thinking with Manuel Delanda in rhetoric and composition

Perhaps you are familiar with the recent and excellent essay collection, Thinking with Bruno Latour in Rhetoric and Composition (edited by Paul Lynch and Nathaniel Rivers). If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it, but I’m not here to talk about it today. It’s just the inspiration for the title of this missive, where I…

de-baits in the digital humanities

The LA Review of Books has published 4 interviews so far in an ongoing series on the digital humanities conducted by Melissa Dinsman. The series promises “Through conversations with both leading practitioners in the field and vocal critics, this series is a means to explore the intersection of the digital and the humanities, and its impact…

what if wolves and elephants were writing students?

Despite the title, this isn’t really about animal rhetoric, instead a video and a recent article about evolution. The video below explains how the reintroduction of wolves into Yellowstone Park not only altered the ecosystem but the physical geography. (Spoiler: wolves chased the deer out of certain areas of the park, allowing for trees and…

rhetorical organization and Latourian modes of existence

Organization is a common topic of discussion in writing instruction. Often, students are asked to produce “well-organized” essays and organization is a familiar criteria for assessment. Organization generally refers to the rhetorical cannon of arrangement, but somehow it makes more sense to say to students that their essays should be well-organized instead of well-arranged. Organization also…

The empiricist-idealist divide in composition studies (and the role of realists)

I’ve been thinking about this big picture disciplinary issues primarily in terms of my Teaching Practicum, but maybe it is useful to share this here as well. Manuel DeLanda has a helpful brief piece on “Ontological Commitments” (PDF) in which he identifies three familiar categories of philosophical positions on ontology: idealism, empiricism, and realism. I…

alien languages and rhetorical procedures

Ian Bogost writes about Star Trek: The Next Generation and the unique language of the Tamarians, an alien race encountered in one episode. Picard and the crew eventually figure out how to speak with the Tamarians by interpreting their language as a series of metaphors. Bogost, however, suggests that metaphor is the wrong concept, Calling Tamarian…

Underwood, Jockers, and literary evolution

To begin with a caveat: I’m not in the literary studies business, let alone in the digital humanities area of literary studies. So my interests in these two recent books (Jocker’s Macroanalysis and Underwood’s Why Literary Periods Mattered) are likely idiosyncratic when viewed from within the context of those fields. [Let me say by way of immediate…

genre, data, and objects

After the very busy administrative time at the beginning of the semester, I’ve been catching up on my reading. Ted Underwood has an interesting post on the relationship between data and genre as he investigates genre through an analysis of large digital collections. He observes: The biggest problem was even less quantitative, and more fundamental:…

writing’s short term

I'm working on a piece on memory, which I'll be discussing in a talk at UT Austin in February, and it departs from this line in A Thousand Plateaus that I mentioned in my last post: “one writes using short-term memory, and thus short-term ideas, even if one reads or rereads using long-term memory of long-term…

open skyrim: reading text objects

My kids and I have been playing Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim this break. If you aren't familiar, it's a fantasy role-playing style game. In this post, it's an object and opportunity for discussing the operation of reading from an object-oriented perspective. To provide some brief context, I approach speculative realism and object-oriented ontology by departing from…