Tuesday, December 30, 2008

52 CFP

Call for Proposals for April 3-4 MnCUEW Conference

First Annual MnCUEW Conference (Minnesota Colleges and Universities English
and Writing), April 3-4, 2009 - Sponsored by MnSCU and the University of

2009 THEME: "Across Borders: Assessment, Accountability, and Scholarship in
Literature, Composition, and Creative Writing"

LOCATION: The University of Minnesota Continuing Education and Conference
Center, St. Paul

KEYNOTE SPEAKERS: Fri., April 3, Paul Bodmer, National Council of Teachers
of English (NCTE) Senior Program Officer for Higher Education in Washington,
D.C. (retired), and former NCTE Associate Executive Director for Higher
Education in Urbana, Illinois; subject - changing expectations for higher
education in English in the 21st century. Sat., April 4, Dr. Lynda Milne,
Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) System Director for
Faculty Development and Director of the Center for Teaching and Learning;
subject - new methods of assessing students' - and one's own - teaching and

DESCRIPTION OF CONFERENCE: The 2009 MnCUEW Conference provides a forum for
college and university English and writing instructors to discuss current
pedagogies in teaching and learning English, assessment and other
initiatives, research projects, and systems-wide accountability issues.
Faculty will be able to share different methods, pedagogies, and styles in
teaching literature, composition, and professional and creative writing and
discover ways in which English/writing faculty members are collaborating in,
crossing lines of, and extending English and writing instruction. We
encourage proposals from MnSCU, UMN, and private college faculty, graduate
students, and college-in-the-schools teachers in Minnesota and surrounding

PROPOSALS: Please send your proposals and proposal ideas for single sessions
by one or more presenters (15 min.) and panels by three or more presenters
(1 hr. with time for discussion). We are looking for proposals from any
college teachers as above, full or part time, that address any aspect of
teaching literature, composition, and professional and creative writing.
Send your proposals to Carol Mohrbacher c/o writeplace@stcloudstate.edu with
a title and 50-150 w. describing your session by Feb. 28, 2009. We
encourage both interactive and traditional presentations and discussions.
(You do not need to write a formal paper to present.) Possible topics
include the following:

composition, literature, developmental writing, writing about literature,
writing centers, WAC/ WAD/WI, computers/electronic delivery and English,
English and NNS/ESL, creative writing, technical/professional writing,
transfer, bridging gap between h.s. and college, working conditions/
teaching loads/adjunct or TA/GA issues, placement/assessment/exit
procedures, diversity, research, et al.

This program is made possible through a Center for Teaching and Learning
grant with generous funding from the MnSCU (Minnesota State Colleges and
Universities) System Office of the Chancellor.

MnCUEW (Minnesota Colleges & Universities English & Writing) Committee:

Brian Baumgart, Century College, brian.baumgart@century.edu
Heather Camp, Minnesota State University-Mankato, heather.camp@mnsu.edu
Kirsti Cole, Minnesota State University-Mankato, kirsti.cole@mnsu.edu
Anthony Collins, Inver Hills Community College, acollin@inverhills.edu
Julie Daniels, Century Community and Technical College,
Pat Darling, Inver Hills Community College, pat_darling@hotmail.com
Danielle Hinrichs, Metropolitan State University,
Richard Jewell, Inver Hills Community College, richard@jewell.net
Darryl Johnson, Anoka Technical College, dajohnson@anokatech.edu
Matt Mauch, Normandale Community College, matthew.mauch@normandale.edu
Carol Mohrbacher, St. Cloud State University, camohrbacher@stcloudstate.edu
Brian Nerney, Metropolitan State University, brian.nerney@metrostate.edu
Dave Page, Inver Hills Community College, dpage1@inverhills.edu
David Pates, Normandale Community College, david.pates@normandale.edu

Kris Peleg, Century Community and Technical College,
Tom Reynolds, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, reyno004@umn.edu
Donald Ross, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, rossj001@umn.edu
Larry Sklaney, Century Community and Technical College,
Martin Springborg, MnSCU Center for Teaching and Learning,
Matthew Vercant, Minnesota State University-Mankato,
Matt Williams, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, will1923@umn.edu

Thursday, December 25, 2008

51.1 More on K

Mr. Kugelmass,

In your replies, you quote Eyman:

--Douglas Eyman: “That he doesn’t recognize that literary analysis is a rhetorical act serves to completely undermine his ethos.”--

To which you reply:

--Sure, publishing a work of literary criticism means writing within certain conventions related to academic audiences, but that does not exhaust the ways in which literary analysis differs from the analysis of “appeals to an audience.”--

Clearly, there are arhetorical literary pedagogies. Some are successful; some are not (no one is rushing to reproduce Richards' protocols). Some are consonant with, but different from, rhetorical analysis.

But after three posts of this argument and multiple responses, all repeatedly stating that the reduction of rhetorically-based writing instruction is a misrepresentation of the field and of the pedagogy that derives from it, I have to ask:

1. What is the basis for your claim that rhetorically-based pedagogy is reducible to appeal to the audience? Half-credit for reference to a textbook written by someone with a professional profile in rhetoric. Full credit for an article or scholarly book written by someone with a professional profile in rhetoric.


You offer us this argument for the reduction of your scope:

--“Rhetoric and Composition” cannot muster, in its defense, millennia of scholarship on the subject of rhetoric. College freshmen are not taking a graduate seminar on debates that have lasted since Greece and Rome within the diversely constituted field of “rhetoric.” I did not mention writers like Burke, or Cicero, or the Sophists, or Hélène Cixous, or others from other centuries, because it is sheer fantasy to imagine the students in question have access to this sort of specialized scholarly knowledge about rhetoric.--

There is an internal contradiction in your claims, in that you earlier call upon us to cite texts that could counter your arguments (you say: "if some text has given you a good argument to oppose to mine, do us the kindness of summarizing it"), but you deny access to the professional literature or the historical tradition in this debate.

I ask a follow up:

The implication appears to be that professional teachers of rhetoric and composition must use only the resources of the undergraduate textbook to design and teach their courses. The knowledge they mastered in their graduate training and the knowledge they produce in their scholarship is "out of bounds" for defining or inflecting their courses?

Is this true of literature? Does the Norton Anthology circumscribe pedagogy in the literature classroom? I would hope not.


You are anxious about the globalization of rhetorical theory, a topic of much discussion in the field that could inform your arguments. You note that "attempts to make rhetoric so enormous that it simply swallows up all communication" -- a position discussed, for example, by Schiappa (Phil & Rhet), Schiappa, Scott, Gross & McKerrow, and Gross & Keith (Rhetorical Hermeneutics), and in the aforementioned SAGE Handbook (look for references to "Big Rhetoric."

We have encountered these questions before, and we have developed answers to them. Insofar as we have embraced Booth and he embraced us (feeding the dialogue between literary and rhetorical studies), they are debates perhaps older than you are.

Take a gander at these sources and see whether your arguments can be strengthened by a knowledge of the professional literature in the field.


You note that the flattening of rhetoric effaces the fact that "rhetoric continues to carry all sorts of ideological and epistemological assumptions in its train, including assumptions about the knowability of an audience and the nature of truth."

You are right! James Berlin said as much in defining rhetoric as a field that also defines "what can, and cannot, be known; the nature of the knower; the nature of the relationship between the knower, the known, and the audience; and the nature of language." Different rhetorics function differently in defining these terms.

This question has been on our plate for years, and we have been working to answer it. Your position, for example, about the relative unknowability of the audience, has been explored theoretically and pedagogically by Thomas Kent (Paralogic Rhetoric). Questions about the circulation of texts beyond their intended, knowable audiences have been explored by scholars interested in actor-network theory and ethnographic practices in professional communication.

It is true, we have left questions of Conrad and Achebe to literary scholars (on the one hand) and historians of print culture (on the other hand). But this is because, despite your claims to the otherwise, we don't believe that all phenomena in writing is rhetorical phenomena.


I think we go back to the post from an earlier blog iteration of this essay: the problem is not that we teach writing informed by rhetorical theory. The problem is that we ask people without background in rhetoric to teach rhetoric and composition.

I believe that you are earnest in wanting your students to succeed. I also believe that you are unaware of the massive literature that could help you help them succeed. I don't know whether this is your fault or Irvine's.

This leads us to the final questions:

1. Is it unethical to ask graduate students trained in literary studies to teach rhetoric & composition courses?

2. Is it unethical for graduate students with no interest in rhetoric and composition as a professional body of literature to accept these teaching assistantships?

3. If the answer is "yes" to either of the above, what would happen to literary studies enrollments if we acted ethically?

4. If the answer is yes to 1 & 2 above, what would happen to the job market if we acted ethically? Right now, one in three PhDs in English (lit & rhet comp & linguistics) grabs a TT job in their first year out. Many take jobs they would not have preferred.

The questions appear loaded, but they are not. So much would be reconfigured, I am guessing at impacts I cannot know.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

51. Kugelmass?

Thanks to JA and W(B)K for pointing this out as needing a response. Yet where are they in the fight? I take our "composition" and pop in "public speaking" and pop out "literature" for "psychology/sociology/comm theory" and there but for the grace of God goes Comm.

But Comm doesn't go to the wall for rhetoric in public speaking, then, does it? Ahem....


Responding to:

The problem with analyses like these is that they begin with an impoverished understanding of rhetoric and proceed to spin their argument against that straw man.
(That this author suffers from this flaw is doubly surprising given that some of the best scholars in rhetorical studies teach at his institution. But those are failings for his faculty to consider, not me.)
The central problem with this piece can be located here:
“But it is worth examining how rhetorically themed instruction in writing — especially in ethos, pathos, and logos — arose as a natural way of resolving political conflicts between Western institutions, and to consider the consequences of this paradigm shift for our students. My objection is not merely political; it is also pedagogical, since “rhetoric and composition” forecloses many other valuable ways of teaching reading and writing.”
The error can be dissected in these ways:
1. But it is worth examining how rhetorically themed instruction in writing —
... we do not speak of rhetorically themed writing instruction, any more than we speak of “themed” sociology instruction or “themed” biology instruction. To do so is to begin with a false assertion, from the start: that rhetoric is a flavor that can be added on to writing instruction, and that writing instruction is possible without rhetoric. It should be clear that nonliterary discourse is rhetorical discourse, and so nonliterary writing instruction is rhetorical instruction. The only question is, what form of rhetorical theory informs your pedagogy?
2. especially in ethos, pathos, and logos
... here is the reduction — the use of terms from the worst, most incomplete of first-year textbooks as metonymic for the field. If rhetoric is defined by ethos, pathos, and logos, then literary criticism of narrative is defined by beginning, middle and end. Let’s avoid reduction in the representation of the field you would dismiss.
3. arose as a natural way of resolving political conflicts between Western institutions
... the rise of rhetorically inflected instruction in both writing and speaking has very little to do with the dynamics you describe. What you object to, it seems to me, is not the use of rhetoric to teach writing, but the slow but seemingly impossible to stop shifting of the bulk of the work of English faculty from the teaching of literature and reading to the teaching of writing. Wlad Godzich nails this shift (with a more even-handed discussion of the implications) in The Culture of Literacy — take a look.
The question is, if English faculty at most undergraduate institutions are finding their teaching loads heavier in writing and their writing colleagues more numerous than in the past, how do we grapple with these changes?
The answer, I think, is to professionalize the work, to treat it as an area of intellectual inquiry, and so to master the practices that shifts much larger than the discipline or the department can control are forcing upon us.
4. and to consider the consequences of this paradigm shift for our students.
... The consequence, that I can most easily see, is that writing is taught by those with professional specialization in writing, rather than by those with professional specialization in literary interpretation.
5. My objection is not merely political; it is also pedagogical, since “rhetoric and composition” forecloses many other valuable ways of teaching reading and writing.
...and here we have the great misdirection. Rhetorical instruction, once a master art that would have included literary and theatrical practice, for example, includes under its tent so many diverse pedagogies, undergirded by strong empirical and theoretical and historical research. Very little is precluded by the scope of the field.
A simple skim of the tables of contents of the _Rhetorical Tradition_, _Contemporary Rhetorical Theory_, and the _SAGE Handbook on Rhetoric_ shows the diversity of approaches and methods. Rhetoric encompasses the moves you push to “critical thinking” — what would 100 years of rhetorical criticism amount to, then? It includes discussions of communication ethics and the work of the citizen in the democracy. (Rhetoric is more properly allied with citizenship than with the market.) And, it has tools for the analysis of science, literature, politics and academic discourse — the depth and variety of texts advocated for in this piece.
What is required is that the teacher understand the tradition that starts with the Greeks (where this author’s knowledge fails even to begin) and runs through 2000 years of philosophical, literary, social and critical theory tied together by a common interest in the work of language in human communities.
And so the last major point of failure in this essay:
“[rhetoric] follows an intersubjective logic similar to that of capital. Rhetoric goes hand-in-hand with advertising, the dominant language of contemporary desire”
Never has anything more wrong been said. And said so brazenly, without citation, evidence, or proof. Rhetoric goes hand in hand with the processes of community formation and reinstantiation (consusbstantiation and critique through a variety of argumentative, narrative and other discourses in a range of media).
Until Mr. Kugelmass understands the field, I suggest that he refrain from criticism. His local Barnes and Noble has a primer that the average reader (nonacademic) can grasp (Thank You for Arguing: What Aristotle, Lincoln, and Homer Simpson Can Teach Us About the Art of Persuasion). Take a stab at that, then, and this will be harder, take a stab at the professional literature.
Then, and only then, come back and re-evaluate whether rhetorical studies has an integral place in the 21st century university, as it did in the classical, medieval, renaissance and enlightenment universities.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

50.0 TOC:

This looks great: Phil & Rhet

RHETORIC needs a journal TOC aggregator. Pre/Text used to do it (whither Pre/Text)?

In the meantime, this looks great!

Special Issue on Norms of Rhetorical Culture & Thomas B. Farrell

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

49.0 A Hunk of Book...

Philosophy without Rhetoric at Cambridge at the Turn of the 20th Century:
G. E. Moore and the Tension between Language and Meaning

Moral Sciences (philosophy) was not the giant of disciplines that we have come to remember it as at the turn of the 20th century. The faculty were largely new, largely setting out on their own careers, and only beginning to attract students in any significant numbers. Nonetheless, it is fair to say that the scholarship completed in Cambridge by G. E. Moore, Bertrand Russell and Ludwig Wittgenstein would change philosophy, rhetoric, and communication studies for more than 100 years.

This chapter sets out the influence of the first of those giants. G. E. Moore is largely studied for his ethical theories, published in Principia Ethica (19XX), but his theories of language also carry a legacy. Philosophers describe Moore’s legacy in philosophy of language primarily through Wittgenstein, but I want here to demonstrate the influence that Moore had on I. A. Richards. Through Richards, Moore would have an indirect effect on the understandings of rhetoric and communication that would dominate the 20th century,

Specifically, Moore would both immerse Richards in the importance of attention to the nuances of everyday language for piecing together the meaning of a text, while at the same time insisting that the meaning is not reducible to the text. The text is the vehicle for the proposition, but the proposition exists independently of the language that is used to express it. While Moore is insistent on this claim as part of a larger metaphysics, he was less interested in puzzling through its implications for actual communicative practice.

Richards is interested in actual communicative practice, and so it is fair to claim that Richards’ work (and the New Rhetoric) begins with G. E. Moore. Richards at first tries to defend Moore’s position in his early essays. Later, he transforms Moore’s position (in Practical Criticism, Principles of Literary Criticism and eventually his treatises on rhetoric). He continues to hold that the meaning of an utterance cannot be reduced to the words it contained, but believes, unlike Moore, that the meaning of the utterance is a product of human psychology, not of the external reality of propositions.

This chapter maps out Moore’s position, then begins to map its influence on Richards.

G. E. Moore and the Moral Sciences (Philosophy) at Cambridge

G. E. Moore (1873-1958) entered Trinity college at Cambridge as a student just before turning age 19, in 1892. He joined the Trinity Boat Club and the Cambridge University Musical society, participating in the full range of social activities that buttressed academic life. Moore completed the first part of the classics tripos and both the second classics tripos and the moral sciences tripos. (This was the 19th century Cambridge equivalent of double-majoring in classics and moral sciences.) He was a precocious mind, and he was eager to join the fellows at the university after graduation, winning the Prize Fellow of Trinity for 1898. It was in moral sciences that he would distinguish himself, becoming one of the most influential philosophers of the 20th century.

G. E. Moore's early philosophical work was presented to the meetings of the Cambridge Apostles, the informal conversational group of Cambridge intellectuals discussed in the previous chapter. And after becoming a Prize Fellow, he set immediately to drafting encyclopedia entries for Baldwin's Dictionary of Psychology and Philosophy, as well as shorter pieces cementing his break from Hegelianism and idealism in philosophy. After his time as Prize Fellow ended, he spent some years away from Cambridge (in Edinburgh and other places) until 1911, when he became University Lecturer in Moral Science. In 1925, he ascended to replace James Ward as Professor of Philosophy. (In Cambridge, there is one Professor in any given subject area at a time. This is unlike the United States, where the title is bestowed on nearly all members of the faculty in a department. Hence, in Cambridge, the position is very prestigious and a recognition of the place of Moore’s work.) This was same year that Moore became a Fellow at Trinity college.

Within his time at Cambridge, Moore was famously regarded by students, including Richards. Moore’s careful attention to language sparked his students. One prominent student describes Moore’s teaching in this way (in Howarth):
He certainly expanded our notion of how much discussion a question can deserve. For example, he could take a single sentence from James Ward’s Encyclopedia Britannica article on psychology and stay with it for three weeks lecturing on: “What on earth could Ward possibly have meant by saying that ‘the standpoint of psychology is individual’” – underlining the key words perhaps seventy times, gown flying, chalkdust rising in clouds, his intonation coruscating with apostrophes. (125)
This careful attention to the nuances of meaning in language would not be lost on the generationof scholars at the center of the New Rhetoric. Howarth makes clear that Moore helped define philosophy at Cambridge, and his arguments for the nature of philosophy and of language would have far-reaching implications.

Moore on the Scope of Philosophy (and the Break from 19th Century Idealism)

Moore’s work defined philosophy in the decades before WWI at Cambridge, and it was a broad, sweeping definition. He would lecture later that

The purpose of philosophy is "to give a general description of the whole of the universe, mentioning all the most important kinds of things which we know to be in it, considering how far it is likely that there are in it important kinds of things which we do not absolutely know to be in it, and also considering the most important ways in which these various kinds of things are related to one another" (Some Main Problems of Philosophy, 1953, 1).

This scope for philosophy includes the relationship between material objects and "acts of consciousness or mental acts” (Some Main Problems of Philosophy, 1953, 6). What advanced these claims in lectures delivered in the first two decades of the 20th century at Cambridge, and we need to assess these claims in that context.

At Cambridge, lectures were delivered in a public context. Instead of limiting lectures to enrolled students (as is done in the United States), at Cambridge, faculty lecture publicly. Moore’s definition for the scope of philosophical work begins with the broadest claims because of this broad audience. It was an effort to keep his audience interested and returning to future lectures, to involve them in the full sweep and potential of philosophical work, at a time when philosophy (moral sciences) at Cambridge was, at best, a marginal choice of field of study at Cambridge.

In depicting philosophy as a wide-ranging area of inquiry, Moore was both consonant with and breaking from the 19th century idealist philosophy that dominated at Cambridge. Those 19th century idealists would have argued that the goal of philosophy was "to give a general description of the whole of the universe," but they would have argued for a "whole" which was not divisible, not analyzable. The 19th century idealists like McTaggart and F. H. Bradley advanced a metaphysics which claimed that the best way to understand the universe was as a whole, a kind of organic unity.

Moore responded to the idealism of the 19th century, replacing it with a philosophy that countered idea that the universe is best understood as an organic whole. Moore proposed that “ideas held the same … immutable status as material objects.” In response to the idealists, Moore argued that ideas held an independent existence of their own and were analyzable independent of the larger, idealist metaphysics. Rather than ideas being part of the whole, and experienced as part of the whole in the universe, they were distinct. They were experienced by the mind with precisely the same immediacy as the eye experienced bright light. Ideas (or as Moore called them in some essays, propositions) held a reality all their own.

Propositions existed independent of our knowledge of them and independent of each other. Later commentators claimed that for Moore, “ideas held the same… immutable status as material objects” (Russo, “A Study in Influence” 690), possessing their own objective reality (Klemke 62). This leads, in John Paul Russo’s account in I. A. Richards: His Life and Work (54), of a nightmare in which Moore could not differentiate ideas from tables, both being equally real to him.

For Moore, then, the study of the philosophy is the “general description of the whole of the universe,” but very different from the way that McTaggart and others imagined that project to be. To the extent that Moore argued for philosophy’s project to “mention… all the most important kinds of things which we know to be,” he wanted all the important kinds of things (including propositions) to have an independence from the whole and from the mind that perceives them.

Moore’s Philosophy of Language

Moore was interested in the role of language in philosophy, though he was not, properly, a philosopher of language. (Language is, after all, absent from his definition of philosophy above.) His explorations of language were most often about sharpening tools with which other kinds of philosophical work could be done (on ethics, on metaphysics). Below, I discuss the ways that his philosophy of language extends naturally from his work in metaphysics. His understanding of the ways that language carries meaning stems from his theory of propositions, derived from his metaphysics.

Moore puzzled through a process of differentiating language from the ideas (or propositions) that language expresses. He offers a simple example to start, using a visual example from his lectures. He would chalk the letters “s-u-n” on the board twice, then claim that
“I have written up the word ‘sun’ twice upon the board. This is certainly true. But what is it that I’ve written twice? I’ve written this once & this once, neither of them twice. … I’ve written two words and not one word twice. But in another sense…” (Lectures 137).
Moore complicates his example by chalking up some words for “sun” in other languages, asking whether he has written the same word now multiple times. This very simple example makes clear what is an important basis for Moore’s philosophical work. Thinking and communicating may occur in everyday language, but propositions are not contained in those everyday words.

The complexity of Moore’s theory of propositions, as it cashes out in language, is hard to express. Propositions have a reality independent of the mind that uses language and independent of the language used. Propositions are communicated through utterances, through language. But the propositions are not reducible to the sentences. Language; it does not contain propositions. Sentences are the vehicle that carried a proposition, but the proposition has an objective status outside the sentence that carries it.

To advance his claim about the relative independence of propositions from the language that communicates them. Moore begins (in SMPP) with a discussion of sense-data and our perceptions of the world around us. Blue skies, herds of deer, and automobiles are things we apprehend directly; these sense data are not, in Moore’s model, propositions. Moore offers another example: “a cry expresses anger,” but neither the cry nor the anger is a proposition (Commonplace Book 44). For Moore, a proposition is elusive to articulate: "all the contents of the universe, absolutely everything that is at all, may be divided into two classes -- namely into proposition, on the one hand, and into things which are not propositions on the other hand” (SMPP 57). The word of sense data, apprehended directly, is in the class of non-propositional things.

Propositions are more complex than sense data and more complex than simple declaratives Their explication absorbs Moore for years. A proposition is not a collection of words; it is "the sort of thing which those collections express... what those words mean" (SMPP 57). A proposition is apprehended through some act of consciousness – “over and above the hearing of words, some act of consciousness which may be called the understanding of their meaning…what is apprehended in each case is what I mean by a proposition" (SMPP 57-58). We apprehend the proposition through the language that expresses it.

That process of apprehension is divisible into two forms of apprehension. We can apprehend them directly and indirectly (SMPP 67-68). When we understand a statement like “All men are mortal,” we are apprehending the proposition that that statement expresses directly. When, in understanding that proposition, we extend our knowledge (for example, of a particular man), we apprehend indirectly. (Basically, when a proposition becomes grounds for an inference license, we reach that apprehension indirectly; SMPP 68).

While it is hard to nail down what a proposition is, we can discuss propositions. We do, in fact, on a regular basis. Moore notes in the Commonplace Book, while it is true that “you can only hear a sentence,” when you discuss that sentence with someone else, you are typically discussing its meaning, the proposition behind it (362) – not the sentence itself. You are not discussing the sentence, as a grammatical construction of words; you are discussing the proposition apprehended through the sentence.

Before we can close the door on Moore’s claims for the relationship between language and propositions, we need at least a cursory glance at how Moore would describe the operations of mind as it apprehends a proposition through language. Here, we must stumble slightly: Moore left behind few explicit writings on the philosophy of mind, fewer still that would be considered arguments useful for the problem at hand. But we should make the attempt.

Though he published comparatively little on the topic, Moore’s lectures engaged the philosophical exploration of psychology. These lectures complemented the work of his colleagues (for example, Alfred North Whitehead’s Principles of Natural Knowledge in 1919 and Russell’s The Analysis of Mind in 1921). Logician W. E. Johnson, lectured on philosophical psychology, including reference to William James. Cambridge philosopher James Ward was author of the first ever independent entry on psychology for the Encyclopedia Britannica for its 9th edition in 1885. But Moore generated no philosophy of mind or theory of psychology of his own that usefully explicates his theory of propositions.

The project of connecting a working model for the human mind to this theory of propositions would fall to Moore’s student, I. A. Richards.

The Rhetorical Transformation

Richards was a loyal student of Moore, singing his praises for decades And Richards’ early essays (in the prewar and WWI period) were framed within Moore’s intellectual project. That much has been excavated by other scholars (Russo and Constable), and will be summarized here. What is less clear is the transformation in Moore’s project that is visible in Richards’later work. Specifically, Richards holds onto Moore’s belief that the meaning of a sentence is not reducible to the linguistic content of the sentence, but transforms where the meaning might actually be said to reside.

By the 1920s, for both figures, he meaning of an utterance is not to be found in the words for either Moore or Richards. But Richards’ explorations in psychology lead him down a different path than Moore took. Rather than grounding that belief in a metaphysics of the proposition, Richards grounds it in psychology – in the operations of the human mind that Moore left unexplored. This view inflects Richards work through his major treatises on literary theory (Principles of Literary Criticism and Practical Criticism) and on rhetorical theory: the Philosophy of Rhetoric and Interpretation in Teaching.

Richards’ clearest debt to Moore is visible in the early essay “Art and Science.” Like many of the moderns, Richards was interested in the intellectual relationship between aesthetic and scientific truth. He uses this opportunity to debate with art critic Roger Fry about the nature of truth in these different domains. For purposes of arguing with Fry, Richards defines science as the systematic connection of propositions. In contrast, Richards claims that art is interested in propositions without concern for systematicity and logical relations. When we speak of differentiating truth claims in art and science, the difference is not in the nature of propositions, but in the relationships between propositions.

Because Moore’s work is potentially unfamiliar grounds for debate about aesthetic truth, Richards must define them for his audience. He moves first to define a proposition negatively: a proposition is not a fact, a psychological state, or a physical object. Defined positively, it is, exactly, what Moore calls a proposition: the “total meaning” of a sentence which is not reducible to its grammatical components, nor to some empirical reality (“When a proposition is true, there is, of course, a fact which corresponds, but still the proposition is other than the fact”) . Richards here is assuming, unquestioning, the claims that Moore makes for the reality of propositions.

Richards still wants to privilege the study of language, however, and so Richards claims that “we need vehicles by which to approach and gain access to propositions. This is so of all propositions, those with which science as well as those with which art is most concerned.” Here, Richards is making a an argument for his own interests in the study of language.

Within the span of a few years, however, Richards would abandon Moore’s claims for the external reality of propositions. But he would continue to embrace the claims that the meaning of an utterance could not be reduced to the words it contained. The triadic semiotics outlined in Meaning of Meaning would demonstrate that the referent of a symbol is contained neither by the sign nor the signified, but in the minds of the participants in communication. The explorations of the psychology of interpretation in Principles of Literary Criticism and Practical Criticism would demonstrate that the mind constructs meaning, rather than apprehending it. By the time Richards arrives at the interactionist theory of metaphor in The Philosophy of Rhetoric, it becomes clear that meaning is derived from our use of language, rather than contained within it. But details of those innovations and extensions will come in later chapters of this work.

Friday, December 12, 2008


The New Major in Writing Studies at UMD.

The major in writing studies, which offers concentrations in journalism or professional writing, explores writing as a field of inquiry: its production, its circulation, its uses, and its role in the development of individuals, professional communities and societies. The major begins with the history of writing practices, genres, systems of production and distribution, and related institutions. A major in writing studies draws from the resources of linguistics to understand the relationships between writing, cognition and communication. It uses the tools of qualitative, quantitative and humanistic research to advance those explorations. It culminates in a practical examination of writing in traditional and emerging technologies. In core and elective courses, students develop skills in the analysis of rhetorical situations, the selection of media, and the production of texts appropriate for a variety of discourse communities. They also think reflectively and critically about their role as writers for professional and civic life. Students select a journalism or professional writing sub-plan to complete their study.

Journalism: The journalism curriculum engages the study and practice of mass communication in a converged, multimedia environment. It prepares students for careers as reporters, editors, producers and photographers in print, broadcast, and multimedia news. The program is built on a liberal arts foundation, including the history, traditions, routines and practices of journalism. Students learn the skills they need to succeed in the profession, they study its legal and ethical dimensions, and they examine the sociology of news and the context in which journalism is practiced. Students are encouraged to participate in UMD-sponsored internships at news, publishing and broadcast organizations, both locally and across the country. Additionally, students have the opportunity to do extracurricular work at the Student newspaper, public radio and television stations.

Professional Writing: The professional writing curriculum synthesizes 1) knowledge and experience with writing technologies from a liberal arts, as well as a technical, perspective; 2) practice in applying principles of rhetoric, design, cultural theory, and creative thinking to the production of professional writing projects and 3) experience in developing successful relationships with writing/design communities and other audiences. Students are encouraged to participate in UMD-sponsored internships in professional writing, corporate communication, editing, and publishing. Students develop writing skills relevant to professional situations (document design and delivery, the development of varied writing techniques, and persuasive argument) with an understanding of writing’s ethical and social implications.

Writing Studies Core Courses
WRIT 1506 Literacy Technology and Society
and WRIT 2506 Introduction to Writing Studies
and LING 2506 Language and Writing
JOUR 3700 Media Law and Ethics
and WRIT 4250 New Media Writing
and WRIT 4506 Portfolio (1cr)

Professional Writing Electives
WRIT 31xx: Advanced Writing Course (Writing in the Professions)
WRIT 4200 Writing and Cultures
and WRIT 4260 Visual Rhetoric and Culture
and WRIT 4300 Research Methods
[Take 4 or more course(s) totaling no more than 12 credit(s) from the following:JOUR 2001, JOUR 2101, JOUR 2300, JOUR 2400, JOUR 2501, JOUR 4001, JOUR 4500, LING 3102, LING 4195, LING 4400, WRIT 1017, WRIT 4100, WRIT 4197, WRIT 4220, WRIT 4230, WRIT 4290, WRIT 4591, WRIT 4595]

• Must include one WRIT course and one JOUR course.
• WRIT 4197 may be repeated for a total of 6 cr.
• Other JOUR, LING and WRIT designator with departmental approval.

Monday, December 01, 2008

47.0 Document of a Tragedy:
The Jonestown Tapes and the Problems of Documentation

Submission to DOCAM 2009
David Beard
Department of Writing Studies
University of Minnesota Duluth
Humanities 420
Duluth, MN 55812

Word Count: 900 Words plus Appendix
Keywords: Jonestown, testimony, audio-recording, interpretation of documents; theory of documents
Delivery: Oral presentation with PowerPoint, video clip, and audio
Equipment: standard LCD projector with audio

This paper participates in three interlocking bodies of literature:
• the philosophical and institutional study of documents (from Briet to Buckland),
• the subset of trauma studies that examines evidentiary documents,
• and rhetorical studies of testimony.
These three bodies of literature offer theoretical tools for the analysis of documents surrounding the last days of Jonestown. The questions are:
● What do the audio-recordings of discussions on the last night at Jonestown document?
• How can these documents be used?
● And what are the limitations inherent in these documents?
Because this conference is neither about Jonestown nor about cults, of course, the most important question must be: Can the uses and limitations of these specific documents be generalized to the use of historical documents? The Jonestown documents help us demonstrate and elaborate on Day’s claim (at the 2003 DOCAM) that “documents help prove facts, sometimes they are representative of facts, other times they themselves constitute facts by the very fact that they are read or used, and other times they are creative of facts within the context of their being read or used.”

About the Documents
The People's Church audio-recorded a number of their sermons, deliberations and prayerful discussions, so in a certain way, it is not unusual that their last discussion of their revolutionary suicide was also recorded. But, taken on its own, we should be surprised that Jones allowed this last discussion to be recorded. It is possible that Jones imagined that he was documenting an act of revolution, but in fact the arguments constitute a debate about the value of suicide and of possible acts of murder.

The recordings have been transcribed by multiple agencies (academic and law enforcement) available on multiple websites. Unsurprisingly, the documents of the last hours of Jonestown are complex and open to diverging interpretations.

The Problems for Discussion
The Jonestown recordings pose several questions useful for contemporary studies of the document.
• The recording is motivated. Jones is clearly not recording this discussion for his later reference. Before we can assess this document, we must assess the reasons that it exists and whether those reasons inflect it. Specifically, we must be able to assess whether the audio-recording is a speech act to a future listening audience – Jones’ attempt to speak beyond the grave. Here, analogy to Holocaust documents (typically written with a double-voicedness to address history) is instructive and will be outlined.
• The recording is of a conversation –a free-for-all as Jones poses the question about the community’s next act. It is difficult to ascertain what speech acts are responses to which other speech acts – who is talking to whom. The move from a document of a conversation to an attempt to reconstruct the arguments and positions of the individual speakers is always complicated and even more complicated in the case of this document. Here, analysis using work by van Eemeren and Grootendorst on the problems of reconstructing arguments from natural language will be outlined.
• The recording is on an outmoded technology stored in a jungle forty years ago. Audio clarity is limited and this has caused transcription problems. This includes complexities of determining what is said and determining who said it. Single inaudible words can completely reverse the expected meaning of a speaker’s speech act. Disagreements over whether a single woman uttered both of two speech acts can completely reverse our understanding of the woman’s expected position. Improvements in playback may or may not be able to correct some of these problems, but as we get closer to those technological improvements, we also move closer to the days that the survivors will all be dead – and this recorded testimony will rise in importance. Here, reference to contemporary theories of voice and technology (Zizek, Ronell and others) can be instructive, especially those scholars who have analyzed recordings of 9/11 victims [e.g. Joshua Gunn] from this perspective.)
• Finally, the significance of this document shifts with the contexts in which it is interpreted. It is a forensic document, allowing law enforcement to trace responsibility for possible murders in Jonestown (because not all drank the Flavor-Aid willingly). It is a scholarly document, allowing scholars in religious studies to tease out an American model of cult thinking. It is even a sociological document, as the People’s Temple has a place in the history of race relations in the United States. And finally, it has been an ur-text for fictionalizing films about Jonestown, serving as reference for dialogue. Scholars of rhetoric have carefully worked through the use of testimony in different epistemic fields, and those insights will explain the varying uses of this recorded testimony in different disciplinary and professional communities.
The paper concludes by speaking directly to the dialogue between Briet and Day, across the decades at the Document Academy: Briet, in What is Documentation, states that “A document is a proof in support of a fact.” But “sometimes documents help prove facts, sometimes they are representative of facts, other times they themselves constitute facts by the very fact that they are read or used, and other times they are creative of facts within the context of their being read or used” (Day, DOCAM 03). The Jonestown documents may have been Jones’s attempt to “create facts” about his revolutionary end. In fact they are (in their recording, transcription and interpretation) a much more unstable document, manifesting Day’s claims and even more of the theoretical complexity of document studies.

About Jonestown
Jonestown was the camp in Guyana where cult figure Jim Jones relocated with members of his People's Temple in the 1970s. The parish was born of a revolutionary social and economic program -- embracing both socialist principles and racial equality. But the People's Temple faced legal challenges in the United States and so relocated to Guyana. Their legal problems followed them, especially as residents on fixed incomes saw those incomes diverted directly to Guyana to support the compound. As a result, a Congressman and several "concerned family members" visited the People's Temple in Guyana.

A member of the Congressman's entourage was passed a note indicating that some residents were being held against their will. The Congressman himself was attacked at knifepoint by a radical member of the Temple. As a result, the Congressman offered free and safe travel back to the United States the next morning under the protection of the U.S. Government. Another radical member of the Temple pretended to seek safe travel, then opened fire when the group arrived at the airstrip, killing the Congressman and some of the others.

Back at the compound, Jones called a meeting, drawing the members together to discuss their end. They had rehearsed the "revolutionary suicide" by drinking poisoned Flavor-Aid before, so the procedure was known to the members. Now, Jones called the members together to discuss whether, in fact, this last step should be taken. [Historically, we know that they did take the Flavor-Aid, but for purposes of this paper, I'd like to build some tension, some apprehension, about what happens next.]

Thursday, November 27, 2008

27.1 updated from saturday, august 23, 2008, for thanksgiving 2008

27.0 Counting my Blessings

Today, while sitting in Caribou Coffee in Minneapolis, I began to enumerate my blessings. (One of them must be that young people in cities with no family to go home to will staff a coffee shop on a holiday.)

1. A razor-sharp, intelligent, beautiful woman loves me.
1a. She also tolerates my habits (comic collections, action figures, etc.)
1b. She shares a few of those habits. (She should watch Dr. Who, though.)

2. My mother has completed chemotherapy and is responding well to radiation therapy.

3. I have a job that I love.
3a. It's not a job in a deathly oppressive environment (see UWRF).
3b. My colleagues are at minimal encouraging, friendly and often downright supportive.
3c. My institution supports my work.
3d. I was able to spend this month in England working, recharging and researching on the University dime.
3e. The job allows me the flexibility, in terms of time, to prioritize marriage, friends and family while still succeeding.
3f. It's what I've wanted to do since I was 13 -- teach!

4. I have an immense collection of objects that reflect my interests.
4a. While I don't want to be materialist, I have both an intellectual's library and a comic fan's dream, all in my little apartment.

5. I get to travel.
5a. This includes big trips, to England and over break to Boston; small trips to conferences, and quick trips to see family and friends.

6. Luck, blessings, and education have made this all possible, in ways that my economic status by birth would never have been possible.
6a. My grandfather would not even call what I do "work."
6b. My grandfathers, grandmothers and mother sacrificed to make the education possible.
6c. That, a little elbow grease, and a lot of luck worked together to give Kate and me a great life.

7. I also have a network of personal, professional, and casual friends who totally support me, who share my interests, and who spark my imagination.


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

46. Rhetoric in LIFE Magazine

The complete LIFE photos is now up on Google images. This is the first hit for the term "Rhetoric," an auspicious representation of our field.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

45.0 In Press

One of the hardest things about being on leave is juggling. Here is an article accepted for the International Journal of Listening about ethics, juggled into near completion -- the penultimate draft (excerpts, to preserve copyright for the journal).

A Broader Understanding of the Ethics of Listening:
Philosophy, Cultural Studies, Media Studies and the Ethical Listening Subject

Abstract: This article recognizes the importance of traditional, empirical research on listening, but questions whether that research is adequate to ground a theory of ethical listening. By focusing on listening as an activity and cognitive process, that research undermines our recognition of listening's role as a practice in the ethical constitution of the subject. This essay looks at philosophical history (e.g., Foucault), cultural studies of sound (e.g., Schafer, Corbin, Smith) and of music (e.g., Adorno, Wong, Botstein) and media & communication texts (e.g., Finucane & Horavath) to articulate the ways that listening structures our subjectivity and yields limited agency to the individual in constituting our own ethical being. That research in listening is used to refine Ratcliffe's metaphorical model for Rhetorical Listening with reference to the empirical experiences of the ear. The essay closes by generating five key choices we all make in ethical listening, choices that are the basis for evaluating the ethics of our communicative practice: the choice to listen individually, the choice to listen selectively, the choice not to listen, the choice to listen together, and only then, the choice to listen to each other.

The Limitations of the Sociocognitive Perspective on Listening

Listening, as a field of research, has been restricted to a set of voluntary and conscious behaviors that can be enacted more or less effectively on verbal and nonverbal messages. Success as an effective listener, defined in this way, can be assessed through any number of tools (the Brown, Carlsen, Carstens (BCC) Listening Test, the Sequential Tests of Educational Progress: Listening Comprehension (STEP), the Wepman Auditory Discrimination Test, the Kentucky Comprehensive Listening Test, the Listening Styles Inventory and the Listener Preference Profile, to start the list).

There is usefulness in circumscribing listening in this way. It differentiates listening as a behavior open to study from the communication studies perspective from (on the one hand) audiology and (on the other hand) listening as a purely aesthetic activity. It rules out questions of the physiology of hearing (and the interference that things like deafness can cause) from active research in listening. It also rules out questions about the interpretation of music and of ambient noise, as neither of those is considered “messages.” The body of research developed under the rubric of listening (in an intellectual tradition traced back to the pioneering work of Ralph Nichols in the postwar period) has advanced precisely because it has been differentiated from these other phenomena. Like cartographers who are only interested in mapping elevation (without reference to political boundaries, population, etc.), researchers in listening have succeeded in defining their task and doing it well.

As a result of this differentiation, we can describe the skill set of an effective listener and we can diagnose deficiencies in the habits of individual listeners. As McKenzie and Clark call it, the outcome of much listening research is typically “to be interpreted on a continuum from `poor' listener to `good' listener” (33). And that territory is mapped thoroughly.

The underlying models for contemporary listening research are rooted in two complementary research perspectives: the biological/cognitive model and the contextual/behavioral model (as outlined in McKenzie and Clark's “The All-In-One Concept: How Much Must Listening Research Include?”); taken together, in this essay, I will call them a “sociocognitive” model. The sociocognitive model presumes a relatively stable subjectivity, a stable listening self composed of skills and cognitive schemas. The listening self deploys those skills and schemas in rational and analyzable ways to interpret messages.

This circumscription of listening limits our ability to apply current research in listening to questions of ethics. This sociocognitive research fails to account for claims like Charles Hirschkind's assertion that “sermon audition has been identified as essential to cultivating the sensitive heart” (131). Hirschkind tells us that “careful listeners hone those affective-volitional dispositions that both attune the heart to God's word and incline the body toward moral conduct” (132). Hirschkind's work is emblematic of research that this essay pushes forward: research into the ways that the subject is constituted by the act of listening, not separate from it.

This research is important both for its ethical dimension and for its possibilities for integrating listening research into larger issues of critical communication studies. As Deborah Wong tells us, “listening practices are a crucial interstice for commodity capitalism and subject formation. At once intimate, individual, and inflected by global capitalist systems, listening is a site where considerable slippage occurs between agency and coercion” (366). The leap that Wong and Hirschkind make is a leap that the line of research in the sociocognitive vein isn't yet ready to make, but that this essay will argue is imperative.

To develop a sense of the listening subject as an ethical subject, we need to understand the role of listening, broadly conceived, in the constitution of the subject. Foucault makes a persuasive argument for this claim, and so we can start with his work on listening in the classical context. Contemporary cultural studies has picked up this agenda by redefining listening to include the full range of auditory culture, from listening to the broadest soundscapes of ambient noise to listening to music. We pick up this agenda, as well. (There is good reason, from the sociocognitive perspective, to differentiate listening to messages from listening to music, but this differentiation for purposes of research cripples our understanding of the human subject constructed by listening.) This research is consonant with other research in media studies, and that research, as well. The end result is a full spectrum of the practices of the listening subject, grounded in choices that are the basis for evaluating the ethics of our communicative practice.

That catalog of practices make listening a Foucaultian “technology of the self.” Foucault defines a technology of the self in multiple ways. For example, in a 1982 lecture at the University of Vermont, Foucault claims that a technology of the self permits individuals

to effect by their own means, or with the help of others, a certain number of operations on their own bodies and souls, thoughts, conduct and ways of being, so as to transform themselves in order to attain a certain state of happiness, purity, wisdom, perfection or immortality. (“Technologies of the Self” 225)

In another lecture, Foucault defined the technologies of the self as “the procedures … suggested or prescribed to individuals in order to determine their identity, maintain it, or transform it in terms of a certain number of ends” (“Subjectivity and Truth” 87). A technology of the self is essential to the maintenance and the transformation of subjectivity.

Flynn, in “Truth and Subjectivation,” tells us how the Foucaultian idea that the self is the product of practices is different from the self of the Cartesian model:

So the "self" constituted by ascetical practices in the ancient world regarding diet, sex, and the management of one's household -- the temperance (sophrosyne) of classical ethics -- and by the "true life" (alethes bios) of the Cynics, this self is an achievement, not an initial principle. (538)

The sociocognitive approach to listening takes the self as an initial principle, and therein lies its limitation. Listening research should understand its object of study as a practice that constitutes the self, one of many such practices. Rajchman tells us that “Foucault stresses the sheer variety of the ways in which we are constituted” (169); the variety of practices that participate in the constitution of the subject is immense, and certainly can include listening.

In fact, Foucault's historical exegesis of classical culture leads him to recognize that listening can a technology of the self. In his lectures at the College de France in 1981-1982 (collected in The Hermeneutics of the Subject). Foucault spends a good deal of time reflecting on listening in the classical context. But he does so in a very circumscribed way; it is a very particular kind of listening that interests Foucault. Foucault's reflections are summarized in the first section of this essay. In later sections of the essay, it should become clear that listening (in all its diverse practices, whether listening to speech, to music, to the media or to the soundscape) is among the most powerful contemporary “technologies of the self,” in that it has immense power to locate the subject within the structures of power and a web of social relations. From that recognition, we can build some guidelines for ethical choices we all make in listening.

Foucault's Listening as a Technology of the Self in the Classical Context:

Foucault explores listening as a technology of the self in the lectures collected in The Hermeneutics of the Subject: Lectures at the College de France, 1981-1982. In the classical context, listening is distinct from speaking because speaking is a techne, but listening requires, by Foucault's interpretation of Epictetus, experience, practice, and diligence. This opposition means that “an `art of listening' cannot be an `art' in the strict Classical sense” (340). Nonetheless, definite listening practices arise in the classical context.

The first practice of listening (for Plutarch, Epictetus, and Seneca, too) is silence: Initiates into Pythagorean communities were required “to listen, only to listen and entirely without intervening, objecting, giving his opinion” (341). Silence is divine; “it was the gods who taught men silence, and it was men who taught us to speak” (341). Listening implies also a time of reflection within that silence. “We should not immediately convert what we have heard into speech. We should keep hold of it” (342). Foucault cites a more complex passage:

When you have heard someone say something important, do not start quibbling straightaway but try to collect yourself and spend some moments in silence, the better to imprint what you have heard, and undertake a quick self-examination when leaving the lesson you have listened to, or the conversation you have had, take a quick look at yourself in order to see where you are, whether you have heard and learned something new with regard to the equipment (the paraskeue) you already have at hand, and thus see to what extent and how far you have been able to improve yourself. (350)

Listening, clearly, is a moment of silence that makes possible the constitution of the self.

In a strong point of difference from contemporary listening practices, classical listening also requires a “precise physical posture” (343). For effective listening, “the body must stay absolutely calm” (343). Foucault believes that the immobility of the body is “a guarantee of morality” (344). Understanding is to be indicated “by a smile and a slight movement of the head” (345); the body's stillness is essential.

Good listening is not just about receiving a message; it is a dynamic part of the communication process. Listening spurs the speaker: it is “a kind of demonstration of the listener's will, which arouses and supports the master's discourse” (346). Epictetus describes this as the listener's responsibility to “arouse my desire” to speak (347), and so participates in the constitution of the speaker's self, as well.

It is clear, then, that Foucault reflected deeply on a highly structured practice of listening and saw in that practice the possibility that listening was a technology of the self. This essay complements and updates the Foucaultian text by widening our understanding of what listening is, as a concept and a practice. This includes listening to soundscapes, to music, and to media. All of these listening practices participate in the construction of the subject; before we can develop an ethic of listening, we need to understand how these practices interplay.

The Soundscape Defines the Auditory Continuum and Shapes Subjectivity

R. Murray Schafer defines for us the largest single range of listening phenomena unaccounted for in the social scientific study of listening or in the Foucaultian account. Schafer identifies a “soundscape” or an “acoustic environment” as an object of study.

From the critical perspective, Schafer is interested in what he calls “acoustic ecology,” in which a specific sound environment is recorded and analyzed. Schafer recommends “soundwalks,” (212) or walks in which the ambient noises of an environment are recorded electronically; the recordings are logged onto a map of the space. The noises include those sounds that exist regardless of the visitor's presence, like ambient bird noises and water or wind, and those caused by the visitor's presence, like the sound of footfalls on the walking surfaces. In documenting the environment, Schafer is acting both as a preservationist (in that Schafer uses the idea of an ecology to connect the acoustic environment with the natural ecology of the 1970s) and a historian (documenting the acoustic environment for purposes of research). Several other scholars would take up Schafer's historical project and attempt to recover the historical soundscape, and in doing so, they connect the soundscape to the constitution of the subject.

For example, Richard Cullen Rath describes the soundscape of the early North American settlements. Anecdotally, he describes a 1688 Jamaican plantation. There, “a single enslaved African sang the words `Hoba Ognion'” while “the rest of the company of bound Africans would clap their hands and sing `Alla, Alla'.” Rath makes the leap that Schafer does not, when he calls the Jamaican ritual “a key part of community consciousness” (8), thereby tying the soundscape to subjectivity.

Similar research has been done in France. Alain Corbin looks historically to the use of church and village bells to define a “territorial identity” (117). Corbin demonstrates that literally, in the nineteenth century in France, an individual's sense of their home territory could be defined by the soundscape created by the closest audible bells. Bells served, in Corbin's argument, to anchor membership in a community.

According to Corbin, institutions recognized the power of the bells and tried to regularize them and their effects. For example, the Church decreed that Cathedrals held 5-7 bells while local parishes could hold at most three. Monastery bells could not reach louder or further than the local parish bell, and the cathedral bells should always be rung before local bells within their area. In other words, the geographic reach of the church's institutions was reflected by the volume and the sequence of ringing of the bells. The soundscape centered on the bell, and local identity developed around the soundscape.

American cultural historian Mark Smith writes about the ways that contrasting soundscapes helped define the north in opposition to the south in Civil War America. Southerners defined the soundscape of the north in terms of oppressive, industrial noises, while the southerners embraced an agrarian country silence to define their own soundscape. The north, in turn, defined the south not as the land of quiet plantations, but instead as the land of screaming slaves. In either case, a sense of group identification rooted not in politics or fiery oratory, but in a soundscape, is clear.

Our soundscapes have a fundamental impact on the construction of our subjectivity. Before we can parse a theory of ethics in terms of listening, we need to account for the ways that our acoustic environments give contour to our sense of self. And we need to recognize that the fiction under which listening research operates, in which listening, as a communicative act, is distinct from “hearing,” is precisely that: a fiction. When Nichols offered a rule of thumb statistic, that 45% of our time communicating is spent listening, as opposed to spending 30% of our communicative time in speaking and 9% of our time writing, he was effacing the simple truth that we cannot stop listening. It may be possible to isolate 9% of our time spent writing, because writing is entirely a volitional, physical activity. In contrast, we cannot stop making sense of our auditory environment; as long as we are awake, we are interpreting and we are being shaped by sound.

The articulated messages that we are interpreting as part of the conscious act of listening (in the sociocognitive model) are part of a continuum of auditory stimuli that all contribute to the fashioning of our subjectivity and must be understood as part of that.

... to be continued, I hope, in the ethics issue of IJL.

Friday, October 17, 2008

44.0 The Teaser Chapter

This is the set-up chapter, the background info required to make sense of the next, argumentative chapter, of the book. I was going to roll this stuff into an explication of the impact of math on Russell and Russell (and Moore) on Richards, but it just got too convoluted.

So, the taster of the week:

Chapter One:
The Intellectual Ground for the New Rhetoric

It is the central claim of this chapter that any understanding of the New Rhetoric as a body of theory in the first decades of the 20th century depends on an understanding of the site of its intellectual genesis. That site is Cambridge University, where I. A. Richards was to be both student and faculty member (and where Stephen Toulmin would also study). To properly explain this context, I will make three basic claims about Cambridge’s role as an institution in English cultural, life, about its internal academic culture, and about the changes in that culture that made the New Rhetoric possible in the interwar period.

Cambridge (and Oxford) are unique among universities throughout the world for their college structure, which yields deep effects in terms of the socialization of its undergraduates, the role of religion in university life, and the spheres of intellectual work encouraged within the university.

The Cambridge intellectual context prior to the first world war was dominated primarily by mathematics and secondarily by classics. This dominance inflected work in philosophy (then called “moral sciences”). This philosophical work would shape the New Rhetoric. I. A. Richards, as a student in Moral Sciences as an undergraduate, was deeply influenced by philosophical work in his own writings on communication, literary theory and rhetoric

The Cambridge intellectual context of the interwar period was predisciplinary. Organization of the faculty into departments reflective of disciplines did not happen until the interwar period. As a result, a great deal of interdisciplinary research and teaching was possible in the Cambridge context, which in turn inflected rhetorical study in I. A. Richards.

This chapter outlines the broadest Cambridge context (as well as the specific context of Magdalene College where Richards studied and worked) and begins to locate I. A. Richards would assume within this context.

Cambridge Life

Cambridge was born as no other medieval university was born. The standard myth involves faculty fleeing Oxford after a few of their number were accused of crimes. They relocated to the monastic setting of Cambridge, and slowly (as the faculty began restarting their professional work) Cambridge became a typical medieval university. As a typical medieval university, Cambridge included in its curriculum the teaching of rhetoric. According to the standard history of the university, the medieval curriculum consisted of the trivium that scholars in rhetoric know so well, and that rhetoric was divisible into activities like drama, epistolary practice, and homiletics. And so Cambridge developed as many or most medieval universities would, with one substantial difference.

Cambridge is a University composed of colleges. Where American universities are composed of colleges which are identified by the subjects taught by the faculty within them (the College of Liberal Arts, etc), Cambridge colleges are embedded in a different tradition. As of 2008, there are 31 colleges at Cambridge; some are medieval in their origins (Clare College, 1326), while some are contemporary in their aim and design (Churchill College, 1960). At different times in their history, all have been restricted only to men; some have been restricted only to women. Some have admitted only graduate students, or “mature” undergraduates. Only rarely (as in the case of Churchill college, for example, which emphasizes the sciences and technology) have restrictions or emphases based on field of inquiry been deployed.

To measure the social and intellectual climate in the colleges, it may be helpful to know who enrolled. While certain of the colleges maintained a religious orientation, most of the students were from the business or middle class. Between 1800-1899, more than 30% of all students were children of the clergy. Between 1800 and 1849, the children of landowners accounted for 31% of the student body, a share that drops to 19% between 1850-1899. As enrollment by the landowning classes decreased, In the meantime, the children of the middle class (bankers, lawyers, civil servants) became a larger portion of the student body (Lubenow 94).

For hundreds of years, the colleges were largely autonomous entities, admitting students by their own standards in very small numbers (each college admitting as few as ten students or less, in some cases). While some colleges attracted faculty in certain areas because of their intellectual tradition or their material resources, if there were intellectual strengths among the fellows of a college, these “local concentrations of talent” were the result of tradition as much as curricular intent (Brooke, History IV, 474). Haffenden describes the typical perspective on the college: “ a residential club for young gentlemen who wished to develop their faculties in intimate association with one another and with as little interference as possible from directors of studies and dons in general” (100). It was the relationship to other students in your college that mattered most to the young men at Cambridge in the 19th century.

College Fellows, in addition to being responsible for the academic preparation of the students, also participated in athletics, indicating their embeddedness in the whole development of the student; this kind of social integration resulted in “friendliness, mutual respect and a sense of common effort” (Rothblatt 209) that typified the experience of the student in the colleges.

The colleges served effectively as a means to connect students with alumni and with other students in preparation for entry to middle-class life, but could also serve, problematically, to insulate students. While the University was officially and ultimately responsible for the students, jurisdictional disputes, in fact, often tended to favor the college. For example, throughout the 19th century, University statute demanded that students accused of sexual offences be reported to the University for disciplinary action. In fact, the students were more commonly reported to the Colleges, where discipline was far more lenient. (This story smacks of sexist creepiness. Should I delete it? (Rothblatt 184).

The university also insulated students from the Cambridge city community, the town and gown. According to Rothblatt, “walls, gates and ditches surrounding the colleges were meant to restrict student mobility and prevent townsmen from disturbing the college peace… Proctors flanked by subordinates called ‘bulldogs’ policed the streets in order to prevent town and gown conflicts and to enforce regulations regarding academic dress” (184). The split between the privileged students and the average resident of Cambridge was a defining experience for the young undergraduate.

The place of religion in the social life of the colleges was also complicated in part because any visitor to Cambridge, even today, sees the prominent chapels (some “chapels” larger than most town churches) in all of the old colleges. These chapels are as much designed to promote the religious culture of the colleges as to honor the royalty and others who funded them, to be sure. But religion was part of University culture in the 19th century. Masses were well-attended. And institutional events occurred in the chapels: fellows were appointed in the chapels, for example, a situation that some lecturers, fellows and others bristled at, to say the least.

The apparent dominance of religious culture spawned a sub-culture of intellectual resistance. Lubenow writes that the intellectual circle the Cambridge Apostles were “de rigueur… agnostic.” (406). Ogden’s Cambridge Heretics, for example, were another intellectual club devoted to the discussion of religion, art and philosophy, with an agnostic membership and an antipathy toward the religious conditions of the college clear from their name. Resistance to religion was complex and polyvalent. Some Cambridge figures believed that religion was the “cunning invention of priests and kings;” others accepted that religion serves a useful social function and met certain primitive instincts (Lubenow 404). In any event, religion was a wedge issue well into the 20th century – a wedge issue brought to a head by the works of (for example) Bertrand Russell.

Given the loose administrative structures tying the largely autonomous colleges together in the 19th century, the only promise of standardization in education was found in the tripos system. The tripos is a kind of honors exit exam that guaranteed that a level of mastery of a subject had been achieved before graduation. (Not all 19th century students sought honors status through the tripos; students with secure financial futures, for example the landed classes, would often simple seek to “pass” to graduation, and were called “poll men.”)

The tripos was very different than many of the standardized exams given college graduates today (for example, bar exams for lawyers or CPA exams for accounting majors or PRAXIS exams for education majors). It was closer to a formal examination of liberal education. Rothblatt describes it best: “The man who understood the principles of argument and knew how to derive generalizations from a body of actual material could subsequently teach himself any subject” (182). The tripos, then, was rigorous without being arcane.

The most prominent and popular of tripos in the late 19th century were mathematics and classics. As we measure the Cambridge influences on the New Rhetoric, we need to look first at the dominance of math and classics.

The Dominance of Mathematics and Classics in the Curriculum

In the 19th century, “mathematics and classics were the road to liberal learning and the liberal imagination” (Lubenow 119), working together “in a common literary culture” (23). Neither was quite what these fields of inquiry are today – rarified and overspecialized. Instead, a degree in mathematics or classics at Cambridge was a fully liberal education. And it was a popular one. Two thirds of students sitting for Honors exams between 1874 and 1885 were seeking degrees in mathematics or classics. Between 1880 and 1890,

125 students took the Mathematical Tripos
109 students took the Classical Tripos
8 students took the Moral Sciences Tripos
66 students took the Natural Sciences Tripos
23 students took the History Tripos.

The dominance of math and classics us clear (as is the incredibly small size of the University). The new fields of study (Moral Sciences, Natural Sciences, etc.) found legitimacy when they “mimicked the objectives of classical and mathematical learning” (Lubenow 10), with their close connection to the liberal arts.

The 19th century Tripos in mathematics included tests on “arithmetic, geometry, algebra, trigonometry, mechanics, optics, astronomy and Newton’s Principia” (Lubenow 119), indicating that mathematics was neither completely theoretical nor applied. It was both an object of study in its own right and a tool for research. The same could be said of its complementary field of study, classics.

Classics in 19th century Cambridge was not the rarified study of bones, pots, and philology. Instead, according to Lubenow, “classical learning had a critical function. It provided a point of purchase from which to evaluate experience… the agent for mental cultivation and for developing feelings of beauty” (22). This is the 19th century sense of humane education manifest.

Classics, after the establishment of the area of study in 1822, was an elective series of courses to be completed only after the completion of a series of courses and the Tripos in mathematics. In 1849, an ancient history paper became a formal part of the Tripos exam (Stray 6). When classics at Cambridge was freed from its mathematical core curriculum in 1854, it needed some replacement, some guarantee of academic rigor. Philology was that new guarantor. John Robert Seeley, a prominent figure in Cambridge classics in the 19th century, argued that classics, as the study of syntax and philology, was training in analytic ways to think, en route to broader work on “the nature of man and society” (Rothblatt 166). His goal was “to train men for leadership rather than scholarship” in the classics curriculum (Rothblatt 179). At the end of the century, R. C. Jebb continued the belief that linguistic foundations for classics were central to a humanizing education, because “the proper end of knowledge and the proper end of teaching was conduct. Education was a means to a better self” (220-221). And that better self included women: classics, especially archaeology, was a popular field of study for women entering Cambridge.

In 1872, the Royal Commission recommended that the Classics tripos be subdivided. The first part included primarily questions in a “liberal education” understanding of the classics, with some beginning exposure to philogy. The second part, not taken by all students, was subdivided into literature, philosophy, history, archaeology and comparative philology. Only the literature section was compulsory (Stark 8). (Scholars of rhetoric will note that this is the period that formal study of rhetoric evaporates from the organized Cambridge curriculum, inside and outside classics.) The growth of literary study in the classics curriculum would have a profound impact on the development of multiple fields of study, including the field of English literature.

The first designated King Edward VII Professor of English Literature was classicist A. W. Verrall, whom Chainey claims “endeavoured to treat Greek and Latin works as living literature, not merely as grammatical texts. This approach would in the end energize the teaching of English as English manifested in the reorganization of the Cambridge curriculum in the 20th century.

The Reorganization of the Curriculum in the 20th Century

Apologists for Cambridge often argued that the German research university as a model for education was fundamentally incompatible with “a characteristically English concern for the moral welfare of students” (Rothblatt 175). The tension between the traditional model and the German model was clear by the interwar period, when the government began to take an interest in the structures of education at Cambridge. As the national government diverted funds into Cambridge, they wanted increased efficiency and at least some input into programs and majors (for example, agriculture).

At the behest of the government that was more and more deeply subsidizing Cambridge, a move toward centralizing administration of teaching and research manifested. A central, University office began to schedule teaching and to hire instructors; these faculty were paid by the University, instead of the colleges. This relationship, according to Concise, is “ineluctably problematic,” as the university controls the course offerings but has no control over the admission standards and strategies for the student body that take the courses.

Beyond these administrative concerns, the centralization of the university had immense impact on the intellectual climate. The construction of disciplinary “silos” for intellectual work becomes dominant, as fellows began to work more intimately with their disciplinary colleagues, across the colleges, instead of collegially with their colleagues in their own college. Such disciplinary crystallization would eventually result in the offering of the PhD at Cambridge in 1919 and the eventual requirement for the PhD to teach at Cambridge (Howarth 86). After centuries, Cambridge finally came to take on the structure and appearance of the modern university.

While multiple disciplines blossomed in this period (some, like agriculture, heavily subsidized by the state), a few were of particular importance for the development of the New Rhetoric: Philosophy (Moral Sciences) and English.

The Moral Sciences Tripos was founded in 1851, but it was not, generally speaking, a popular course of study until the interwar period. Brooke tells us that in 1905, there were five male students and one female, as compared to four examiners on the faculty. Despite the small number of students, however, it is fair to say that moral sciences were the intellectual center of Cambridge life in the first decades of the 20th century. And it was sprawling, intersecting with psychology, mathematics, and other disciplines. (In the interwar period, F. C. Bartlett became the engine in establishing experimental psychology [Brooke, History IV 499] as an alternative to the psychology rooted in the philosophy of mind. This did not end such research, though; the work on philosophy of mind started by Ward as Professor of Moral Philosophy and Logic [beginning in 1897] would continue [Lubenow 339].) Moral Sciences broke the ground, in terms of the philosophy of language, where New Rhetoric would grow.

English, as a disciplinary formation at Cambridge, did not take root until the interwar period. There were courses offered in Anglo-Saxon and Chaucer, but the faculty teaching those courses “resisted from the start any alliance with belles letters” (Brooke, History IV, 444). Their research was largely linguistic and philological. In 1910, the King Edward VII Professorship of English Literature (held by Verrall, discussed above) was established, the first faculty line in “literary and critical” research. By 1916, Sir Arthur Quilller-Crouch had begun to draft the Tripos in English, a move welcomed by the linguists and philologists (who believed that they might teach smaller, more focused courses by differentiating the course of study of medieval languages from the course of study of literature in modern English). It is into this newly born disciplinary formation that Richards would become a lecturer, then a fellow, finally a world-renowned scholar.

On Richards’ Intellectual Home: Magdalene College

Magdalene is the youngest of the old colleges and the only one of the old colleges to be located on the far side of the river Cam from the center of town. As such, it has often been considered marginal. It was founded on the site of a Benedictine Monk’s Hostel (intentionally sited, then, across the river from the bustle of the city) in 1428 (Haffenden, Madarins, 98), reorganized and renamed in 1542, and struggled through the Enlightenment and 19th century, sometimes enrolling fewer than ten students. At the beginning of the 20th century, Magdalene, this poor sister of a college, had only 40 students on its books and just five fellows.

Historians of the College note that A. C. Benson was in large part responsible for a turnaround in the College’s fortunes. Benson was hired as a fellow in 1904, named vice-master in 1912 and master in 1915. According to Martin Garrett, “During the twenty-one years of his involvement with the college he transformed it froim a small, poor, failing institution into a respected and confident one” (24), in part subsidizing College growth with income from his popular novels. But that process was just beginning as Richards became a student and later faculty member at the College. The limited resources were of little concern to a precocious young mind like that of I. A. Richards. Magdalene was the gateway to a variety of intellectual experiences with some of the dominant personalities of the age.

The Early Life of I. A. Richards

Richards was born in Sandbach, Cheshire, in 1893. He was the third son of William Armstrong Richards (a chemical engineer) and Mary Anne Haigh. His father died in 1902. As a child, he read Kipling and Verne and Stevenson; he worked with model trains. In 1905, he entered the Junior (boarding) school at Clifton College, with an enrollment of 528 boys. There, Richards studied Latin, Greek, English, French, Mathematics, among other subjects; he also suffered his first bout with tuberculosis.ii After a recuperative period, he returned to Clifton in 1908, where he dropped out of his classics courses and switched from the liberal arts curriculum at Clifton to a polytechnic (“Military and Engineering”) curriculum, where he quickly rose to top of the class.

At age 16, while still at student at Clifton, Richards got his first taste of teaching through the Extension movement at the Adult School, where Richards taught the Book of Job as a work of literature.iii

Richards entered Cambridge as a student in 1911. Magdalene (Richards’ college) was very small: it admitted roughly 25 students a year.iv Richards first studied Medicine and History, later leaving those subjects for Moral Sciences. According to Russo, the revolution of G. E. Moore and Bertrand Russell against Hegelian idealism had occurred,” v and Richards was to benefit from this dynamic intellectual environment. His teachers were J. M. E McTaggart (an idealist philosopher) and logician W. E. Johnson.vi He would soon fall under the influence of Bertrand Russell, G. E. Moore, John Ward, later Wittgenstein and other intellectual giants of Cambridge.

He received first-class honors on the tripos exams in 1915, only to suffer from tuberculosois in 1916. This bout with illness kept him out of the war. He recuperated in Wales and in the Alps, where he learned a love of mountaineering.vii At one point, he had intended life as a climbing guide; mountaineering remained his passion for decades. In 1917, his convalescence complete, he returned to Cambridge.

By 1919, Richards was invited to join Cambridge’s new English Faculty. Mansfield Forbes offered Richards a position as a lecturer in the English tripos, an area of student examination initiated in 1917.viii As a lecturer, Richards could collect 15 shillings from each student attending 3 or more lectures of the eight delivered in a term; this was not a salaried position.ix In a letter to Forbes in 1919, Richards outlines the content of his lectures on the “Theory of Criticism” (Selected Letters 14-15); Richards told Forbes that he would offer the following lectures series in the summer of 1920:

October: Theory of Criticism; Grammar and the Art of Writing
Lent: Theory of Criticism; The Novel
Summer: Theory of Criticism; Recent Novels (Selected Letters 20).

The instability of this life as a kind of adjunct faculty member did not last long. In 1922, Richards’ career was secured through a College Lectureship at Magdalene, one of the colleges at Cambridge. He became a Fellow of the College four years later (Russo, Complementarities ix).

The time that Richards spent at Magdalene was among the most fruitful of his career. The bulk of that good work can be seen as an attempt to wrestle with Moore’s passion for language, though his research would lead him in very different directions. The aim of that good work can be seen as an attempt to refine Russell’s (and later Wittgenstein’s) understanding of language. The products of that good work are The Meaning of Meaning, Principles of Literary Criticism and Practical Criticism. The effects of that good work can be called the beginning of the reinstantiation of rhetoric, though Richards did not know the term, in the crucible that was the Cambridge context.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

43.0 New Journal: SUBJECTIVITY

by Richard L. W. Clarke
Subjectivity (previously International Journal of Critical Psychology) is an exciting and innovative transdisciplinary journal in the social sciences. Re-launched by Palgrave Macmillan in 2008, it examines the socio-political, cultural, historical and material processes, dynamics and structures of human experience. Subjectivity has been an important concept for academic research as well as for intervening in social and political life since the 1960s and 1970s. The idea of subjectivity had a catalytic impact in changing the terms of the debate in the social sciences: in anthropology, geography, psychology, sociology, post colonial theory, gender studies, cultural and media studies, social theory as well as the humanities. Subjectivity attempts to capture ongoing debates and activities and to foster a discourse on subjectivity which goes beyond traditional dichotomies between the various disciplines. The journal aims at a re-prioritization of subjectivity as a primary category of social, cultural, psychological, historical and political analysis. It wishes to encourage a variety of transdisciplinary engagements with this topic in theory as well as empirical research, and, accordingly, to advance the potential of engagement with subjectivity/subjectivities as a locus of social change and a means of political intervention.

Free access to 22.1 (2008):


"Creating Subjectivities" by Lisa Blackman, John Cromby, Derek Hook, Dimitris Papadopoulos and Valerie Walkerdine
Abstract Full Text PDFTop of page

Original Articles:

"I Eat an Apple: on Theorizing Subjectivities" by Annemarie Mol
Abstract Full Text PDF

"Experimenting with Refrains: Subjectivity and the Challenge of Escaping Modern Dualism" by Isabelle Stengers
Abstract Full Text PDF

"What Divides the Subject? Psychoanalytic Reflections on Subjectivity, Subjection and Resistance" by Lynne Layton
Abstract Full Text PDF

"Subjectivity or Psycho-Discursive Practices? Investigating Complex Intersectional Identities" by Margaret Wetherell
Abstract Full Text PDF

"I Just Don't Know What Got into Me: Where is the Subject?" by Nigel Thrift
Abstract Full Text PDF

"A. N. Whitehead and Subjectivity" by Paul Stenner
Abstract Full Text PDF

"Intersubjectivity and Intercorporeality" by Thomas J. Csordas
Abstract Full Text PDF

Visit the journal homepage here: http://www.palgrave-journals.com/sub/index.html.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

42.0 US or America

From Inaugural Americans
from Language Log by Mark Liberman
more at http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/

In a comment on my post about relative word frequencies in the vice-presidential debate, Roo suggested that there's "a difference in mindset/strategy between conservative and liberal politicians", where conservatives tend to use "America" while liberals use "United States". While this was true in that debate, I'm not sure whether it's true in general. As a start towards addressing the question, I took a quick look at the frequency of words based on the morpheme America (e.g. America, American, Americans) in the repository of inaugural addresses at the American Presidency Project.

The results show an overall rising trend, but no clear conservative/liberal division (at least none that's clear to me)

Monday, October 06, 2008

41.0 Talk like a Palin Day (linked to Shelf Check)

From http://shelfcheck.blogspot.com/2008/10/shelf-check-281.html

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

40.1 Contra the Rosewater Chronicles: On the Public Address Conference

This is part of my ongoing descent into crankiness.
NOTE: Revised after two hours away. Crankiness diminished.


On the Public Address Conference and More

In the last two weeks, I have been to Madison twice to attend conferences en route to visiting my mother. The first of these was mentioned in an earlier post, The Culture of Print in Science, Technology, Engineering and Medicine. The other, the 20th annual biennial Public Address Conference, has been mentioned earlier and treated as a valuable experience by colleagues of mine. That my puzzlement at their experience has spurred in me a need to take some inchoate feelings and write.

To the extent that the powerful emotions visible in the Rosewater Chronicles 'blog and its commentators reflect their relationship to the honoree at the conference, I demur. But there are some other things that I must point out, with frission.

1. From the keynote, I felt a bit of frustration. The Amateur Humanist has done a good job of parsing the argument of the keynote, and I am grateful for that. I am not a public address critic, and so the genre of the paper may be alien to me. It seemed a bit theory-heavy -- front loading discussions of liberalism before conducting textual analysis. I became a teacher of rhetoric because I am interested in language. Language enables, produces, and generates as by-products some exciting effects, cognitively, intersubjectively and socially. So my desire is to see a paper start with the language, in action, rather than the political philosophy. (But then, this is a public address conference, not a rhetoric conference, and so I need to temper.)

2. Where there was rhetoric, in the first two days of the conference, it was formalist in its orientation. This formalism was discussed as the objection to the "feminine style" line of research -- that focus on the formal features of the style swamped its larger implications for public address studies. So the community does reflect on the formalism that seems to dominate.

This formalism is why projects on visual rhetoric as a form of public address are less persuasive than similar, media studies criticism: by locating the cultural power of images in formal properties, rather than the systems of distribution and legitimation that stand behind those images, they lose me as an audience.

(Note: There were papers that avoided this formalist imperative, and I enjoyed them.)

3. Anne Davis, one of the most precocious and insightful minds I've been able to work with at UMD, now a student at UWM, pointed out the startling lack of diversity in the audience on Friday night (during a mention of Civil Rights in the keynote), and it stung on Saturday AM. Then, a number of images not of people being lynched were described as participating in the style of lynching photography, utilizing its tropes. I don't know that we gain a whole lot in calling photos of Rodney King lynching photos, especially if we are mostly talking about formal similarities primarily. And I was uncomfortable talking about these powerful cultural images in such an undiverse community. There's some awkward feeling of reinscribing the content of the picture in observing it on a powerpoint in an "executive education center."

4. The Public Address community is in transition, to be sure. Dr. Zarefsky, the smartest man in the room, in my book, because he is the man most committed to disciplinary leadership as well as quality scholarship, said that the PAC was moving away from great oratory as a model for scholarship toward "the study of situated rhetorical action," a gesture that is both inspiring (in opening the doors of the community) and confusing, because it seems to me that all rhetorical action is situated. Indeed, if a linguistic act is not a response to the conditions/situation of its utterance/transcription, it isn't rhetorical, is it? There is more to be parsed, there, to be sure; as I said, I think Zarefsky is the smartest man in the room.

4a. I loved Aune's talk, and Josh's presence was a godsend. I regret that I missed his talk.

4b. The panel on Bitzer was amazing. I had never considered whether there was a normative component to Bitzer's work. Bitzer, who is among the smartest men in the room, gave an excellent reply, one that enriched my research because it helped me see Bitzer's relationship not just to Malinowski and Richards, but to the analytic tradition that Malinowski, Richards and Bitzer all descend from. But it seemed like he carried a 30-year-old grudge with Vatz. I don't know what to do with that. Maybe it was a rhetorical flourish, to entertain the audience.

5. That said, what the Rosewater Chronicles blog so positively experienced appeared to be, from the outside in a first-time observer, an air of inwardness. The sense at the conference was one of "arrival," of achieved legitimacy. The lure, to new visitors -- grad students -- was one of aspiration: "you can be one of us." But us, in this case, is them -- the researchers (largely) invited to present.

The whole feeling reminds me of a good book (caveat: have not read it all, yet): Sosnoski's "Token Professionals and Master Critics," which "argues that literary studies trains its practitioners to imagine as the professional norm a sort of career that few of us can ever hope to attain--that of the master critic, or leading intellectual, freed from the demands of service or undergraduate teaching (or, really, much teaching at all) in order to concentrate on 'his own work,' cutting-edge scholarship. In contrast, Sosnoski suggests, most of us end up viewing ourselves as token professionals, who accept the role of the master critic as an ideal, or even a norm, but who spend the vast bulk of our careers doing quite different work: teaching, administering, mentoring, and the like. Thus much of the profession is trained to think of the work we do as inadequate, second-rate" (CCC Review).

My great anxiety is that the PAC conference manifests and reinforces these professional norms. At the second-day luncheon, a young lady asked about the place of pedagogy in the conference. The answer was awkward -- you can take these papers home and work their ideas into your classes, was the gist. That was not the question. But this conference isn't prepared to answer it.

Should it be positioned to discuss pedagogy? The weakness in the research/teaching split is clear when you think about the current fate of the PA curriculum. (How many schools have the survey courses in "British and/or American PA"?_ These are the leaders who could and should grapple with the decline of public address courses in Departments of Communication across the country where such pedagogy would be manifest. (Even Minnesota, where the honoree teaches, lacks a real public address curriculum. What hope do liberal art colleges have of holding onto those courses?)


There is a caveat here. Part of this post stems, of course, in my own frustration. I was once great friends with some of the folks who really enjoyed the community of the conference, and still count myself good colleagues with many, near-friends with some, and very good friends with Josh (no matter the years). My absence from any sense of community could stem from simply not being the honoree's student, or from not being a real public address scholar/teacher. But it could stem from being a token professional, rather than a master critic, in conditions where position as master critic earns one entrance. And if I am reading this correctly, the Public Address conference is both an amazing experience and an eventually counterproductive one for many of the graduate students who will attend, as it becomes larger and more important to attend if you are not presenting. Because many attend who will eventually be the token professional.


All that said: I missed the third day of the conference, because my mother was mastectomized while Angela Ray was speaking. So all of this reflects a partial view. And it reflects a view based on a reading of the "Landmark Essays in Public Address" as my map of the sub-discipline -- little better than Cliffs Notes, I know.

(I am interested in rhetoric as a field of theorizing and of institutional pedagogy from a historical perspective; the presence of rhetoric in the public, political sphere is tangential to me. So maybe I missed the boat, entirely, because, as one colleague put it, "this is not my tribe.")

And my head was probably elsewhere.


The conference was provocative, and provocative things deserve the best I can give, in terms of evaluation, discussion and response. I enjoyed the conference, and while I don't know that I will attend, again, in two years, I will certainly follow what happens in Public Address as a subfield.