Thursday, February 25, 2010

187. Bulk Job Ads:

Associate Professor of English in Composition and Rhetoric
University of South Carolina (South Carolina)
(date posted: 02/17/2010)

Assistant Professor of Rhetoric and Writing Studies, Director of First-Year Writing
Western Michigan University, Department of English (Michigan)
(date posted: 02/16/2010)

Lecturer, Rhetoric
Boston University (Massachusetts)
(date posted: 02/12/2010)

Assistant Professor of English in Composition/Rhetoric
Ohio Northern University (Ohio)

Monday, February 22, 2010


Announcement: Archival Research

Submitted by syntaxfactory on February 16, 2010 - 7:09pm

Archival research is the rave in composition studies lately. If you live in New York, consider attending these events; if not, consider contacting these researchers. Below, a list of interesting spring events & diverse panelists on archives @ New York University. Free and open to the public.

Discussing the Archive: Ideas, Practices, Institutions
A collaboration space for the M.A. program in Archives and Public History
New York University, Spring 2010
Sponsored by the Humanities Initiative, the Departments of English, History, and Social and Cultural Analysis, the Archives and Public History Program, the Working Group on Slavery and Freedom, and the Colloquium on American Literature and Culture, New York University.

March 3rd, 6 pm
Archival Materialities
19 University Place, Great Room (1st Floor)
Tina M. Campt, Associate Professor of Women's Studies and History, Duke University.
Lisa Darms, Senior Archivist at Fales Library, NYU.
Kate Eichhorn, Assistant Professor of Culture and Media, The New School.
Meredith McGill, Associate Professor of English, Director of the Center for Cultural Analysis, Rutgers University.
Moderated by Lisa Gitelman, Associate Professor of English and Media Culture and Communication, NYU.

March 11th, 5:30 pm
Collecting and Collectivities
Location: 20 Cooper Square, 4th Floor (SCA)
Brent Hayes Edwards, Professor of English and Comparative Literature, Columbia University.
Steven G. Fullwood, Manuscripts Librarian, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.
Jacqueline Goldsby, Visiting Associate Professor of English, NYU.
Nikhil Pal Singh, Associate Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis and History, NYU.
Moderated by Elizabeth McHenry, Associate Professor of English, NYU.

April 7th, 5:30 pm
Embodied Archive
Location: 20 Cooper Square, 5th Floor (Humanities Initiative)
Ann Fabian, Professor of American Studies and History, Dean of Humanities, Rutgers University.
Anne Golomb Hoffman, Professor of English, Fordham University
Deb Levine, Doctoral Candidate in Performance Studies, Instructor of Drama, NYU.
Marvin J. Taylor, Director, Fales Library and Special Collections, NYU.
Moderated by Michele Mitchell, Associate Professor of History, NYU.

April 22nd, 3:30 pm
Graduate Student Workshop with Thomas Blanton (National Security Archive)
Moderated by Peter J. Wosh, Director, Archives and Public History Program and Clinical Associate Professor of History, NYU.
Location: King Juan Carlos Center, 53 Washington Square South, Room 527

April 22nd, 5 pm
Archives and the Security State: Implications for Archival Research
Location: 20 Cooper Square, 4th Floor (SCA)
Thomas Blanton, Director of the National Security Archive, George Washington University.
Khaled Fahmy, Associate Professor of Middle Eastern Studies, NYU.
Jennifer Milligan, Associate Professor of History, Marymount Manhattan College.
Yvette Christiansë, Associate Professor of English, Fordham University.
Moderated by Jack Tchen, Director of Asian/Pacific/American Studies Program and Institute, Associate Professor of History and Individualized Learning, NYU.

All events are free and open to the public; ID required for entry into campus buildings.

syntaxfactory's blog Add new comment
Two ships in a foggy night?
Submitted by patgehrke on February 21, 2010 - 12:39pm.
I usually only lurk these pages, but I am provoked to chime in briefly here. Pardon if this is rough, but it is off-cuff.

I might offer up the proposition that comp/rhet and comm/rhet have significantly different traditions of writing their own histories -- that is to say, of being reflective upon their disciplinary traditions. This might be tied to the differences in how pedagogy and criticism are weighted as disciplinary endeavors or perhaps the sharp break from elocutionists, expressionists, etc. that helped define (the break from, that is) the grounds for the start of the ECA/NCA cadre (maybe even more than the break from English, but that is another story). In comm/rhet the 18th c. and 19th c. have not been the object of recovery-projects for disciplinary identity and disciplinary tradition to the degree or in the same way that they have in comp/rhet, at least to my eye.

That said, there is a real and durable interest among "speech comm." folks (and I know this term is archaic but I maintain its utility when discussing the history of the discipline) to do their own history, even at the very invention of this "speech" discipline (e.g. Maud May Babcock). However, I do think it is reasonably accurate (with exemptions for Bill Keith at least) to say that this tradition of writing disciplinary history in comm/rhet has been weak in deploying archival and textual evidence, relying instead upon (the exact quote escapes me but I think this is from one of the entries in the King and Kuyper volume) a combination of nostalgia, reminiscence, and amnesia.

Hogan's certainly right that public address (with rhetorical history) has a strong and impressive tradition of archival research. I do find interesting, and maybe not all would agree with me in this, that comm/rhet has a far greater interest in doing archival and historical work on practitioners of public rhetoric (esp. major figures in social movements and government office) in the 19th and 18th centuries than on theorists/scientists/philosophers/teachers of speech/communication/rhetoric during those two centuries. We are especially weak on speech pedagogy during those periods. But historians interested in the pedagogy of speech and the theorization of speech in the 18th-20th century (myself included) could probably learn a lot about archival work from their colleagues in public address and in comp/rhet.

So, long story short, Aune’s interrogative might mark the distinction, to some degree. Both disciplines have some impressive archival work, but they tend to be directed toward different objects and tasks, which I think reflects something of that continuing distinction between comp/rhet and comm/rhet on the topics of pedagogy and criticism. The fact that David’s reference to archival research can so transparently mean for him disciplinary history focused on pedagogy while at the same time mean for Hogan an elision of the archival work in public address evidences the durability of that disciplinary distinction.

Fair? Some of this might be a bit broad-stroke and certainly important exceptions can be made.

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Archival Research More Prominent in Composition Studies?
Submitted by Mike Hogan on February 20, 2010 - 8:48pm.
Wow! Forgive my astonishment, but I think Jim Aune might have been on the verge of correcting Syntaxfactory (whoever the heck that is--I hate this anonymous posting stuff)but failed to do it. So I guess I must. The fact is that archival research has been taken very seriously in the subfield of rhetorical studies in "Speech Communication" (although we haven't called it that in at least 20 years)known as public address for at least the past 75 years. And it still is (see any of the recent volumes in the Rhetoric and Public Affairs series at the Michigan State University Press, as well as the forthcoming volume from Blackwell edited by Shawn Parry-Giles and me, the Handbook of Rhetoric and Public Address). It's starting to really bother me that "spokespersons" for RSA have absolutely no knowledge of the public address tradition in "speech communication." Zaresfsky and Leff tried to educate you people, but apparently their efforts have been in vain. Jeez. I think I'll stay home this May.

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More prominent?
Submitted by syntaxfactory on February 21, 2010 - 12:10am.
Jim couldn't have been correcting my first post, which made no relative assessment of the two traditions. Did he stifle a desire to correct the second posting? Maybe. I'll offer three lines of defense:

1. My claims were about archival research analogous to the tradition of archival research in composition. There is no doubt that those kinds of pedagogical-institutional archival projects are relatively underdeveloped in speech communication, in part because the history of pedagogy, discipline and major institutions in speech-communication is underdeveloped, comparatively. The point is made easily: we know more about one man in composition (Fred Newton Scott) than we do about all "seventeen who made history" by walking out on the NCTE to form the NAATPS.

2. Do I deny the public address tradition? No way. It's as old as the hills, or at least as old as Thonssen, Baird, and the efforts to fix the texts of exemplary works in public address for criticism. Nonetheless, is it possible that sustained reflection on archival theory and methods is a recent development for both Composition and Speech-Communication? I think so.

In RPA, Davis W. Houck locates the archival turn in public address studies "from Martin Medhurst's significant call for enhanced research at the first Public Address Conference in 1988." That would make the archival turn in public address contemporary to the archival turn in composition studies. We have a seventy year tradition of archival work in rhetoric/public address, but perhaps we have a recent rethinking of methods and theory worth considering. That special issue of RPA may be evidence of that.

That argument is weak defense against your claims, Dr. Hogan. Which is why, my third defense:

3. My post says:
"I have left someone out, to be sure. (Fill in my gaps!)"
"Whom have I missed?"

I am grateful that you picked up the invitation to reply. You have begun to answer the question "whom have I missed?" Thanks for pointing out the handbook. Houck celebrates the MSU projects as being made possible by the archival turn -- glad to see you recognize their value.

For the interdisciplinary audience of the Blogora, please -- push the issue further! What exemplary texts using or theorizing archival research should be noted to fully represent the public address tradition? Fill in my gaps!

As for staying home in May: I hope you'll no more stay home in May than you will cease filling in the gaps in Blogora postings.

--David Beard, UM Duluth

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The rage?
Submitted by Jim Aune on February 16, 2010 - 7:51pm.
How do you mean, exactly? Researching records of how composition was taught?

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Archival inquiry
Submitted by syntaxfactory on February 17, 2010 - 9:58am.
I was a rave kid in high school. Does that explain the gaffe?

Archival inquiry has been something of interest in rhet/comp for more than a decade now. I kind of date the widespread interest from initial backlash against the histories of composition and rhetoric that were based on journal articles and textbooks; these approaches were decimated not just as incomplete but as intuitively off (as much of what happens in my classroom, at least, varies little at all with what textbook I use).

John Brereton gave us an anthology of materials that demonstrated the richness of what was available in the archives:
The origins of composition studies in the American college, 1875-1925 By John C. Brereton
This book opened the field; it's probably one of the three or four most important books I'd read as a doc student because it opened me up to the diversity of narrative possibilities in writing the history of rhetoric and composition -- the field may have been reducible to what Kitzhaber saw and what Berlin saw, but at the same time, that reduction cost us something that Brereton (and others) made visible again.

Other scholars began drafting newer, more sophisticated historical narratives based on these materials:
--The Idea of a Writing Laboratory By Neal Lerner, just out recently, is an awesome example. I met Dr. Lerner while he was in Minneapolis looking into the history of the Writing Lab there. I thought he was exhuming a corpse. I now thing he was searching for diamonds.
--Local histories: reading the archives of composition By Patricia Donahue, Gretchen Flesher Moon (in which Kathryn Fitzgerald's essay beautifully teases out some of the problems of reconstructing the history of writing instruction if all you have left, as a documentary trace, are the students papers, without a prompt or assignment.
--Historical Studies of Writing Program Administration: Individuals, Communities, and the Formation of a Discipline by Barbara L'Eplattenier, Lisa Mastrangelo won awards for this kind of work.
--Archives of Instruction: Nineteenth-Century Rhetorics, Readers, and Composition Books in the United States by Jean Ferguson Carr, Stephen L. Carr, Lucille M. Schultz

While, finally, books that reflect on methods and orientations (as well as utilizing case studies) appeared.
--Working in the Archives: Practical Research Methods for Rhetoric and Composition by Assistant Professor Alexis E. Ramsey, Associate Professor Wendy B Sharer, Professor Barbara L'Eplattenier, and Professor Lisa Mastrangelo
--Beyond the archives: research as a lived process By Gesa Kirsch, Liz Rohan, Gesa E. Kirsch

I'd think that this interest in archival materials would make us rethink some of the canon-fights in rhetorical studies of 10 years ago. We were wondering whether Sor Juana de la Cruz (see Bokser) and Adrienne Rich (see Ratcliffe) fit inside the Bizzell and Herzberg narrative. "Canonoia," Schilb called it. These new approaches generate different contributions altogether -- not reworking the Platteville Normal School into B&H (Fitzgerald, above), but making a unique contribution to the history of rhetoric nonetheless.


I have left someone out, to be sure. (Fill in my gaps!)

Part of this, to be sure, fits into the grand tradition of archival work in literary studies -- a body of principles for research sometimes cited in this literature. So it may make sense that there is less of it in Speech-Communication research. And even if there we equal impulse, there is (arguably) more stuff to work with: universities saving masses of student papers, for example, while unable to save student speeches in the same way. Composition instruction largely uninterrupted for 200 years in American universities, while the early NCA-types wanted a clean break from the 19th century traditions of speech education (leaving, at most, 95 years of material in most cases).

But William Keith (Democracy as Discussion) and Pat Gehrke (Ethics and Politics of Speech) and Gerry Philipsen and Ron Greene and Darrin Hicks are riding a crest of archival work in Speech-Communication, to be sure. (We have yet to see our analogue to Brereton -- someone who makes not just the narrative, but the raw materials, available to the Speech Communication community. That's a shame, though maybe those books sell poorly to people who are not me.)

Whom have I missed? And why does this post feel like a Publisher's Weekly article?


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185. From the Blogora

On the Atomization of Rhetoric: A Response

disciplinarity rhetoric
Submitted by Jim Brown on February 19, 2010 - 11:27am

In a recent collaborative blog post, Brian McNely and Christa Teston have kicked off a discussion of which I think Blogora should be a part. That discussion is one that I have touched on previously, and I’d like to offer a response to their discussion in the interest of, in their words (though, they are channeling Robert Scott), “cooperative critical inquiry.” I want to offer a three-pronged response.

In the course of that response, I will offer a gloss of their various arguments, but I would encourage you to read their entire post.

1. Rhetoric as epistemic
McNely and Teston argue that the “atomization” of rhetoric is both a blessing and a curse. That atomization means that

“rhetoric as an academic discipline and professional practices suffers from… a context-stripping particularity that reduces rhetorical practice to departments, domains, specialties, sub-disciplines, colloquialisms. And yet we simultaneously recognize that such atomization has been historically productive; atomization has fostered new approaches and understandings that, for so long, have been othered or invisible.”

But there is one more “and yet”: “And yet…atomization separates, bifurcates, siloizes.” I think most would agree that this is an accurate depiction of our inter-discipline's current situation. Steve Mailloux’s Discipilinary Identities has a good bit to say about the history of this predicament, and I think we can take it as commonplace that rhetoric is “atomized” and that the situation has its advantages and disadvantages.

However, where McNely and Teston head from here is a bit curious. For while I see rhetoric is atomized, I don’t think I think I see that atomization in the same way. Let me explain.

McNely and Teston offer a set of aphorisms in an attempt to reset this conversation, and that reset returns to Robert Scott’s argument that rhetoric is epistemic, that it is performative and not constative, that it “does not discover, it invents and produces.” They offer Scott’s work because they “these propositions are not shared within our field. There are profound disciplinary and pragmatic implications for accepting, rejecting, or ignoring these propositions.”

This is one place where I think I’d have part ways with McNely and Teston, because when I read CCC or RSQ (and maybe I should read QSJ and others more often), I don’t see many who would not accept Scott’s assertion. It may be that there are other “atoms” of rhetoric that do not take the “rhetoric as epistemic” position as commonplace, and maybe that’s where this disussion needs to head. I would need to see some evidence of McNely and Teston’s sense of the situation. The books and journals I’m thinking of don’t cite Scott, but that’s because Scott (and the textual constellation surrounding his seminal text) is assumed. So, I’m just not certain about this attempt to reset the conversation by returning to an argument that has, in many circles, been a platform (and not a point of argument) for quite some time. Then again, I am willing to admit that I am not plugged in to all of rhetoric’s “atoms” – I’m open to a discussion on this topic.

2.) “Human Agency”
Upon offering the premises from which they argue—that rhetoric is epistemic, that it is not a “mere tool” or linguistic “dressing,” that rhetoric is a worldview, that rhetoric “makes as it goes and defines its ends along the way,” that rhetoric is not a mere conduit—McNely and Teston offer this:

“These propositions neither invalidate nor ignore the role of human agency in the making of meaning. In fact, we argue that rhetoric is embodied and materially instantiated, and because of this, rhetoric is grounded in human agency. Pierre Thevenaz claims that “man acts and speaks before he knows. Or, better, it is by acting and in action that he is enabled to know” (quoted in Scott 1967). So, because rhetoric is being and knowing, because knowing and being are rhetoric (and not merely rhetoric-al), we argue that rhetoric structures, facilitates, and makes possible human agency. Human agency and rhetoric cannot be excised from one another. They are mutually constitutive.”

In this statement, I would argue that McNely and Teston’s attempt to reset the discussion has offered what I (and I think others) would see as a somewhat exclusionary discussion of rhetoric’s relationship to agency. That is, they are concerned that the field(s) of rhetoric do not share an important assumption—that rhetoric is epistemic—but in their discussion of agency they have assumed a particular theorization of rhetoric and agency. I am not arguing that there is not human agency (nobody that I know of argues this), and I am not arguing that humans don’t make things happen in the world. But I do think that reducing agency to the “human” leaves out a whole number of important questions about agency. I am not comfortable with the statement that “rhetoric is grounded in human agency,” because it would seem to suggest that other loci of agency (technologies, for instance) are some how secondary to considerations of human agency.

There is much more to say here, but I would only offer a brief example from my own research. I’m interested in how software helps to shape rhetorical situations. This means that software has agency, and it means that computer programs interact with humans in complex ways. Software doesn't dictate the rhetorical situation. Rather, it is part of a complex "media ecology." By privileging human agency, we run the risk of disregarding a complex ecology of agencies—that ecology does not obliterate human agency, but it certainly complicates it. In fact, McNely and Teston’s concern that rhetoric is considered a “mere tool” is the exact concern that I would raise here. I am not the first to argue that technology is not “mere tool,” but I am happy to repeat the argument here in the interest of complicating our notion of agency. As I see it, McNely and Teston have offered a discussion that seems too quick to put the human agent at the center of the rhetorical situation. Humans are accompanied by technologies, texts, etc—all of which have “agencies”—and this complicated situation, as I see it, is reduced to something much simpler if we focus too much on “human agency.”

3.) “Writing practices as they occur in the world”

I also have some questions about one of their concluding passages:

“Our aim is to move from the above described philosophical revival of rhetoric-as-epistemic toward constructs that support more grounded investigations of rhetoric and writing practices as they occur in the world. We want to explode contexts, to make strange, and to complicate without sacrificing the holistic nature of rhetoric. Grounded, activity- and practice-based methodologies and methods, therefore, are where we turn from here.” (emphasis in original)

I’m not quite sure what this passage is getting at. It seems that they’re putting forth an argument that certain qualitiative methods (such as grounded theory?) are their “way forward,” and I wonder how this fits with their attempt at a more inclusive (less atomized) version of rhetorical studies. Such qualitative methods are but one part of our methodological landscape, and I would hope that McNely and Teston are open to a broad range of methods. I do not study writing qualitatively, but I do study “writing practices as they occur in the world.” I’m not sure who in rhetoric and writing studies does not study writing in this way.
McNely and Teston are clearly interested in these issues, and their discussion of how new media should play a part in this conversation shows this. They argue that “text” should not be prior to “image” in rhetorical studies, and they are clearly concerned with some of the issues I raise here. However, their framing of the question of method seems to leave out certain theoretical approaches.

By way of conclusion…
My aim here is not to say that anyone is wrong. If anything, I only want to upset a bit of McNely and Teston’s set up (if I might channel Samuel Weber for a moment) in the interest of furthering discussion. McNely and Teston acknowledge that their aphoristic blog post is “deserving of refinement” and they have asked us to “consider this work as but a ‘process of interaction in a given moment.’” And it may be that I have misread their aphoristic “constitution” for rhetoric and writing studies. My hope is that they (and some Blogora readers) will set me straight if this has happened. I offer my thoughts in the interest of continuing this discussion.

Jim Brown's blog Add new comment
companion post to "On the Atomization of Rhetoric"
Submitted by Jim Brown on February 22, 2010 - 1:50pm.
Just wanted to provide a link to Christa Teston's recent companion post:

[Update/Correction: This is another collaborative blog post written by McNely and Teston]

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Submitted by syntaxfactory on February 22, 2010 - 8:43pm.
...and yet, I feel like a guy who showed up to the game wearing a handball glove, while his partners showed up with a catcher's mitt.

It may be hard to see, once in a while, but we are a friendly bunch, and I hope McNely and Teston will move into the dialogue genre to advance their work and our community.

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the magisterial gesture
Submitted by slewfoot on February 20, 2010 - 10:38am.
I am running behind schedule and regret I don't have time to responsibly engage, however, the root "response" here is key. I very much appreciate the commentary of Dave and Jim, with whom I am in agreement.

I disagree with the fundamental moves of McNely and Teston for five reasons:

1. The conflation of ontology and rhetoric. Oh boy, where does one begin? Huge swaths of literature take up this move as a problem. Let's start with the critique of the transcendental subject? We begin with Hegel . . . .

2. The productive misreading reinvents a spare tire. In (partial) sympathy with Brummett, in the speech tradition the equivocation of how and the what led Cherwitz and Hikins to posit a new literature. As Dave suggests, to continue down this road, the philosophical particulars need to be rehearsed so we can better understand how new media makes a return novel (and productive). In what ways does this "new old" perspective differ from Cherwitz? I know the answer immediately, but still one must engage . . . .

3. The choice of metaphor. As I learn more and more about rhetoric's institutional history, I'd replace atomization with the blob. Folks would like things to be discrete, and there were many squabbles over finding differences, but "we rhetoricians" have more in common than not.

4. On not defining rhetoric. Cf. Robert L. Scott

5. Regarding four: all we have is our institutional history, which is---knock on Hayden White---rhetorical. But it's the best way to make sense of the Blob. Certainly it's my preference over ontologizing.

6. Scott's essays on epistemic rhetoric are routinely misread. As I have argued tirelessly whenever they come up in discussion, the temptation to slide into ontological claims obscures the ethical implications of his argument. The claim is not "if rhetorical practice constitutes reality, then reality is X," but rather, "if rhetorical practice is constitutive of meaningful reality, then it entails a responsibility." At the time of Scott's writing, everyone was reading +Being and Time+ and +Existentialism is a Humanism+ . . . 60s tumult. Vietnam. What was at stake in the epistemic debate--from years of personal conversation with the man---was the killing of people. Pat Gehrke argues similarly in his THE ETHICS AND POLITICS OF SPEECH. (Good read, highly recommended.)

Sorry to be the grumpus who says, "but it's more complicated than that." As I continue to wrestle with teaching the pedagogy of un-mastery or anti-mastery---and all the contradictions that necessarily come with that---I am increasingly hysteriptical of the magisterial genres.

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Submitted by syntaxfactory on February 20, 2010 - 11:22am.
...there any discipline worse at metaphors for self-understanding? "Atoms," "blobs," and of course, "size matters"?

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I'll pick this up... [edited & revised]
Submitted by syntaxfactory on February 20, 2010 - 4:29am.
...though from angles different from yours, Jim. [I've eliminated digressions about philosophy and some other stuff that enters into writing at 4:30am.]


Below, I respond more or less to the claims of this other blog, as they arise, based on Jim Brown’s suggestions for engagement. Their work in quotes, mine not.

“This post explores theoretical propositions that have potentially broad implications for researchers and practitioners in the field of Rhetoric and Writing Studies and related disciplinary and professional domains.”

There is much to be made right in this first paragraph: the selection of rhetoric and writing studies locates our authors on one half of an American disciplinary divide (composition and communication as the locations where rhetoric is done). We could even suggest that there is a sub-fracture between scholars who identify as "rhet/ws" differentiate from "rhet/comp" -- Ball State changed the name of its curricular emphasis to reflect that identification, I think.

Great strides are being made every day to heal this divide, to bridge this divide. But we start on one half of the map, in this polemic. When the bloggers say:

“our field fails to centrally position and explicitly theorize the epistemic and ontological nature of rhetoric when investigating and articulating how various modes of representation afford knowledge-making… Scott argues that “if truth is somehow both prior and substantial, then problems need not be worked out but only classified and disposed of.” Consequently, Scott rejects “prior and enabling truth as the epistemological basis” for rhetoric; so do we….”

…we know that this failure is true, moreso, of composition-rhetoric, perhaps, than speech-rhetoric. In speech rhetoric, the epistemic question spawned multiple articles by Scott (in which he struggled to clarify misconceptions), rejoinders by Cherwitz, Hikins and Harpine (that, I think, sometimes magnify misunderstandings), and extensions from scholars like Brummett, Bineham, and Zarefsky. Some 30 years later, scholars met and conferences and journal fora to discuss epistemic rhetoric. Relatively few scholars located in the English tradition have addressed Scott directly: Theresa Enos included Scott’s work in her anthologies of the New Rhetoric; Alan Gross addressed Scott directly in establishing a lineage for work in the rhetoric of science.

The rediscovery of RL Scott by these scholars is a heartening sign of the breakdown of the divide between these disciplines. (One of the key insights from the "epistemic" discourse, for example, is that Scott is not establishing a rhetorical epistemology; he is establishing an ethics of rhetoric by clarifying its epistemic character. That is an insight that could strengthen the case of the bloggers.)

“We argue, therefore, that rhetoric is no mere tool, the dressing or art of language. It cannot simply be just the art of persuasion…. We argue, therefore, that rhetoric is worldview; it is underlying philosophy and tacit understanding. Rhetoric makes as it goes, and defines its ends along the way. It is not circumscribed; it circumscribes. Rhetoric deploys as it is deployed.”

These claims are welcome, and they carry with them the enthusiasm that we long to see for innovative new work in rhetoric. They do, however, run the risk of rediscovery.

In ethnic studies, there is a paradigm, constantly being challenged, even as each challenge reifies the model, for relationships among ethnic communities across generations. The first generation relocates to the US. The second generation rejects the first in the name of assimilation. The third generation recovers the first. Even as these bloggers rediscover Scott, I wonder whether they have overlooked the advances of the generation between, a generation that mapped the relationship between rhetoric and ideology in interesting and exciting ways that overlap their claims.

For example, James Berlin articulated the role of rhetoric at any historical period: "A Rhetoric is a social invention," writes James Berlin. "It arises out of a time and place, a peculiar social context, establishing for a period the conditions that make a peculiar kind of communication possible, and then it is altered or replaced by another scheme" ("Rhetoric and Reality" 1). Berlin calls these changing rhetorical schemes noetic fields. He says that noetic fields have their own distinctive concepts of reality, human nature and language. A noetic field is "a closed system defining 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" (2). Berlin offers a complex rethinking of rhetoric as worldview.

Ideology is Berlin’s keyword, a symptom perhaps of the era in which he wrote. He claims that “Conceived from the perspective of rhetoric, ideology provides the language to define the subject (the self), other subjects, the material world, and the relation of all of these to each other. Ideology is thus inscribed in language practices, entering all features of our experience.”

That rhetoric “deploys as it is deployed” is a central tenet of ideological criticism, whether Berlin or Wander or even the less obviously Marxist claims like Ratcliffe’s claims that “the study of rhetoric is the study of how we use language and language uses us.” I hope that these scholars will consider these previous maps to the territory they want to explore to buttress their argument.

“Rhetoric is "a dimension of all activity rather than [...] an activity in its own right" (Brummett 1979)… These are propositions that ground our theorizing about and approaches toward understanding how meaning gets made in the overlap between modes of representation, human interaction, and everyday experiences--experiences bound by space and time. But we sense that these propositions are not shared within our field. There are profound disciplinary and pragmatic implications for accepting, rejecting, or ignoring these propositions.“

Some historical perspective, here, again. At at least one point, substantial argument was made that the Old Rhetoric (the one about which Barthes wrote his “Aide-Memoire”) should be replaced with the new semiosis. In part, this was symptomatic of the Great Genuflection to all varieties of French critical theory (a time when Burke was lauded as much for being Burke as for appearing compatible with these theories). But surely part of this was also because folks like Barthes used the rhetoric terminology so seductively when writing about semiosis (the “rhetoric of the image”).

Eventually, we gave to semiotics what was semiotics’ and to rhetoric what was rhetoric’s. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t test the waters once in a while, as these bloggers suggest. But it should be with a sense of historical consciousness.

Why? I have an anecdotal story. One of Dr. McNely’s doctoral committee members and I were at a paper workshop together in 2004. To me, it was triply memorable. First, it was memorable because ASHR VP Janet Atwill had experimented with a new format: a longer panel format where we traded papers in advances with senior colleagues and discussed them at length (instead of 20 minutes of reciting followed by 5 minutes of talk). [Janet, this was innovative and I regret that ASHR never did it again.] The senior colleague in my session was Wayne Booth. I will never forget the feeling that Wayne Booth had read and thought critically about something I had written.

The faculty member who would later serve on Dr. McNely’s doctoral committee gave a paper arguing that there were no resources for the study of the visual in the rhetorical tradition. Dr. Booth offered a rundown of the importance of the visual in the historical tradition: in the elocutionists, in the classical discussions of ethos, even in a certain way in classical discussions of visualization as key to memory. In short, to recognize what was there (the baby) before dismissing it (the bathwater).

It’s clear: I fixate in antiquarian ways that diminish my ability to make profound contributions to the discipline, while others make sweeping generalizations to frame exciting new work. Probably, those sweeping generalizations enable innovation. But rhetoric is defined, more than any other field, by its history. Our sense of tradition has been our anxiety and our strength. Plumb that tradition, young bloggers, including the recent tradition of contact with semiotics and cultural studies.

“Atomization is crucial to the viability of studying and doing rhetoric. And yet atomization separates, bifurcates, siloizes. Atomization necessitates a particularized and specious division of multivalent, polymorphous, polycontexts. Atomization comfortably compartmentalizes—culturally, philosophically, theoretically—meaning and being. It ameliorates our need to explore through the practice of exploding contexts. It assuages our uncertainty, allows us to reduce writing to this, visual to that, performance to here, orality there. Consequently, atomization draws lines, then builds fences, then erects walls, borders, and territories. Image becomes a province, alphabetic text an imperial kingdom, orality a third-world domain, art a margin, film a continent to be conquered, digital media a competing power.”

You will find no one who agree more with you on these issues than me. Both for the productivity of atomization and the need to develop tools to bridge it.

“In the atomization of rhetoric, the visual in particular is seen from across the border, with suspicion—a potential threat. When atomized, the visual is simultaneously embraced and othered. It is not granted the capacity for meaning without the contextualization of alphabetic text, a decree of its (un)worthiness.”

I am seeing a continuity of position from teacher to student. The visual has been subject to a rich program of rhetorical research.

“Our argument proceeds from these principles. Image and alphabetic text are not atomized domains, but mutually constitutive actors in meaning making. Yet the very atomization of rhetoric, which generously gives and insidiously takes away, will not let image stand alone, even though the image is always already rhetoric.”

Here, I would point to a stack of work on the rhetoric of the image that is counter to this principle. Because I like to “shout out” to scholars I admire:
Alan Gross on the rhetoric of the image in science, in collections like Ways of Seeing, Ways of Speaking: The Integration of Rhetoric and Vision in Constructing the Real, Edited by Kristie S. Fleckenstein, Sue Hum, and Linda T. Calendrillo
Kenneth Marunowski on the rhetoric of the image on the euro and of the artistic image (derived from his own work as a painter)
And anything every written by Marguerite Helmers, perhaps the most sensitive critic of the visual image who was ever trained in rhetoric and composition. (See for the special issue on Burke and her article on the visual)

These scholars could be doing the work you want to announce, already, or help sharpen your claims for what must be done.

“Oral presentation skills aren't taught in Business and Professional writing courses because it's a course on "writing," not "communication."“

Here, it seems to me, our bloggers are generalizing from local curricular conditions. There are tons of BPComm courses that do both, and these are the foundational arguments for technical communication (as opposed to technical writing) majors in English departments. Can you help me see what you are up to here?

“We eschew the "of"--an indication that rhetoric is part rather than whole. We no longer need the "of" if we are to learn from our atomization and challenge ourselves toward holistic theorizing. We argue for is rather than of.
The visual is rhetoric. There should be no rhetoric of the visual.
Writing is rhetoric. There should be no rhetoric of writing.
Bodies are rhetoric. There should be no rhetoric of bodies.
The bricolage of visual~writing~bodies is not merely rhetoric-al, since being rhetoric-al pigeonholes rhetoric as a mere attribute, appendage, or add-on, rather than understanding rhetoric as the constitutive property of that polycontextual whole.”

This is a good and useful insight, one that would be enhanced by that very ideological turn I talked about earlier. To the extent that “a rhetoric” is a component of an ideology that reinstantiates that ideology, we can talk about “the rhetoric of the visual” at any given moment in time. That in no way diminishes your claim that the visual is rhetoric.

Here, we are just engaging the polysemy of the term. In Berlin’s terms, we can have a historically grounded rhetoric of the visual (just as we can in Barthes terms, though with vastly different starting points). That is rhetoric1.

That the visual is rhetoric depends on a different meaning of rhetoric -- one which might be paraphrased as “discourse” or “meaning-laden symbols” or… rhetoric2.

That we can have rhetoric1 of the visual does not contradict the claim that the visual is rhetoric2, any more than the fact that I have a glass coffee table contradicts my ownership of a Philip Glass cd.

“What we propose is that the lines upon which those fractures take place ought not be solely dependent on mode, medium, or material form.”

I feel a straw man coming on here. Current definitions of Writing Studies, by their very Latourian bent, pull all manner of inscription into play, regardless of medium or material form. And I sometimes think that the required public speaking course is all that remains of the oral in some work in Communication Studies -- the written has been assimilated into their disciplinary self-conception. There may be some local politics behind this polemic, but they are not necessarily generalizable.

“Our aim is to move from the above described philosophical revival of rhetoric-as-epistemic…”

I’m not sure you’ve revived it as Scott originally imagined it. Although I don’t know that that’s a crime. Scott always used to say that we grind the bones of previous scholars to make our bread. Your bread is promising.

“…toward constructs that support more grounded investigations of rhetoric and writing practices as they occur in the world. We want to explode contexts, to make strange, and to complicate without sacrificing the holistic nature of rhetoric. Grounded, activity- and practice-based methodologies and methods, therefore, are where we turn from here. We welcome and look forward to the ongoing conversation that will develop from this and any subsequent posts.”

I want to reply to this, but it’s more provocative than argumentative, so I’ll wait to see more. Jim has good arguments here.

Perhaps the whole piece is more provocative than argumentative, and I have responded inappropriately. I have responded like Booth did, though I am less than half his age: “there is more to read before you sweep the room clean.”

I am not trying to shut down your efforts, but to improve them by appeal to the tradition that makes our work unique.

--David Beard, UM Duluth
[edited at 7:49 am to eliminate excesses posted at 4:55 am]

» delete edit reply

Assistant Professor of English
Bennett College for Women
State/Region: NC
Posted: 02/19/10

Assistant Professor/Instructor of English
University of South Carolina Sumter
State/Region: SC
Posted: 02/19/10

Thursday, February 18, 2010

183. The English Department at the University of South Carolina invites applications for an Associate Professorship in Composition and Rhetoric. We seek colleagues with excellent research and teaching credentials to contribute to our thriving M.A. and Ph.D programs in Composition and Rhetoric, as well as to our strong undergraduate curriculum. We are especially interested in applicants who specialize in one or more of the following areas: digital rhetoric/digital literacies, professional and technical writing, writing program administration, research methodologies, assessment, composition theory, and/or composition pedagogies. Applicants must have a Ph.D in Composition and Rhetoric or a related field, a significant publication record, and an active scholarly agenda.

The University of South Carolina, the state's flagship university, is classified as an institution of "very high research activity" by the Carnegie Foundation. The application deadline is February 25, 2010, and review of applications will begin immediately. Please send a letter of application, curriculum vita, three letters of reference and a writing sample to Christy Friend, Search Committee Chair, Department of English, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC 29208.

The University of South Carolina is an affirmative action/equal opportunity employer. Minorities and women are especially encouraged to apply. The University of South Carolina does not discriminate in educational or employment opportunities or decisions for qualified persons on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, sexual orientation, or veteran status.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

182. Assistant Professor of English, Position # EOAE2009

Institution: Northeastern State University
Location: Tahlequah, OK
Faculty - Liberal Arts - English and Literature
Posted: 02/16/2010
Application Due: 04/01/2010
Type: Full Time
Northeastern State University invites applications for a full time tenure-track Assistant Professor of English within the department of Languages and Literature in the College of Liberal Arts. While based at the main campus in Tahlequah, this position will include responsibilities at the Broken Arrow campus as well.

The successful candidate will be responsible for a twelve-hour teaching load made up of a combination of undergraduate and graduate courses. The undergraduate courses are a required part of the English and the English Education degree programs. The graduate courses serve the MA in English. Faculty members should anticipate teaching online and/or blended courses as part of their regular teaching responsibilities. In addition to teaching, this faculty member will advise students, engage in service, and pursue scholarship leading to publication and presentation.

Starting Date: August 2010

A Ph.D. in English required. A generalist with expertise in composition/rhetoric and ability to teach literature is sought. Evidence of successful teaching, scholarship and service is required; evidence of ability to serve in Cherokee language and/or Cherokee Cultural Studies degree programs will strengthen the application.

Salary commensurate with qualifications and experience. Comprehensive benefits package, including retirement.

Review of applications will begin immediately and continue until position is filled. Application deadline is April 1, 2010.

Please submit a completed Employment Application Form along with a cover letter indicating position title, current resume/curriculum vitae, copies of college transcripts, and complete contact information for three professional references.
Application Information
Apply for this Position through My HigherEdJobs
Postal Address: Office of Human Resources
Northeastern State University
601 North Grand Ave.
Tahlequah, OK 74464-2399
Phone: 918/456-5511 ext. 2230
Fax: 918/458-2302
Online App. Form:
Email Address:
181. Assistant Professor of Rhetoric and Writing Studies and Director of First-Year Writing
Western Michigan University invites applications for a tenure-track position as Assistant Professor of Rhetoric and Writing Studies and Director of First-Year Writing, to begin August 2010, pending budgetary approval.

Salary: Salary competitive and commensurate with qualifications and experience, with an excellent benefits package.

Required Qualifications: Ph.D. in rhetoric and writing studies; appropriate research in the field; experience in the administration of writing programs, including experience with computer labs/digital technologies to support writing instruction; and an exemplary record of teaching.

Duties: Administer the department's First-Year Writing and Developmental English programs; teach required graduate seminars and orientation sessions, supervise and mentor teaching assistants and part-time faculty, develop program curricula, and administer course assessment; teach graduate courses in writing theory and research as well as advanced undergraduate courses in rhetoric, writing, and professional communication; engage in research/creative activity; serve on appropriate departmental committees.

Western Michigan University, located in southwest Michigan, is a vibrant, nationally recognized student-centered research institution with an enrollment of nearly 25,000. WMU delivers high-quality undergraduate instruction, has a strong graduate division, and fosters significant research activities. The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching has placed WMU among the 76 public institutions in the nation designated as research universities with high research activities.

Review of applications will begin immediately and continue until April 10, 2010. Applicants must visit to apply. At the career site, applicants should upload a letter of application, a vita, and a statement of the applicant's philosophy on mentoring and administering first-year writing. Three letters of recommendation, graduate transcripts, and a non-returnable writing sample, should be sent electronically to or, if only accessible in hardcopy, mailed to Dr. Richard Utz, Chair, Department of English, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, MI 49008-5331. For information on the department, please visit:

Saturday, February 13, 2010

180. I'm blogging at the Blogora: Go there for:

syntaxfactory's blog
Post new blog entry.


journal toc
Submitted by syntaxfactory on February 12, 2010 - 5:05pm

For colleagues in Visual Rhetoric

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Resource: Tomorrow's Professor

the profession
Submitted by syntaxfactory on February 11, 2010 - 9:47pm

"As these recent job ads illustrate, requests for teaching philosophies are common in the academic market. In fact, a survey of 457 search committee chairs in six disciplines (English, history, political science, psychology, biology, and chemistry) found that 57% requested a teaching statement at some point in a job search (Meizlish & Kaplan, in press)."

Tomorrow's Professor Msg.#998 Writing a Statement of Teaching Philosophy for the Academic Job Search can be found at:

and the entire TP Listserv is must-read.

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Call for Webtexts (CFW): Kairos

conferences and calls
Submitted by syntaxfactory on February 11, 2010 - 9:17pm

Call for Webtexts (CFW)
Spatial Praxes: Theories of Space, Place, and Pedagogy, a 2012 summer special issue of Kairos: A Journal of Rhetoric, Technology, & Pedagogy
Guest Editors: Dr. Amy Kimme Hea, Ashley J. Holmes, and Jennifer Haley-Brown

Many in our field have brought spatial rhetoric to the forefront of their
research. Most notably, Nedra Reynolds' Geographies of Writing: Inhabiting
Places and Encountering Difference (2003) reminds composition and rhetoric
scholars of the ways in which spatial relations are always rhetorical

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Award Brainstorm: 2010 RSA Book Awards

Submitted by syntaxfactory on February 11, 2010 - 4:37pm

What would you nominate?

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TOC: Composition Forum: Volume 21: Spring 2010

journal toc
Submitted by syntaxfactory on February 11, 2010 - 9:12am

Composition Forum started as a print journal but, I think, has really blossomed as an online journal -- certainly, its readership and its impact has swelled (swollen?) since going online. The diversity of genres it contains, as well as the quality of work, is awesome.

I can't wait to read Neal Lerner's book, reviewed in this issue.

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TOC: Quarterly Journal of Speech: Volume 96 Issue 1

journal toc
Submitted by syntaxfactory on February 11, 2010 - 7:18am

Quarterly Journal of Speech: Volume 96 Issue 1 ( is now available online at informaworld (

This new issue contains the following articles:


“A Hedge against the Future”: The Post–Cold War Rhetoric of Nuclear Weapons Modernization, Pages 1 - 24
Author: Bryan C. Taylor
DOI: 10.1080/00335630903512721

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CFP: Persuasion and Argumentation

conferences and calls
Submitted by syntaxfactory on February 10, 2010 - 8:46pm

CFP: Persuasion and Argumentation
by fzenker

International symposium organized by the CRAL (Centre de recherches sur les arts et le langage), CNRS/EHESS, as part of a French-Mexican research project.
Paris, Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales
September 7th – 9th, 2010.
Abstract Submission by February 15th (see below)

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Award Brainstorm: AFA Dissertation, Research and Service Awards

awards dissertation award
Submitted by syntaxfactory on February 10, 2010 - 10:27am

Again, what RSA-affiliated project would be eligible?

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Award Brainstorm: Golden Anniversary Monograph

Submitted by syntaxfactory on February 10, 2010 - 7:25am

What RSA-affiliated book or monograph should be nominated?

National Communication Association Golden Anniversary Monograph Award
DEADLINE April 1, 2010

2 comments Read more

cfp: Textual Girls

conferences and calls
Submitted by syntaxfactory on February 9, 2010 - 6:39pm

CFP-Textual Girls
full name / name of organization:
Girlhood Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal
contact email:

The lives of girls are mediated in large part by the plethora of texts that surround them. Though adults often attempt to intercede, manipulate, or otherwise circumvent these texts, still the abundance of media and materials surrounding girls leaves them both vulnerable and savvy as they engage with texts that are either meant to address them directly or not.