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.


Saturday, September 27, 2008

27.9 CFP

LITA scholarships in Library and Information Science

The Library and Information Technology Association (LITA), a division of the American Library Association, announced that applications are being accepted for the three following scholarships:

LITA/Christian Larew Memorial Scholarship (sponsored by Informata.com) for $3,000
LITA/LSSI Minority Scholarship for $2,500
LITA/OCLC Minority Scholarship for $3,000

Details: ala.org.
27.8 CFP

Manuscripts sought for LITA/Ex Libris student writing award

CHICAGO - The Library and Information Technology Association (LITA), a division of the American Library Association (ALA), is offering an award for the best unpublished manuscript submitted by a student or students enrolled in an ALA-accredited graduate program. Sponsored by LITA and Ex Libris, the award consists of $1,000, publication in LITA’s refereed journal, Information Technology and Libraries (ITAL), and a certificate. The deadline for submission of the manuscript is Feb. 28, 2009. Details: ala.org
40.0 On Public Address

The 10th biennial public address conference was held at UW-Madison this weekend.

The PAC is unique because it is not sponsored by a scholarly society or a single institution. Instead, it appears every other year at a volunteer institution; it exists because its persistent quality inspires schools to want to host it.

And it is a quality conference. All papers are delivered in plenary. Each is upwards of a half an hour long, followed by an extensive and incisive response (usually as good as the paper), and 20 minutes to discuss.

I'll post more on this conference later. I am at Mom's now, getting the house set up for her convalescence.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

37.5 Everyone is Hiring in all the Good Places

Note that the application deadline for this position is October 15.

I'd be happy to correspond with anyone interested in applying for this
position or to meet with you at CPTSC next week.

Specialist in technical communication to teach a variety of
introductory, upper-level and graduate technical communication courses,
including courses offered as online distance communication classes.
Teaching load is 12 credits (3 courses) per semester. Also
requires continued scholarly activity, undergraduate and graduate
advising, service on MA thesis committees and department

• Terminal degree in technical, scientific, or professional
communication or related field by start date.
• College-level teaching or industry training or equivalent experience.
• Research interests and specialties that expand and strengthen the
current technical communication curriculum (e.g., instructional
design, proposals, training, single sourcing, medical writing, science
writing, or business communication).
• Experience with online technical communication classes.
• Relevant scholarly activity.
• A demonstrated commitment to diversity.
• The legal right to work in the United States as of the date an offer
of employment is accepted.

• Industry experience.

The English Department at Minnesota State University, Mankato includes
master's level programs in Creative Writing (MFA), English Studies,
Literature, Technical Communication, and TESL, and undergraduate
programs in the same fields (except TESL) and in English education.
There are also undergraduate minors in linguistics and film. The
English department is also responsible for the university's large
composition program and offers general education courses in
literature, film, popular culture, and humanities. For further
information, visit the department website at: http://english.mnsu.edu.

Full notice of vacancy available at http://www.mnsu.edu/humanres/MSU-VAC_NOT/EnglishTC.pdf
37.4 Work in one of the Best Programs I know of...

Position: Assistant Professor
Salary: $50,000 to less than $60,000
Institution: University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee
Location: Wisconsin
Date posted: 9/23/2008

Tenure-track position. We seek an energetic scholar/teacher whose work focuses on theories of professional/technical writing and who has a strong research agenda with potential for solid publications. Especially desirable would be a demonstrated expertise in one or more of the following areas: ethics; cultural, cross-cultural, and global issues; environmental rhetoric; and business writing.

The successful hire will teach and help develop face to face and online graduate seminars and undergraduate courses; assume a leadership role in the professional writing program's student organization and advisory board; contribute regularly to interdisciplinary and outreach initiatives across the department (with its specializations in rhetoric and composition, literature, modern studies, linguistics, and creative writing), college, and campus and in southeast Wisconsin; and eventually administer undergraduate and graduate programs in professional and technical writing. Salary dependent upon qualifications and experience.

PhD required within a year of hire; workplace experience is highly desirable.

Please provide a letter of application, vita, a brief writing sample, and three letters of reference
by November 1; review of applications will begin on November 15. Applications must be made
at http://www.jobs.uwm.edu/applicants/Central?quickFind=50802.
37.3 Work down the hall from me.

This department hired a Texas Tech STC grad last time, and she is happy.

You could work at UMD, down the hall from me.

Job Code and Title (9901) Regular Faculty Tenure-Track Series
Position Title Tenure-Track Faculty - Business Communications
Job Code 9901
Requisition Number 158249
Position Category Faculty and Instructional
Appointment Term B = 9 month
Appointment Type Probationary; tenure track fac (N)
Work Hours
Work Days
Total Hours or % Appointment 100%
Full/Part-time Full-Time
Starting Hourly Rate
Department Name UMD Fin/Mgmt Info Sciences (194A)
College or Admin Unit UMD Business & Economics, School of
Campus Location Duluth
Job Open Date 09-22-2008
Job Close Date Open Until Filled
Internal Promotional Consideration
Required/Preferred Qualifications Essential: ABD in the Business Communications discipline or a related field (e.g. English/Composition, Communications, Business Education, etc.) with emphasis on business writing and communications; candidate must have a clear plan to complete degree by 8/29/2010. Ability to conduct research leading to publication in refereed academic journals within the area of Business Communications. Demonstrated evidence of effective communication skills appropriate for a faculty position. Applicants must exhibit a willingness to fulfill service responsibilities/expectations to colleagues, the department, School, campus, community and professional organizations. Applicants must be academically qualified as per LSBE definition (visit http://www.d.umn.edu/lsbe/aqpqdefinition.php for this definition).
Preferred: Ph.D. in the Business Communications discipline or a related field (e.g. English/Composition,
Communications, Business Education, etc.) with emphasis on business writing and communications. Successful collegiate
teaching in Business Communications, documented research record of published refereed articles in Business
Communications, and practitioner experience in the area of Business Communications.
Duties/Responsibilities The University of Minnesota Duluth Department of Finance and Management Information Sciences (FMIS) seeks applications for one tenure-track faculty position in the area of Business Communications beginning fall 2009. The selected individual's primary teaching responsibility will be the undergraduate level Business Communication course with the possibility of developing and teaching an advanced level course in the future, and providing advisement to students. Currently the teaching load is five sections per academic year. The position also carries the expectation that the individual exhibit a commitment to intellectual inquiry by conducting academic research in the business communications area leading to publication in refereed journals and other outlets as described in School documents. In addition, the individual will participate in the service/outreach activities of the School through endeavors such as school and campus committee membership and leadership, student club advisement, and linkages with the local /regional business community.
Program/Unit Description Approximately 1,900 undergraduate and 70 graduate students are currently enrolled in the school's programs. Both the undergraduate and graduate programs are internationally accredited by The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB International). There are currently 48 full-time faculty members in five academic departments: Accounting, Economics, FMIS, Management Studies and Marketing. The School offers the Bachelor of Accounting, Bachelor of Business Administration and MBA degrees. Regional outreach is accomplished primarily through activities of the School's Center for Economic Development, the Center for Economic Education and the Bureau of Business and Economic Research. Additional information about the School and its programs can be obtained by accessing the LSBE web site (http://www.d.umn.edu/lsbe).
Application Instructions Please apply via the Employment System at https://employment.umn.edu/applicants/Central?quickFind=76366

Completed applications must include attachments as follows: a letter expressing interest in this position, a current vita, names, addresses, phone numbers and e-mail addresses of three references, and unofficial transcript(s) (attach as Additional Document 1). The Screening Committee will begin its review of complete applications November 7, 2008, and continue until the position is filled.

For more information, please contact:
Dr. Shee Q. Wong, FMIS Department Head
University of Minnesota Duluth
LSBE 335, 1318 Kirby Drive
Duluth, MN 55812
Email: swong@d.umn.edu
Phone: 218.726.8506
Fax: 218.726.7516

The University of Minnesota is an equal opportunity educator and employer.

Monday, September 22, 2008

39.0 Arguing for Your Life: A New Dialectical Analysis of Jonestown

Below, find my draft of my current Minnesota Philosophical Association submission. Rough around the edges, especially in offering a contribution to theory, but there you go. The narrative of the People's Temple is terriby rough, although I only have 20 minutes, so I justify that way.

Arguing For Your Life
A New Dialectical Analysis of the Debates in the Last Hours of Jonestown
David Beard
Department of Writing Studies
University of Minnesota Duluth

The model for argumentation developed by Douglas Walton is the most thoroughgoing attempt to integrate a sense of the logical coherence of arguments with a sense that every argument has an audience. Unlike Ralph Johnson (in Manifest Rationality), who insists that every argument contains both an illative core and a dialectical tier (responding to those audience imperatives) without really enumerating what those dialectical obligations are, Walton does map our obligations to our audiences and our interlocutors.

Those obligations are understood in terms of dialogue types. The family of dialogue types serves as a mechanism for the categorization of discourse (identifying the type of dialogue which a discourse participates in). If we can identify the type of dialogue being engaged, we can generate normative rules for evaluation and strategic rules for practice.

The subject of this paper, the case study which makes manifest the usefulness of Walton's model, may appear to be sensationalistic. Jonestown is a wound in the hearts of many Americans who lost family members in Guyana. It is also the source of dismissive popular culture references (“drink the kool-aid”) and has joined the ranks of the odd or the irregular in American lore. I want to bracket those considerations, though, and simply explore the transcripts of the last dialogues at Jonestown, preserves in audio recordings and reconstructed by multiple sources, including the FBI. These transcripts show someone (specifically, Jonestown resident Christine Miller) arguing for their life and along the way demonstrating what happens when interlocutors do not hold the same expectations for dialogue types. The case of Jonestown validates the usefulness of the Walton model. It also offers a small indication of the weaknesses of this model in dealing with certain nonargumentative discourse (like apocalyptic narrative), though in this short paper, those weaknesses are only hinted at.

About Jonestown

After fleeing political and legal complications in the United States, Jim Jones and his followers in the People's Temple established an agricultural commune in Guyana. The commune was based on a political and social ideology of equality and liberty, especially revolutionary in terms of its acceptance of racial equality, although complicated by Jones's shifting religious ideology. (A brochure of the Peoples Temple portrayed leader Jim Jones as the loving father of the "Rainbow Family.") The geographical isolation from the United States, the lack of communication with the commune, and some questionable practices in funding the commune (using direct payment of social security checks, for example) led to a political visit by a US representative and concerned family members.

That visit went well, initially, until two members of the Temple passed notes to the visitors seeking help in leaving. Not quite, really, aware of his isolation in the jungles of Guyana, the representative told the residents of Jonestown that anyone wishing to return to the United States could leave with him, under the protection of the U.S. government. Shortly thereafter, one of the loyal residents attempted to stab the representative. After that resident was subdued, the representative identified residents to leave with them the next morning.

One of the fleeing residents was a plant, a loyal resident who intended not to let the representative or the fleeing residents leave. He opened fire at the airstrip, killing the representative and many of those with him. Simultaneously, back at the agricultural commune, Jim Jones called a meeting.

The meeting echoed earlier meetings at Jonestown - loyalty tests, in which Jones ordered a Kool-Aid-like beverage, ostensibly laced with poison, drunk by anyone old enough to do so. (Infants and the elderly were to have the poison injected into their mouths or veins, as appropriate.) It is clear, this time, that the loyalty test was no mere test this time. In part, this is because Jones' rhetoric is as much hortatory as mournful. First, he lays out the situation: the events that have brought the commune to the crisis point where it resides.

Jones: There's no way to detach ourselves from what's happened today... We're in a compound situation, not only are there those who have left and committed the betrayal of the century, some have stolen children from others and then seek right now to kill them because they stole their children, and we are sitting here waiting on a powder keg. ... So, to sit here and wait for the catastrophe that's going to happen on that airplane (it's gonna be a catastrophe) ... Almost happened here, almost happened, the congressman was nearly killed here... one of the few on that plane is gonna shoot the pilot. I know that. I didn't plan it, but I know it's gonna happen. They're gonna shoot that pilot, and down comes that plane into the jungle and we had better not have any of our children left when it's over, 'cause they'll parachute in here on us. I'm telling you just as plain as I know how to tell you, I've never lied to you... I never have lied to you... it'll happen.

He then moves to justify both the execution of the representative and pilot:

But you can't steal people's children. You can't take off with people's children without expecting a violent reaction. And, that's not so unfamiliar to us, either, even if we were Judeo-Christian, even if we weren't Communists. The worldly kingdom suffers violence and the violence is triggered by force.

Though Jones says he did not authorize this violence, he nonetheless recognizes that it will have consequences for his community, and that there must be pre-emptive action.

If we can't live in peace then we must die in peace... It was said by the greatest of prophets, from time immemorial, "No man takes my life from me, I lay my life down." ... So my opinion is that we be kind to children and be kind to seniors and take the potion like they used to take in ancient Greece, and step over quietly because we are not committing suicide. It's a revolutionary act.

At this point, Jones invites others to speak. This was not unusual for Jonestown; it has been established that Jones was hardly democratic, but he welcomed open discussion.

Anybody ... Anyone that has any dissenting opinion, please speak ... Yes ... You can have opportunity.

One resident of Jonestown, recorded clearly on the surviving tapes, Christine Miller, would take this opportunity. Jones wants it to appear that he is open to Miller's arguments (“Christine, and I appreciate- You've always been a very good agitator. I like agitation because you have to see two sides of one issue, two sides of the question.”), in the manner of good persuasion dialogue. He's been open to her before.

About Christine Miller:

A great deal has been written about Christine Miller. Michael Bellefountaine has claimed that she “valiantly tried to dissuade the Jonestown leadership's decision to enact revolutionary suicide.” And, Bellefountaine has done a good deal of work in outlining Miller's position in the community:

Although all Temple members were required to turn their personal possessions over to the church when they went communal - and even more fundamentally, were discouraged from wearing trappings of the elite - Jones allowed Christine to retain and wear some of her fur and jewelry... It could be that Christine Miller was one of the few people who simply refused to give up the things for which she had worked so hard. She knew what she wanted, and she acted on it. We know that members of the inner circle refused Jim Jones' advances, and that certain members were able to argue and refute him, within accepted boundaries. Although she was not a member of the inner circle, Christine Miller was apparently one of these people.

Independence in Jonestown meant subjecting yourself to psychological and physical threats of violence.

Jones had gotten into the habit of handling guns during these meetings, and on at least one tape recording (Q833 from late March 1978) picked up the sound of Jones firing a shot to wake up people in the crowd who were sleeping. Additionally the isolation of the community, with Jones' word as sole authority, put anyone who opposed him in a very vulnerable position. A troublesome person could be put in a sensory deprivation box, drugged in the medical unit or - as he threatened - shot on the spot and buried in the jungle. There was not much that one person could do to stop any of those things from happening. In Jonestown, Jim Jones did have the power of life and death.

Miller's unique position (and bravery in this context) is revealed in earlier tapes of arguments at Jonestown.

At one meeting Christine and Jones exchanged words. It was heated... Jones became frustrated with Christine's vocal independence. He pointed the gun at her and said he could shoot her, and no one would ever find out. Christine replied, “You can shoot me, but you are going to have to respect me first.” Jones repeated his threat with more menace, but Christine wouldn't back down. “You can do that,” she said, “but you are going to have to respect me first.” A moment later, Jones was standing before her, holding the gun to her head, shouting his rage at her defiance. She looked him in the eye and said calmly, “You can shoot me, but you will respect me.” The standoff ended when Jones - not Christine - backed down. This tells a lot about Christine's fortitude and self-respect. It especially sheds light on her relationship with Jones which makes her stand out - and stand apart - from many of the other residents of Jonestown.

Miller continued that independent spirit to the last, in a failed dialogue with Jones in the last hours of Jonestown.

The Dialectical Analysis of the Arguments in the Last Hours at Jonestown

The crux of the miscommunication between Jim Jones and Christina Miller lies not in their different goals (Jones, to destroy his commune in an act of “revolutionary suicide”; Miller, to live one more day). Rather, it begins with their basic assumptions of what counts as “fair” dialogue.

Miller begins , naively, perhaps, with the presumption that she can reason with Jones - that she can address him directly, and through such address, she can affect his decision. Jones, on the other hand, responds to Miller almost incidentally. Always, throughout their debate, he is primarily addressing the mass of residents of Jonestown. Jones is trying to convince them that his apocalyptic vision is the only vision, that his interpretation of events is the only interpretation of events possible. His response to Jones is intended not to convince her to see his way, but instead to convince the mass of residents of Jonestown of the integrity, purity and insight inherent in his vision.

In terms of argument, Miller is engaged in persuasion dialogue, while Jones is engaged in debate dialogue.

Persuasion Dialogue:

In a persuasion dialogue, both participants take a role in the dialogue: According to Douglas Walton, "the proponent's goal and obligation is to present arguments supporting one point of view, and it is up to the respondent to ask critical questions, or to bring forward important arguments, against that point of view, or for a different point of view" (Appeal to Pity 160). Persuasion dialogues can be symmetrical or asymmetrical (asymmetrical dialogues being characterized by traditional media - like a persuasive speech on television).

In a symmetrical persuasion dialogue, both participants can engage in persuasion at the same time, each advancing arguments in support of their position. According to Walton, "the purpose of persuasion dialogue is to test out the strongest arguments on both sides of a particular proposition. There are two sides in the sense that the one party is committed to the proposition, while the other side is uncommitted or may even be committed to the negation of it. Each side tries to persuade the other side to change its commitment" (Pragmatic Theory of Fallacy 19; see also One-Sided Arguments 31 and The Place of Emotion in Argument 20). The win-loss conditions of a persuasion dialogue, then, are gaining the assent of the interlocutor.

Walton is not the only theorist to explore this kind of persuasion dialogue. Pragma-dialectical philosophers of language (van Eemeren and Grootendorst, especially) discuss the “critical discussion,” a symmetrical subset of the persuasion dialogue. According to Walton, "The goal of a critical discussion is to resolve a conflict of opinions. The pragma-dialecticians Van Eemeren and Grootendorst (1984) describe four stages of critical discussion: the opening stage, the confrontation stage, the argumentation stage, and the closing stage" (One-Sided Arguments 30; see also Argumentation Schemes for Presumptive Reasoning 24). Following their lead, Walton has developed a set of normative rules for this subset of persuasion dialogue.

• Parties must not prevent each other from advancing or casting doubts on standpoints.

• Whoever advances a standpoint is obliged to defend it if asked to do so.

• An attack on a standpoint must relate to the standpoint that has really been advanced by the protagonist.

• A standpoint may be defended only by advancing argumentation relating to that standpoint.

• A person can be held to the premises he leaves implicit.

• A standpoint must be regarded as conclusively defended if the defense takes place by means of arguments belonging to the common starting points.

• A standpoint must be regarded as conclusively defended if the defense takes place by means of arguments in which a commonly accepted scheme of argumentation is correctly applied.

• The arguments used in a discursive text must be valid or capable of being validated by the [making explicit] of one or more unexpressed premises.

• A failed defense must result in the protagonist withdrawing his standpoint and a successful defense must result in the antagonist withdrawing his doubt about the standpoint.

• Formulations must be neither puzzlingly vague nor confusingly ambiguous and must be interpreted as accurately as possible. (Pragmatic Theory of Fallacy 10-11)

Like the Habermasian ideal speech situation (see Habermas' Moral Consciousness and Communicative Action (1990) and Justification and Application: Remarks on Discourse Ethics (1983), the pragma-dialectical Critical Discussion represents the way persuasion dialogue should work, not the way it often does work. The models developed both by van Eemeren and Grootendorst and by Walton for a critical discussion are closer to a counterfactual ideal, which might be used as a measure for critical interpretation of actual argument.

Debate Dialogue:

A persuasion dialogue is markedly different from a debate, in Walton's schema. When two politicians engage each other, they have as a primary goal to win the heart of the audience (of voters, for example), and only secondarily to convince the other with whom they debate. To win the heart of the voter, debaters draw upon the resources of persuasion dialogue. They might also draw upon the eristic dialogue type, in which they verbally attack the opponent. As a result, the listeners may side with the debater because they are persuaded of the value of their position, or they may side with them because the other side has lost the debate, by virtue of eristic tactics used. Walton notes that “an argument that scores well in a debate may not be a justifiable or reasonable argument from a logical point of view,” precisely because it may not win on its own merits, but simply may persevere when the other's argument has fallen (Begging the Question: Circular Reasoning as a Tactic in Argumentation 42; Commitment in Dialogue 66).

Debates, then, are structured dialogues which are distinct from other types of persuasion dialogue because they are assessed by a third party. Debates are intended to allow two interlocutors to argue with each other, not with intent of persuading each other, but with intent of persuading a third party (or collective audience).

Christine Miller's Strategies of Persuasion

Miller always intends, throughout the dialogue, to persuade Jones that they don't need to commit revolutionary suicide. Her lines of argument are multiple.

First, she argues that flight is a viable option, asking Jones “Is it too late for Russia?... Well, I say let's make an airlift to Russia” She believes that Jones has a way to contact Russia, and that they might use that emergency contact (“Well, I -- Well, I thought you -- they said if we got in an emergency, that they gave you a code to let them know.”) Jones says that he will make a call to Russia, though there is no evidence that such contact was ever made. This appeal is unsuccessful; Jones is unmoved.

Second, she argues that the sacrifice is not proportional to the events: “I think that there were too few who left for twelve hundred people to give them their lives, for those people that left... Oooh, twenty odd ... that's, that's small ... Compared to what's here.” Here, she is echoing Jones's sense of betrayal, and trying to place it in perspective. The fleeing residents of Jonestown were, to her, too few in number to be worth the death of everyone there.

Jones rejects that argument, largely because he knows that it's not the flight of the 20 that will bring retribution down on the Jonestown community, but instead the murder of the pilot and the politicians. Miller is making an argument using a kind of evidence that Jones finds irrelevant to the decision.

Third, Miller argues on behalf of the children: “But I look at all the babies and I think they deserve to live ...” Jones rebuts this argument with claims about quality of life - the children, in his mind, deserve peace, and the events of the day have guaranteed that there can be no peace. When Miller argues, in particular, about Jones's own child (“Christine: You wanna see John die?... You mean you wanna see John, the little one, who's keep...”), Jones appeals to the equal value of all his flock. Jones never directly responds to Miller's arguments on their own terms (a clear failure, in terms of the normative standards set by Walton).

Fourth, Miller makes her most sophisticated arguments when she attempts to use Jones' own preaching and the tenets of the People's Temple as grounds to convince Jones to change her mind. She claims that “I feel like as long as there's life, there's hope. That's my faith.” Michael Bellefountaine makes clear that this is not Miller's invention; this line is, nearly word for word, reproduced from one of Jones's sermons. She is attempting to begin at Jones's own starting point, in arguing against the revolutionary suicide.

Jones fails to rebut Miller's argument directly, again, and points toward the inevitability of death. Jones has made up his mind, and is closed to any of Miller's counter-arguments. He is refusing to follow what Walton believes are essential tenets of the persuasion dialogue:

An attack on a standpoint must relate to the standpoint that has really been advanced by the protagonist.

A standpoint must be regarded as conclusively defended if the defense takes place by means of arguments belonging to the common starting points.

Jones never really addresses Miller's objections directly, and he refuses to acknowledge what Miller advances as common starting points for argumentation. Jones just isn't participating in Miller's intended dialogue type.

Fifth, and exasperatedly, I think, Miller decides that, if she can't convince Jones not to enact revolutionary suicide for the community, she might be able to assert her own right to choose. I say “assert” because she no longer presents arguments, at this point; she is no longer trying to persuade Jones to change his mind, but instead to respect her ability to make up her own: “I know that. But I still think, as an individual, I have a right to ... I think, what I feel, and I think we all have the right to our own destiny as individuals... And I think I have the right to choose mine and everybody else has the right to choose theirs... I think that I still have the right to my own opinion.” Note the language of assertion, rather than argument.

Jones here makes careful steps to allow Miller to assert her right to her own mind. In this sense, he appears to be following the first tenet of a persuasion dialogue; he claims that “Mm-hmmm. I'm not criticizing, I'm not governing...” At the same time Jones is reinforcing the idea in the other residents of Jonestown that the decision she wants to make is tantamount to betrayal. “I cannot separate myself from the pain of my people. And you can't either, Christine, if you stop to think of it. You can't separate yourself. We've walked too long together,” according to Jones.

Others in the audience pick up this theme. An unidentified woman (in the background) describes Miller in this way: “She talks like she wants to leave us, well, she can go ahead ... they're our individual lives, that's what you're saying.” Jones immediately compares that decision with the decision of Jonestown residents to try to flee with the representative. “That's today, that's what twenty people said today with their lives.” Jones was never really arguing with Miller, at all; Miller wanted to persuade Jones to change him mind, but his mind could not be moved. The end of the story was already written, to Jones. His rhetorical purpose, in arguing with Miller, was not a critical discussion designed to engage Miller's counterarguments. Instead, he was buttressing support for his plan of action among the other residents.

By the time that Miller has begun to pull the other residents into the discussion, it is too late. Other, unidentified residents bark at Miller, very nearly silencing her: “Christine, you're only standing here because he was here in the first place. So I don't know what you're talking about having an individual life. Your life has been extended to the day that you're standing there because of him.” This is clearly not a vision of her own life that Miller would have accepted, but it is clear that Christine Miller never had a chance of persuading Jones and has missed any opportunity to persuade her fellow residents.

Jones and the Debate Dialogue:

So what, exactly, was Jones up to? It is clear that, in the perspective of the New Dialectic, he was engaged in the debate dialogue. Never really intending to argue his own mind with Miller, he intended to field her objections as a way of cementing his hold on everyone else.

Most of his replies are not in the form of arguments, but instead in terms of narratives... he claims that “Check with Russia to see if they'll take us in immediately. Otherwise we die. ... There's no use, Christine, it's just not worth living like this ... not worth living like this.” Most of Jones's replies, when they extend for more than a line, take the form of an apocalyptic narrative:

For months I've tried to keep this thing from happening but I now see it's the will ... it's the will of Sovereign Being that this happened to us. That we lay down our lives in protest against what's been done. That we lay down our lives to protest in what's being done. The criminality of people, the cruelty of people. Who walked out of here today? Did you notice who walked out? Mostly white people, mostly white people walked. I'm so grateful for the ones that didn't, those who knew who they are. There's, there's no point, there's no point to this. We are born before our time. They won't accept us.

In the end, Jones claims that “This is the revolutionary ... this is revolutionary suicide council, I'm not talking about self, self-destruction. I'm talking about what, we have no other road.” The New Dialectical model is not a very good tool, to be honest, on its own, to evaluate this kind of distorted causal argument. The leaps of logic are better served by old-fashioned critical thinking and logical analysis. But that limitation is a paper for another day.

The bitterest irony, of course, is that Jones has maintained the appearance of rational argumentation. He appears genuinely open to debate and dialogue. In fact, he even claims that “what I do, I do with weight and justice and judgment. I've weighed it against all evidence.” He did no such thing, of course.

The tragedy is that Christine Miller, a quick thinker and strong orator, took him at his word.


Could Miller have made a difference? We know, from the forensic evidence, that there was resistance to the mass suicide; some died by injection, likely because they resisted voluntarily drinking the Flavor-Aid. If Miller had recognized the real dialectical constraints under which she operated, and if Miller had recognized that she needed to persuade not Jones, but the other residents, might she have better marshaled her arguments? We'll never know. But the New Dialectic of Douglas Walton gives us some sense of how the arguments happened, why they functioned as they did. The case of the last arguments in Jonestown reminds us of the importance of the New Dialectical perspective in the teaching of argumentation and critical thinking.


About Jonestown:

All text about Jonestown in the paper is derived from the SDSU website on “Alternative Considerations of Jonestown and Peoples Temple,” available online at http://jonestown.sdsu.edu/.

About the New Dialectic and Related Approaches to Argument

Selected from Douglas Walton's homepage: http://www.dougwalton.ca/

1. Argumentation Schemes, Douglas Walton, Chris Reed and Fabrizio Macagno, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2008.

2. Informal Logic: A Pragmatic Approach, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2008.

3. Witness Testimony Evidence: Argumentation, Artificial Intelligence and Law, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2008.

4. Dialog Theory for Critical Argumentation, Amsterdam, John Benjamins Publishers, 2007.

5. Media Argumentation: Dialectic, Persuasion and Rhetoric, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2007.

6. Character Evidence: An Abductive Theory, Berlin, Springer, 2007.

7. Fundamentals of Critical Argumentation, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2006.

8. Argumentation Methods for Artificial Intelligence in Law, Berlin, Springer (Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence Series), 2005.

9. Abductive Reasoning, Tuscaloosa, University of Alabama Press, 2004.

10. Relevance in Argumentation, Mahwah, N.J., Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2004 (paperback also available).

11. Ethical Argumentation, Lanham, Md., Lexington Books, 2002.

12. Legal Argumentation and Evidence, University Park, Pa., Penn State Press, 2002.

13. Scare Tactics: Arguments that Appeal to Fear and Threats (Argumentation Library Series), Dordrecht, Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2000.

14. Appeal to Popular Opinion, University Park, Pa., Penn State Press, 1999.

15. One-Sided Arguments : A Dialectical Analysis of Bias, Albany, State University of New York Press, 1999.

16. Ad Hominem Arguments, Tuscaloosa, University of Alabama Press, 1998.

17. The New Dialectic, Toronto, University of Toronto Press, 1998.

18. Appeal to Expert Opinion : Arguments from Authority, University Park, Pa., Penn State Press, 1997.

19. Appeal to Pity : Argumentum ad Misericordiam (SUNY Series in Logic and Language), Albany, SUNY Press, 1997.

20. Historical Foundations of Informal Logic, (co-edited with Alan Brinton), Aldershot, England, Ashgate Publishing (Avebury Series in Philosophy), 1997.

21. Argument Structure : A Pragmatic Theory (Toronto Studies in Philosophy), Toronto, University of Toronto Press, 1996.

22. Argumentation Schemes for Presumptive Reasoning (Studies in Argumentation Series), Mahwah, N.J., Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1996.

23. Arguments from Ignorance, University Park, Pa., Penn State Press, 1996.

24. Fallacies Arising from Ambiguity (Applied Logic Series), Dordrecht, Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1996.

25. Commitment in Dialogue: Basic Concepts of Interpersonal Reasoning (SUNY Series in Logic and Language), with Erik C.W. Krabbe, Albany, State University of New York Press, 1995.

26. A Pragmatic Theory of Fallacy (Studies in Rhetoric and Communication Series), Tuscaloosa, University of Alabama Press, 1995.

27. The Place of Emotion in Argument, University Park, Pa., Penn State Press, 1992.

28. Plausible Argument in Everyday Conversation (SUNY Speech Communication Series). Albany, State University of New York Press, 1992.

29. Slippery Slope Arguments. Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1992 Reprinted 1999 Newport News, Virginia, Vale Press.

30. Begging the Question: Circular Reasoning as a Tactic of Argumentation, New York, Greenwood Press, 1991.

31. Practical Reasoning: Goal-Driven, Knowledge-Based, Action-Guiding Argumentation, Savage, Maryland, Rowman and Littlefield, 1990.

32. Informal Logic: A Handbook for Critical Argumentation, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1989.

33. Question-Reply Argumentation, Westport, Connecticut, Greenwood Press, 1989.

34. Informal Fallacies (Pragmatics and Beyond Companion Series, IV), Amsterdam, John Benjamins, 1987.

36. Arguer's Position: A Pragmatic Study of Ad Hominem Attack, Criticism, Refutation, and Fallacy, Westport, Connecticut, Greenwood Press, 1985.

38. Logical Dialogue-Games and Fallacies, Lanham, Maryland, University Press of America, 1984.

Selected from Other Authors

Eemeren, F. H. van and R. Grootendorst. Argumentation, Communication, and Fallacies: A Pragma-Dialectical Perspective, Hillsdale, N.J. : L. Erlbaum, 1992.

... A Systematic Theory of Argumentation: The Pragma-Dialectical Approach, New York : Cambridge University Press, 2004.

Johnson, Ralph. Manifest Rationality, Mahwah, N.J. : Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2000.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

28.7 CFP for Grad Students

CFP [collection] Metamorphosis:The Effects of Professional Development on Graduate Students
Submitted by andrea.davis on September 19, 2008 - 12:40.

Call For Essays

Metamorphosis: The Effects of Professional Development on Graduate Students

Editors: Andréa Davis and Suzanne Webb

Graduate students, regardless of their post‐degree objectives, are encouraged and/or required to participate in professional development activities such as workshops, training seminars, conference presentations, technology skills acquisition, academic job market preparation, and the like; but what reasons do students have for engaging in professional development? While an overwhelming majority of publications on such training and professional development have been produced by program administrators and experts in the field, far too little illuminates graduate student experience. For those publications aimed at graduate students, the majority offer tips, hints, lore, and how‐to advice. Yet few publications offer the graduate student point of view.

This collection, under contract with Fountainhead Press in the X Series for Professional Development, seeks to give voice to graduate students about their professional development experiences. We imagine two important areas for discussion. The first area is for graduate students to speak to colleagues and new graduate students entering their programs through:

•Reflections, anecdotes, and personal experiences of benefits and/or drawbacks of professional development

•Discussion of the role that race, class, gender, and/or sexuality plays in professional development

•Dialogs of the ways in which professional development experiences over time shape teaching practices, philosophies, research agendas, peer tutor interaction, or related experiences

•Consideration of resources and personal experiences of professional development activities that best suit a student’s professional objectives (inside or outside of academe)

•Discussion of what it means to be a peer or mentor (how do we negotiate being both?)

The second area is a constructive and proactive discussion of our professional development experiences that speaks back to the faculty and administrators who train us or otherwise encourage our professional growth.

•Consider those experiences that best prepared you for the job market or other post‐graduate goals

•Discuss where, when, and why you sought external resources for professional development

•Provide constructive advice for professional development training of students who do not plan to remain in academe

•Offer insights into the ways that race, class, gender, and/or sexuality impact professional development activities

•Discuss those elements of professional development that, in retrospect, were missing or not as well developed

Proposal Guidelines

We invite proposals from current graduate students or those who have graduated within the last two years. Proposals of no longer than 2 pages should be sent to the editors via email by November 30, 2008. Responses will be available approx. mid‐January. Please refer to the Fountainhead X Series style guide http://www.fountainheadpress.com/english/XSeries_Style_Guide.pdf for specific requirements, especially noting the requirements for permissions to use student work.

Andréa Davis Michigan State University davisa28@msu.edu
Suzanne Webb Michigan State University webbsuza@msu.edu

Friday, September 19, 2008

28.6 CFP DOCAM 2009

The Document Academy
March 28-29, 2009

University of Wisconsin-Madison
School of Library and Information Studies
Helen C. White Hall
Madison, Wisconsin USA

DOCAM '09 is the sixth Annual meeting of the Document Academy, an international network of scholars, artists and professionals in various fields interested in the exploration of the document as a useful approach, concept and tool in Sciences, Arts, Business, and Society.

The aim of The Document Academy is to create an interdisciplinary space for experimental and critical research on documents in a wide sense, drawing on traditions and experiences around the world. It originated as a co-sponsored effort by The Program of Documentation Studies, University of Tromso, Norway and the School of Information, University of California, Berkeley. For 2009, the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Library and Information Studies will be hosting the meeting.

The conference will run from 9 AM Saturday, March 28, to 5 PM Sunday, March 29. In order to keep the open-ended discussion atmosphere of previous DOCAMs alive along with a growing number of participants, we have decided to have only plenary sessions and a relatively limited, but well-selected number of presentations.

Call for proposals:

Scholars, developers, artists and practitioners working with document research and development are invited to submit proposals for full and short papers for plenary sessions and exhibits by December 1, 2008.

Full papers for plenary sessions will address these themes:
- DOCUMENT THEORY (general issues)
- DOCUMENT ANALYSIS (case-studies and methodological issues)
Length: 6000-7500 words

Short papers for plenary sessions will focus on
- DOCUMENT RESEARCH (theory, methods, case-studies)
Length: 2400—3600 words

Each author or group of authors of FULL papers will have 45 minutes for their presentation, including discussion; authors or groups presenting SHORT papers will be allotted 30 minutes. The order of presentations will be arranged according to themes as much as possible.

Conference language is English. Conference organizers can provide an LCD projector; other equipment is the responsibility of the presenter.

File format: RTF or PDF

All proposals must include:
- a short (500 words) verbal description of the work to be presented
- Explanation of how the work will be presented (verbal presentation, powerpoint, video, performance, demonstration, and equipment needs)
*Names of all contributors,
*Addresses, including email contacts and
*Up to 5 keywords

Proposals should be submitted electronically to Catherine Arnott Smith at the School of Library and Information Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison (casmith24@wisc.edu). Please include “DOCAM 2009” in the subject line of all correspondence, including proposal submission.

Submission deadline for proposals: 11:59 PM, December 1st, 2008
Receipt will be confirmed within one week. Decisions will be announced no later than January 15, 2009.
Final deadline for accepted full papers: 11:59 PM, March 1, 2009

For more information contact the co-chairs of Docam 2009:
Catherine Arnott Smith, PhD
Assistant Professor
School of Library and Information Studies
University of Wisconsin-Madison
600 N. Park Street
Madison, WI 53706
(608) 890-1334
fax: (608) 263-4849

Roswitha Skare, PhD
Associate Professor
Documentation Studies
University of Tromsø
NO-9037 Tromsø, Norge
Tel: +47- 776 46318
28.5 CFP in LIS/CMC

CALL FOR CHAPTER PROPOSALS: Interpersonal Relations and Social Patterns in Communication Technologies: Discourse Norms, Language Structures and Cultural Variables

Proposal Submission Deadline: October 30, 2008

Interpersonal Relations and Social Patterns in Communication Technologies: Discourse Norms, Language Structures and Cultural Variables

A book edited by Dr. Jung-ran Park
College of Information Science and Technology
Drexel University

Through an interdisciplinary perspective, this book will explore interpersonal discourse realized in computer-mediated communication (CMC). Interpersonal discourse concerns communication with another person in a dyadic, public or small-group context. Human interaction in a dyadic, public or group context through networked computers constitutes computer-mediated communication. The development of communication technologies enables dynamic social interaction through the CMC channel. Accordingly, there has been rapid growth in multiple genres of social interaction and online learning through the CMC channel. There exists a need to explore the impact of interpersonal discourse in carrying effective online learning and information seeking. This book will address such an impact by applying conceptual fundamentals of interpersonal discourse and online language usage to CMC contexts.

Objective of the Book
The rapid growth of CMC genres demands new perspectives, frameworks and tools for research and practice. Also necessitated is an understanding of online social interaction and an analysis of online discourse. This book will aim to, through an interdisciplinary perspective, explore three fundamental components of CMC: language, interpersonal relations/communication and information technology. It will aim to provide relevant theoretical frameworks and the latest empirical research findings in the area. It also aims to address the impact of interpersonal discourse in the building of online communities and in the design of interaction systems and social technology.

Target Audience
The target audience of this book will be composed of professionals and researchers working in the field of information and communication in various disciplines, e.g. library, information and communication sciences, linguistics, computer science, information technology, education, and management. Moreover, this book will provide advanced undergraduates and graduate students in the above mentioned fields with an understanding of the online social interaction and applications of interpersonal discourse for effective online interaction across CMC channels.

Recommended topics include, but are not limited to, the following:
Interpersonal relations in CMC—a conceptual framework
Social and affective aspects of communication in the CMC
Communication norms for social interaction through CMC (e.g., netiquette)
Online language usage and discourse structure
Face, self, identity in online communication
Verbal and non-verbal signals for interpersonal communication in CMC
Meaning seeking and negotiation in CMC
Applications of interpersonal discourse to CMC contexts
Building online communities and interpersonal communication skills
Group interaction and virtual teams
Interpersonal relations in online learning and education
Digital information service and interpersonal relations
Interaction system design, social technology, social interface
Online interaction across languages and cultures

Submission Procedure
Researchers and practitioners are invited to submit on or before October 30, 2008, a 2-3 page chapter proposal clearly explaining the objective and concerns of his or her proposed chapter. Authors of accepted proposals will be notified by November 30, 2008 about the status of their proposals and sent chapter guidelines. Full chapters (7000+ words) are expected to be submitted by February 15, 2009. All submitted chapters will be reviewed on a double-blind review basis. This book is scheduled to be published by IGI Global (formerly Idea Group Inc.), publisher of the “Information Science Reference” (formerly Idea Group Reference) and “Medical Information Science Reference” imprints. For additional information regarding the publisher, please visit www.igi-global.com.

Inquiries and submissions can be forwarded electronically (Word document) or by mail at:
Dr. Jung-ran Park
College of Information Science and Technology
Tel.: +1 215 895 1669 • Fax: + 1 215 895 2494
E-mail: jung-ran.park@ischool.drexel.edu
37.3 A good faculty near the Twin Cities

Phone (715) 232-1103 or 1629; FAX (715) 232-2093
E-mail: levym@uwstout.edu
Website: http://www.uwstout.edu/cas/english/index.shtml

Announcement of Position Vacancy

POSITION: Assistant Professor, entry-level position in the
Department of English and Philosophy
University of Wisconsin-Stout
Menomonie, WI 54751

DUTIES: Teach Technical and Professional Communications, and Freshman English. Curriculum development. Department/university service and student advising are expected.

QUALIFICATIONS: Degree in Technical Communication, English, Rhetoric, or a related field. Ph.D. preferred, ABD considered. Expertise is sought in some combination of the following: content management, information architecture and design, usability, international communication, linguistics, medical writing, documentation and project management, and cultural analysis of technology. Willingness to use technology in the classroom is essential as we are a laptop campus and a polytechnic university. All courses will have an on-line component. Expertise or interest in on-line delivery preferred. Willingness to pursue outside funding is expected. Ph.D. required for promotion and tenure.

SALARY: Competitive

CONTRACT: Full-time, tenure-track, 12 credits (four courses) per semester beginning August 2009.

THE UNIVERSITY: UW-Stout, Wisconsin's Polytechnic University, enrolls about 8000 students in such professional programs as Technical Communication, Applied Math and Computer Science, Manufacturing Engineering, Graphic Communications Management, Industrial Engineering, Business Administration, Psychology, Art, Early Childhood Education, and Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management. Menomonie is a city of approximately 16,000 nestled in the highlands of Western Wisconsin, an hour's drive from Minneapolis/St. Paul.

THE DEPARTMENT: The Department of English and Philosophy has 25 full-time members. It offers a major in Technical Communication and minors in literature, creative writing, philosophy, and journalism, as well as general education coursework in composition, literature, philosophy and logic. The department supports a reading series and a student creative arts journal.

THE PROGRAM: Stout's Technical Communication program, launched in 2000, is one of the ten largest such undergraduate programs in the U.S., graduating students with a broad variety of applied fields and specializations. The program is continually updating its curriculum to keep current with the dynamic changes in the field of technical communication, and a Master's degree is currently in development.

DEADLINE: Application screening begins November 3, 2008

TO APPLY: Send letter, vita, transcripts (unofficial copies may be submitted), evidence of teaching potential and names of three references to:

Technical and Professional Communication Position
c/o Dr. Julie Watts, Hiring Committee Chair
Department of English and Philosophy
University of Wisconsin-Stout
Menomonie, WI 54751.

A member of the University of Wisconsin System, UW-Stout has 8,000 students enrolled in 19 graduate and 32 undergraduate programs. The university is located in Menomonie, situated in western Wisconsin, 60 minutes east of Minneapolis-St. Paul on Interstate 94. Located in the scenic Chippewa Valley Region with a population base of more than 200,000, Menomonie is a city of 16,000 surrounded by lakes, streams and woodlands.

University of Wisconsin-Stout is a 2001 Baldrige Award Recipient, supporting a progressive, learning-centered, quality-based educational environment that is focused on continuous improvement. UW-Stout is a digital campus and all faculty and staff are required to use available technology in their positions including course delivery. Increasingly, courses are offered via alternative delivery methods and time frames. UW-Stout faculty members are responsible for teaching, advising, research and scholarly activity, and service. UW-Stout values diversity of people, ideas and experiences and is an equal employment opportunity/affirmative action employer.

Employment is contingent upon passing a criminal background check. In compliance with the Wisconsin Fair Employment Act, the University does not discriminate on the basis of arrest or conviction record. A pending criminal charge or conviction will not necessarily disqualify an applicant.
Application Information
Postal Address: Technical & Professional Communication Position
c/o Dr. Julie Watts, Hiring Committee Chair
University of Wisconsin - Stout
Department of English and Philosophy
Menomonie, WI 54751
28.4 CFP in LIS

A Symposium on Scholarship and Practice
in Library and Information Science

January 30, 2009
10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Information Commons, Marist Hall
Catholic University of America
Washington, DC
“Bridging the Spectrum: A Symposium on Scholarship and Practice in Library and Information Science” offers a knowledge-sharing forum and meeting place for practitioners, students, and faculty in Library and Information Sciences and Services. Presentations on innovative practices, projects, and research activities are encouraged. Presentations may originate from any type of library, archive, or information services activity, and may encompass any aspect of Library and Information Professional work. Our aim is to host a diverse set of presentations and to foster unexpected connections across the spectrum of the information professions.

Format of Presentations:
The Symposium will include primarily two types of sessions: briefings, and posters. (However, other proposed formats will be considered.)

Briefings will be 15-minute descriptions of an innovative practice, project, or research activity. There will be morning and afternoon briefing sessions.

Posters will be exhibits describing a practice, project, or research activity. Posters will be viewable throughout the day, and there will be a poster session during which presenters will discuss their work with attendees.

Important Dates:
• Proposals Due: October 15, 2008
• Notification of Acceptances: November 15, 2008
• Final Presentations Due: January 10, 2008

Proposals from practitioners, students, and researchers are encouraged.

Please submit your proposal using the web form

Questions may be directed to the Committee at cua-slis-symposium[at]cua.edu

Program Committee:
Dr. Kimberly Kelley, Chair
Dr. Bill Kules
Mr. David Shumaker
Mr. Tim Steelman

Last Revised 15-Sep-08 06:45 PM.
The Catholic University of America is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, 3624 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104. (267-284-5000). The Middle States Commission on Higher Education is an institutional accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

38.0 On Print Culture Studies

I spent this weekend at the conference sponsored by the Center for the History of Print Culture in Modern America (http://slisweb.lis.wisc.edu/~printcul/). This conference happens every other year, with a change of theme. The theme this year was "The Culture of Print in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Medicine (STEM);" the theme two years ago (which I also attended) was "Education and the Culture of Print."

Print Culture is an odd field of study. This is the tentative definition from the Center's website:
"For centuries Americans have been informed by print. All people in America's multicultural and multi-class society have used or been influenced by print, sometimes for common purposes, sometimes for different purposes. In recent years scholars from a variety of academic disciplines who are interested in studying this phenomenon have begun to refer to it as "print culture history.""

I like to think of the field of study this way: Start with Tylor's definition of culture: "that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society."

Then, pepper in this bit: "that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society as mediated by the presence of print (as a technology for communication and information) in that society."

This definition is a bit idiosyncratic, though, to me. It stems, probably, from a graduate student love of works by Havelock, Ong, McLuhan, Eisenstein, Anderson... works which posit a relationship between forms of life and even forms of cognition and the existence of literacy and of printed materials in mass production. That perspective is NOT widely held in this conference community, at least based on the sessions that I saw. The legacy of that research lies in the Media Ecology community, rather than the print culture community.

But realistically, the emphasis at this conference is the "print" over the cultural. In fact, I'd bet that most of the researchers at these print culture conferences don't have an articulated theory of culture to drive or frame their research. This doesn't mean they don't know what culture is. It just means that a definition of culture isn't a starting point in their research. I'm not sure that this is a limitation.

It's probably better to call this a "print" conference. Any object that is printed is fair game. The technologies of printing are fair game. The institutions for storing, disseminating, and manufacturing printed materials are fair game. The relationships between printed objects (between novels and newspapers) are fair game. The objects of study are wide and far-reaching; nearly anything inscribed is fair game.

But we might lose something interesting here. Everything is fair game, but the study is not systematically connected under a larger intellectual project.

. . .

Bodley's definitiion of culture comes 100 years after Tylor's:
"Culture involves at least three components: what people think, what they do, and the material products they produce."
...and we add the key phrase: "as mediated by the presence of print (as a technology for communication and information) in that society."

What would we gain by such a definition? First, the most important research done under the umbrella of "print culture studies" would be adequately framed. Much of that research is about readership: the communities that coalesce around the reading of a text and the ways that reading a text or texts crafts and creates "what people think, what they do, and the material products they produce."

Second, it would force some research in print culture to stretch from the recounting of historical narratives toward implications for a conceptual field.
--I heard papers this weekend on James Fenimore Cooper's references to other, nonliterary genres in his fiction. If you are not intrinsically interested in Leatherstocking, why would you care? You could, if the research culminated in some knowledge about what people think, what they do, and the material products they produce.
--I heard papers about the changing technologies and aesthetics in woodblock/lithography. Again, why would you care, unless the research culminated in some knowledge about what people think, what they do, and the material products they produce.
Some merely narrative research could become argumentative. And argumentative research is more compelling.

Such a focus would also draw papers on Leatherstocking, Melvil Dewey, Robert Boyle, the digitization of Robert Hooke, and engraving techniques into full conversation with each other, rather than being separate and parallel tracks. It would help create print culture as a disciplinary formation.

If I were editing the collection (from this conference or from the next one; each conference ends in a volume), that is the question I would encourage the contributors to consider.

But then, I am fascinated about the ways that a body of scholars become a discipline. Or maybe using the anthology to create a discipline.

This does not undercut the value of the conference; it is one of a half dozen conferences that I would attend, no matter where it is held. It is an awesome experience.

37.2 Come work with me!

Job Code and Title (9403) Assistant Professor
Position Title Assistant Professor - Writing Studies
Job Code 9403
Requisition Number 157986
Position Category Faculty and Instructional
Appointment Term B = 9 month
Appointment Type Probationary; tenure track fac (N)
Work Hours
Work Days
Total Hours or % Appointment 100%
Full/Part-time Full-Time
Starting Hourly Rate
Department Name UMD Writing Studies (154A)
College or Admin Unit UMD Liberal Arts
Campus Location Duluth
Job Open Date 09-11-2008
Job Close Date Open Until Filled
Internal Promotional Consideration
Required/Preferred Qualifications Required Education and Experience:
-PhD or equivalent degree (completed by August 31, 2009) in writing studies/rhetoric, linguistics, technical writing, English, or related field
-Two years' experience teaching writing at the college level
-Clear plan for a program of research leading to publications in peer reviewed journals
-Evidence of excellence in teaching

Preferred Qualifications:
-Demonstrated commitment to teaching freshman and advanced writing
-Experience teaching non-fiction professional writing, including writing for the social sciences, the human services/education, business, or the sciences
-Experience in placement, ESL, assessment, or curricular development
-Record of presentation and subsequent publication in relevant fields
-Record of ability to work collaboratively and collegially
-Experience teaching linguistics or information design
Duties/Responsibilities Full-time tenure-track faculty in Writing Studies that typically teaches five classes per year. The successful candidate will teach a range of courses, which may include freshman writing, advanced writing, linguistics, and information design courses. The department expects the candidate to produce research in a relevant field. Service typically includes student advisees, committee assignments, and department and curriculum development.
Program/Unit Description The University of Minnesota Duluth is a comprehensive regional university with 75 majors and graduate programs in 20 fields; it has a student enrollment of 11,000 and affords a full range of academic/research resources in a setting more commonly found at smaller colleges. UMD consistently ranks among the top Midwestern universities in US News and World Report's "America's Best Colleges" issue. The Twin Ports of Duluth and its sister city Superior, Wisconsin, have a combined population of approximately 120,000 and offer an excellent quality of life. The area offers a wealth of natural resources, including numerous trails, rivers, and lakes, and is well known as the gateway to the beautiful North Shore of Lake Superior, making it a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts. Duluth also has a very strong arts community and supports its own symphony. In the September 2003 issue of OUTSIDE magazine, Duluth was named one of "The 40 Best College Towns" in North America.
Application Instructions Please apply online via the Employment System at

A complete application consists of the online application, plus a cover letter, vitae (including contact information for 3 references), and sample syllabus (Attach as Additional Document 1). In addition, send evidence of effective teaching, transcripts (unofficial acceptable), and samples of scholarly and/or professional work via U.S. Postal Service to the address below. The applicant should also request that three letters of reference be sent to the same address. Completed applications will be reviewed beginning November 3, 2008, and will continue until the position is filled.

Professor Kenneth Risdon, Search Committee Chair
University of Minnesota Duluth
Department of Writing Studies
420 Humanities
1201 Ordean Court
Duluth, Minnesota 55812

The University of Minnesota is an equal opportunity educator and employer.
Does this position require a background check? No
Send Link to a Friend : employment.umn.edu/applicants/Central?quickFind=76008

Thursday, September 11, 2008

37.1 Job Opening: TTU

Assistant Professor of Technical Communication and Rhetoric

Texas Tech University seeks an Assistant Professor of Technical Communication and Rhetoric. Tenure-track. 2/2 load guaranteed during first two years; 3/3 thereafter with opportunities for reduction to 3/2 or 2/2, depending on administrative responsibilities and graduate teaching. Graduate and undergraduate courses in the specialization; service on thesis and dissertation committees. We invite applications from all areas of technical communication and rhetoric. Experience with program administration is desirable. Ph.D. required. Candidates will be expected to develop a record of teaching, published scholarship, and service consistent with a research university.

The Department of English is large (47 faculty, 500 undergraduate majors, 150 graduate students), dynamic, and diverse, with bachelors, masters, and doctoral degrees offered both in English and in Technical Communication. The M.A. and Ph.D. in TC are offered in both onsite and online programs. A new building provides state-of-the-art classrooms, a usability lab, and a media lab. TTU is a growing university system, encompassing a law school and medical school as well as colleges of Arts and Sciences, Agriculture, Architecture, Business Administration, Engineering, Human Sciences, Mass Communication, and Visual and Performing Arts. The College of Arts and Sciences represents 35% of the total enrollment of 29,000.

For more information, please see www.english.ttu.edu.

Candidates must apply online at jobs.texastech.edu (No. 77642), attaching application letter and curriculum vitae. Applications will be accepted until the position is filled; the committee will start screening applications on October 1. Direct inquiries to english@ttu.edu TTU is an Equal Opportunity /Affirmative Action Employer, and it encourages applications from minorities and women.

Associate Professor of Technical Communication and Rhetoric

Texas Tech University seeks an Associate Professor of Technical Communication and Rhetoric. Tenure-track. 3/3 teaching with opportunities for reduction to 3/2 or 2/2, depending on administrative responsibilities and graduate teaching. Graduate and undergraduate courses in the specialization; service on thesis and dissertation committees. We invite applications from all areas of technical communication and rhetoric. Experience with program administration is desirable. Ph.D. required and a record of teaching, published scholarship, and service consistent with a research university.

The Department of English is large (47 faculty, 500 undergraduate majors, 150 graduate students), dynamic, and diverse, with bachelors, masters, and doctoral degrees offered both in English and in Technical Communication. The M.A. and Ph.D. in TC are offered in both onsite and online programs. A new building provides state-of-the-art classrooms, a usability lab, and a media lab. TTU is a growing university system, encompassing a law school and medical school as well as colleges of Arts and Sciences, Agriculture, Architecture, Business Administration, Engineering, Human Sciences, Mass Communication, and Visual and Performing Arts. The College of Arts and Sciences represents 35% of the total enrollment of 29,000.

For more information, please see www.english.ttu.edu.

Candidates must apply online at jobs.texastech.edu (No. 77643), attaching application letter and curriculum vitae. Applications will be accepted until the position is filled; the committee will start screening applications on October 1. Direct inquiries to english@ttu.edu TTU is an Equal Opportunity /Affirmative Action Employer, and it encourages applications from minorities and women.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

37.0 Job Openings: Niagara U

I would envy anyone with Joe Little as a colleague. If you are on the market, apply here!

Job Openings
Assistant Professor - English (Rhetoric and Composition)

Niagara University, a private Catholic, predominately undergraduate, institution sponsored by the Vincentian community seeks a full-time Assistant Professor in English with a specialization in Rhetoric and Composition for a tenure-track appointment in the English Department starting in Fall 2009. Please visit http://www.niagara.edu/english/ to learn more about our department.

Minimum qualifications: Ph.D. by August 2009 with specialization in Rhetoric and Composition. Experience and interest in one or more of the following: rhetorical theory; English education; creative writing; professional writing. An active program of research, potential for scholarly publication, demonstrated excellence in teaching, and service to the University, the profession, and the community are expected.

The successful candidate will teach Niagara's first-year composition program (WRT 100) as well as writing/ rhetoric courses for students pursuing English majors, English education majors and writing studies minors. The teaching load for 2009-2010 is 4 courses/3 courses (12 hours/9 hours). Teaching loads for all faculty will be permanently reduced to 3 courses per semester (9 hours) beginning in 2010-2011, Release time for research and/or administrative duties is available.

Salary commensurate with like institutions; excellent benefits.

To apply, please send a letter of interest, curriculum vitae, three letters of recommendation and unofficial graduate transcripts by NOVEMBER 3 to:

Dr. Jeanne Laurel,
Chair, English Department,
PO Box 2035,
Niagara University, NY 14109-2035.
Niagara University is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer. Men and women, and members of all racial and ethnic groups are encouraged to apply. In accordance with the Clery Act, a copy of the annual security report is available at: http://www.niagara.edu/safety. Applications accepted until the position is filled. Once filled, the listing will be removed from this website.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

36.0 Professional Advice from Other Blogs

A lot of my friends are on the market this year, most of them for the first time. Hurry up and get tenure and hired, guys, so you can start doing me favors.

Anyway, the Tenured Radical blog has some decent advice for job seekers. I repost some of that blog here, and hope you'll take a look.


Applying for a job when you already have one.

About a year ago there was a significant kerfuffle in the academic blogosphere that I unwittingly stepped into by suggesting that when writing a job letter you should, if you are actually employed at the time in a teaching position, use your employer's letterhead. "No!" many shouted. "This is fraud! Stealing!" It struck me as odd that anyone would have such strong feelings about what was, after all, an inexpensive piece of decorated paper. But they did. And I then came to understand, as readers linked to other posts, that there was a raging battle out there about whether, once you have stepped on the tenure track at one institution, it is ethical to jump to another track elsewhere.


I found it bizarre that trying to change jobs could be framed as an ethical problem. I mean, after all, this is why they call it a "job," right? As opposed to, say, indentured servitude? It's why the students call you "Professor" as opposed to, say "Sergeant," "Kulak Bastard!" or "Prisoner #447865." It's why we talk about the job market -- the word market implying some degree of free agency on all sides. In fact, having once been fired from a job at an institution other than Zenith in the midst of a political squabble (when the person who fired me was deposed, I was actually re-hired) I learned something very important. A letter of appointment is not actually a contract that guarantees you a job for the period of time stated in the letter, despite the fact that we refer to these documents as "contracts." All untenured faculty are employed "at will." This means that in exchange for giving you, the employee, the "right" to break the contract, the university also has the right to break the contract. This leads me to what I would call the two major fallacies that dominate the discussion about people who already have jobs going back on the market.

1. Applying for a job elsewhere is disloyal to your current employer and to your colleagues. Loyalty is a tricky concept to impose on a probationer to whom the university has made no commitment other than the promise of a tenure review in seven years. What it suggests is that because you have had a job bestowed on you, you must never want anything other than what that institution should provide. I would put this in the category of "like it or lump it" sentiments that would include: make a bad marriage work; don't have sex if you don't want a baby; because you have always gone to Stop N' Shop you must never buy at Costco; and you have to love your parents even if they were horrible to you. Furthermore, everyone goes "ooh!" and "ahhh!" when Big Ivy comes rolling around to rip off one of your colleagues who just wrote a prize winning book. But somehow the people who have the least -- assistant professors -- are supposed to remain grateful forever that they even got a job in the first place.


2. Going back on the market adds undue pressure to an overloaded system with too few jobs; furthermore, your current job gives you a "credential" that is an unfair advantage over others. Yeah, and that article you published in a prestigious collection puts other people at a disadvantage too. Let me just say: that there are so many fine scholars without the good jobs they deserve is one of the great tragedies of intellectual life right now. But let's blame the people who need to be blamed: the federal government, and state governments, that have slashed higher education budgets, and with them, tenure-track lines. The majority of tenure-track jobs were never in the private sector; they were created in the great expansions of public education that have been occurring since the 1850's (most prominently since the Morrill Acts of 1862 and 1890); and again after World War II. The government gaveth, and the government tooketh away.

My point is: if you go on the market you are not ripping the food from someone else's mouth. And if you get the job, presto! Your job opens for someone else! First a visitor, and then as a beginning assistant professorship.


But let's say you have decided to go back on the market. What do you need to attend to?

1. Every time you apply for a job it exposes you in a way you can't control. Some of your colleagues may feel betrayed, particularly if they worked hard to bring you there and went to a lot of trouble to negotiate a great start-up package. They put a lot of work into the search, and may not be able to hide their disappointment and resentment that you don't want to be there. So you need to know that, although you can ask for your application to be confidential up to a point (and probably should), that can't be guaranteed, and eventually you may have to deal with questions. Because of this, you will need to have a story to tell your current colleagues and your prospective new employer about why you are jumping the track, and this story may or may not be the same story you are telling yourself. My blogosphere colleague rightwing prof argued in comments to this post that applicants should tell this story right up front in the job letter. I disagree with that, but I would also say that if you are successful in your quest, eventually the story will have to be told, and possibly not on your timetable. So be prepared, and frame it in a way that leaves everyone's dignity intact .

2. It is a good idea to get in touch with a friend in the department you are applying to, or with the search chair, to find out whether your application is welcome and what the implications would be for your tenure clock. When some ads say "beginning assistant professor" they really mean it, and it could be a waste of your time to apply. And if you are moving from a SLAC or a less prestigious public institution to an R-I, be prepared to turn your tenure clock back. My very own Zenith, a SLAC that has a high research and teaching standard, is asking new hires with experience to roll back the tenure clock so that they have plenty of evidence when the tenure case is eventually heard. This may not be something you are willing to do, and I think this emerging practice has particular implications for women whose baby clock and tenure clock are competing with each other.

3. Unless you are in an utterly hostile environment, you need at least one colleague as a referee to reassure your prospective employers that there is nothing worrisome about you. This might be the person to say, "We hope we can hang on to her, but her partner is employed in Big City and the commute is taking a lot out of her." Or, "While we are excited about what he adds to our department and would regret losing him, the strength your department has in Latin American history is an obvious draw that we can't compete with." And let me say -- either of these explanations could be real, or they could be cover. No future employer wants to hear that you are in flight from tenured mysoginists, or that a gay man from New York living in Nebraska can feel like a fish on a bicycle. In other words: you may be moving for personal reasons, but come up with a legitimate professional one too.

4. What if you are on the market because you feel, through no fault of your own, that your career is in danger where you are? This is a sound reason to go on the market, in my opinion, and a good place to highlight advice I have already given above. If you are lucky, you will have a colleague at your institution with whom you can discuss this, who will help you frame your strategy, who will act as a referee, and who will agree to talk to prospective employers about things that should never go on paper and that may be too painful or unprocessed for you to discuss (racism, ideological prejudice, anti-semitism, sexual harassment, an affair that went psycho, homophobia, a horrible divorce from a senior colleague.) That said, you will eventually need a story to tell, and you need to figure out how to be truthful without potentially exposing yourself to further abuse in your department. If you are already dealing with people who are unsympathetic or cruel, you don't want it to get back to them that you are saying things that they will almost surely think are not true (when was the last time one of your colleagues self-identified as a homophobe?). But don't, whatever you do, make any of these stories part of your letter of application. If all things are equal, the committee will want you as part of the pool, and as your application proceeds to more serious stages you will know how much of your story to tell and to whom. Remember: this is why we interview people. To find out more about them; to try to judge their level of maturity and intellectual depth; and to give people the opportunity to volunteer necessary information on their own terms.

Monday, September 08, 2008

35.0 Draft of Puff Piece: Feedback Sought

So I am trained as a rhetorician, interdisciplinarily, but I am living in a disciplinary world. At UMD, that means that "rhetoric," as a key term, is "owned" by my colleagues in Comm. While we are making good inroads to collaboration among the junior faculty, old habits die hard, among the senior ones, where the term was contested.

My own department used to be called "Composition," but we are now "Writing Studies," a name we embraced without really defining. I am trying to draft a puff piece, a PR piece that pulls together what Writing Studies is for the layman, for the alumni, and for our colleagues. How does this one work? What questions does it leave you with?

Writing Studies
at the University of Minnesota Duluth:
The Newest Department in the Oldest Field of Study

The University of Minnesota is the new home (on both the Twin Cities and the Duluth Campuses) of Departments of Writing Studies. The UM-Duluth Department of Writing Studies is a reconfigured Department of Composition (a department originally formed in the late 1980s).

Our colleagues, students and alumnae may not know what it means to live, work and collaborate with the new Department of Writing Studies. Among other things, it means that UMD is on the cutting edge of a national movement, while remaining committed to teaching and research that improves undergraduate education in writing.

What was the Department of Composition?

For twenty years, the Department of Composition offered courses designed to improve student writing at UMD. Those course offerings and those strengths remain, but Writing Studies reflects the changing strengths of the Department in the last twenty years.

Teacher-scholars at UMD have always made teaching and research into undergraduate writing the core of its mission. It retains that mission while it steps into the changing disciplinary formation of Writing Studies.

What is Writing?

To understand writing in the new Department, we need to understand what writing is, beyond a series of exercises in the classroom. We need to understand that writing is a practice, an object, a technology. Andrea Lunsford defines it as a technology for creating conceptual frameworks and performing lines of thought within those frameworks.

In the university, this means that it is writing that makes academic fields of inquiry possible. Writing allows the best physicists, historians and management theorists to create the conceptual frameworks that define the discipline. Students perform lines of thought, their own ideas and arguments, within those conceptual frameworks.

Outside the university, the language of advertising creates conceptual frameworks – attitudes toward products or political campaigns. The language of self-help books creates conceptual frameworks for understanding who we are and what we need to be happy. And the language of law creates, perhaps, the most powerful frameworks of all.

What is Writing Studies?

Writing Studies is a reconfiguration of the intellectual resources in the Department of Composition for the new millennium. Charles Bazerman defines "writing studies" as composed of three kinds of investigation:

1. Scholars in Departments of Writing Studies investigate the historical picture of writing practices and related institutions and social systems. We are as interested in writing practices in the 21st century as in the 12th, in school settings as well as workplace and political life, globally, on the printed page and on the new media screen. And, we understand that writing within our convergence culture is pulling the public and the personal, the civic and the commercial forms of writing together.

2. Scholars in Writing Studies engage an interdisciplinary research program, connecting the humanistic study of rhetoric with contemporary social theory and empirical social science. The end result is a refined body of theory to study the technology of writing as both a practice and as a cultural artifact.

3. Scholars in Writing Studies undertake a practical examination of writers' socialization into communities, as well as their emergent identities as literate social beings. We study the writer, the reader, and their community.

As the Department of Writing Studies refines and redevelops its curriculum for the 21st century, it does so within this broad intellectual frame.

What Does Writing Studies Offer the Student?

Writing Studies houses four minors: Journalism, Information Design, Professional Writing & Communication and Linguistics. Each focuses on an area of writing and language use that steps outside the classroom and into the professional and civic contexts.

Additionally, we offer graduate courses in the teaching of college composition, information design and other areas of writing studies, more broadly. We also supervise internships for graduate and undergraduate students.

What Does Writing Studies Offer UMD?

We bring a continued commitment to quality teaching of writing, enhanced by collaboration with faculty across the campus. And, we bring a body of research in the dynamic field of writing studies. If writing is the practice that perhaps defines the bulk of our everyday personal, professional and civic lives, Writing Studies has much to offer our sisters disciplines at UMD.

For further reading:

David Bartholomae, “What Is Composition and (if you know what that is) Why Do We Teach It?”
Charles Bazerman, “The Case for Writing Studies as a Major Discipline.”
Andrea Lunsford, “New Directions in Rhetorical Studies.”

Pull Quotes:

Composition is the “institutionally supported desire to organize and evaluate the writing of [student] writers and and to define it as an object of professional scrutiny.
--David Bartholomae, University of Pittsburgh,
one of the founding generation of scholars in Composition

is technology for creating conceptual frameworks and for creating and performing lines of thought within those frameworks.
Writing draws from existing conventions and genres,
utilizing signs and symbols, incorporating multiple sources,
and taking advantage of a full range of media.
– Andrea Lunsford, Stanford University

Writing Studies
is the study of writing--its production, its circulation, its uses, its role in the development of individuals, societies ... and cultures.
--Charles Bazerman, UC Santa Barbara,
one of the founding scholars
in Writing Studies