Rhetoric

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Rhetorical studies of public-access cable?

So, I'm sitting here watching -- for some reason -- Drinking with Troy and Ian, a public-access cable television show. It consists of a couple of guys who look to be in their early twenties sitting in front of a camera and drinking. That's it. In the space of forty-two minutes, they've downed seven shots of Jägermeister. I'm nauseated just witnessing it (assuming it's real Jägermeister).

But it occurred to me: I've listened to podcasts that are kind of like this, and any substantial study of citizen media (which is a big part of my research agenda beyond my dissertation) ought to look at public-access cable. It seems that there's a stereotype that people who make use of public-access cable are political wingnuts and/or just plain weirdos. Think about the Saturday Night Live spoofs of it (and, of course, of Jimmy Fallon's famous character, Jared at Hampshire College, who has the web show from his dorm room). If anyone knows of any studies of public-access cable, doesn't matter what discipline, will you please let me know here or via email?

Dissertation: Literature Review

Now for my concept map that represents my literature review. This is how it's shaping up, and hopefully I won't have to add too much to it (I'm fine with taking stuff out). I've been struggling with it and getting contradictory advice, which I've come to understand is common, and which boils down to one question: Is it preferable, in a dissertation, to enter a specific conversation in one field of study, or to get a broader sampling of books and articles representing multiple disciplinary perspectives on your general topic/object of study, even though you run the risk of overlooking some important work? I'm hoping to be able to do the former, as you can see on the concept map. I want this thing to be wieldy. (This image links to a larger one.)

Literature Review for Dissertation

But if there are problems, I need to know, and I'm always grateful for feedback, so please leave it here or email me.

Online Portfolio of Work Related to Rhetoric, Digital Media, and Feminist Theory

Rhetoric

Dissertation Prospectus

Preliminary Exams

Outlook: What's next for blogging? In Bruns, A., & Jacobs, J. (Eds.), Uses of Blogs. Forthcoming from Peter Lang Publishing. Original questions and answers posted July 24, 2005.

Between Work and Play: Blogging and Community Knowledge-Making (Essay in Lore: An E-Journal for Teachers of Writing)

Review Essay on Blogging, October 2002

Sites of Resistance: Weblogs and Creative Commons Licenses (PDF)

Making the Adjunct Visible: Normativity in Academia and Subversive Heteroglossia in the Invisible Adjunct Weblog Community

Perelman and Olbrechts-Tyteca on Data Selection

"Push-Button Publishing for the People": The Blogosphere and the Public Sphere

Neither Compelling Nor Arbitrary

Thoughts on Burke's "Four Master Tropes"

Response to Burke's "Semantic and Poetic Meaning"

Genre Theory, Genre Analysis, and Blog as Genre

Blogging as Privileged Speech

Anarchy in Academe? A Cultural Analysis of Electronic Scholarly Publishing

Musings on Foucault, Power, and Resistance

Thoughts on Aspasia and Diotima

Feminist Theory

Gender and Open Source

Performativity: Draft of 3W Encyclopedia Entry

Essentialism: Draft of 3W Encyclopedia Entry

Whose Voices Get Heard? Gender Politics in the Blogosphere

Feminist Knowledge Claims and the Postmodern Critique

Identity Politics: Genealogy, Problems, Legitimacy

Theorizing Butler

Can Narrative Do the Work of Theory? A Look at Toni Morrison's Beloved

The Problem of Experience in Feminist Theory

On Theorizing Gender

Intersectionality, and I *Heart* Nomy Lamm

Notes on the Sex/Gender Distinction

Conference Notes

CCCC 2005

CCCC 2004

Feminisms and Rhetorics 2003

Two posts on Computers and Writing 2003

Roundtable on the Status of Qualitative Internet Research (from AoIR 2003)

Rhetoric Seminars

Seminar on Richard Fulkerson, "Composition at the Turn of the Twenty-First Century," College Composition and Communication, June 2005 (56.4)

Composition Theory, "Good Writing," and -- Impending Theory Wars?

More on Fulkerson

Seminar on Kelly Ritter, "The Economics of Authorship: Online Paper Mills, Student Writers, and First-Year Composition," College Composition and Communication June 2005 (56.4)

"It don't matter. None of this matters." Or, composition pedagogy and Ritter's article on plagiarism

More on Authorship, Intellectual Property, "Templates," and Student Writing

Dissertation: Methodology Chapter

As I write my dissertation, I've been mind-mapping like crazy. It helps me rein in all the material I'm using and everything I need to say. What follows is the map of my methodology chapter, which includes everything I really feel that I need to cover, i.e. stuff I would be remiss if I didn't say. But I want to know what you think: Assuming there's too much going on in this chapter as I've conceptualized it at this point, what can be cut? (This image links out to a bigger, readable one.)

Methodology Chapter of My Dissertation

The chapter basically has four parts.

  1. A review of methodological problems (or complexities) to consider in doing qualitative internet research. Some are from a roundtable on the subject, and others I have learned on my own.
  2. A general definition and overview of my approach: how I'm defining "rhetorical analysis," what is meant by a "feminist rhetorical approach."
  3. A description of my data collection and analytical procedure (to answer the "What did you do?" question).
  4. A reflective section that addresses situatedness and reflexivity -- locating myself in the research. This section is an important part of my overarching feminist approach.

I'm tentatively planning on doing it in that order, but I'm open to suggestions if you think another arrangement would be more coherent and sophisticated. [Edited to add: I should put the "operationalizing gender/online identity" point (which is just a little "how I define and interpret gender online" few paragraphs) under "general introduction." Probably better that way.]

I'm no good at these things

But I'm going to give The Namesake Series a whirl anyway. Brendan proposes:

In This is Spinal Tap, David St. Hubbins shows Marty DiBergi a tape from the "Namesakes" series, in which celebrities read works by authors with the same last name. For example, Denham Elliott reads T.S. Eliot and Dr. J reads the collected works of Washington Irving.

What if you ran an "intro to theory and pop culture" course along similar lines? Each unit features a theorist discussed in class and related to a namesake in pop culture [. . .]

Here's my attempt:

  • Habermas on Kate Moss
  • Chaim Perelman on Rhea Perlman
  • I.A. Richards on Mary Richards
  • Raymond Williams on Venus Williams
  • Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick on Kyra Sedgwick
  • Laura Mulvey on "Mulva"
  • Homi Bhabha on Homey the Clown
  • Stuart Hall on The Wall
  • Kenneth Burke on Delta Burke

More later.

Taking Women Students Seriously

I'd rather find someone else who blogged about that article about women in elite colleges who want to forego career for stay-at-home childrearing, but I haven't found anyone who's written about it yet. Oh well. I was both disturbed and encouraged by various parts of the article.

While the changing attitudes are difficult to quantify, the shift emerges repeatedly in interviews with Ivy League students, including 138 freshman and senior females at Yale who replied to e-mail questions sent to members of two residential colleges over the last school year.

The interviews found that 85 of the students, or roughly 60 percent, said that when they had children, they planned to cut back on work or stop working entirely. About half of those women said they planned to work part time, and about half wanted to stop work for at least a few years.

Two of the women interviewed said they expected their husbands to stay home with the children while they pursued their careers. Two others said either they or their husbands would stay home, depending on whose career was furthest along.

At least the Times does acknowledge in the article that there are many people who don't have the financial luxury of being able to choose not to work outside the home. And "depending on whose career was furthest along"? Fair enough, I guess, assuming that lots of people marry outside their economic classes and that we're on a level playing field in terms of gender. But I don't think either of those assumptions is a safe one.

In recent years, elite colleges have emphasized the important roles they expect their alumni - both men and women - to play in society.

For example, earlier this month, Shirley M. Tilghman, the president of Princeton University, welcomed new freshmen, saying: "The goal of a Princeton education is to prepare young men and women to take up positions of leadership in the 21st century. Of course, the word 'leadership' conjures up images of presidents and C.E.O.'s, but I want to stress that my idea of a leader is much broader than that."

She listed education, medicine and engineering as other areas where students could become leaders.

In an e-mail response to a question, Dr. Tilghman added: "There is nothing inconsistent with being a leader and a stay-at-home parent. Some women (and a handful of men) whom I have known who have done this have had a powerful impact on their communities."

Well, okay. This line of thought is promising, but do all the faculty share Dr. Tilghman's view of leadership? I doubt it.

University officials said that success meant different things to different people and that universities were trying to broaden students' minds, not simply prepare them for jobs.

"What does concern me," said Peter Salovey, the dean of Yale College, "is that so few students seem to be able to think outside the box; so few students seem to be able to imagine a life for themselves that isn't constructed along traditional gender roles."

THANK YOU, PETER SALOVEY! Mr. Salovey's point will be illustrated later in the article.

Sarah Currie, a senior at Harvard, said many of the men in her American Family class last fall approved of women's plans to stay home with their children.

"A lot of the guys were like, 'I think that's really great,' " Ms. Currie said. "One of the guys was like, 'I think that's sexy.' Staying at home with your children isn't as polarizing of an issue as I envision it is for women who are in their 30's now."

Okay, this just makes me shudder. Cf. Salovey.

"I'll have a career until I have two kids," [a student at Yale] said. "It doesn't necessarily matter how far you get. It's kind of like the experience: I have tried what I wanted to do."

Ms. Ku added that she did not think it was a problem that women usually do most of the work raising kids.

"I accept things how they are," she said. "I don't mind the status quo. I don't see why I have to go against it."

Cf. Salovey. I'm trying to figure out all the reasons this article bothers me so much. The first, I suppose, is reflected in my title, which is also the title of an essay by Adrienne Rich about inequality in the educational system, both public and private, from elementary, to secondary, to college level. Isn't it true that some professors already see women as interlopers in higher education who, but for a few bluestocking exceptions, are there for an MRS degree, as the joke goes? Obviously it would be a better situation if: a.) the distribution of wealth in this country were such that more people could have the choice to stay at home with kids; b.) parenting were valued in our society, and I don't mean in the "revered in rhetoric, reviled in policy" sense; c.) staying at home with kids weren't viewed as an almost exclusively feminine vocation (even to the point of being SEXEE!), and as a corollary d.) masculinity weren't inextricably linked with breadwinning, such that the men I know who stay at home with their kids seem to feel obliged to explain it or apologize for it; and e.) education weren't so closely tied to career, i.e. learning has inherent value, and every student is worth teaching, equally, whether he or she goes on to apply that knowledge in a conventional career or not.

That's a start.

UPDATE: More at feministing and Rebel Dad.

My whole dissertation (at this stage) in sixteen pages

I'm working diligently on this thing all the time, improving and clarifying it a bit each day, but I figure now's as good a time as any to ask for some feedback. This paper was published in the conference proceedings of the New Media Research at UMN conference (well, really it was just a spiral-bound collection of the papers presented, distributed only to conference attendees). They might be publishing the papers online as part of a white paper about the state of new media research at the University of Minnesota, but I'm not 100% certain of that. My writing sample for the job market will probably look a bit like this, so I welcome your comments. Leave them here or feel free to email me: clancyATculturecat.net. Also, please shoot me an email if you decide to use this paper in any classes you're teaching; I like to keep track of that information.

Where Are the Women? Rhetoric and Gender on Weblogs (PDF)

More on Authorship, Intellectual Property, "Templates," and Student Writing

This will probably be my last post about the Kelly Ritter article; that seminarnival never did seem to take off, huh? Anyway, recently Prof. B. posted a To-Do List for September. The whole post is great for its general agenda-setting, but I was struck by this part for another reason:

coming up this week, Congress is still going to vote on permanently repealing the estate tax. Also on the agenda: cutting capital gains and dividend taxes even further, and cutting entitlement programs. The fiscal irresponsibility here is just mind-boggling: we're running a huge deficit, we're fighting a war, and we've just had one of our major cities and several minor ones wiped off the map. And they still want to cut taxes?!?!? Call your congresspeople and send them letters telling them (politely, but firmly) to get their heads out of their asses and run the country responsibily.

Here's Landismom's letter re. the estate tax, if you want a template.

To refresh your memory, Ritter points out the use of the terms "template" and "model" in everyday practice, using teaching materials as an example (p. 614-615, emphasis in original):

In my own discussions of teaching materials and research findings with colleagues, particularly those new to the teaching of first-year composition, I often hear queries such as "Can I steal that assignment?" or "Do you think I could use that syllabus as a model (or a template)?" In creative-writing courses, teachers often encourage students to "mimic"canonical authors so as to internalize traditional styles and to understand the value of voice and poetic form. These are only select examples of how the creative, collaborative notion of intellectual production in the humanities often leads to "borrowing" ideas back and forth, between complicit and entirely well-meaning individuals.

Remember that last part of B's post: "Here's Landismom's letter re. the estate tax, if you want a template." Nothing out of the ordinary, right? Activist organizations offer templates for us to edit and send to our representatives all the time: at NARAL, NRDC, the Sierra Club, and the Feminist Majority Foundation, just to name a few. In fact, you can go to just about any advocacy organization's site and click "Take Action," which is usually on the main menu of links, and it'll take you to a template letter like any of these. You're welcome simply to sign your name at the bottom and click "send," or to make a few changes to the template, or erase all the text in the box and write your own letter.

When I was six years old, my parents were watching a documentary on public television that showed men with clubs beating baby seals. They were so cute, with white fur against the white snow, but then when they were beaten, splotches of red spread out over the snow. I was absolutely inconsolable. I cried and cried, on and on until my dad, who I imagine was really at a loss here, said, "Well, write a letter to the governor!"

The governor at the time was Fob James, a staunch conservative who probably cared not one jot about baby seals but whose staff was obviously touched enough by my letter, scrawled in my six-year-old hand with crayon ("Dear Fob James. Tonight I saw baby seals getting killed on TV and it made me cry." etc.), to write an personal reply to me which is now in my parents' safe deposit box. When I go home next week, I'll see if I can get both letters out and scan them.

I said all that to say this: In a representative democracy, writing letters to elected officials is one of the most meaningful rhetorical acts one can perform, at least as important as writing an essay for a composition course*. Yet what essentially amounts to plagiarism -- passing off something someone else wrote as one's own -- is perfectly acceptable in such letter-writing for expediency. No one so much as bats an eye at it. Students do get mixed messages about authorship; the same teacher who'd turn a student in for plagiarism if he or she used someone else's essay as a template wouldn't think twice about using one of these templates for an action letter. I'm not teaching this academic year, but Ritter's article has given me so many ideas for illustrative cases to bring into the classroom to discuss authorship and plagiarism in a more sophisticated way.

I'll end with Using virtual lectures to educate students on plagiarism, by Laura A. Guertin (via Tracy). She makes a case for using these virtual lectures, which didn't seem that compelling at first, but in the article she points to the fact that with prerecorded lectures, students get a consistent message about plagiarism that's the same no matter how many times you replay the lecture. Sure, no one can anticipate every problem that may arise, and I doubt I'll try this in my own teaching, but I still think the article is worth a link.

* And yes, I know audience is a factor here; those template-driven electronic action letters rarely, if ever, actually get read by elected officials, or even by interns. If we're lucky, they at least get counted.

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