The Blogora: The Rhetoric Society of America


oh, for a song and rhetoric

Submitted by Cynthia on May 25, 2007 - 11:39am

It's not every day you see an inciteful music review that involves Kenneth Burke, rhetoric, war, and a band called the Blood Brothers (whose new CD, Young Machetes, is being reviewed). But pop over to PopMatters to check it out.


rhetoric of complaint

Submitted by Cynthia on May 24, 2007 - 8:55am

I woke up this morning wondering where I could go to file a complaint against George Bush and Dick Cheney. I won't go into the nature of the complaint, but it would involve high crimes and misdemeanors. The point is, sure, we have Congress, but they're not the complaint department of the U.S. government. They're the legislative body. So, I wondered if we have an official 'ombudsman.' Surfed to and looked into it. We don't. We have lots of them for various agencies of the government, but not one for the big kahunas. Unlike Norway, which takes ombudsmanship quite seriously (it is, in fact, a Scandinavian word). There is also a Norwegian ombudsman for gender equality and one for children. The ombudsman stands up for human rights and injustices against women and children. (Probably aren't such folks where honor killings go on).

My other point is that an ombudsperson should be a rhetorician. What do you think? Does a rhetorical ombudsman have a place in this country?


Open Source

Submitted by Cynthia on April 25, 2007 - 6:36am

In blogs meaning is spawned in aphoristic bursts and mobile memes that travel down that river called 'open source.' I'd like to initiate this space as a place for daily ad hoc quotes (brief). The open source movement in technology development strikes me as a useful analogy for this project on The Blogora. Words as shareware. Rhetoric as open source.

"The latent tension between rhetoric and grammar precipitates out in the problem of reading, the process that necessarily partakes of both. It turns out that the resistance to theory is in fact a resistance to reading, a resistance that is perhaps at its most effective, in contemporary studies, in the methodologies that call themselves theories of reading but nevertheless avoid the function they claim as their object" (15) -- Paul de Man

De Man, Paul. The Resistance to Theory. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1986.


Non-violent video game design in the CWRL

Submitted by Jim Brown on April 20, 2007 - 9:23am

I posted this over at Blogging Pedagogy, but I wanted to make sure Blogora readers got word as well. Some grad students in the CWRL are developing a video game for rhetoric classroom, and it recently got some local news coverage.

Some interesting things to note about the news coverage:

-They couched the story (of course) in terms of the Virgina Tech shootings. Since the competition was about non-violent video games, they found a way to transition from VT to something local.

-The correspondent conflates "logic" with "rhetoric."

-The grad students are referred to as "Assistant Professors" :)

One final note. The premise of the game is "Who killed the rhetoric instructor?" Students pull together evidence to make an argument about who might be responsible, and they have to make use of certain rhetorical strategies to gather this evidence. There is no "correct" answer to this murder mystery - it's all about putting together an argument. So, it's not the most nonviolent game in the world, but it does at least avoid the "shoot em up" paradigm.


War: the first resort of the unimaginative

Submitted by Cynthia on April 16, 2007 - 5:32am

Just got my copy of Micah Ian Wright's new book, Surveillance Means Security: Remixed War Propaganda.

Wright's Remix Propaganda project is great, and he encourages readers to copy the posters and disseminate them wherever they can. You can see more posters here.


A Rhetorical Twist on the Rhetorical Turn

Submitted by Cynthia on April 7, 2007 - 12:20am

A recent fan of Lou Ann Barton, blues singer extraordinaire in Austin, posted this greeting by sending along the cheer squad. Now, Lou Ann and I shared a flat or two in Ft. Worth in the 70s, and she went her way and I took the rhetorical turn not taken. Hmmm..this makes me wonder who got the better deal :)

muscle boys

Make 'em stop! :))


No perfectionist left behind

Submitted by Cynthia on March 15, 2007 - 9:07pm

Bush with children
Ok, so now we know why it's so problematic to leave behind Bush's No Child Left Behind law. If ever there was truth in Burke's notion that 'we are rotten with perfection,' this is it. Teacher Magazine explains:

Perfect Rhetoric

Perfection is an ideal, not a real-world goal. The politicians working on the reauthorization of No Child Left Behind may realize this, but that doesn't mean they're ready to lower the law's requirement that 100 percent of children reach proficiency in reading and math by 2014.

The reason: rhetoric.

"There is a zero percent chance that we will ever reach a 100 percent target," said Robert Linn, codirector of UCLA's National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards and Student Testing. "But because the title of the law is so rhetorically brilliant, politicians are afraid to change this completely unrealistic standard. They don't want to be accused of leaving some children behind."


my google news alert experiment

Submitted by Jim Brown on February 15, 2007 - 7:50pm

So, I'm conducting a very informal experiment. I've set up a google news alert for the word "rhetoric" that sends me a daily email of usually about 10 news stories. It's interesting to see how rhetoric is always getting toned down. It's also interesting to see Bush's rhetoric regarding Iran soften only a day after it was heating up. (Josh Gunn...I'll be expecting a comment here.)

But the most interesting story came in today's email. It's a piece in the Newport Beach Daily Pilot called "Rhetoric Outside, Reasoning Inside" about a pro-choice panel discussion at a church (where the "reasoning" was happening) that was surrounded by activists with signs that likened abortion to murder (this, as you've probably guessed, was where the "rhetoric" was happening).

While I'm obviously disappointed that our "r" word is being pitted against reason here, there are some other interesting things going on here. For one, the "reasoners" are meeting in a church. This troubles any notion that religion is opposed to "logic" or "reason." Also, the participants and audience members of the panel discussion had to be on a guest list. Presumably, this kept the "rhetoric" out of the discussion.


the R-word...again

Submitted by Jim Brown on February 11, 2007 - 9:16pm

Hi, everyone. I'll echo Cynthia and say it's nice to join the fray.

I know we already did all this R-word stuff, but I thought I'd update everyone on the Wikipedia entry for "Rhetoric." About a week ago, the entry still defined rhetoric as persuasion via "oral language," but a user named Navidnak did some great work reorganizing the entry. The article now starts with a breakdown between classical and contemporary rhetoric. Now, I'm not 100% comfortable with this split, but at least things are becoming more nuanced.

Experts (like the readers of the Blogora) should be in this conversation. Please bear with me as I put one more call out to this agora...please stop by Wikipedia and use your expertise.


Speaking of Gated Communities (no pun on "bob")

Submitted by Anonymous on December 20, 2006 - 1:11pm

"In certain respects, flagship public universities have become more like private institutions. Public universities are still far less expensive, but with their tuition rising rapidly, enrolling low-income students has become as much an issue for them as it is for private universities.

"From 1995 to 2003, flagship and leading public research universities quadrupled their aid to students from families with incomes over $100,000, while aid to students from the poorest families declined, according to the Education Trust. The best public universities, the group said, have come to resemble 'gated communities of higher education.' ”
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