The Blogora: The Rhetoric Society of America


On Teaching Stories

Submitted by syntaxfactory on January 20, 2016 - 6:20pm

Last night, I was messaging a friend about my class today. With the right friend, you think differently about everything that matters.


Tomorrow, I teach "The Things They Carried" in my class. It's a story about Vietnam. It's a book of stories, really; the title of the book is the title of the first story.
It's a story about what soldiers carry with them -- the 85 pounds of equipment they carried into war, and the psychological stresses that they brought with them into the war, as well as the psychological scars the war created in them.


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.


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).


What is new in rhetorical studies?

Submitted by syntaxfactory on September 6, 2014 - 6:58am

Hey -- Fall is here.

If you have a second, if you are teaching a course in rhetoric, post your name, your institution, the name of the course, and something cool about it below.

Let's see what is happening in rhetoric in the classroom today!


Why the Liberal Arts (Writing & Speaking) Matter

Submitted by syntaxfactory on May 26, 2014 - 10:04pm

Why the liberal arts matter
By Fareed Zakaria
...[When] I got to America for college, I quickly saw the immense power of a liberal education.For me, the most important use of it is that it teaches you how to write. In my first year in college, I took an English composition course. My teacher, an elderly Englishman with a sharp wit and an even sharper red pencil, was tough.


Why I Am Not Radical Enough

Submitted by syntaxfactory on April 1, 2014 - 8:10am

Why I Am Not Radical Enough

"I'll admit as well that deep down there is a part of me that cannot let go of the notion that liberal humanism keeps some people alive -- a faith I'd like to think has some affinity to Spivak's notion of momentary solidarity in "strategic essentialism" for social and political action."
--Joshua Gunn, Inside Higher Ed


Depressing Thought about Teaching

Submitted by syntaxfactory on March 26, 2014 - 1:51pm

There are days when I deeply regret that some of my textbooks are more than a decade old. I still use Amira Hass' "Drinking the Sea at Gaza" to help students understand the Palestinian situation. I still use Deborah Tannen's "Talking from 9-5" to help students understand gender, power, and sexual harassment in the workplace. These books are as old as my students.


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: