Tuesday, December 30, 2008

52 CFP

Call for Proposals for April 3-4 MnCUEW Conference

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 25, 2008

51.1 More on K

Mr. Kugelmass,

In your replies, you quote Eyman:

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

To which you reply:

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

I ask a follow up:

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

This leads us to the final questions:

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

51. Kugelmass?

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

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


Responding to:

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

Sunday, December 21, 2008

50.0 TOC:

This looks great: Phil & Rhet

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

In the meantime, this looks great!

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

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

49.0 A Hunk of Book...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Moore’s Philosophy of Language

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Rhetorical Transformation

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, December 12, 2008


The New Major in Writing Studies at UMD.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 01, 2008

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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