The Blogora: The Rhetoric Society of America
the profession


Deep Thought on Rhetoric

Submitted by Jim Aune on December 2, 2009 - 4:39pm

"Rhetoric is the greatest barrier between us and our ancestors." Who said this? (first prize is a free annual subscription to the Blogora)


Socialism for the Rich

Submitted by Jim Aune on November 24, 2009 - 1:28pm

"U.C. Berkeley offers more courses taught by more Nobel laureates than Yale. Yet Yale charges $28,400 per year in tuition and fees, while Berkeley charges $5,858." I am fond of telling my conservative students that if they are really against socialism they have a duty to quit A&M and enroll at, say, Baylor. As I observe the student protests in California, I think it's time for the sort of analysis economists do well: public higher education is a HUGE upper-middle-class subsidy, and there is nothing inherently wrong with tuition hikes so long as they are accompanied by higher financial aid.


Habits II

Submitted by Jim Aune on November 21, 2009 - 10:43am

Here's my next question. WHEN do you write? A lot of people recommend when first getting up in the morning, but I've found, with every major project from my dissertation onwards, that I do best when I write from about 1-4 p.m. during the week (not on weekends). And I always stop writing when I have more to say, so I can pick up the thread easily the next day. I never impose page quotas, though, just the 3-hour time limit. I've always reserved evenings for reading, usually from about 8-midnight.


Non-Communication Association

Submitted by Jim Aune on November 16, 2009 - 7:10pm

Once again, our public relations bites. . . .


Roads Not Taken

Submitted by Jim Aune on November 7, 2009 - 1:16pm

I've been reading Bernard Williams's remarkable book Shame and Necessity, a study of agency and responsibility in Greek tragedy and how these concepts relate to our own. (Williams's style is a model of lucidity, the English philosophical style at its very best.) One topic in the book (pp. 44-46) is the notion of akrasia, unhappily translated as either "weakness of will" or "incontinence" (!), about which there is a vast scholarly literature.


Automate Your Theorizing!

Submitted by Jim Aune on November 3, 2009 - 12:06pm

Oh, dear. I got: "The epistemology of post-capitalist hegemony opens a space for the discourse of linguistic transparency." Some recent articles I've reviewed for QJS seem to have been written using this machine.


How to Teach Graduate Classes

Submitted by Jim Aune on November 3, 2009 - 11:34am

I realized the other day that I now feel perfectly comfortable and confident whenever I teach an undergraduate class. Yet I still feel vaguely incompetent every time I teach a graduate class. The norm for graduate classes where I went 30 years ago was usually that students did a lot of reports and professors never lectured. One professor actually grilled students on the assigned readings--this really worked, but I never found that this technique worked for me, inveterate people-pleaser that I am.


Affirmative Action for Men?

Submitted by Jim Aune on November 3, 2009 - 11:05am

I'm sure you have noticed this in your undergraduate classes--women students on average get better grades, are more conscientious, and write better than men. The Worst Place in the World, where I taught from 1986-1994, already had problems with male applicants in the early '90's, and it turns out that now many colleges use a form of quiet affirmative action for men (now openly called discrimination against women). The federal government is now investigating. I don't know.


Metaphors for Scholarship

Submitted by Jim Aune on November 1, 2009 - 7:38pm

It is like what we imagine knowledge to be:
dark, salt, clear, moving, utterly free,
drawn from the cold hard mouth
of the world, derived from the rocky breasts
forever, flowing and drawn, and since
our knowledge is historical, flowing, and flown.
--Elizabeth Bishop, concluding lines of "At the Fish-houses"