most recently, Rhetoricians for Peace), the general tendency has been to marginalize such goals, in composition courses and textbooks, our professional journals, conferences, scholarly books and research. In this article, I will try to trace the complex of developments in the profession that have converged toward this tendency, to analyze some of the excesses in these developments, and to advocate the re-affirmation of the earlier goals throughout the profession. In brief, these goals include the excessive or exclusive privileging of the production of students' personal writing (both expressive and argumentative) over analysis and criticism of public rhetoric; of non-academic over academic discourse; of "women's ways of knowing" over allegedly phallogocentric modes of cognition, reasoning, and discourse; of local and identity politics, communities, and cultures over cultural commonalities and unifying political causes. In spite of the unquestionable intrinsic value of all these diverse "literacy practices," some of their more doctrinaire advocates, whom I call "diverseologues," seem to me ingenuous in acting as though such practices in local communities either can operate outside the influence of national and international centers of power or can somehow counteract them, so that the latter are virtually ignored as a subject of critique and action. Thus, although most of the advocates of these theoretical lines consider themselves and their causes as politically liberal or progressive, their insistence on unlimited proliferation of localism and diversity -- coincident with an age of unprecedented concentration of economic ownership, political power, and social control by multinational corporations and the right wing in America -- has had profoundly conservative consequences in obstructing the kind of unified opposition that progressive constituencies need to counteract the right.

Biographical Awareness

As you can probably tell, I'm really enjoying Heilbrun's book. I'll likely post more about it in the coming weeks. I find myself wondering if Nels and Prof. B. have read it, and if so, what they think of it. I also wonder what Heilbrun would have thought about all these women who are writing about their lives every day on their weblogs.

As an aside, I created this comic of sorts before I saw that Collin just put up a much better one. Do read it.

Notes from Next/Text Rhetoric

What follows are my notes on the Next/Text meeting for Rhetoric and Composition. At first I was really vigilant about preceding people's comments with their names or initials, you know, so they'd get credit for what they said. But then things got so rapid-fire that I got lazy about it. These notes represent what we, as a group, said, and each of us made contributions: myself, Cheryl Ball, Cindy Selfe, Daniel Andersen, David Blakesley, David Goodwin, Geoffrey Sirc, Janice Walker, Jeff Rice, Johndan Johnson-Eilola, Karl Stolley, Kim White, Michael Day, Victor Vitanza, and Virginia Kuhn. To give a little background, Next/Text is one of the projects of the Institute for the Future of the Book, which is part of the Annenberg Center at the University of Southern California. Next/Text is focused on classroom textbooks in particular. Our meeting was devoted to imagining how we in rhetoric and composition would go about creating a completely new electronic textbook -- new, as opposed to CD-ROM companions to print textbooks: your basic linear, text-with-images, PDF-esque, "take a book from the tradition of print, digitize it, and smack it up on the Web."

As we started out, we briefly discussed institutional constraints and realities -- the old hiring, promotion, and tenure. In any discussion of online/technological work, we can't put those aside or dismiss them. Although this part was kind of bracketed after the initial comment, I suppose it was always in the background. For a while, we talked about generalities: basic needs, realities of textbook publishing, realities of online projects which someone starts (a faculty member) and others work on and contribute to (e.g., graduate students/T.A.s, non-tenure-track instructors, etc.). There was a stated need for what we, for lack of a better term, called a datacloud with portals and axes that help to organize content (which I'm going to call tags here, because that's basically how they'd function). I kept smiling and thinking of a conversation I had once with (the brilliant) Geoffrey Sauer, who emphasized the need for me really to connect scholarship with what it is I do online. I was trying to offer ideas of what I thought he was driving at, and he kept saying, "no, it can't be just another archive!" I relayed Sauer's call for some new online endeavor that wasn't just another archive to the Next/Text group, who agreed vigorously.

Next/Text Meeting: Rhetoric Textbooks, Digital

I took copious notes at the Next/Text Rhetoric meeting of the Institute for the Future of the Book, but I still need to work on massaging them into blog-post suitability, and I have an imminent deadline for an article for S&F Online. Plus, I'll be out of town with spotty internet access until May 7, so posting will be pretty much nonexistent until then. For the time being, check out Jeff's notes from the meeting, Dan's notes, and the pictures I took during my stay in L.A. By the way, the folks at the Institute are terrific hosts. Great food and accommodations -- my first-ever stay at a bed and breakfast.

Jottings

  • I cringe in anticipation of Tina Fey's joke about this story on tonight's SNL Weekend Update.
  • Would it be so bad if I had the following meal? -- waffles with maple syrup, followed by a dessert of popsicles and yellow cake with chocolate frosting?
  • What are the pros and cons of getting a seven-year fraud alert on your credit report?
  • This summer I'll be teaching Rhetoric 3401, Internet Communication: Tools and Issues (one syllabus here, another here). If any of you have any tips on teaching online courses or suggestions of readings to assign, I'd love to hear them.
  • Recent reads: Down Came the Rain, Brooke Shields' memoir of postpartum depression. It was surprisingly good, but this is of course coming from a general fangirl who, while a child, had a Brooke Shields doll. Also, Life As We Know It by Michael Bérubé, which I've already recommended. I'm now reading Woolf's To the Lighthouse (for the first time!), and will probably read Writing a Woman's Life by Carolyn Heilbrun next.

CCCC Wrapup

A 4Cs wrapup post is long overdue. I saw just about everyone I wanted to see, plus met some great new people, including Madeleine, Tyra, jo(e), Deb, timna, Steve, Bradley, Brendan, and Sharon.

I attended some sessions, but I didn't always take notes. I know there are many defenders of the "read a paper" presentation model, but I have less and less patience for it with each passing year. It does sometimes work okay, but only rarely, and only if there are enough extemporaneously spoken asides to keep the audience's attention. The cadence of reading is so very different from extemporaneous speaking -- so much less animated and more monotonous -- that, for me, it's almost impossible to follow. I'm in agreement with William Major that we should do conference presentations more like how we teach.

My paper follows below the fold (and my slides are attached to this post). It looks disjointed, but I spoke extemporaneously a lot of the material. That's what I usually do at conferences: I have either no paper at all and just some notecards, or a paper with cues like this one. I hope you get something out of it. NB: Links to the original article and all the posts I cite are here.

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