Monthly Archives: February 2010

Nick Temple, ABD

Nick Temple (class of 2011) became the second CRDMer this year to successfully pass the preliminary exams. Nick’s committee consisted of Dr. Ken Zagacki (Chair), Dr. Vicki Gallagher, Dr. William Kinsella, and Dr. Carolyn Miller.

Dr. Zagacki praised Nick’s hard work:

He was examined over the areas of rhetorical theory/criticism, environmental communication/rhetoric, and the rhetoric of communication technology. Leading up to the oral, committee members sent Nick a series of questions to his written answers. During the meeting, Nick opened with a brilliant response to these inquires and then went on to articulate thought-provoking answers to additional questions posed by committee members. Many of you may think of Nick as a gentle, somewhat quiet fellow, which in many ways he is. Yet during his oral defense he presented himself in a definitive and assertive manner. I know I speak for the committee members when I say I am very proud of Nick’s impressive performance. Now I look forward to having Nick defend his dissertation prospectus and, ultimately, his dissertation.

Congrats, Nick!


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Amy Gaffney, PhD

Amy Gaffney became the second CRDM student to successfully defend her dissertation.

Amy Gaffney's dissertation defense

Amy begins her defense

Under the direction of her chair, Dr. Deanna Dannels, Amy presented the culmination of more than 2 years of data collection and analysis to a room of keenly interested CRDM students and faculty gathered in room 129 of the 1911 building. With a long-standing research interest in communicating across the curriculum, Amy spent the last year as the graduate consultant for the Campus Writing and Speaking Program. Her dissertation, titled “Communicating About, In, and Through Design: A Study Exploring Communication Instruction and Design Students’ Critique Performance,” illustrates her commitment to CAC-centered pedagogy:

Communication is a skill set typically required of students as they complete their education and move into the working world. Disciplines typically require certain genres of oral communication from their students, which model the communication that will be expected of students post-graduation. Within landscape architecture, the most prominent genre is the critique. In this form of evaluation, students present their design ideas – developed in response to a given situation – to an audience of peers, faculty, and outside professionals. After presenting their work, students are asked questions and given feedback from the audience. Although this form of communication is ubiquitous in design education, students are not typically taught the communication genres in which they are expected to engage. In order to fill that gap, this study explored the development of students’ communication about their designs as they presented projects over the course of a semester. Then, communication instruction was implemented in two instructional models in order to examine the influence of instruction on students’ performance and affect about their performance.

Results indicated the natural evolution of students’ abilities over the course of a semester as well as students’ diminishing affect toward their own abilities. With the addition of instruction, students’ performative abilities improved, but their self-perceptions remained relatively stable. Furthermore, the nature of the instruction impacted the nature of students’ changes. Students who received periodic, lecture-based instruction improved most on their content, while students who received more interactive, weekly instruction improved most on the competencies related to their relating to others.

Together, these results indicate that students’ abilities to communicate about their designs are interwoven with their development of the design; both evolve over the course of the semester. The impact of the instruction points to the importance of communication instruction that is grounded within a particular discipline, supporting notions of situated learning. Furthermore, the instructional impact also points to the long-term influence of a discipline’s socialization on students’ affect, regardless of changes in students’ performance. Ultimately, the goal of projects such as this is to positively impact students’ communication abilities, and the results here point to the opportunities afforded by such work)

Joining Dr. Dannels on Amy’s committee were Drs. Chris Anson, Bill Jordan, and Jason Swarts, with Dr. Brad Mehlenbacher as the Graduate School representative.

What’s next for Amy? We’re happy to report that she has accepted a position as an assistant professor in instructional communication at the University of Kentucky in Lexington. We wish her all the best in her future career as a Wildcat.

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Liveblogging the CRC Panel V: Critical Studies in New Media

“i’m in ur head, shapin’ ur interwebz: Rhetorical transmission, Internet memes, and the problematic application of an a-rhetorical neologism” by Matt Morain

3:27 “I’m going to try to be short. At 5’8″ that shouldn’t be hard.” Rim shot. Matt kicks off with a joke.

3:29 Reminds us, via Jenkins, that culture isn’t replicated. It’s copied by people.

3:32 Matt presses us to think it terms of rhetorical transmission, emphasizing intentionality.

3:34 Mash up of David after Dentist and Christian Bale rant video on YouTube, which has had over 1.9 million views on YouTube. This video actually made one of the audience members cry.

3:37 Matt looks at comments from users, pointing out the (mis)reading of the intertextual video.

3:40 Looking at the relationship between internet phenomena and mimetics. Some are mimetic. Matt offers the “25 Random Things about” from Facebook. It functions like a chain letter, which are generally accepted as self-replicating.

Internet “meme” vs. “Internet meme” Matt encourages us in his conclusion to think in terms of the latter, as it reminds of us the socially constructed nature of them.

“Rhetorical Complexity: War and Persuasion in World of Warcraft” by Wendi Jewell

3:39 Wendi begins with a brief overview of WoW.

3:50 “The world is a highly rhetorical space.”

3:53 Design of the game encourages antagonism from the day a player joins.

3:55 Wendi discusses how metaphor is used outside the game, particularly in political speech, in order to set-up an examination of rhetorical complexity in the game.

4:00 WoW makes use of metaphor in ways similar to the way its used in political speech: to terrify, to simplify, to unify.

4:03 Wendi shares the introduction human characters receive when they enter the game. Political goals: Valorizes, emphasizes protection.

4:04 When player finally enters into play, she’s already been constructed in a very specific (dogmatic) way. The Quest Givers rely on metaphors of the Alliance (e.g., cleanliness, purity) to communicate quests to the player.

4:10 Players are unable to question metaphor use in the game, as they cannot decline requests in order to play the game.

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A Lunch Professionalism Talk by Jeremy Packer

1:45 Introduction by Kathy Oswald

1:49 Academics professionalism as involvement in networks. Desire for achievement isn’t what motivates Packer. It’s political action, answering intellectual questions.

1:51 The very, very length commitment to the dissertation topic. Jeremy’s been working on his dissertation topic for 15 years. He must have chose well because he can still gets excited about it.

1:53 “Why do you need to love your dissertation topic? Because you won’t be able to escape it for a very, very, very long time.”

1:54 “There’s a path associated with the project. Be sure to work out the theoretical and political commitments and investments of the work early on. It creates a focus and gets you involved in the right conversations.”

1:56 Jeremy shares early presentations from his CV. It includes presentations on Boyz N the Hood and Do the Right Thing, a comic strip, and Disney. It’s helpful to see that someone with such a consistent and coherent research agenda wasn’t born with it!

2:06 Best case scenario from dissertation to book publication is. Six for proposal/manuscript submission acceptance. A year to two years for first revisions. Six months for second round of reviews. Another six months for second round of revisions.  In between, you have to do marketing research in order to help your publisher promote the book. After that, the rewards will follow, which means you’re still committed to the book years after. Perhaps awards nomination, invited talks, response to reviews, if you’re lucky.

2:13 You’ll spend your life being known as the X scholar (e.g., the car guy, the Foucault guy).

2:14 Jeremy reiterates that you have to care about your topic/project very deeply because you’ll live with it for years (and it becomes such an important part of your professional identity).

2:17 A question: How much should you consider the market when choosing your topic. A: Probably not a good idea. Markets change so quickly. Think not so much in terms of topic market, but political/theoretical/methodological arenas. What arenas of scholarship do you want to contribute to? How is your work going to intervene in the production of knowledge? What is the terrain of battle? Can your work enter into debates across topical, disciplinary, theoretical, political, and methodological boundaries?

2:25 Jeremy recommends aiming high. Think about the work that comes to matter. To what beliefs are you going to devote your scholarship? What fights will you wage (political, intellectual, creative, professional)? He makes the important point that there won’t be another opportunity after the dissertation to devote this kind of time to thinking (and reading) in a field, to becoming an expert.

2:29 The types of relationships you participate in shape your work you do in significant ways. With whom are you going to share your time, energy, and trust? Who will you go to battle with? For example, Foucault, Cultural Studies, and Governmentality came out of a reading group made up of mostly graduate students. It helped that Larry Grossberg, Jeremy’s mentor, and Toby Miller agreed to be interviewed. A note to the young and so-to-be wise: If you can’t get a top scholar to write an article, ask them if they’re do an interview to be published in your collection.

2:44 Once again, Jeremy highlights the importance of building strong connections early. Not glad-handing at conferences but rather making deeper connections and building friendships and collegial relationships. Jeremy’s strongest mentoring happened through his relationships with his fellow graduate students. In that case, you’re acting as both a mentor and mentee. The more you do it now, the better you’ll be at it in the future, which could happen a couple of years after you’ve finished writing your own dissertation.


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CRC: Panel IV “Philosophy and Rhetoric”

Kevin Brock here. First attempt at liveblogging. Place all blame for errors on me!

Dawn Shepherd, NCSU: “Decorum and the Digital”

Note: “Digital” in this presentation = the internet.

Multiple sources of identification have varying levels of influence over sovereignty of individual/identity (Dawn uses the example of the Quebecois to describe this idea). Construction of a people is extra-rhetorical: it is an ideological trick of constituitive rhetoric – posing subject-positions as rhetorical effects.

12:10 Visibility/invisibility of identity and subject-position reflective of Lanham’s bi-stable oscillation. Stylistic self-consciousness is opposite to decorum. Electronic text allows this oscillation where more conventional text does not: object, viewer, reality, motive are all plotted between self-conscious and unconscious.

12:15 Bi-stable oscillation mirrored in social/natural poles? How can we understand appropriateness and decorum in digital text/media?

12:17 Self-consciousness of the symbolic “gets in the way of the work at hand” (circa Burke/Lanham). How do systems of orientation force us to reconsider what we might define as distinct entities (such as vulgarity vs. refinement through a lens of “piety”)?

12:20 In order to recognize a subject, when must we turn to impiety? Also, situations and social systems can both be affected by decorum/appropriateness and constituitive rhetoric. “Semantic latent indexing is what goes with what.”

12:22 Online dating sites as examples of online systems using such latent indexing to connect individuals with information. Predetermined index limits potential connections.

Paul G. Cook, USC: “Academic Labor and the Barriers to Collectivization”

12:24 What is the pedagogical imperative?: Everything we do must have some ramifications within the classroom. Two claims -> 1) we must work together collectively in order to get anything done or to change the system from within/without but calls for such action are under attack/criticism. 2) Practices of identity formation have become very privileged locations for struggle precisely to the extent that we have come to rely on identity as the only category/area through which we get anything done. How might we respond to these issues that does not simply reemphasize identity?

12:27 We must concern ourselves above all else with the institutional conditions in which we act/practice. Issues which disproportionately affect those who teach composition (NTT faculty and graduate students) is an overarching issue that we must address.

12:30 Claims to “market ourselves” in humanities are now axioms that offer advice which is calculated for economic rationale (a “savvy entrepreneur of yourself”). Every choice, no matter how small, can be seen as an investment decision to create capital in/for self. Corporations in the US have become more and more like individuals, especially given the recent Supreme Court decision to recognize them legally like citizens.

12:33 In academia, however, an individual has become more like a corporation: from a very early point in one’s education, an academic has the objectives of marketing his/her products to reach as large a market share as possible and to recognize stiff competition as the lifeblood that makes academia possible even as academics’ positions are continually devalued: “this is just the way it is.” Even books on advice for pursuing academic careers suggests this point and that one must accept such a mindset before being able to “succeed.”

12:37 “Independent academic contractor” may be the most appropriate term to describe a hopeful academic professional in our current environment; however, unlike other skilled laborers, such academics do not have much protection in regards to their jobs or insurance (and yet they are often not fired but simply do not have contracts renewed).

12:40 A strategic mechanism by which many humanities departments relieve themselves of this ethical quagmire is for such departments to be forthright with graduate students and NTT faculty about these situations. In these instances, we can see biopolitics in action, where powerful forces are extended into life itself (where life was formerly considered “personal”): a market-oriented ethos informs “personal” decisions being made about entering into the academic arena (such as “achieving our dreams of obtaining an advanced degree”).

Jordan Firth, NCSU: “Urban Rhetorics, Community Mapping as Tactical Response”

12:46 Focus will be on different mapping & location-aware technologies and how they affect a sense of place and an understanding of local communities. Place is a site of contestation; place & its meaning are never completely static nor mean the same thing(s) to all individuals/populations.

12:48 Little Big Horn & Custer memorials examined re: politics of space/place. Site became recognized as possessing meaning not just for national pride of manifest destiny but for memory of native Americans whose cultures had inhabited land before US’s push westward. Memorials existing side-by-side serve to demonstrate layers of meaning for (multi-vocal nature of) place.

12:51 Map technologies also define meaning for how we view the world (demonstrations of Mercator vs. Peters projections). “Every map choice is rhetorical.” However, no map can accurately demonstrate size AND shape, so the decision made informs how map “should” be read. Mapping is very technocratic, so decisions are made by the powerful rather than by the “general populace.”

12:53 GIS (Geographical Information Systems) was supposed to make mapping a more democratic process. Different types of information would be available to display makeup(s) of populations, geography, etc. However, GIS became a new technocratic system with falsely democratic rhetoric.

12:55 Google Maps Mashups demonstrate communally-composed mappings of certain areas (displayed example is Washington, DC snowfall). Such technologies allow for new rhetorics of connecting ongoing events or relevant information to an individual’s current location. Mobile device program “Urban Tapestries” allows community construction of place through the narration of stories connected to specific geographic points, thanks to map technology.

12:58 How effective can these technologies be, as they are inherently surveillance technologies that let/force a user to identify to authorities where he/she is at a given moment?

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Liveblogging the CRC: Panel III

David Gruber taking over this morning.

Eme Crawford from U. of South Carolina (10:45 am):

A new translation of the Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir is coming out. The early translation was done by a zoologist and deleted some of the text, making the book sexist, suppressing philosophical work about women–mistranslations of existence and alienation. This created impression of women as “fuzzy thinkers.”

(10:55): Crawford claims: But better translations may not always clarify the text. So how should we read this text? Should we blame Sartre for the parts we don’t like? Should we just beat it into submission? Crawford: the text asks us to read the contradictions–“the text performs the content–woman– it seeks to explain.”

(11:00): Simone de Beauvoir launches volleys against herself; she shows how woman becomes. We should read to experience the book’s becoming. The Second Sex text is contradiction and ambiguity. A new translation will not solve the rhetorical multiplicity of the text–that is the text.

Nicole McFarlane from Clemson (11:00 am):

How does race rhetoric frame multimodal pedagogies?

On visuality of race: We have an archive of racial visuality that “shows us what we know about the subject.” Thinking about color & appearance has become a basis of classification–“an exterior expression of a deeper organic truth”–origin & ancestry.

There is a historical visual rhetoric of race: Blackness is defined in relation to whiteness, and visual culture upholds these relations. Race is a social construct.

McFarlane wonders how can she rework this by challenging/re-thinking the cliche’ that “race is a social construction.” She turns to post-pedagogy and wonders if it can uncover the cliche’.

(11:10): How is this cliche’ cynical and “a stock item of what is real”? In our classroom, when we use multimodal stratgies, we encourage students to conduct rhetorical analysis that should increase sensitivity and multi-cultural knowledge–but while doing this, we can incite a re-entrenchment that “works against practices of freedom.” So how do we explore multimodal spaces that are supposed to meet outcomes of diversity–while bringing in music, film, photo, etc–in a way that is responsible that avoids racist or sexist compositions? She proposes this as a question for us.

Kevin Brock from North Carolina State U (11:20):

Critics tout liberating nature of cyberspace as we assume electronic identities. But few critics have examined Open Source environments critically.

The developers are assigning the limits on users for constructing E identity. So we need to look at developing communities to understand how users are being controlled in these environments & how much limitation they’re willing to accept.

(11:30): In Open Source, users can become developers, and a mega-community is formed, a stratified community–those who develop and those who want to be involved and those who watch. Brock looks at the community.  The users negotiate themselves in reference to other users–but these knowledges of users is limited by the site itself–the spaces provided in profiles and structures on the site. In this website, programming is primary and other identity info is trivial/irrelevant. Interesting, the layout of the profile pages are unimportant–contributions to the programming community are important.

The effort to see oneself (following from Massumi’s work here) is difficult–a user cannot see oneself or others in the community–this lack of knowledge & acceptance of identity boundaries produces “a self-castration.”

(11:40): Following from Baudrillard’s work in America–the SourceForge website acts as a sort of “hologram” where every part looks like every other part.

Open Source communities try to save users from the proprietary threat but draws on proprietary systems and defines itself in relation to those softwares. And OSS inscribes users’ need into the software as proprietary systems do and makes OSS for corporate operating systems–so as SourceForge bills itself as empowering developers, it develops systems for users who are not proprietary free.

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Liveblogging the Carolina Rhetoric Conference

Kathy Oswald reporting for liveblogging duties.

Should We Name the Tools? Concealing and Revealing the Art of Rhetoric

Keynote was broadcast live on the CRDM ustream channel

Keynote video available
Carolyn Miller 2010 CRC Keynote

Presentation slides available here

5:35 p.m.
Miller talks about the notion that rhetoric must be concealed to be effective. She explores two background assumptions: 1) that human relations as adversarial (suspicion, spontaneity, and sincerity) and 2) that language is mimetic. A theory of mimesis stresses that language should not be concealed, but if it is, its concealment must be concealed. She argues that the first assumption supports the second…  in order to be believed, we must hide the fact that we are using language, reducing suspicion by appearing spontaneous and therefore sincere.

5:47 p.m.
Miller asks what rhetoric’s public and educational role be under these conditions, and whether “the tools” should be “named” or exposed. She argues that rhetoric has been concealed by other names, including composition, cultural studies, and public relations, and explores the potential consequences of citizens becoming more critical consumers of messages and the potential re-active more careful construction of messages/performances. Miller discusses Lanham’s bi-stable oscillation (looking through/looking at) and Schloman’s entertainment and critical modes.

5:50 p.m.
Miller ends with “Rhetorica docens must name the tools, rhetorica utens must conceal them”
This presentation was based on a forthcoming book chapter: “Should We Name the Tools? Concealing and Revealing the Art of Rhetoric.” The Public Work of Rhetoric, ed. David Coogan and John Ackerman, University of South Carolina Press, in press.


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