The Blogora: The Rhetoric Society of America
the profession


Why We Do What We Do

Submitted by Jim Aune on June 18, 2010 - 10:33pm

From the greatest novel ever:

"I feel that there is much to be said for the Celtic belief that the souls of those who we have lost are held captive in some inferior being, in an animal, in a plant, in some inanimate object, and thus effectively lost to us until the day (which to many never comes) when we happen to pass by the tree or to obtain possession of the object which forms their prison. Then they start and tremble, they call us by their name, and as soon as we have recognised their voice the spell is broken. Delivered by us, they have overcome death and return to share our life.


It's Class, Not Race, Stupid

Submitted by Jim Aune on June 17, 2010 - 8:45pm

The myths of college admissions. Damn it all.


Query: How Do You Evaluate PHD Students?

Submitted by Jim Aune on June 11, 2010 - 7:48pm

The PHD program in my department at Texas A&M is now 12 years old. We recently instituted a policy of having advisors of PHD students write an annual review in June (well, June 1, but I haven't written mine yet). We also have begun requiring them to write annual reports (I never wrote an annual report until, I think, 1999, and they still make me cringe), focusing on teaching, research, and service. How do you do this in your shop, if you teach in a graduate program? I'm especially curious about variations between COMM and ENGL.


NCA 2010 and Hilton Boycott

Submitted by Jim Aune on June 9, 2010 - 11:03am

If you are member of NCA and/or are thinking of attending the 2010 convention in San Francisco, please read (and considering signing the petition). If any of the organizers have information to post here, please do so. I would kind of like to make up my mind soon if I'm actually attending the convention, so does anyone have any sense of: a) how likely it is we can change the site? b) if panels at the Hilton are likely to be relocatable?


Academic Styles

Submitted by Jim Aune on June 7, 2010 - 4:54pm

Since I wasn't at the "Sound" panel at RSA, I haven't weighed in on the current controversy about it chez Blogora. Observing from (relatively afar, since the participants are completely out of my league in terms of interests and reading), it does seem to exhibit something of a recurring pattern in Communication/English/Rhetoric/Cultural studies, which I will try to elucidate here.


Keith Thomas on Taking Notes

Submitted by Jim Aune on June 5, 2010 - 11:38pm

One of my scholarly heroes, Keith Thomas, on the history of note-taking by historians.


What Would It Take?

Submitted by Jim Aune on June 4, 2010 - 6:18pm

I emerged from the RSA convention in Minneapolis with a bit of a warm glow (atypical for me with academic conferences, which usually induce depression). I put in a little plug here for Donald Lazere, who organized one of the more interesting panels I was on.


Social Class and Higher Ed

Submitted by Jim Aune on June 3, 2010 - 11:51am

From the Brookings Institution: "the average effect of education at all levels is to reinforce rather than compensate for the differences associated with family background and the many home-based advantages and disadvantages that children and adolescents bring with them into the classroom." More sobering evidence here.


More James Wright, As I Remember the Road Between Rochester and Northfield, Minnesota

Submitted by Jim Aune on June 1, 2010 - 7:57pm

A Blessing
by James Wright

Just off the highway to Rochester, Minnesota,
Twilight bounds softly forth on the grass.
And the eyes of those two Indian ponies
Darken with kindness.
They have come gladly out of the willows
To welcome my friend and me.
We step over the barbed wire into the pasture
Where they have been grazing all day, alone.
They ripple tensely, they can hardly contain their happiness
That we have come.
They bow shyly as wet swans. They love each other.
There is no loneliness like theirs.
At home once more,


Looking Back on RSA in My Home State and Thinking of James Wright

Submitted by Jim Aune on June 1, 2010 - 7:25pm

Northern Pike
by James Wright

All right. Try this,
Then. Every body
I know and care for,
And every body
Else is going
To die in a loneliness
I can't imagine and a pain
I don't know. We had
To go on living. We
Untangled the net, we slit
The body of this fish
Open from the hinge of the tail
To a place beneath the chin
I wish I could sing of.
I would just as soon we let
The living go on living.
An old poet whom we believe in
Said the same thing, and so
We paused among the dark cattails and prayed
For the muskrats,
For the ripples below their tails,