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

Monday, April 30, 2007

Forecast: Intermittent Blogging

While I certainly won't do the disappearing act I did last summer (when we moved twice and prepared for new jobs), I will likely only be blogging sporadically at best over the next couple-to-three weeks. With the end of the semester, summer travel plans, and various deadlines, things will just not be blogging-friendly around here for a while.

And speaking of deadlines, because we were only recently able to get our cfp into certain journals, Rick and I have decided to accept proposals for our project until June to give those journals' readers a fair chance to respond. FYI.

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Sunday, April 22, 2007

On the Ethics of Disciplinary Conflict

I haven't posted anything in nearly a week, mostly because it's the end of the semester and I've been trying to translate a paper on the ethics of disciplinary reading and writing into a talk I'm giving to my department Tuesday.

In lieu of a real post, then, here's an excerpt from the paper's conclusion:

As Gary Olson writes: “Since the beginnings of composition as a discipline, we all have been struggling over how to define it, over its heart and soul” (30). True, Olson’s melodramatic rendering may overstate the stakes of disciplinary debate. But it should be clear by now that heart and soul, as the figurative repositories of those most affective aspects of our being, are very much a part of “composition as an intellectual discipline” (Olson 31). Equally true is that, so far, my portrayal of this struggle suggests a model of disciplinary conflict in which each stakeholder has an equal footing, in which each group possesses the same power to influence the theoretical, methodological, and practical directions the discipline will follow. But that, of course, is not the case. Irrespective of how amorphous, how open, how contested we choose to conceive of disciplinary communities, and irrespective of whether we imagine such communities to be oriented abstractly around shared epistemic values or concretely around material social practices, we must, I feel, acknowledge that disciplines derive much of their vitality from the give-and-take of the many different and—by some measures—distinct subdisciplinary systems that they comprise. That is, they derive their vitality from disequilibrium: the “energy” of disciplines is, as in all complex social systems, necessarily distributed unevenly. Indeed, disequilibrium may even be understood to be a precondition of complex social organization (Reed and Harvey). Such is the very essence of the idea of a paradigm, after all: certain groups possess disproportionate control of a discipline’s intellectual and material resources (things like editorial control of journals, representation in disciplinary governing bodies, and ability to procure grant monies).

Given, then, that it is not unreasonable to talk about groups of compositionists being in sometimes heated disagreement with other groups; given as well that the source of such “heat” is precisely the fact that our disciplinary and intellectual identities are deeply, fundamentally affective; and, finally, given that some groups tend to hold more disciplinary sway than others; then it is also not unreasonable to suggest that the “struggle” over the “heart and soul” of the discipline should be subject to similar concerns about politics and social justice as those of macrosocially-oriented identity politics.

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Monday, April 16, 2007


My thoughts are with the people of Virginia Tech and their loved ones. Peace.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Orange and Blue

Ok, so in these photos there's no blue. But Olivia's learning early who we root for in our house.

Maybe someday she'll be able to appreciate the sheer poetry that was the '04-'05 men's basketball team. Watching those guys just pass the ball was amazing. And the future's looking bright in football, too.

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

R.I.P. Kurt Vonnegut

I'm sad to say that Kurt Vonnegut died.

Like many others, I could tell the story of how I discovered Vonnegut and how his writing has delighted and influenced me. But I'll leave the elegies for the more elegiacally-inclined, and simply note:

"Oh, well--he wasn't going to write Beethoven's Ninth Symphony anyway."

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Let's Make Some More Knowledge

You may have seen the following CFP in comp/rhet/English journals recently, but in case you haven't, I'm posting it here:

We invite proposals for essays for a collection that draws on the upcoming 25th anniversary of Stephen North’s The Making of Knowledge in Composition (MKC) as an occasion to assess the discipline of composition and its future. Because MKC remains one of composition’s monumental works, we invite retrospective accounts (rhetorical and critical analyses, reception histories, reflective narratives, and other scholarly treatments) of North’s unreservedly sweeping, undoubtedly important, and undeniably controversial book.

Rather than being merely retrospective, this collection seeks works that critically re-assess such things as MKC’s influence/impact, rhetoric, aims, and values--with an eye toward using such re-assessments to comment on the present and future of composition studies. By May 2007, please attach 500 word proposals to the editors, Lance Massey ( and Richard Gebhardt (
We envision the collection containing a mix of established, up-and-coming, and brand new voices, and we welcome questions about proposals-in-process as well. We hope you'll consider submitting something.

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Friday, April 06, 2007

Quick Lesson in Semiotics

I took this picture this morning, in front of BGSU's ROTC building. I'm wondering whether they thought through the design before commissioning the project.

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Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Overheard . . .

. . . as two people passed my office door just now:

"No. Nobody in my family grows hair on the backs of their legs."


Next Year

After finishing in the 34th percentile in Yahoo's "Tournament Pick 'em" contest this year, I've decided that next year all I'm going to do is watch college hoops and ESPN News. I may submarine my tenure chances, but I'll be sure to avoid being humiliated again come March. A man has to have priorities.

Congrats to Gators fans everywhere.