The Blogora: The Rhetoric Society of America


A Sigh of Relief on Restrictive/Non-Restrictive Clauses

Submitted by Jim Aune on July 15, 2006 - 11:43am

Finally a defense of descriptive grammar: From the review of Far from the Madding Gerund Pullum has special vitriol for Elements of Style, which he calls a "horrid little notebook of nonsense," and debunks a number of Strunk and White's dicta. Take, for example, their insistence on using "that" in restrictive clauses and "which" in nonrestrictive ones. (Say "The house that Jack built is nicer than the one I built," but "The house, which Jack built, is white.") If you substituted "which" for the "that" in the first example, the Elements of Style, Microsoft Word, and the Slate stylebook would flag your choice as an "error"—even though your point would be perfectly clear. Pullum argues that the prohibition is unnecessary. With the help of some electronic book searching, he shows that Lewis Carroll, Charles Dickens, Emily Bronte, Joseph Conrad, Herman Melville and, yes, E.B. White all use "which" with restrictive clauses—often. (White, for example, does so in the second paragraph of Stuart Little.) If great writers break a rule frequently and naturally in writing, everyone else follows suit in speech, and doing so creates no confusion, that rule is a waste of everyone's time.



Submitted by Jim Aune on July 15, 2006 - 10:41am

We've conspicuously stayed away from discussing Israel on the Blogora. I think my general sympathies with Israel are well known (Foucault and Sartre are good company on this issue). The only nation with the power (and, formerly, the prestige) to knock some heads together is the US, and that seems unlikely to happen soon,given the general mix of diplomatic incompetence, fundamentalist Christianity, and brutality that is the Bush regime. On the other hand, does any rational and fair person not recognize the long-term aims of Hezbollah, Hamas, and Iran? Here's a balanced account from a Lebanese journalist in Salon (may require viewing an ad): and another article I was reading this morning, about Sephardic Spain--another casualty of history, now fit for tourist viewing:


Happy Bastille Day!

Submitted by Jim Aune on July 14, 2006 - 1:38pm

In honor of Bastille Day, here's the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen: Approved by the National Assembly of France, August 26, 1789 The representatives of the French people, organized as a National Assembly, believing that the ignorance, neglect, or contempt of the rights of man are the sole cause of public calamities and of the corruption of governments, have determined to set forth in a solemn declaration the natural, unalienable, and sacred rights of man, in order that this declaration, being constantly before all the members of the Social body, shall remind them continually of their rights and duties; in order that the acts of the legislative power, as well as those of the executive power, may be compared at any moment with the objects and purposes of all political institutions and may thus be more respected, and, lastly, in order that the grievances of the citizens, based hereafter upon simple and incontestable principles, shall tend to the maintenance of the constitution and redound to the happiness of all. Therefore the National Assembly recognizes and proclaims, in the presence and under the auspices of the Supreme Being, the following rights of man and of the citizen: Articles: 1. Men are born and remain free and equal in rights. Social distinctions may be founded only upon the general good. 2. The aim of all political association is the preservation of the natural and imprescriptible rights of man. These rights are liberty, property, security, and resistance to oppression. 3. The principle of all sovereignty resides essentially in the nation. No body nor individual may exercise any authority which does not proceed directly from the nation. 4. Liberty consists in the freedom to do everything which injures no one else; hence the exercise of the natural rights of each man has no limits except those which assure to the other members of the society the enjoyment of the same rights. These limits can only be determined by law. 5. Law can only prohibit such actions as are hurtful to society. Nothing may be prevented which is not forbidden by law, and no one may be forced to do anything not provided for by law. 6. Law is the expression of the general will. Every citizen has a right to participate personally, or through his representative, in its foundation. It must be the same for all, whether it protects or punishes. All citizens, being equal in the eyes of the law, are equally eligible to all dignities and to all public positions and occupations, according to their abilities, and without distinction except that of their virtues and talents. 7. No person shall be accused, arrested, or imprisoned except in the cases and according to the forms prescribed by law. Any one soliciting, transmitting, executing, or causing to be executed, any arbitrary order, shall be punished. But any citizen summoned or arrested in virtue of the law shall submit without delay, as resistance constitutes an offense. 8. The law shall provide for such punishments only as are strictly and obviously necessary, and no one shall suffer punishment except it be legally inflicted in virtue of a law passed and promulgated before the commission of the offense. 9. As all persons are held innocent until they shall have been declared guilty, if arrest shall be deemed indispensable, all harshness not essential to the securing of the prisoner's person shall be severely repressed by law. 10. No one shall be disquieted on account of his opinions, including his religious views, provided their manifestation does not disturb the public order established by law. 11. The free communication of ideas and opinions is one of the most precious of the rights of man. Every citizen may, accordingly, speak, write, and print with freedom, but shall be responsible for such abuses of this freedom as shall be defined by law. 12. The security of the rights of man and of the citizen requires public military forces. These forces are, therefore, established for the good of all and not for the personal advantage of those to whom they shall be intrusted. 13. A common contribution is essential for the maintenance of the public forces and for the cost of administration. This should be equitably distributed among all the citizens in proportion to their means. 14. All the citizens have a right to decide, either personally or by their representatives, as to the necessity of the public contribution; to grant this freely; to know to what uses it is put; and to fix the proportion, the mode of assessment and of collection and the duration of the taxes. 15. Society has the right to require of every public agent an account of his administration. 16. A society in which the observance of the law is not assured, nor the separation of powers defined, has no constitution at all. 17. Since property is an inviolable and sacred right, no one shall be deprived thereof except where public necessity, legally determined, shall clearly demand it, and then only on condition that the owner shall have been previously and equitably indemnified.


Rice University Press Goes Digital

Submitted by Jim Aune on July 14, 2006 - 8:13am

Ten years after eliminating its university press, Rice University is going online. As the article says, this seems especially promising for works involving heavy visual or audio content, e.g. musicology. The fact that it's Rice will probably advance the cause of online scholarly publishing: Has anyone been involved in the MLA discussions on revising tenure expectations? I certainly don't put any of my Blogora activity on my annual research report (although I guess I put it under "service" on my vita). I doubt that Research I universities will ever change their requirements; they seem to to get stiffer every year. But it may be helpful for other kinds of universities.


99 ways audio pieces

Submitted by jenny on July 13, 2006 - 3:51pm

Check this out. I'll be making something for this within the month. If anyone else is interested, I'd love to hear the results: The Third Coast Festival, in collaboration with cartoonist Matt Madden (99 Ways to Tell a Story), announces 99 Ways to Tell a Radio Story - an experiment in documentary radio style and execution inspired by the French literary group Oulipo. The TCF invites producers of all artistic backgrounds and experience levels to submit a finished, short (2:30) audio piece for 99 Ways to Tell a Radio Story. In the Oulipo tradition of imposing constraint on the creative process (read more), each submission must exhibit a distinct production style and include a specific first sentence and three particular sounds, which have been pre-selected by the Third Coast Festival and Madden. Tapping into new veins of creativity is the whole point of 99 Ways to Tell a Radio Story. To this end, each submission should exhibit a distinct style. Producers will be asked to include a description of this style along with a title and a one-sentence summary of their submission. Stories may be narrated or not, linear or abstract, true or false, documentary or fictional. They can even be reactions to or remixes of previously posted submissions. Examples of styles beyond the traditional “narrated” / “non-narrated” divide: - Confessional - Talk Radio-ish - Infant Perspective -Drunk > FIRST SENTENCE Each submission must begin with the following opening sentence, either directly narrated or interpreted otherwise, for instance through sound, metaphor or dramatization: "To begin with, they never got along." > SOUNDS Each submission must include the following sounds, interpreted literally, figuratively or however else a producer wishes. The sounds must appear in the order listed here, but may occur in the piece at any time, and for whatever length a producer wishes. The sounds may be recorded or found, or metaphorical, real or invented. > a pre-recorded voice Examples: answering machine messages / public transportation announcements / a found cassette from the thrift store / electronic doll voices / automatic check-out at the grocery > a rhythmic noise Examples: jackhammer / clock ticking / hoofbeats / windshield wipers / car alarm / applause > an exclamation Examples: Ouch! / Get off of my foot! / Put your hands up in the air! / Swing, batter! Note: While expletives are not forbidden, keep in mind your story might air on the radio.


Aunt Deirdre on Capitalism

Submitted by Jim Aune on July 13, 2006 - 2:12pm

An excerpt from her new book:



Submitted by Jim Aune on July 13, 2006 - 2:09pm

I like this guy's work:


Remind Me Again Why I Should Renew My NCA Membership?

Submitted by Jim Aune on July 13, 2006 - 1:50pm

Check out p. 2 of this months SPECTRA: NCA's executive director uses "rhetorical" in the sense of "mere" in the headline of his column. Should you wish to point out your disappointment, his email is:


Rhetoric/Women's Studies Position at Texas A&M

Submitted by Jim Aune on July 13, 2006 - 1:37pm

[If you have questions about the position or have suggestions for good candidates, please email me at: ] The Department of Communication and the Women's Studies Program at Texas A&M University, College Station, TX, invite applications for a tenure-track position in RHETORIC AND WOMEN'S STUDIES at the rank of assistant professor, starting September 1, 2007. We seek candidates who have a primary interest in women's social movement rhetoric both in the U.S. and in international contexts, or who have an interest in the relationship of communication and gender in everyday contexts. Interests in class, race, and ethnicity-based social movement rhetoric are also desirable. The candidate will teach courses in Communication and Women's Studies (including Introduction to Women's Studies). Applicants should have a Ph.D. in rhetorical studies in communication or a related field, a demonstrated commitment to Women's Studies as a discipline (a graduate certificate or advanced degree in Women's Studies is desirable but not necessary), and a record of or potential for strong scholarly publication and successful teaching. For full consideration, applicants should send a letter of application, curriculum vitae, statement of research and teaching interests, writing sample, and three letters of recommendation by 1 November 2006 to: Dr. James Arnt Aune, Chair Search Committee Department of Communication Texas A&M University TAMU 4234 College Station, TX 77843-4234 Texas A&M University is an AA/EEO institution, is deeply committed to diversity, and responds to the needs of dual-career couples.



Submitted by Jim Aune on July 13, 2006 - 1:34pm

From's War Room: Alberto Gonzales, memo to the president, Jan. 25, 2002: "As you have said, the war against terrorism is a new kind of war ... In my judgment, this new paradigm renders obsolete [the Geneva Conventions'] strict limitations on questioning of enemy prisoners and renders quaint some of its provisions." Donald Rumsfeld's office, memo to military officials, July 7, 2006: "The Supreme Court has determined that Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions of 1949 applies as a matter of law to the conflict with Al Qaeda ... You will ensure that all DoD personnel adhere to these standards." White House Press Secretary Tony Snow, July 11, 2006: "It's not really a reversal of policy."