A blog about life, language, writing, and other trivia.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

4C's, NY Style; And My Two Cents on Reading vs. Speaking

Think you know what CCCC stood for this year? Think again.

1. Collateral. As in, what you need to put up to get a room service hamburger at the Hilton NY.
2. Cash. And a lot of it.
3. Credit. For when the cash runs out.
4. Chapter 11. The only option left for most people after a conference in New York.

Those things aside, I enjoyed the conference. I was especially impressed by the U of Wisconsin-Madison grad student presenations I saw; they seem to be doing some really smart, interesting things. (Others are too, I'm sure, but I just happened to find myslef at a disproportinately high number of their talks.)

I had a great time catching up with old friends and mentors at the U of Illinois party and elsewhere (at the same time I was able to catch up on my sadly lagging Guinness quota). I also really enjoyed meeting Jeff, Lanette, and Scot. I hope to meet still more of you soon. It was also nice to catch up with Andy.

Finally, let me just say a few words about the read vs. talk debate (which rages, predictably, every year just after C's ends). In a nutshell: people just need to relax. We rightly hope for generous presenters--presenters who keep our needs and wants as audience members in mind. But that generosity needs to flow both ways. I wouldn't presume to know why somebody chooses to read a dense paper quickly or why somebody else chooses to give an unscripted narrative-based talk. So I get what I can from a talk [edited to add: I try to contribute during discussion when I can, too] and move on--sometimes disappointed, but always trying not to be judgmental.

For example, this year I heard two papers on Žižek that were almost unintelligible for their density and speed of delivery, and at first I was kind of pissed (the panel gave no indication that he would be a central focus). But then I forced myself to be a generous hearer: maybe these guys were nervous and needed the security of the text. Maybe they were still learning the presentation ropes. Maybe they felt so utterly compelled by their material that they could conceive of nothing to cut, no way to slow down. Maybe they really didn't give a shit whether I could follow or not. Maybe a hundered other things I can't think of right now. We can't know, and we shouldn't presume we can. Our only recourse, then, is to give the speaker/readers the benefit of the doubt.

For me, it boils down to these simple truths: You're going to be dazzled by a presentation or two. You're going to at least be engaged by some. And, inevitably, you're going to be disappointed by a few. But you're in a cool city. You're eating good food. You're with friends. Relax.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007


I'm off to C's, so I won't be blogging for several days. (I assume wireless at the NY Hilton costs about a million bucks an hour.) I hope to meet some of the rhet/comp bloggers I've only known virtually so far. See you in NYC.

Friday, March 16, 2007

I Hate March Madness

Day two and my bracket's already totally shot. Wizard that I am, I picked Notre Dame to go to the final four, and now they're out in round one. What was I thinking? Notre Dame?

That's like placing an unboxed, unwheeled superfecta bet with a 15:1 horse in first place. Ain't gonna happen.


Thursday, March 15, 2007

Satire May be Dangeral to Your Health

For those of you who read (past tense) Michael Bérubé's blog more than once or twice, you know he was (and no doubt still is in his non-blog life) very fond of satire. You also know that sometimes you had to be well into a post to be certain that what you were reading even was satire. Michael rarely winked, and when he did, it was often as easy to miss as a swallowed article in his mani(a)cally fast speech.

But I'm still surprised that, lately, my blog is getting a fair number of hits from people Googling "dangeral" or "dangeral studies" (I mentioned the term in a previous post)--the area of expertise Michael listed on his blog after Horowitz's dangerous professors book came out.

Now, it might be possible that people are out there trying to find Bérubé and, having associated him with the term "dangeral," type it into Google to track him down. But, given that those people are either a) likely to already know how to find Bérubé on the web or b) simply going to use his name as the search term, I have to believe that there are people out there trying to find out more about the scholarly area of "dangeral studies."

If you're one of those people, let me settle this once and for all . . . .

On second thought, I'll never tell.

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Saturday, March 10, 2007

Yeah? Well, the jerk store called, and they're running out of you.

Being interested in the dynamics of disciplinary conflict, I'm always on the lookout for oppositional or even confrontational rhetoric in my readings in rhet/comp/writing studies. There's an exchange between Russel Durst and Bill Thelin in the September 2006 CCC that pushes right up to the edge of nastiness but doesn't quite go over. But, for history's sake, I thought I'd pull out my all time favorite confrontational rhet/comp moment:

David Bartholomae gave Stephen North's The Making of Knowledge in Composition a blisteringly negative review. In a subsequent exchange in Pre/Text (Vol. 11, 1990), North says that “Dave makes some pretty derogatory comments about my work, my professional ethos, maybe—depending on how you feel about the connections among such things—me” (108). Then North goes on to agonize about how to “handle” Bartholomae’s criticisms “fairly,” admitting that:
certainly a more genuinely expressive (response), as I understand people to use the term—would be a loud, dismissive ‘Shit’ (drawn out and descending almost into voicelessness, as we do it where I grew up); or maybe an infinitely disgusted, derisive, ‘Fuck you.’ (108)
Now that's something you don't read in an academic journal everyday.

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Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Baudrillard Dead

I read over at schizzes and flows that Jean Baudrillard died.

It's a tight race between him and Derrida for first theorist to ever just plain blow my mind. I have a Ph.D. in large part because of Simulacra and Simulation.



Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Unconscious Plagiarism

Not long ago I posted an entry with the title "Burke on Morphine." I know I had seen Debbie Hawhee's RSQ piece "Burke on Drugs," but I wasn't thinking about it (at least, not consciously) when I wrote my post. I wonder, though, whether, had I never heard of her piece at all, I would have come up with the same title.

Anyway, this is really just to say that I wasn't trying to steal from you, Debbie--at least, not intentionally. Honest!

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Must. Post. Picture.

Since I began this blog, I've made a conscious choice not to bring my family into it too much--the occasional mention of Lee (my wife) or Olivia (my daughter). But after Derek's post of Is's unbearably cute seven-month photo, I can't take it any more. So I thought I'd share a photo of Olivia, still in her crib on the morning of her first b-day (exactly one month ago). She's even still got tears in her eyes from the crying that let us (ok, Lee; I was still blissfully asleep) know she was awake: