In the beginning was the Logos - - -
I have read more on this topic somewhere, but at the beginning of a New Year, I wanted to just make a note of this before I forgot. Maybe a reader out there can help me with a reference?
Any theoretical discourse that is entitled to be called "rhetoric" must at minimum conceive of rhetoric as an art of invention, that is, it must give a central place to the systematic discovery and investigation of the available arguments in a given situation. Furthermore, it must conceive of the arguments generated by rhetorical invention as both produced and ciruclated within a network of social and civic ddiscourse, images, and eents.. As ancient rhetors such as Gorgias and Cicero argued in theory and personifice in practice, any practice entitled to be called "rhetoric" must intervene in some way in social and civic discursive networks.
Being a long time fan of Brown Cow Yogurt's Cream on Top yogurts and noting that they donate to environmental causes, I was eager to see the repackaging / new look that “Lily [the brown cow] wanted.” Unfortunately, I am disappointed by the new foil top which no longer allows me to reseal the yogurt if I don’t finish it. Luckily, I still have one or two of the older packages, and the old red lids will fit the new cups, so I will keep them to seal the cups.
Of course, I am not likely to need to do that very often in the future because they decreased the size of the cup 25% from 8 oz. to 6 oz. while keeping the price the same (.99 cents at either of the stores I frequent). This is effectively a 32% increase in price (6 oz for .99 compared to 8 oz for .99), a sneaky and deceitful way of raising prices under the cover of a sentimental story that Lily the nice brown cow wanted a new look. I am very disappointed in this company. They pretend to be consumer friendly, but by this action, they show that they are just another greedy corporation. I pointed this out to the other customers in the store last night so they would see what the company is up to. The management was apologetic. Of course, it is not their fault.
Perhaps if enough former customers let Brown Cow know of their disappointment, they will reconsider and reduce the price to .75 cents, which is the same rate per ounce as presently. Then Brown Cow would look like generous and fair-minded folks. And since they are saving money with the new lids, they will still come out ahead. If you want to write to them on this subject, their address is Brown Cow Farm Antioch, CA 94509, or try their website.
A serious mistake in a nightie,
A grave disappointment all round.
Is all that you’ll get from th’Almighty
Is all that you’ll get underground.
I taught this poem in an Introduction to Poetry class at Oregon State University last winter. It’s reprinted in the Norton Anthology of Poetry, 5th edition, p. 1965. That was fun to find.
Semiotic systems are human cultural and historical creations that are designed to engage and manipulate people in certain ways. They attempt through their content and social practices to recruit people to think, act, interact, value, and feel in certain specific ways. In this sense, they attempt to get people to learn and take on certain sorts of new identities, to become, for a time and place, certain types of people. ... some of these identitites constitute, within certain institutions or for certain social groups in the society, social goods. By a "social good" I mean anything that a group in society, or society as a whole, sees as bringing one status, respect, power, freedom, or other such socially valued things. Some people have more or less access to valued or desired semiotic domains and their concomitant identities. Furthermore, some identities connected to some semiotic domains may come, as one understands the domain more reflectively, to seem less (or more) good or valuable than one had previously thought. Finally, one might come to see that a given identity associated with a given semiotic domain relates poorly (or well) -- in terms of one's vision of ethics, morality, or a valued life -- with one's other identities association with other semiotic domains. For example, a person might come to see that a given semiotic domain is designed so as to invite one to take on an identity that revels in a disdain [or, alternatively, I would argue, a valuation] for life or in a way of thinking about race, class, or gender that the person, in terms of other identities he or she takes on in other semiotic domains, does not, on reflection, wish to cotinue. In this sense, then, semiotic domains are inherently polticial (and here I am using the term "political" in the sense of any practices where the distribution of social goods in a society is at stake.)"In saying this, Gee is hints at theessential self-awareness needed fas people intentionally experiment with and adopt identities when they join, temporarily at least, new semiotic domains.
New teachers must compose teacherly identities through invention, performance, integration, revision, trial-and-error. In order to make purposeful decisions about specific, concrete issues (e.g., how to arrange desks in the room, what to wear when they teach, what texts to assign, what grading system to use, and so on), graduate students must first recognize, develop, and invent themselves as teachers (Tobin 71 in McKinney and Chiseri-Strater 59).
[Tobin, Lad. "Teaching Against the Teaching Againt Pedagogy: Reading our Clasrooms, Writing Ourselves." Reader. 33/34 (1995): 68-84.]While I can definitely use this information/insight right now with the current new TA's and for sure next fall with the next class of new TA's (should I share the article with them? if so, when?), Tobin here points directly to issues for the 4C's paper -- namely invention, performance, and trial-and-error.
1. Confessions: I made a mistake (62)They see these stock narratives as roles the new teachers adopt as they struggle with / resent the growing understanding "that none of the methods introduced in our seminar will work for everyone [all the time]" (65). In training their new TA's, the authors were especially concerned with #4:
2. Offerings: Am I Right? Or, See, I'm Doing Fine (62)
3. Aversions: I Just Want to KNow How to Do This (63)
4. Conscientious Objections: Sorry, [I tried it] But It Doesn't Work (64)
5. Transformations: See How I Have Changed (65)
"Out of all the narratives, we were most concerned initially with the teachers who wove these tales since our fear was that they were composing a teacherly self that resisted or misinterpreted every theory or practice we had shared with them in our seminar." (65)They go on to say,
As first then, we misread the TAs' self-presentations or teaching narratives as the only or the true narrative of their teaching experiences, but upon rereading the journal in the context with the other assignments . . . we came to see that the teaching reflections and self-presentations were not the only useful barometers for the TA's classroom. Just as Newkirk notices in his undergraduate essays that students create personas or perform a self in their writing, he also shows the limitations of this self-construction when he asserts, "The key feature of these presentations is their selectivity:[emphasis mine] every act of self-presentation involves the withholding of information that might undermine the idealized imprssion the performer wants to convey" (Newkirk 3 in McKinney and Chiseri-Strater 66)
What seems far more important is for TAs to have an opportunity to invent, try out and perform their new identities as writing teachres on the pages of the journals and course work for the seminar.... But the journal...does not tell the whole tale....it was the combination of writings, observations, and clas dialogue that helped us see and understand the struggle that new TAs face in constructing themselves as teachers." (73)Although the talk that Michael and I are writing for 4C's focuses on online presentation, I have already argued that this includes both visual and textual presentation, which naturally includes online journals, blogs, etc.
"1. Graduate students resist pedagogical innovations when such changes contradict their personal construct and sense of self-efficacy.How does this relate to the 4C's topic of graduate student teacherly identity formation/ presentation that Michael Faris and I are working on? Because the way GTA's present themselves depends at least in part on how they view themselves. And that depends on how they imagine their roles as teachers and to what extent they are intentionally striving to enact a teacherly role, as they imagine it.
2. Graduate students who initial resist nontraditional pedagogy because it threatens their sense of self-efficacy can overcome their resistance if they have developes a strong personal construct." (27)
Drawing on Henry Giroux, she identifies three categories:1. accomodation: accept what is taught
2. resistance: refuse to learn "because they believe the classroom ideology infringes upon their personal beliefs"
3. opposition: "fail to learn because they 'refuse to engage in behavior that would enable them to learn' (Chase 15)" (30)
"overburdened with teacing and preparing and grading and reading and writing and attending classes, they don't have the time to reflect on their reading, even though the texts they encounter in their pedagogy seminars may be unlike anything they've ever read before. The end result? Too many TAs exit their pedagogy seminars without fully developing an understanding of their writing or their teaching" (40)She continues:
Despite its ubiquity, the role of writing is rarely discussed in relation to graduate students' professional development. . . Too many graudate students are like those descrived above [in the case studies in her article], fearful, rigid, superstitious, or cynical. We can help them overcome these crippling apprehensions by engagivng them in those strategies our research has found effective -- collaborative learning, reflective practice, and writing as a process." (41)Which brings me to another point: Why are Michael and I writing this article? In part, from this research and writing into how graduate students imagine their acquisition/invention of a new - teacherly - role, we can learn (and show) ways to help new graduate students understand the process of transformation they are undergoing and ease the way.
A colleague sent this link to a link to a paper on information literacy delivered Rebecca Moore Howard, arguably the top person in Rhetoric and Composition working on information literacy and plagiarism. --Vicki
Here’s something else of interest - an essay I just read by Anne Frances Wysocki and Johndan Johnson-Eilola “Blinded by the Letter: Why are we Using Literacy as a Metaphor for Everything Else?” in
Passions, pedagogies, and 21st century technologies / edited by Gail E. Hawisher and Cynthia L. Selfe. NCTE/Utah State Univ Press, 1999, 349-368. PE1404 .P38 1999 2 copies now available again at
They argue that we should think closely about using the word literacy for other skills of communication technologies – information literacy, technological literacy, cultural literacy, workplace literacy etc: Their introduction poses two questions:“What are we likely to carry with us when we ask that our relationship with all other technologies should be like that we have with the technology of printed words?... what other possibilities might we use for expressing our relationships with and within technologies?” (349)
I want to go back and look at Robert Scholes “textual power” to see how this connects.