Interdisciplinarity and Visual Culture notes

by Dr Davis on April 23, 2014

steampunk_archive_icon_by_yereverluvinuncleber-d5jsav0Mitchell, W. J. T. “Interdisciplinarity and Visual Culture.” Art Bulletin 77.4 (December 1995): 540-44.

“‘iconology’ (the general study of images across the media) or more broadly ‘visual culture’ (the study of the social construction of visual experience)” (Mitchell 540).

“Interdisciplinarity, in short, is a way of seeming to be just a little bit adventurous and even transgressive, but not too much” (Mitchell 540).

“The great virtue of visual culture as a concept is that it is ‘indisciplinary’ in its tendencies; it names a problematic rather than a well-defined theoretical object” (Mitchell 542).

“The field of literary studies encounters visual culture with a similar kind of ambivalence. It is not quite sure why textual scholars should suddenly be looking at visual arts and media (the historical ‘accident’ that cinema studies is often taught in literature departments becomes relevant here, and needs examination). The ambivalence is compounded when the supremacy of textual theory and notions of culture based principally in the ‘linguistic turn’ encounter a visual or pictorial turn that does not seem reducible to discursive models. Literary history has always been necessarily more than a history of works of literary art. It has always had to address the whole field of language and verbal expression as a place in which the entire sensorium, most notably the visual, is engaged” (Mitchell 542).

“There is no way, in short, to keep visuality and visual images out of the study of language and literature” (Mitchell 543).

“Visual culture becomes an interesting concept only if its constituent terms and their relations are called into question” (Mitchell 543).

How does the visual seem to encompass an entire world view? (544)


Art in Contact Zones

by Dr Davis on April 22, 2014

steampunk_archive_icon_by_yereverluvinuncleber-d5jsav0Darcy, Jean. “Visualizing Discovery: Christopher Columbus’s Maps.” Writing the Visual: A Practical Guide for Teachers of Composition and Communication. Eds. Carol David and Anne R. Richards. West Lafayette, IN: Parlor Press, 2008. Print. 168-82.

course (Queensborough Community College, CUNY) looks at CC’s critical thinking and how it shaped history
“become aware of how visual images can engender discovery and critical thinking” (Darcy 168)

1507 map shows how Europeans looked at America “unfurling scroll” (Darcy 169)

“visual texts supply knowledge that is unavailable in the literary texts” (Darcy 170, citing Mitchell 540ff)

approach for class is how the class as a whole read the documents
for the paper, the individual
“more authentic assessment… we are approaching the text from the terms in which it is constructed” (Darcy 170)
how it is constructed does not necessarily equal how it was meant to be read

students look at:
“concept of author”
“way authority is represented”
“need for authenticity” (Darcy 170)
How do students learn about the need for authenticity?

Citing Pease, 105-107, Darcy says:

Moving between conceptions of himself as auctor, a medieval writer who follows the authority of cultural precedents, and of himself as author, a writer who relies on his own experience to arrive at or to invent personal conclusions, Columbus creates in his journal an inquiry path of the third voyage by which he selects the texts that will influence his experience of place. (170)

Visual texts for class:
celestial map
13th C Psalter map
1490 “Columbus Chart” (170)

Assignment steps:
Solitary reading
Low-stakes writing “select three descriptive details… speculate”
Small groups –ea student lists details of map, then goes through list of questions, pool info (171)
Jigsaw groups groups where each member had a different map –group pools info and writes report on ways CC valued info in each map
Class discussion –project manager (172)

Discusses maps used (172-76).

Student outcomes (176-79)
Students speculate “about process and relation” (177)
“[S]tudents begin to recognize different kinds of knowledge and how each influences the others to create a way of communicating new information within cultural context” (Darcy 177).
Students recognized CC structured his descriptions to align with Queen Isabella’s worldview (178).
CC focused on “civilization” (178).
Students also look at Marco Polo’s writing. C/C CC’s “sailing through” and MP’s dwelling in descriptions (178).
Students recognize (though she doesn’t say how) that they are making selections between details (178).

I wrote that she was definitely influenced by Gilligan et al and border theory (though that’s not what she quotes, mostly).

Provides Appendix 1, Assignment above (179)
Appendix 2, how art influences writer (180)
use Hemingway and the National Geographic triptych as another example


New Media in FYC

by Dr Davis on April 21, 2014

steampunk_archive_icon_by_yereverluvinuncleber-d5jsav0Pennell, Michael. “The H1N1 Virus and Video Production: New Media Composing in First-Year Composition.” Pedagogy 10.3 (June 2010): 568-73.

Pennell presents the impetus for adding a digital component to his fyc. The H1N1 virus brought a competition for PSAs to his campus and he rearranged the course to have PSAs as the first composition. Rhetorically the analysis of audience and purpose was fairly simple, though the targeted audiences could be diverse. The class watched PSAs and noted consistencies “such as use of emotion, humor, celebrity spokespersons, or short taglines” (269). The students created their own PSAs in teams and the videos were finished within three weeks. Student concerns included technical expertise, the real world competition, time constraints, and participation levels. Pennell cites multiple rhetoricians to argue that composition studies will become marginalized if the rhetorical competencies it encompasses are not expanded.

The article specifically addresses new media in the fyc, which is good. It is limited, though, by the unique rhetorical situation for which the digital presentations were created and the lack of assignment guidelines and an assessment rubric.

For my study, this mostly offers additional sources who specifically speak on digital presentations as part of composition studies and rhetoric in general.


Integrated Theory for Digital Rhetoric

by Dr Davis on April 20, 2014

steampunk_archive_icon_by_yereverluvinuncleber-d5jsav0Zappen, James P. “Digital Rhetoric: Toward an Integrated Theory.” Technical Communication Quarterly 14.3 (2005): 319-25. Web. 1 May 2012.

This article offers a survey of the literature of the history of digital rhetoric. Traditional rhetorical persuasion and its restructuring for digital spaces (319) and opportunities to expand on traditional rhetoric (320) are discussed. Digital media’s basic modes and models of communication as well as the related difficulties are discussed (321). For example, “Anonymity encourages experiments in self and gender identities, but it also problematizes notions of authorship and ownership and encourages ‘flaming’–the hostile expression of strong emotions” (321). The formation of identity and community are also discussed (322), with comments from players who create player characters and decide whether they are their pc or not. Zappen notes that relationships between online and offline communities actually increase social ties (323). He ends with questions, which he says will lead towards an integrated theory.

There are some useful ideas discussed, especially in connection with yesterday’s post (identity, community, ownership and authorship). But as a move towards an integrated theory of digital rhetoric, this article falls short. The review of literature covers a single article or two per point and is by no means comprehensive.

Most helpful would be the stories included, with quotes, about how online and offline personalities, identities, and questions relate.



Web 2.0 Collaboration in Bus Comm

by Dr Davis on April 19, 2014

steampunk_archive_icon_by_yereverluvinuncleber-d5jsav0Beuchler, Scott. “Using Web 2.0 to Collaborate.” Business Communication Today 73 (2010): 439-43. Web. 15 January 2014.

Beuchler added a blog to the final report project, which is a collaborative assignment. Group photos, the class naming the blog, required postings, and the information for those posts were part of the assignment. Teams of students related by industries they examined were required to create a video, which was also posted to the blog. After five companies made it to the finals, based on classroom voting and recommendations, students had to read posts on the five companies and add a comment arguing for the company they would choose to support. Beuchler found that the blog facilitated group decision making, allowed students to demonstrate their ability to use technology, and reinforced the responsibility of ideas.

typingThis is a fairly simple addition to the final report project, but apparently Beuchler had great success with it. Following the work of Cardon and Okoro, however, it indicates a use of technology not common in the business world. However, despite Cardon and Okoro’s arguments, learning an additional technology–even if it is not used in work–can be a positive benefit as students recognize their ability to learn and use technology and can claim facility with it as a skill on their résumé.

When I first read the summary, I thought the article would be a waste of time. However, I have been considering creating a blog (on my own website) that students would have access to and could add the information that they create for the freshmen. Then I could offer my own students (and others) the opportunity to peruse the website and use the information they find there. That is still a possibility for implementation in spring 2014 and is certainly doable by fall 2014.



CFP: Rhetoric, Memory, SF/Fan

by Dr Davis on April 18, 2014

Edited Collection: Memory in Popular Culture [abstracts due 5/1/14]
full name / name of organization:
Heather Urbanski, Fitchburg State University
contact email:
[email protected]
Upcoming collection on memory in popular culture, under contract with McFarland and Company, seeks proposals for academic essays on the complex role of rhetorical and social memory in science fiction, fantasy, fandom, and online gaming. Abstracts due 5/1/14 with final essays due 11/15/14.

For the upcoming collection Essays on Memory in Popular Culture, I am seeking contributions that describe and analyze the complex rhetorical memory involved in contemporary popular culture reception and consumption.

The key assumption of this collection is that, contrary to the conventional wisdom that memory is no longer important, this rhetorical canon has been transformed and complicated rather than subsumed, as recent scholarship into such areas as digital media, fandom studies, and memory objects demonstrates. This collection, therefore, seeks essays that document and examine this rhetorical principle in all its complexity.

Submissions are being solicited that examine cultural memory within the following categories:
• Science Fiction and Fantasy Genre texts
• Fandom activities (including fan fiction and cosplay)
• Online Gaming
• Digital collaboration and media

In addition to traditional academic essays (approximately 5,000 words each), there will also be a section for player and participant reflections (approximately 1,000 words) that briefly describe the experience of fan memory from a non-academic perspective.

Priority will be given to those authors who are members of the fandom communities they are discussing. I am looking for fans to analyze their own interests, as opposed to academics who stand outside the community and then theorize about the activities they observe. Graduate students and junior faculty are especially encouraged to submit abstracts. I am also particularly interested in essays describing the activity-based experiences of fandom from global (i.e., non-Western) and other diverse perspectives.

While the underlying premise of this collection is rhetorically based, interdisciplinary approaches are most desirable. In particular, my goal is to collect perspectives that cover the intersection of contemporary interpretations and explorations of the ancient rhetorical canon of memory, fandom studies, narrative theory, and scholarship into digital media. Please also keep in mind, however, that the primary audience includes both fans and academics so the approach should be accessible to interested, but not expert, readers.

Please submit 250-500 word abstracts (as Word or .rtf email attachments) for essays targeted at 5,000 words or for participant reflections at 1,000 words by May 1, 2014 to [email protected]

From the CFPs at UPenn.

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YouTube and Comm Ethics

by Dr Davis on April 18, 2014

steampunk_archive_icon_by_yereverluvinuncleber-d5jsav0Lehman, Carol M., Debbie D. DuFrene, and Mark W. Lehman. “YouTube Video Project: A ‘Cool’ Way to Learn Communication Ethics.” Business Communication Quarterly 73 (2010): 444-49.

The article begins with the statement that businesses expect their business students to have been instructed in ethics. It then discusses the issue with studying case studies (irrelevant and boring) and argues that role playing, through the creation of a video on the case study, engages critical thinking and contributes to student enjoyment–which might increase learning (445). The assignment is to create a video on the case study that is to be part of the class’ (company’s) formal training on ethics. As a beginning point, students should learn the four behavior possibilities (illegal and unethical; legal, yet unethical; illegal, yet ethical; legal and ethical). Students decide on a communication rule and create a two- to four-minute video giving a realistic roleplaying of breaking that rule. Five points about videos that students might not know should be explained. 1) Short and simple. 2) Avoid gimmicks and too much movement. 3) Have good audio. 4) Choose appropriate clothing, avoiding patterns and bright colors. 5) Edit the video to eliminate errors. Inviting judges to watch and score the videos is recommended (446). Also having a premier is recommended.

This article refers to YouTube as “cutting-edge social media” (444). I think this is a mistake, even for 2010, though it is certainly not true in 2014. In 2014 Instagram would be the cutting-edge social media. However, YouTube is a viable and–dare I say–revered channel for students. Certainly a premier gives the appearance of importance, which is why I have done this with my fyc classes. The points for teaching about videos are good–though most of my students don’t make those mistakes anyway.

I think that when I have a B&P Writing class that is larger instituting this might be a good idea. I dropped the ethics assignment because they have a course in ethics in their major (business related) and I couldn’t do anything substantially better or different. This, however, might qualify.



Not Just Western Rhetoric

by Dr Davis on April 17, 2014

steampunk_archive_icon_by_yereverluvinuncleber-d5jsav0Wei, Yong-Kang. “Ethos on the Web: A Cross-Cultural Approach.” Writing the Visual: A Practical Guide for Teachers of Composition and Communication. Eds. Carol David and Anne R. Richards. West Lafayette, IN: Parlor Press, 2008. Print. 146-67.

Two versions of ethos in historical West:
Platonic = individual quality of the rhetoric
artistic = portrayal that creates ethos (as suggested by Aristotle)

Plato’s notion of character, that a person must be true to his/herself in order to learn and share truth… (147)

Platonic ethos = place where language and truth become incarnational (quoting Baumlin 148)

Aristotle says persuasion ought to be based on the language (logic) of the argument, not the ethos of the rhetor. (148) What does that say for us?

Western ethos =/= universal

Chinese ethos shifts from individual to community (148)

“Harmonic rhetoric … speaks to positioning oneself fitly in the world” (Wei 149).
appeal to ethos is historical, abstains from appealing to individual (149)
appeal to authority builds ethos (149)

West: language and reality can be separated
China: language and reality are integrated (149)

Chinese rhetoric makes no appeal/connection to truth (150)
truth is a non-issue in ancient Chinese thought?

classical Chinese rhetoric (metaphor) = bamboo hypertext (150)
“nonlinear, open ended, collective, multi accentual, interactive, and networked” (Wei 151)

ancient Chinese writings appealed to a master, not necessarily written by a master
so writings of the same master would be inconsistent, because not actual author
purpose, subject matter, rhetor, and context differed (151)

significance of bamboo hypertext: authorship moves away from self-structure (Wei 151)

collective authorship = self-effacement (151)

Wei talks about ethos in the visual.

Western rhetoric, ethos is individualistic
Wei says “focusing on creating character or ethos” (Wei 152).
I say, no, on “portraying character or ethos.”

quotes and discusses Buchanan (152)
“projecting the self through artistic manipulation” (Wei 152)
I think Wei is saying portrayal, not truth. However, is portrayal of an aspect, rather than the multi-faceted whole, a lie or simply a limited truth?

Chinese ethos based on non-individual aspects:
Dao (153)

Western rhetoric is a problem for Chinese because “separates the design of an individual work from its environment” (Wei 153).
There is no context for a work? That doesn’t seem right.

“the Western ethos of visual design is clearly seen as something from within” (Wei 153)
Really? Does Wei mean that ethos comes from the design itself?

For China, context is important. A golden temple needs to be created in respect to the space and purpose. (153)
I think this is also true for GOOD Western design.

Chinese visual design requires the minimalization of humanity seen in the work. (154)
“demands ability to … erase traces of human effort” (Wei 154)

Western ethos is individual and belongs to individual. Not so Chinese.
Is this why they don’t recognize copyright?

Chinese art “values how pieces of design should relate to each other and to the surrounding world” (Wei 154).

Chinese and other non-Western “communication relies on the context to deliver messages” (Wei 155) –citing Edward Hall
context delivers message versus rhetorical triangle without context

Western = visually expressive, elaborate (155)
Chinese = simplicity

Chinese design “valued for being integrated with nature and environment” (Wei 155)
Think Arts and Crafts guy who did house falling waters–Frank Lloyd Wright.

Chinese “design does not have to declare itself in full” (Wei 155)

doing less is more (156)

Western ethos is becoming collective online (156).

“Western sites where the creation of ethos relies heavily on the visual appeals of graphics” (Wei 157)
I have seen this in my fyc and business writing classes, when students present their evaluations of bad websites. They often focus on the graphics and visual appeals.

visually overwhelming = individualistic (Western) (158)
white space = calm (Chinese) (159)
gives Screen shots of these

“Western websites are more content-specific” (Wei 161)

“Western websites tend to exhibit a disconnection from the cultural context” (Wei 161). Example: Bud Light site in UK “Whassup” (162)

Multimedia matches Western ethos, is what I got from 164.

Western ethos can USE the cultural, historical, authoritative, but they are less respected. (165)

Questions for comparing/contrasting Chinese and Western websites given on page 166.
(Three sets of questions.)



by Dr Davis on April 16, 2014

One of my colleagues reads the New York Times book review section regularly. Today he sent an email to my chair, my dean, the provost, and our president saying that I had been quoted.

It’s true! My article in Femspec is quoted in the New York Times.

My colleague also told my son, who attends the college. My son texted me a screenshot. That was the first I heard of it, as I had not checked email yet this morning.

Yay for the article!

Yay for my colleague who spread the news!


Rhetoric of Cool: Ch 4 Juxtaposition

by Dr Davis on April 16, 2014

Rice, Jeff. “Juxtaposition.” The Rhetoric of Cool: Composition Studies and New Media.” Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois UP, 2007. 73-92. Print.

As I was reading the highlights and notes I wrote in the book for this, I kept thinking of the digital presentations my second semester fyc course does. It seemed like juxtaposition would help make those more interesting. I may write about that more later…

steampunk_archive_icon_by_yereverluvinuncleber-d5jsav0“Any object, feeling, odor, word, image in juxtaposition with any other object, feeling, word or image will be associated with it” (Burroughs qtd in Rice 73).

“Douglas Engelbart proposed that juxtaposition be the focal point of writing with computers” (Rice 73).

McLuhan thought composition should include juxtaposition, because it promised depth of involvement and expression (Rice 74).

“the idea that disturbances motivate new media writing” (Rice 74)
I noted Lauer’s preference for dissonance here–and many other places in the text.

Kaleidoscope clip ShD orig by Koperczak releasedkaleidoscope approach

We do not want simple. We want interesting. (Rice 76)
Juxtaposition helps create/provide/reveal that.

“Trimbur and George proceed to highlight the field’s declining interest in those elements that comprise communications studies, like media studies” (Rice 77).
We are definitely coming back to this, though.

[standard] research paper results from organization into linear argument (Rice 78)

outline organization contrasts with juxtaposition (Rice 79)

“layers of text and image, may be removed and added to at any given moment within the composing process” (Rice 79)

“The real job of the computer is not retrieval but discovery. Like the human memory, the process of recall is an act of discovery” (McLuhan, Hot and Cool, 294, qtd in Rice 81).

“notions of individual authorship belongs more to premises native to print” (Rice 82)

“New media extends writers’ sense and observations outside of self” (Rice 82)

“composition studies still legitimizes the sequentiality of thought” (Rice 82)

“[in print media] that which cannot be classified or categorized does not belong in the writing” (Rice 83)

“outline’s function is meant to situate invention” (Rice 83)
Really? Wow. Not for me.

“writing proceeds based on that initial vision or goal. Anything not initially conceived as relevant to one’s purpose should be discarded” (Rice 83).
That is not how I think of writing, but I do wonder if that is how my students think of writing. This belief/attitude may be one reason why I am willing to wait for a well-crafted thesis till towards the end of the writing process for a paper, rather than creating a “research question” thesis statement at the beginning. Or, of course, it could be that I misunderstand how crafting a thesis works for other people.

Regarding hypertext, Rice says it is a process that is “meant to forge associations” (83), as opposed to being preplanned.

“the nature of print is closed” (Rice 83)

“the link’s ability to join a variety of authorial positions” (Rice 83)
This caught my attention for T&P reasons. When you create a blog post, then linking others extends your own authority or adds to the ethos with credibility from other sources. I wonder how much of this is useful/usable in the T&P online portfolio.

When I was first reading the quote above, I thought of the students’ digital presentations. Now, I am having trouble remembering why I thought the authorial positions in particular was relevant. I will have to think about that and add it to the discussion on this chapter for digital presentations.

“print-based emphasis on theses or topic sentences” (Rice 84)
I do like/recommend these, for academic writing.

Rice says theses are “restrictive” and act almost like miniature outlines (84).
I call them maps to the paper, in case I get lost in the direction the student was intending to take.

“[t]he potential of opening up writing to discovery and invention” (Rice 84).
He is talking about Nelson on hypertext, but I think that this is what juxtapositions can offer the students and what–when they are done at the same time/together–digital composing with/for the research paper offers. It is part of why I fiddled again this semester with when the paper and digital presentations are due.

“When writers expand connections, when they begin to include a variety of material into the writing process…, writers begin as well to move beyond immediate controlling situations” (Rice 85).

He then says they often discover conflicts–what Lauer encouraged as dissonance, I think.

George Landow “The Paradigm Is More Important than the Purchase” argues that “new media shapes educational outlooks and pedagogical positions” (Rice 85).

“web of information one encounters in media where juxtapositions not only foreground conflict but make finding one conclusion to a situation conflicted as well” (Rice 86).

“[J]uxtapositions are meant to introduce conflict as a response to information and cultural overloads” (Rice 86).
This is Lauer again, but it was not comfortable for me and I am still unsure how I would go about teaching it. –I think it might be interesting, but I would work on this in an Advanced Composition course, rather than a freshman writing course, at least at first, because (one hopes) advanced comp writers already have a standard repertoire and can use a little shaking up without becoming totally lost. That way, if it didn’t work like Rice says, or I couldn’t figure out how to explain/teach/model it for students, we could throw it out without ruining the work of a semester.

“radical innovations proposed by Engelbart or by Nelson… conflicts Bourroughs suggests… are all central to new media rhetoric” (Rice 87)

Geoffrey Sic, English Composition p. 18 “pedagogy as dare” (Rice 87)

DJs and hypertext “strive to forge connections among disparate material through various types of appropriations and juxtapositions” (Rice 87).

metaphors, “importants of assemblages,” samples (Rice 88)

“tops of digital sampling” (Rice 89)
“digital sampling extends itself rhetorically so that the tops transforms into the remix” (Rice 89)

“Writing does reorganize and rework source material… yet writing also strings together found compositions based on the intricate ways each connects or doesn’t connect with the others” (Rice 89)

metaphor? “confusing whirlwind… inciting discomfort” (Rice 90)

“translate the theoretical principles of composition to a pedagogy appropriate for digital writing” (Rice 91)
“produce a writing composed of juxtapositions. It would be, therefore, performative” (Rice 91).