Friday, August 18, 2006

You are just perpetuating a stereotype

Is that Paulie Walnuts and Sil?

Rhetoric, Public Speaking, Literary Studies

Inside Higher Education has an interesting article on the relationship between public speaking, rhetoric, and literary studies, which suggests a divide for the writers of this blog.

To summarize, or, represent, certain aspects of this article: dating back to Ancient Greece, the study of rhetoric is a practical act that correlates to the development of a citizen-- a person studies rhetoric to use it in the Agora. In addition, rhetoric uses many different appeals- logical (logos), emotional (pathos), and credible (ethos). If you use logos without pathos (as science does), you only appeal to a certain portion of humanity, which diminishes humanity. Today, the field of Communication practices and performs this form of rhetoric.

Literary studies developed out of rhetorical studies. It focuses on how people communicate with one another; however, it focuses on knowledge for knowledge's sake. It does not ask the reader to become a citizen but to be a reader, maybe a consumer. The decline of rhetoric in the academic world correlates with the rise of rise of belle lettres in the academic world.

The article continues to discuss that at top universities and certain private universities, students in the liberal arts do not have access to public speaking but access to literature classes, such as Medieval Welsh Literature (Harvard); however, students in engineering and business take rhetoric classes to improve oral argumentation. The consequences of this, according to the article:

Top-tier rejection of rhetorical instruction, especially in the form of public speaking, seems to be about fundamental failures of undergraduate education in general and about failures of the humanities in particular. It is especially curious that in the face of calls for accountability in regard to student learning public universities have opted out of providing students with some very useful knowledge, while also failing to recognize the value of the discipline to humane studies.

Students that have liberal arts educations without public speaking miss out on an important part of education.

In addition to this article, there seems to be one other difference between rhetoric from the field of Communication and rhetoric in the field of English: in communication, there is an emphasis on the performance nature of argumentation; in English, there is a focus on the written form of argumentation but not on the performance.

Since I write from a rhetorical perspective in the field of communication, I would like to know:

(1) How writers from the English perspective conceive of rhetoric and politics?
(2) How do instructors of composition in English discuss politics?
(3) How do instructors of composition discuss emotional appeals in class?
(4) How do instructors construct citizenship, especially in relation to argumentation?
(5) How do instructors of composition conceive of an audience?

From a Communication perspective, one way to discuss this would be through Aristotle. To Aristotle, humans are political animals in relation to the root word, the polis (roughly translated, a city). Humans need to understand the issues that concern the polis—the issues and problems that affect that group of people.

When teaching rhetoric, rhetors need to understand audience demographics (age, socio-economic standing), audience beliefs (values, presumptions, virtues and vices), certain topics (in general and in relation to forensic, epideictic, and deliberative rhetoric), how to use enthymemes and examples, how to create and reinforce the character of the speaker in the minds of the audience, and how to move the will of the audience through the passions. This is, of course, in addition to the development of arguments. The topics in a typical public speaking course are: invention & arrangement (developing a topic, outlining a speech, knowing the correct topoi,), audience analysis, delivery, language, evidence/research, persuasive speaking, and refutation.

What are the main categories for composition?

The Rhetoric of Definition

An article in the L.A. Times analyzes the term "Islamo-Fascist." The article raises a lot of issue during the war on terror-- who is the enemy?

For Iraq, the term "Islamo-Fascist" did not make sense while Saddam was in power since there was little to none Islam but plenty of Fascism. For Afghanistan, the "Islamo" made sense but not the fascist aspect. However, the word makes “sense” to connect the fundamental groups of Islam that want to establish a democracy with a graze threat of fascism from the 1930’s – and 1940’s to create an all powerful enemy. I do remember seeing a few letters to the editor in the local paper that suggests if the US did not fight the radical Islam in Iraq or Afghanistan, the citizens of the US would all be speaking a different language just like if we did not fight the Germans and the Japanese in the 1940’s would we all be speaking German or Japanese.

It seems that that the term "Islamo-Fascist" would follow the appeals to pity fallacy where the emotional connotation of the word is to overpower the meaning of the word-- just as "We are fighting for Freedom" would. It also hides the distinctions within Islam:

But like "terror," and "evil" before it, "Islamic fascism" has the effect of reducing a complex story to a simple fable. It effaces the differences among ex-Baathists, Al Qaeda and Shiite mullahs; Chechens and Kashmiris; Hezbollah, Hamas and British-born Asians allegedly making bombs in a London suburb. Yes, there are millions of people in the Muslim world who wish the U.S. ill, and some of them are pretty creepy about it. But that doesn't mean they're all of a single mind and purpose, or that a blow against any one of them is a blow against the others. As Tolstoy might have put it, every creep is creepy in his own way.

The use of the term “Islamo-Fascist” overemphasizes the enemy without understanding the enemy. This leads us to the following questions:

(1) What is the proper term for the enemy?

(There is an enemy but it neither belongs to one sect of a religion nor does it belong to a state. Both of these are very important since, first, to call the war a war on Islam without differentiating would be to say that there are certain groups within Christianity that is a problem; therefore, all of Christianity is a problem. Second, since there is no enemy state, a Congressional Declaration of War, is impossible. There ought to have been a Declaration of War by Congress for Afghanistan but Congress abdicated its power to the President.

(2) Can you characterize the enemy as a “Fundamental” Religious group without calling into question other fundamental religious groups?

Once you apply the term “fundamental” to a religion, the religion is no longer the problem but the description of the religion. What standards can a reasonable person use to determine what constitutes a fundamental religious group? It seems that Eric Rudolph (the alleged Olympic bomber, abortion clinic bomber, and gay night-club bomber) would apply to belonging to a fundamental practice, though many people respected his actions and offered him help while he lived in the woods for five years. What about the Christian Exodus movement?

The War on Terror has carried on far to long without a clear understanding of the enemy.

Bonus Question: Why are the Sunni and the Shi’a fighting? When did the fight begin?

Sweet Dreams

Are made of these, eh?

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Harrogate Says No to Summerslam, WWE Pay Per View In General

After long and careful deliberation, Harrogate has decided not to order Summerslam, WWE's pay-per-view extravaganza scheduled for this coming Sunday night.

The reasons are manifold, and future disquisitions are forthcoming as to the heart of the matter, which Harrogate will begin here with the simple observation: Wrestling Today Sucks.

Now, don't get Harrogate wrong. He will still be blogging Monday Night Raws, indeed this coming Monday Night he will use the opportunity to update everybody as to the results at Summerslam. But Harrogate continues to follow Raw out of hope for the future. Professional Wrestling must get better. It is time to get away from shock value, from the tits and ass for the sake of tits and ass, it is time to get away from milquetoast heels and vanilla heroes.

Remember, loyal readers, the intensity of the mid-90's in WCW, the whole NWO invasion? The constant threat of someone turning, the heroism of Diamond Dallas Page, the epiphanic unbeaten streak of Goldberg? Take a look at the picture above, readers of the Rhetorical Situation, and mark it well. That picture represents Tully Blanchard (left) and Arn Anderson (right), two of the greatest heels in the history of the business. Their day was the mid 80s.

What Harrogate is talking about is this: Pro Wrestling has always drawn its power from its ability to spin all-engrossing morality tales through which we all recognized the heel, and the hero, within ourselves. Complex, blood curdling narratives. Harrogate tells you, there were times when Tully Blanchard merited an Academy Award for the levels of raw arrogance and malevolence he brought to the table.

Harrogate wants the narrative to come back. Down with the wet tee shirt wars, the baring of the naked ass. Mr. McMahon we on The Rhetorical Situation, and across the blogosphere, request--nay, demand-- narrative. And if you continue to withold it, someone will respond to us and bring the noise. Beware, McMahon, of the ghost of Tully Blanchard. Beware.

See y'all Monday at 8:00!

I'm the boss, Applesauce.

Summer's almost over. That means school's about to start up again. I guess my days of lying around the house in my pajamas and listening to hours upon hours of music are nearly over. It's time to be productive. With this in mind, I decided to get to work yesterday. This semester I'm teaching a Web-based technical writing course. It will be my first Internet class.

As I read through the course manual, I noticed that my teacherly role was defined as "manager." I'm not a teacher, not an instructor, but a manager. For some reason this stuck me as odd and interesting. Despite leaving the corporate world years ago for a career in academia, I now find myself occupying the position that I once held in that previous (and far less fulfilling) life. To be honest though, taking on the role of manager in my virtual classroom doesn't bother me too much, for it seems identical to the "facilitator" role about which compositionists rave. The difference, however, is that "facilitator" is an overly-used term, one that means so many different things to so many different teachers. "Manager," on the other hand, rarely finds its way into writing classes and, subsequently, compels me to really think about my role in the classroom.

In the online environment, my manager role includes answering emails, monitoring student progress, making sure that course Websites are functioning properly, making class announcements, encouraging students to work well independently and in groups, giving advice and guidance to students, and grading assignments. Note that my responsibilities do not include actively teaching students in the traditional sense. That is to say, I don't lecture to them. Rather, it seems that I am supposed to acknowledge my students' creative and intellectual abilities. I do not immediately view them as deficient when it comes to course content, as containers that must be filled will knowledge (an idea that has already received some attention here on The Rhetorical Situation). To be sure, course managers value the voices of their students over their own.

This managerial approach to writing is nothing new. Alas, it is something that many composition teachers try to practice but rarely achieve. For when faced with student resistance to active learning, it is always easiest for the teacher to fall back into lecturing, thus losing the benefits of a student-centered classroom. The Web-based course offers no such recourse to lecturing. Accordingly, my time in the online classroom may help me to develop productive strategies to curb student resistance in the physical classroom. Of course, because the online environment is not immediate, it is not susceptible to awkward silences when students refuse to speak up.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The Cognitive Dissonance in Sports

It is an amusing "article".

My favorite now: "We believe drinking a particular brand of cheap beer makes us very attractive to members of the opposite sex. Similarly, we also believe we will run faster and jump higher if our shoes have swooshes on them."

But I just got a pair of those swooshes and I ran faster (and my legs didn't hurt after I ran.)

Monday, August 14, 2006

Monday Night Raw Draws Nigh, This One's For Henry James

Greetings readers, welcome to this copywrighted lead-in to another fantabulous edition of The Rhetorical Situation's award winning live Blog of Monday Night Raw! Harrogate would like to dedicate tonight's blog to Henry James,
whose dual penchant for profound metaphyscial musings on the one hand, and deliciously shallow gossip on the other, would have made him perfect as a ringside announcer. But he'd be doing color analysis. We'd still have Jim "Oh My God Has He No Conscience, No Soul, No Fellow Feeling For Other Human Beings!!????" Ross doing play-by-play.

8:00 p.m. Central Time, folks. But for those of you on, for example, Singapore Time, check local listings. There's a lot at stake going into tonight: with a card filled with Main Events looming just 6 days away at Summerslam (Only on Pay-Per-View), momentum is everything. Harrogate is ready to get Raw . . . Are you? See y'all at 8:00!

8:06, Charlottesville, VA. Edge opens things up with the revelation that he has invaded the house where Cena grew up in Massachusetts. How humiliating, he slapped Cena's own father across the face! Edge likes to get personal, ad hominem or bust. Now Cena has Freudian reasons for kicking Edge's ass as soon as possible .... and the rest us need to be avenged for having to hear Edge tell us, in his own droning way, all about his history with Cena. (Harrogate loves it that the hyper-offended Jim Ross refers to Lita as "that damned woman")--Does it get any more disgusting than watching Edge and Lita tongue each other? Harrogate submits Henry James would have found it crass. Coming up next Lita the walking venereal disease challenges Mickey James for the women's gold, and rumours abound that Hulk Hogan is in da house!
8:19 Lita with an assist from Edge completes the circle, now that she is women's champion she and Edge are the "golden couple"--they're a modern day John and Jackie Kennedy! (Jim Ross still can't see how Edge and Lita live with themselves afer what they 'done to Cena's daddy')
8:30 p.m. "Wallow, wallow, wallow" ventilates Mick Foley, implying that Flair will bleed to death at Foley's hands at Summerslam! Harrogate is surprised Foley has any voice left, he yells so loud and fast. But then, his is the proverbial tale told by an idiot signifying not shit ... Umaga early, and against a scrub (bad writing unless they're setting the stage for more Umaga later) . . . Harrogate will say this: the man can straight-up do it in the ring. And he loves that Umaga sets up his opponents with the ole ASS TO THE FACE
8:50 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The Nature Boy Ric Flair in Charlottesville, on UVA campus, one of William Faulkner's favorite spots incidentally. Foley interrupts Flair's demolition of Johnny Nitro, gets an assist from Mileena, mugs Harrogate's favorite cultural icon,and remains uglier than a four day pile of cow dung.
9:15Shawn Michaels and Triple H, most famously known as D-Generation X (get it), make their grand entrance at the top of the hour. These two are by far, WWE's big show stoppers, of the moment, they carry the narrative. Now they get a chance to respond to the shenanigans of the last two weeks, but not without the McMahons hetting ther interruption on . . . Words pass, heated words . . . Triple H reminds us all several times that he and Michaels are indeed D-Generation X, and Mr.McMahon reminds everyone that he's the biggest name in the history of wrestling. Meanwhile Jim Ross at ringside is still fuming over how Edge and Lita 'done Cena's daddy.' More must come of all this . . . perhaps something serious will go down between Carlito and Edge . . .
9:30 Eugene and Hacksaw Jim Duggan versus the five male cheerleaders donning chartreuse, Spirit Squad. Good Lord. Then comes the Highlanders, WWE's elegant hat tip to the Scottish archetype, to balance out the ringside numbers and help out team Eugene. Victory Eugene, with an assist from the lovable Scots. Now, Harrogate is expecting big things out of these last thirty minutes--don't let him and his fans down, WWE!
9:52 Umaga and his manager appear to have finally started to figure out that they were mere pawns in Mr. McMahon's game. Harrogate would find i interesting to see Umaga end his briliant "heel run" and turn good. Lita, meanwhile, has already done an interview with and Raw not even over yet. Trish at ringside with Carlito, knocks Lita on her tushie, and it looks like they're officially a couple now, or as they used to say in Harrogate's day, 'going together.' Edge, aka "Rated R Superstar," manages to Spear Carlito, but Cena rolls into the ring and proceeds to pummel his nemesis, both to avenge his daddy (Jim Ross likes it) and send a message for Summerslam. It takes security guards holding Cena back to get Edge out of there in one piece. Main Event is all that's left, looks like it's going to involve Hulk Hogan and Randy Orton, Jr. . . .

It's all about promoting the ice-cream truck, pay-per-view. Hogan and Orton briefly skirmish, bt they're not going to give away the popsicles for free. Hogan still gets the great call-and-response from the crowd, but Harrogate wonders if he can still get it done in the squared circle.

Well, readers, Harrogate bids thee adieu. Have beauteous evenings, kick back with a Henry James novel and clear your slates for Summersla come Sunday!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

FOX News Channel: Smug Media Perpetually on Acid

Harrogate has been a purveyor of FOX News Channel for several years now, largely because of the importance of knowing the enemy, but also for such tangential purposes as amusement and masochism. And it often occurs that, just when Harrogate believes that nothing this propaganda spewing machine could ever deliver would surprise him, along comes something that makes even his cynical, hardened jaw hit the floor.

Such is the case with the current installment of Brit Blight-O-Human-Skin Horseface Hume's Grapevine, which actually has the audacity to complain about media contamination in the Israel-Lebanon conflict. Apparently the "ter'ists," as our brave redneck leader likes to call them, have been releasing staged shots from the war front in a brazen attempt to swing public opinion against the Israeli assault of Lebanon.

And it's not just FOX, this whole "Fauxtography" shtick is getting a lot of play across the big Sunday Talk Show circuit and in all the (yellow) papers and major blogs. Indeed, The Rhetorical Situation might well be the last major media outlet to discuss this rhetorical development. Well, Harrogate breaks the silence now.

Now, at this point Harrogate can just hear the multitudes asking: but shouldn't we know the pictures are fake if they are fake? Yes, Harrogate supposes we should.

But how dare any of the media in this country complain about such a thing today, in the wake of their bloodthirsty ratings chasing behavior in trumping up the WMD charges, in the wake of their cult of the missing white woman (NOT TO MENTION RUNAWAY BRIDES AND THE HUNTING OF BARRY BONDS) replacing real news, in the wake of the Terri Shiavo spectacle whereby the droolers who flocked to Florida were treated as legitimate complaintants with something to say, in the wake of those ignorant bufoons/voters in South Dakota (may those rednecks rot in hell, if there is one, which Harrogate doubts) declaring women to be second-class citizens and then being benignly glossed by every major media outlet in the 'free world,' and, finally, in the wake of the whole Pat Tillman fiasco (a dead soldier isn't worth much, but a celebrity narrative dripping with Apple Pie is worth gallons of oil and blood, even if the narrative is an out and out lie) for fuck's sake!

And now here's ole Brit Blight-O-Human-Skin Horseface Hume himself, who has been consistently pimping out every form of sadomasochistic violence that the Bush Administration could possibly concoct since it took office, suddenly pretending to care about what is true and decent? There is no shame left, loyal readers.

For those who question the viability of Professional Wrestling on the grounds that it is somehow "fake" (a warrant Harrogate will debate with anyone anytime anyplace but only on pay per view baby!), Harrogate submits that these eagle-eyed critics take a look at their own Uhmerrkiahn system of governance: the bloodlust, the materialism, the hatred of difference, the mockery that is going to be the coming midterm elections, the sad fact that Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) now comes across as, by comparison, a defender of civil liberties because of the cesspool that he, torgolydyte that he is, inhabits.

In the WWE, at least nobody really gets hurt.
Portishead for Your Sunday Pleasure