The Blogora: The Rhetoric Society of America
John W. Pell's blog


On Flags, Fire, and Change

Submitted by John W. Pell on July 3, 2015 - 12:57pm

When I first moved to the South to attend graduate school, I remember seeing Confederate Flags in shop windows, on houses, and even once in a bookstore near a section dedicated to alternative-history fiction. Being from the Pacific Northwest, I was not accustomed to seeing this icon in public, but I was even less familiar with the slogan that often accompanied the rebel flag:

“It ain’t hate, it’s heritage.”


Three Questions with Fred Johnson

Submitted by John W. Pell on April 3, 2015 - 4:58pm

Fred Johnson's essay "Perspicuous Objects" appeared in the Fall issue of Kairos ( The essay, or rather, the "piece" was an engaging argument about the use of comics in the instruction of both writing and critical theory. Beyond being an engaging argument, "Perspicuous Objects" also seamlessly melds new media with academic argumentation, providing readers with a glimpse of what is possible when scholarship is composed and crafted with digital mediums for consumption in digital environments.


An Open Letter to Students on National Adjunct Walkout Day

Submitted by John W. Pell on February 25, 2015 - 5:18pm

An Open Letter to Students on National Adjunct Walkout Day:


A Simple Project - Students Ask the RSA Questions

Submitted by John W. Pell on November 4, 2014 - 2:34pm

Once a year I have the privilege of teaching an upper-division seminar on Rhetorical Theory. It is always a great pleasure to watch students wrestle with ideas and concepts with which they have little familiarity. This year I wanted to try something new: Provide a way to get students more deeply engaged with the field, specifically RSA. So, over the next few weeks, I will be posting a questions gathered from students concerning the study of rhetoric. Students have given permission to have their questions posted (but I will still not be including their names in the post).


TAs and MOOCs: Supporting our Newest Colleagues

Submitted by John W. Pell on February 21, 2014 - 2:06pm

In my experience, I have found my colleagues in Rhetoric and Composition to be generous, collaborative, and inquisitive. As a graduate student I was invited to participate in conferences and studies with faculty-mentors, as a job candidate I received advice from mid-career colleagues at conferences, and I even found my time with hiring committees to be instructive.


Welcome Back

Submitted by John W. Pell on September 26, 2013 - 11:41am

It is last week of September and I am assuming that all of us are back teaching, which means its time to take an annual inventory of the types of rhetorically focused being taught across our campuses. If you have a few moments, please respond to this post with courses titles and summaries, and if so inclined, please feel free to share course syllabi. This is a great way to see what our colleagues are up to and to get ideas for courses that might work at our institutions.

I look forward to reading about your courses.

To get the ball-rolling:


Feminisms and Rhetorics 2013

Submitted by John W. Pell on September 26, 2013 - 11:29am

Yesterday the 2013 Feminisms and Rhetorics began on the campus of Stanford University. This conference is one of the events I look forward to each, uh, every other year. And, as in years past, this conference is filled with incredible speakers, and thoughtful panels, which work together to create an inviting and stimulating intellectual environment. I will post next week on some of the sessions I attended and point to the work of scholars that are making an impact in the field of rhetoric and feminist studies.

If you are interested in the conference, I have included the link below.


Interview with Jentery Sayers

Submitted by John W. Pell on July 23, 2013 - 3:31pm

Of late much has been made of MOOCs and other delivery methods of online writing instruction. And, while there are a number of research studies underway, which will hopefully shed light on the pedagogical benefits of MOOCs (as opposed to only reporting on their financial and logistical efficacy), I wanted provide readers of the RSA Blogora a look into the work of a colleague also working in the digital humanities, but working as one focused on the rich and rigorous work of composing/making/creating with New Media.



Submitted by John W. Pell on March 26, 2013 - 1:27pm

As usual, the 4Cs was one of the highlights of my academic year. Brilliant panels, thoughtful conversations in smoke-filled hallways—each brilliant idea punctuated with the chime of slot machines celebrating the interest paid on a five-cent wager. What struck me this year, though, were the myriad of discussions concerning MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) and LMS (Learning Management Systems). Panel after panel seemed to touch on these issues in some way and the conversation continues on many of our professional listservs and discussion boards.


In The Spirit of Halloween: How Zombies Help us Understand Stasis

Submitted by John W. Pell on October 31, 2012 - 4:42pm

The great thing about zombies is that they move relatively slow, which allows the survivors of the apocalypse to discuss issues like hope, civility, and farming. AMC’s "The Walking Dead" portrays these types of conversations in their full existential-glory.