Part Three: the university of a tiny rhetoric

The last part of a three part essay. Here are parts one and two. This brings me momentarily to the Stover article, but Latour’s interview ends with some remarks about the university (and rhetoric). Latour notes that rhetoric, from the start, is fundamentally a way to teach people: It means that you can take someone…

Part Two: Making a Move on Ontology

Here are links to parts one and three of this essay. Instead the purportedly “big” new materialist rhetoric is instead tiny, minimal even. Rhetoric is not so huge as to cover civilization. It does not take over after psychology explains coming to salience. I don’t believe there is a “realm of rhetoric,” neither in consciousness…

A tiny rhetoric in a big univers(ity): three parts

This morning I’m writing about the place of rhetoric in a new materialist, plural ontology (starting with some comments from Latour) and moving into rhetoric’s place in the humanities (starting with a recent article in American Affairs, “There is no case for the humanities” by Justin Stover). I’ve divided this into three posts, so here…

the usual waffle on the plight of English Studies (holiday edition)

Many of the challenges we face in English at UB are not unique. In particular we share them with other public research university English departments who need to think about phd programs. The academic job market is awful, which raises all manner of questions about doctoral education. The STEM and business orientation of our undergrads…

An alternative to plumbing the depths of fascist souls

Many have noted their displeasure/anger with two recent NY Times pieces both by Richard Fauset: the first is a piece of reporting about a particular Nazi/white nationalist, Tony Hovater, and the second is what I think one would call a reflective op-ed follow up to that story. The displeasure/anger stems from the way in which the pieces…

carving cognition at its joints

I’ve started reading Katherine Hayles’ Unthought: The Power of the Cognitive Nonconscious. I have to say that I recognize (and am sympathetic toward) the difficult gyrations this topic demands in the humanities as one is called upon the establish various boundaries. In the first chapter, she creates a three-step pyramid comprised by (from top to bottom) conscious/unconscious…

planning for future miseries

I’ve been reading Adam Greenfield’s Radical Technologies as I’m teaching it this week, but watching Bourdain’s Parts Unknown episode this weekend about Pittsburgh also has me thinking along Greenfield’s concerns.  I selected a post title that sounds like it might be the name of a lost album recorded by The Smiths because I couldn’t help developing an affective orientation toward Greenfield that…

partisan politics and the rhetorical capacities of media ecologies

Here’s an idea I’m thinking about developing into something article-length if I can find the right angle. It’s certainly been on my mind a fair bit. Basically it’s about the role of emerging media in the articulation of political identities and communities. At that level, it’s a longstanding topic. I mean we regularly talk about…

Blade Runner 2049 and electrate film criticsm

Blade Runner 2049 is a film that has generated some divided criticism. To borrow from the comedian Mitch Hedberg’s story about his experiences in a band: “Some people loved us. Some people hated us. Some people thought we were ok.” And really what more is there to say about aesthetic judgment after the fact? Describing the…

(not) being a gun-man

One of the more well-known/cited passages of Latour’s work is on the subject of gun control and the quip “guns don’t kill people; people kill people.” In recognizable Latourian fashion, he argues that agency (and responsibility) arises across a network of actants. This is not an argument about legal responsibility, which is a different “mode of existence”…