Revolution Lullabye

April 25, 2009

Hawk, A Counter-History of Composition

Hawk, Byron. A Counter-History of Composition: Toward Methodoligies of Complexity. Pittsburgh: U of Pittsburgh P, 2007.

Hawk argues that in modern composition, vitalism (equated with romanticism) is seen in opposition to rhetoric, especially in terms of how composition scholars and teacher talk about and teach invention. He centers on 1980 as a pivotal year, analyzing three articles published that year (Richard Young, James Berlin, and Paul Kameen) to show how they positioned the field to take an oppositional approach to vitalism. He argues that vitalism is a powerful, important philosophy with roots in Aristotle and developed in science and philosophy over centuries. It is at the root of complexity theory, which is an increasingly relevant and important theory today, as digital technologies are rapidly changing the cultural context, showing the inadequacy of methods and techniques rooted only in mind-driven logic. He argues for vitalism to take a central role in reconfiguring composition and rhetoric scholarship and pedagogy, because only through vitalism is the body and experience brought together in concert with the mind. Vitalism also prevents teachers from having a set agenda, a set desire for their students to fulfill, placing instead the onus on the students to develop and find their own relations and metaphors, drawing on all possible means and resources in our complex, dynamic, and ever-changing ecology.

Quotable Quotes

“Composition theorists should be striving to develop methods for situating bodies within ecological contexts in ways that reveal the potential for invention, especially the invention of new techniques, that in turn reveal new models for action within those specific rhetorical ecologies” (206).

“An ethical goal for pedagogy, then, would be to design occassions in which students are more likely to create compositions rather than decompositions. A pedagogical act would be evaluated based upon the relationships it fosters and the relationships it serves – on its ability to increase rather than decrease a student’s agency, power, or capacity to produce new productive relations” (256).

“To desire an outcome for them [students] is to commit a certain violence to them” (257).

“Heuristics do not function in a vacuum; they function within complex and specific rhetorical situations. Importantly, the body is the critical, epistemological link between situation and invention. It is the interface.” (120)

Notable Notes

a counterhistory (drawing on Feyerabend) – “a counter-history is an additive paratactic aggregate rather than a recuperative manuever” (123)

distinguishes between 3 forms of vitalism: oppositional (electronmagnetic forces); investigative (scales of influence and organization); complex (events, cooperation)

dissoi logoi – new ways to group texts and to read them

Young – concerned with disciplinarity, so rejects vitalism

Berlin – concerned with his own political Marxist agenda and can’t see anything else, and so rejects vitalism

all the work in comp/rhet on vitalism seems to stem from one dissertation, Hal Rivers Weidner “Three Models of Rhetoric: Traditional, Mechanical, and Vital” (2)

vitalism became the scapegoat term

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February 6, 2009

Covino, Rhetorical Pedagogy

William A. Covino. “Rhetorical Pedagogy.” 36-53.

Rhetorical pedagogy, which developed in the 1980s after the process and expressivism movements, looks to rhetoric to form a foundation for writing instruction. Advocates of rhetorical pedagogy define rhetoric as both dynamic and interested (48): dependent on context and attending to the needs and desires of writers and audiences. Rhetorical pedagogy draws on the entire history of rhetoric, from ancient Roman and Greek rhetoric to twentieth century rhetoricians, who expand rhetoric from the truncated empirical study of style that defined the discipline in the 18th and 19th cenutry to a more social, psychological, context-driven understanding of how rhetoric functions. Later twentieth-century rhetoricians argue that rhetoric is about finding shared values (Perelman), that even reality is rhetorical (Bakhtin), and that rhetoric can be found in non-human nature (Kennedy.) Modern historians of rhetoric are focused on recovering the rhetorical traditions of marginalized groups (women, African-Americans, etc.)

Quotable Quotes

Rhetorical pedagogy “consists in both more deliberate attention to the history of rhetoric and the acknowledgment that ‘rhetoric’ names a complex set of factors that affect the production and interpretation of texts” (39).

Notable Notes

Kinneavy’s theory of discourse increases the range of discourses available for students, a turn to the rhetorical tradition.

Expressivism encouraged a turn to classic invention heuristics.

1980s: emphasis on classical rhetoric (Aristotle, Cicero) 1990s: complicate it with other rhetorical traditions.

Sourcebooks for students and teachers: Corbett, Classical Rhetoric for the Modern Student; Lunsford, Reclaiming Rhetorica; Kennedy, Comparative Rhetoric; Murphy, A Short History of Writing Instruction; Crowley, Ancient Rhetorics for Contemporary Students; Knoblauch/Brannon, Rhetorical Traditions; Winterowd, Contemporary Rhetoric; Bizzell/Herzberg, The Rhetorical Tradition; Jarratt, Reading the Sophists; Covino, The Art of Wondering; Kitzhaber; Crowley, Methodical; Berlin, Writing Instruction; Bitzer, “The Rhetorical Situation”, Olson/Worsham, Race, Rhetoric, and the Postcolonial

Important figures: Aristotle, Cicero, Quintilian, Plato (Phaedus and Gorgias), Ramus (Arguments in Rhetoric), Hugh Blair, George Campbell, I.A. Richards, Kenneth Burke, Perelman, Derrida, Fish, Rorty, Chomsky, Belenky, Feyerabend, Kuhn (rhetoric of science), Bakhtin

Important 20th century: I.A. Richards (The Philosophy of Rhetoric) and Kenneth Burke (A Rhetoric of Motives)

February 3, 2009

Peeples, Rosinski, and Strickland, Chronos and Kairos, Strategies and Tactics

Peeples, Timothy, Paula Rosinski, and Michael Strickland. Chronos and Kairos, Strategies and Tactics: The Case of Constructing Elon University’s Professional Writing and Rhetoric Concentration. Composition Studies 35.1 (Spring 2007) 57-76.

Using two scenarios (discussions on new faculty hires and acquiring space), the authors show how the complementary perspectives of chronos/strategy and kairos/tactic work as a theoretical framework for describing how programs are designed, developed, and enacted. Their theory draws on both the ancient Greek notions of time (chronos and kairos) and de Certeau’s terms to describe the space from which a person acts (strategy (one’s own, independent) and tactic (undefined, opportunity-driven.)) Their piece attempts to bring case-study story-telling, a method often used by administrators to explain program design due to the very local, contextual nature of program creation, up to a theoretical level by introducing rhetorical terms that can describe common techniques and methods faculty use to carve out their own institutional spaces through majors, minors, and concentrations.

Quotable Quotes

“What we find most powerful about this framework is the way it emphasizes the rhetorical, productive, compositional nature of program development; we write and re-write our programs. As a heuristic framework, the combination of chronos/kairos and strategy/tactic helps with the ongoing inventional process of program development….gives us a way to move beyond situated awareness and toward applying rhetorical analytical skills to our own efforts at program development.” (58)

Notable Notes

emphasis on tactics is not often talked and theorized about in journals, giving a space for it here. Kairos is a key component in the development of programs.

our action – strategy and tactics – form our social realities and our discourse (58)

we need to be more deliberate and conscious of what courses of action we are taking to develop programs, to be aware of the moves that are available to us.

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