Liveblogging the Carolina Rhetoric Conference: Panel 1

Matt Morain here, taking the first turn at liveblogging the CRC.

First panel (on Digital Composition and Pedagogy) gets underway with Casey Boyle, a fourth year from USC, presenting on “Abundant Rhetoric: The In/dividual and Versionable Composition.”

1: 21 pm Casey is presenting an early version of what he’ll be sharing at Computers and Writing 2010 at Purdue (we got the early scoop, Boilermakers!). He says we, the rhetoric and digital media type, are not his intended audience, but I think he may find a good number of us come from comp backgrounds. He’s also citing Deleuze and Jeff Rice, so that takes care of our CRDM symposium last fall. Intended audience? Maybe not directly, but we’re a flexible bunch of overlapping Venn diagrams in this group.

1:33 pm Of the names I expected to hear cited at this conference this weekend, Erasmus was not among them, though I’m rather pleased to see him repurposed for abundance and modern day (modern-day?) composition pedagogies.

1:36 pm “Versioning through digital memory embraces the individual’s cumulative activity.” True, though I think of my own research attempts at the changes to a set of Wikipedia pages over time and the mind-stabbingly frustrating process of trying to track the rhetorical redirections of a multi-authored document. Does versioning contribute to the digital cacophony in collaborative writing environments, drowning out the voice of the individual author by relegating her composing practices to one of many “versions”?


Matthew Simmons, a second year from USC, follows up in the composition vein with “Understanding the Geography of the ‘Smart.'”

Matt comes at this issue from a lit perspective, drawing upon Foucault and Castells to discuss space in the composition classroom. I’ve always wanted to hear more from lit folks who teach comp, as I’ve only read the history of the schism within English and the great separation of comp from lit and have never really talked to those on the other side of the split.

1:44 pm Compares the communication interactions among students in two differently constructed classrooms, a “computers around the perimeter” setup in which students’ monitors are exposed to everyone else, and a “computers as visible barriers” setup in which the line of sight between instructor and student is punctuated by their screens. Drawing on the space of flows from Castells to understand each classroom as its own “network society.” Interesting. Has Matt found that his understanding of these spatial differences has been altered at all by Castells’ latest tome, Communication Power? What might Castells identify as the seats of power within the network society of the classroom, analogous to the military, state, and media power networks he analyzes in more depth?

1:56 pm “If we care about the humanities at all, we cannot hide our students from the space of flows.”

1:58 pm “Through vigilant awareness of how classroom architecture affects our teaching, we can weave ourselves into these spaces more effectively” (paraphrasing a bit, but the lesson rings true regardless).


And now for something completely different: Randy Nichols, a third year from Clemson, turns to Adorno and Horkheimer to provide the philosophical portion of our early panel with “a meme’s tale.”

2:03 pm “Radio, TV, and film, new media at the time, become the ‘machines of the culture industry.'” Nice use of integrating artifacts from old machine industry (TV) into new media machines (PowerPoint). Well played, sir.

2:04 pm Here comes the meme. Oh man, someone else in the Carolinas is researching this? Fantastic, though I’m not used to discussing memes without the “Internet” modifier in front of them.

2:07 pm Randy shows a sobering video of Adorno’s funeral that demonstrates the machines of the culture industry.

2:12 pm “At the height of his popularity, Rick Astley sold 1.3 million records. The YouTube clip has nearly 30 million views, plus a smattering of other videos combining to over 60 million views.” (paraphrasing) Yes, but aren’t we equating two different units for measuring cultural impact? Wouldn’t “views” be more analogous to “times heard on the radio?” I’m reminded here of Tim Hwang’s attempts to analyze the structure of Internet memes by breaking them down to their smallest observable unit of measurement, like the click, the view, the share, and others.

2:18 pm Randy offers 3 suggestions for further applications:

  1. If you’re teaching in composition, this may be a space for investigation. (Ed: I think I misheard this)
  2. May serve as an example of apologetic.
  3. Research in the meme itself. How does it work in new media?


Filed under conferences

5 responses to “Liveblogging the Carolina Rhetoric Conference: Panel 1

  1. kfoswald

    I think that this live blogging thing is cool! Sorry about the technical issues that caused me to miss your paper Casey – we’ll have to chat about Deleuze later!

    • Casey Boyle

      Ok, my apologies for assuming comp had no purchase here. đŸ˜‰

      @Matt – I agree, the interface for sifting through the digital memory of a wiki page is awful. In the larger project, I want to discuss the need for us, as scholars and instructors, to take a more active engagement with the interfaces we use. More a project in digital humanities I assume, but I would love to see the integration of tags, titles, comments, etc. for individual versions. Google’s Wave made a really interesting innovation with the “playback” feature where the entire text could be reconstructed sequentially. a very nice innovation, but still no way to identify and quickly access or compare individual entries. So, in short, I agree.

      @kfoswald – chat, yes!

  2. kfoswald

    Matthew – I think that your analysis of classroom architecture and the technologies that make them ‘smart’ is interesting – I’m currently outlining a dissertation project that examines ‘smart’ infrastructure, and I think that we could have an interesting discussion about sources later.

  3. kfoswald

    Randy – I really liked your presentation! You do an great job with images, video, and humor (last year as well). If you have a copy of this paper (or are planning to publish) let me know – this would be a great addition to the syllabus for my media class. Didn’t expect to get rickrolled at the conference!

  4. drshephe

    So sorry I can’t be there. Thanks for doing this, Matt and Kathy. I’ll have to catch up with Matthew (perhaps later tonight). Susan Miller-Cochran and I have a piece on hybrid learning environments that’s a part of an upcoming collection on hybrid spaces. We did some telling interviews with instructors on their conception of space in the composition classroom.

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