Monday, September 1, 2014

The question as a modality of reception

Having upheld, throughout an almost thirty-year course of inquiry, he irreducible privilege of the questioning attitude, having written that questioning (Fragen) was the piety (Frömmigkeit) of thought, Heidegger at least had to complicate this axiom. First by recalling that the piety should from the start have been understood as the docility of listening, thus making the question, before anything else, into a modality of reception, a trusting attention to what gives itself to be understood rather than—or prior to—the enterprising, inquisitorial activity of a request or inquest.

Jacques Derrida, “A Number of Yes,” 127

Monday, August 25, 2014
We are in this life now. Graduate school is no different from the life of an assistant professor (if anything, graduate students have far more time than assistant professors); there is always the difficulty of balancing teaching, scholarship, service to one’s work, service to the community, personal time, helping one’s family, getting the oil changed, waiting for the fridge repair person. That never changes. So, instead, of hoping for some time that everything will be O.K., graduate school should be a time of acquiring the habits that will make all that balancing more joyful. Graduate school isn’t preparation for a career; it is the career. 9 to 5 by Trish Roberts-Miller, insidehighered
Thursday, August 21, 2014 Monday, August 4, 2014

“It’s essentially doing what the private cable companies are attempting to do and throttle the internet based on usage habits,” said Lindsey M. Gay, a graduate student in English. Gay said the new policy has spawned fresh debates about the role of public institutions in ensuring access to the internet. “If the digital world is here to stay, how are we going to provide equitable access to that knowledge?”

My colleague Lindsey Gay talks to Inside Higher Ed in “Bandwidth Exceeded” about UT’s (proposed?) data usage policy, which heinously requires students to pay for wifi to visit any non-UT site.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014
Photo by rhet-eric. Congratulations to the DWRL and the Battles Lines team, winners of the 2014 Kairos Best Webtext Award for “Crossing Battle Lines: Teaching Multimodal Literacies through Alternate Reality Games”!

Photo by rhet-eric. Congratulations to the DWRL and the Battles Lines team, winners of the 2014 Kairos Best Webtext Award for “Crossing Battle Lines: Teaching Multimodal Literacies through Alternate Reality Games”!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Poststructuralist Luncheon Club

In ‘76, of course, Of Grammatology came out, and when Bryan came back he made us read it. It’s 1978 and we’re reading Of Grammatology together. We called ourselves the Poststructuralist Luncheon Club. … We met every Friday. There were four of us, and all of us published out of that experience. Our group which, lasted for about eight years, went on from Derrida and read other stuff. I saw right away the connection between deconstruction and sophistry. It isn’t exact, and of course you have to consider the historical distinctions. But it was like, Boom! … And I just couldn’t stop after that. Just couldn’t stop.

Sharon Crowley in Women’s Ways of Making It in Rhetoric and Composition, by Michelle Ballif, Diane Davis, and Roxanne Mountford, p. 224

Wednesday, June 18, 2014
The perspective I find I have developed over these years and in these practices of attending and attuning to things is akin to what Eve Sedgwick calls “weak theory” (1997). Theory that comes unstuck from its own line of thought to follow the objects it encounters, or becomes undone by its attention to things that don’t just add up but take on a life of their own as problems for thought….

It’s a mode of production through which something that feels like something throws itself together. An opening onto a something, it maps a thicket of connections between vague yet forceful and affecting elements (72).

Stewart, Kathleen. “Weak Theory in an Unfinished World.” Journal of Folklore Research 45.1 (2008): 71-82. (via rhetbit)

A thicket of connections.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014
Within a few decades, contemporary literature departments (e.g., English) will be largely extinct—they’ll be as large and vibrant as Classics departments are today, which is to say, not very active at all. Only wealthy institutions will be able to afford the luxury of faculty devoted to studying written and printed text. Communications, rhetoric/composition, and media studies will take English’s place.

Rhetoric/composition gets a mention in this underwhelming article, titled "In the Near Future, Only Very Wealthy Colleges Will Have English Departments" on the site but Advent of Digital Humanities Will Make English Departments Pointless | New Republic when shared on Tumblr. Hm.

Still: this is suddenly starting to sound like a familiar refrain.

Monday, June 16, 2014
This is the first time I have seen a publisher directly interfere with the autonomous work of academics and it is a very serious breach of the relationship,” he said. “We can only keep our freedom to publish what we like if we control the publishing process. Resignations threat over Taylor & Francis ‘censorship’ | Times Higher Education quoting Steffen Böhm, co-author of one of the articles about academic publishing that Taylor & Francis objected to and demanded alterations in before publishing here.
Friday, June 13, 2014
Isn’t it exactly this sort of hyper-competitive anti-logic that created the crisis of the humanities in the first place? Insistent warnings about the need for practicality—for sacrifices in the name of the job market—have filled students with a fearsome anxiety about their financial futures. Are you going to try and pay your electric bill with music, Susan? In other words, the humanities crisis is largely a positive feedback loop created by stressing out over economic outcomes. The Morbid Fascination With the Death of the Humanities - Benjamin Winterhalter - The Atlantic
Wednesday, June 11, 2014

"Melody of You" from Divine Discontent by Sixpence None the Richer.

Today I finished reading “The Conference Call: Weber—Fynsk—Borch-Jacobsen” in Avital Ronell’s The Telephone Book. Here’s my favorite passage, which I read yesterday right before this song came on shuffle. Call it the calling of being called.

The call makes you come to Being, which throws up another question: how can you hear anything, since you are nothing and you do not as such exist prior to the call? The call befalls you, and you cannot prevent the “falling” which you are: it throws you. You are thrown (geworfen)—thrown off before any “I” can constitute itself or any subject can be thrown together. “You are called to come to the world and answer for yourself. You consequently are no ‘I’ hearing itself say ‘you’ within a present situation of enunciation or an ‘intersubjective’ relationship or even a ‘dialogic’ rapport… . Neither are addressee nor allocutor nor receiver of some message, ‘you’ are emitted, dispatched, and given—which also means destined (geschickt)” (E, 93). Being “Called” is your most proper name, prior to any nomination, any baptism. This is why the call concerns only you, calling none other than you, arriving from no person other than you, all the while coming on to you. The call: it’s you, and this is how you are called ……………………………………..


From what I’m reading, p. 66. Meanwhile, I’ve been thinking about (and browsing the tumblr tag for) Myst. And I found this great reflection on what the author learned from playing Myst, most fitting: “that sometimes you’re going to feel Called to something, and you won’t have an explanation" (capitalization in original).

Friday, June 6, 2014

What counts as language

Too much weight has been loaded on to questions and idioms of language in considering the doings of the great variety of animals and people alike. Especially for thinking about world making and intelligent intra-action among beings like dogs and donkeys, to ask if their cognitive, communicative skills do or do not qualify for the imprimatur of language is to fall into a dangerous trap. People always end up better at language than animals, no matter how latitudinarian the framework for thinking about the matter. The history of philosophy and of science is crisscrossed with lines drawn between Human and Animal on the basis of what counts as language.

Donna Haraway, in When Species Meet, p. 234

Rhetoric has the bigger tent, anyway.

Thursday, June 5, 2014 Monday, June 2, 2014

Repeated blows to the reading ego

But no matter how witty or presumably witless one may be (the polarity always breaks down when the stupids arrive on the scene of reading), the battle of wits is a losing one, able to boast only provisional and recognizably pyrrhic victories. It is not long before it becomes evident that one has necessarily been outwitted (that is, outed as stupid) by the brazen betrayals of linguistic positing. Given the law of language’s outwitting nature, it is somewhat surprising that de Man maintains “the dull-witted reader” in its depreciated place, as if one could hope to sharpen one’s wits on subjective mastery, which language precisely disallows. One can only be dulled by repeated blows to the reading ego so that the sharpest become the dullest, the cutting edge the most blunt. Language smarts; the subject necessarily dulls.

From what I’ve been reading: “The Rhetoric of Testing” in Stupidity by Avital Ronell, p. 100