academia’s weird pseudo-productivity: the summer edition

First off, what a bizarre intractable rhetorical situation this is! There is the broad cultural characterization that professors do little work because they teach so few classes, which even in itself is accurate characterization of many professors’ workloads. This is followed by a whole sub-genre of essays describing the intense demands placed on academics, how…

the social-rhetorical challenges of information technology

I spent about an hour this morning responding to two different institutional surveys about technology: one coming from the library and asking about digital scholarship and the other coming from IT and focusing on their services and classroom technologies. What technologies do scholars in your field use? What do you use? What frustrations do you…

the late age of close reading and the data humanities

I have been working on my book, so I haven’t found as much time to write here, and this post comes out of the work I’m doing there rather than any particular current event (though I’d like to think it has some currency!). In the broadest terms the manuscript considers the value of a particular…

universities, politics, Devoss, and conservatives

Some of my colleagues, like Seth Kahn and Steve Krause, have written about DeVoss’ comments at CPAC. It’s all very much a rehearsal of the same old conservative red meat about liberal professors indoctrinating students. Like many such criticisms, I think they often reveal more about the critic than the object of her criticism. That…

How do you think rhetoric works?

A recent article by Elizabeth Kolbert in The New Yorker seeks to explain “Why Facts Don’t Change Our Minds.” The article is in reference to several new books written by cognitive scientists. The first, by Hugo Mercier and Dan Sperber, called The Enigma of Reason recounts numerous psychological studies examining the various ways in which people hold on to their…

reality checks

Maybe you saw John Oliver on Last Week Tonight describe his plan to begin airing commercials on morning shows Trump watches in order to educate him on a few key points. If you haven’t, it’s worth a laugh. Oliver’s basic argument though is that we have a president who doesn’t believe that an agreed upon reality…

interpretation, tarot cards, and the power of truth

Long ago, when I was an undergrad, I learned how to read Tarot cards. (Hey, stop rolling your eyes; I saw that.) I haven’t done it in years, though when I was a professor at Cortland we’d go on writing retreats to this Adirondack camp with our students and my colleague, Vicky Boynton, and I…

beware the ides of Marching

Sometimes (well most of the time) a blog is means for exorcising and exercising one’s thoughts. Sweating them out of the mind, where maybe you can return to them later. It’s the “beware the ides of Marching” as we’re in the middle of it now and perhaps some caution is warranted. David Brooks has a…

living the post-American dream

Baudrillard’s America was one of the first books of “theory” I encountered as a student. It’s a weirdly poetic, aphoristic book. I honestly can’t tell you what to make of it, but here are few bits. Deep down, the US, with is space, its technological refinement, its simulation is the only remaining primitive society. The fascinating this is…

teaching for democracy in first-year composition

Asao Inoue has a thoughtful post here revisiting James Berlin and the idea of composition as instruction in democratic citizenship. Undoubtedly there is a deep connection to classical rhetoric in this connection, though Berlin revitalized that link for the postmodern era. Like Inoue, I was also strongly affected by Berlin as a grad student in the…