In Writing Machines (2002), Katherine Hayles argues for understanding materiality as a way to discuss representation and simulation and to explore wha...moreIn Writing Machines (2002), Katherine Hayles argues for understanding materiality as a way to discuss representation and simulation and to explore what texts enable and constrain (6). Hayles argues that materiality can no longer be a subset of literary studies and needs to be central (19), for to change the material aspects of a text is to change how it is read (23).(less)
Seems like a good set-up for better work later to come. Some of the first few stories felt too gimmicky and episodic without enough intrique/backstory...moreSeems like a good set-up for better work later to come. Some of the first few stories felt too gimmicky and episodic without enough intrique/backstory, but about halfway through this volume, the story picked up quite a bit. Interesting concepts (that creatures and beings from other Earths visit but are kept undocumented, and that the central characters are set on "mapping" these encounters). I found the characters more intriguing than I did the overall plot/concept.(less)
Somewhat of a typical zombie story, but deviated enough from the typical story line to be entertaining. The characters aren't as engaging as I'd hope...moreSomewhat of a typical zombie story, but deviated enough from the typical story line to be entertaining. The characters aren't as engaging as I'd hope or expect. I'm usually able to get more into characters in a series like this, but the ones in this story feel a bit flat.(less)
In Rhetorical Refusals, Schilb argues that a certain type of rhetoric, which he calls "rhetorical refusals," has gone largely unstudied and argues tha...moreIn Rhetorical Refusals, Schilb argues that a certain type of rhetoric, which he calls "rhetorical refusals," has gone largely unstudied and argues that it merits further exploration. He defines a rhetorical refusal as "an act of writing or speaking in which the rhetor pointedly refuses to do what the audience considers rhetorically normal." (3) A rhetorical refusal can be quite explicit or more implicit (3-4) and has three general criteria: it "challenges audience expectations" (4), its "break with protocol is clearly deliberate" (4), and the rhetor "suggests that a higher principle trumps common rhetorical decorum" (5). Though "refusal" often evokes a leftist or progressive politics in the minds of readers, Schilb is clear that rhetorical refusals are used in all sorts of situations by rhetors of various political persuasions, and that each act must be judged in its own context.
Schilb spends Part 1 of his book outlining criteria for evaluating rhetorical refusals. Following Perelman and Olbrechts-Tyteca, Shilb sees rhetorical refusals as attempts to get your audience to judge another audience (44-46). In Chapter 2, Shilb outlines various criteria to use in evaluating rhetorical refusals, including style, ethos, genre negotiation, epistemology, and ontological claims. In Chapter 3, he applies these criteria to his test case, Arlene Croce's "review" of Still/Here. In this "review," Croce criticizes "victim art" as not art and states her refusals to see Still/Here, a performance about HIV/AIDS, which she "reviews," though claims she is not reviewing. Ultimately, Shilb finds her argument "dubious" (68) and compares it to successful works that are not rhetorical refusals. While I agree with Shilb's reading, and I think it's wonderfully done, at this point in the book I would have liked to see a more in-depth discussion of a rhetorical refusal that he finds "successful" or not "dubious." However, Part 2 of the book does focus more on successful rhetorical refusals.
Part 2 of the book (Chapters 4 to 7) contends with certain American traditions or ideals that rhetorical refusals help to question. Chapter 4 deals explicitly with the ideal of openness to debate by examining Deborah Lipstadt's refusal to be open to dialogue with Holocaust deniers in her book Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory. In Chapter 5, Shilb takes up how a text travels into new and different contexts, noting that it's important to analyze and discuss texts (specifically rhetorical refusals) in contexts different from their initial debut. The texts he analyzes in this chapter also challenge commonplace distinctions between public and private. Chapter 6 focuses on Frederick Douglas's commemoration speech of Lincoln, in order to investigate how rhetorical refusals can be embedded within a text that also does other rhetorical work. Additionally, he uses this rhetorical refusal to discuss how refusals might question the notion of a united nation when used at memorials.
Schilb's last chapter turns to literature, focusing on Tim O'Brien's In the Lake of the Woods, which he sees as being a refusal to comply with they conventions of a mystery genre. After offering a nuanced reading of the book, Schilb compares the book's uncertainty with the certainty about Vietnam offered in Bob Kery's memoir, When I Was a Young Man. Schilb argues that rhetorical refusals in literature might help us to contend with our memory of war, and urges literary studies to take a rhetorical approach to literature.
Schilb concludes by offering up other rhetorical refusals that have been used by citizens, arguing that rhetorical refusals need further study and can be, when they are "good," helpful to our civic discourse.
I found Schilb's discussion interesting, and one that opens up avenues of scholarly research about rhetorical refusals. I think Schilb's discussion is pretty comprehensive about what constitutes rhetorical refusals, but I would have also liked to see more examples discussed in various other contexts. The book is a quick read and very approachable, and another 100 pages exploring more refusals might detract from its focus and make it less likely to be read. But it seems that there are such fruitful and obvious avenues for discussing this type of rhetoric, and putting his discussion in the context of more conversations. Particularly, it seems that gendered, classed, and sexual rhetorical refusals lend themselves quite well to Schilb's project.
Hume's book is a must read for any graduate student in the humanities who desires to become an academic. Hume offers a clear plan for how to begin and...moreHume's book is a must read for any graduate student in the humanities who desires to become an academic. Hume offers a clear plan for how to begin and perform the job hunt, how to manage interviews at national conferences, and what to do at campus interviews and when negotiating for a job offer. Her project largely demystifies a process that doesn't seem to get talked about a lot, and she offers helpful advice and examples of former students who have successfully landed jobs at teaching schools and research schools. Additionally, her last few chapters are helpful in envisioning what being an assistant professor will be like, and those chapters are probably very useful reads for beginning professors.
Hume also offers example documents from others' job hunts in her Appendices, which provides helpful models for humanities PhD scholars looking for a job.(less)
In Epistemology of the Closet (1990), Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick explores the epistemology of the closet, the dominant metaphor for understanding gay male...moreIn Epistemology of the Closet (1990), Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick explores the epistemology of the closet, the dominant metaphor for understanding gay male identities in the 20th century. Part of this analysis implies that the closet is something that functions where others "think they know something about one that one may not know about oneself," which grants them excitement and power (80). The closet functions much like an "outer secret, the secret of having a secret" (205)—if one has a secret knowledge, "it means all the more that everyone around him does" (225). Additionally, she theorizes that "male homosexual panic became the normal condition of male heterosexual entitlement" (185).(less)
4 stories that are all pretty good. The last two, I think, are the best. All four center around a character who has some problem connecting with other...more4 stories that are all pretty good. The last two, I think, are the best. All four center around a character who has some problem connecting with others, so in a sense, they're pretty typical stories of disconnect, but they're well told with pretty good artwork. I think I had the last one elsewhere, perhaps Optic Nerve, Tomine's comic/zine.(less)
Read the first few chapters, parts of chapter 5, and the conclusion. Useful for considering apocalyptic fiction in relation to minority discourses. Bu...moreRead the first few chapters, parts of chapter 5, and the conclusion. Useful for considering apocalyptic fiction in relation to minority discourses. But perhaps not as useful to the project I'm working on.(less)
In Geographies of Writing (2004), Nedra Reynolds makes three contributions to rhetoric and composition: 1) "re-imagining composing as spatial, materia...moreIn Geographies of Writing (2004), Nedra Reynolds makes three contributions to rhetoric and composition: 1) "re-imagining composing as spatial, material and visual"; 2) "understanding the sociospatial construction of difference"; and 3) "teaching writing as a set of spatial practices not unlike those we use in moving through the world" (3). Central to her work is inhabiting or dwelling in spaces.
Chapter 1 explores how composition has invested heavily in metaphorical spaces without really taking into consideration the material realities of these spaces. These spaces include the frontier, the city, cyberspace, borderlands, and travel (27). Much of these metaphors serve to mask politics or material realities (for example, the city metaphor ignores how visitors to the city rarely see the ghetto). Chapter 2 discusses the notion of the flaneur as someone who traverses the cityscape and whose identity is formed through place. The model of the flaneur emphasizes the visual, the material, and movement. Chapter 4 explores mapping, and people's understanding of boundaries and how these are emotional: we need to teach students to work with the politics of space, to interrogate borders, and to interrogate who is invited to belong (or feels like they shouldn't be there) based on a place's geography and architecture. Chapter 5 concerns dwelling, or inhabiting, a space: dwelling is "a way of being in the world that helps us re-imagine acts of writing and theories of composing" (140). (less)
In Faigley's 1992 book, he addresses the lack of attention to postmodern theory in composition studies, with particular attention to composition studi...moreIn Faigley's 1992 book, he addresses the lack of attention to postmodern theory in composition studies, with particular attention to composition studies' "belief in the writer as an autonomous self" (15). While composition studies has developed as a discipline concurrently with the development of postmodernity, postmodern theory (as of 1992) had little influence on the development of composition theory, with the exception of process theory.
Faigley begins his book with one of the most accessible and coherent descriptions of postmodern theory I've read (which I greatly appreciated). While postmodernism is hard to define because of the proliferation of conflicting theories, Faigley outlines "three metadiscourses: (1) aesthetic discussions of postmodernism; (2) philosophical discussions of postmodern theory; and (3) sociohistorical assertions that Western nations, if not indeed all the world, have entered an era of postmodernity" (6).
Faigley argues "that many of the fault lines in composition studies are disagreements over the subjectivities that teachers of writing want students to occupy" (17) and uses postmodern theory throughout the book to critique the concept of "authentic" writing with a coherent, authentic writer. While Faigley tackles a number of other issues in the book, I think this is the strongest contribution of the book. By looking at scholarship and textbooks in composition, Faigley shows the rather consistent value by teachers of "an identifiable 'true' self . . . [that:] can be expressed in discourse" in student writing (122). In textbooks, Faigley argues, students are not given strategies that can be used in all writing, or in specific writing assignments: "Instead, they are supplied with confidence in their own rationality, a confidence made visible by translating rationality into a set of prescribed behaviors" (155). Thus, many textbooks attempt to maintain "the author as a rational, knowing subject" (162).
Faigley then moves into discussing networked writing, arguing that composition studies needs the theorize more about classrooms in postmodern and networked contexts. His last two chapters largely take up ethics, discussing students and student writing in the context of postmodernism, especially in regards to Baudrillard's concept of hyperreality and Lyotard's concepts of situated, rhetorical ethics.
I appreciate Faigley's book for its clear discussion of postmodernism, his own ambivalence about postmodernism, and his grounded discussion of student writing and classroom activities. One of my favorite reads in composition theory.(less)