From the category archives:

Rhetoric

CFP: Sharing the Planet Journal

by Dr Davis on July 31, 2015

Sharing the Planet (journal submissions)
full name / name of organization:
Caliban
contact email:
[email protected]
We invite contributions for a special issue of Caliban, “Planète en partage/ Sharing the Planet” to appear in June 2016. We encourage prospective contributors to submit papers by December 15, 2015. Papers should comprise not more than 30000 characters (MLA presentation). They should be sent to Aurélie Guillain ([email protected]), Wendy Harding ([email protected]) and (Françoise Besson ([email protected]). Papers must sent to the three editors.

Call For Papers: Sharing the Planet

“Sharing” comes from the Old English sceran meaning to cut or split something into parts. So sharing the planet means first of all dividing it, tracing borders and boundaries with the intention of taking possession of it to convert it into private or public property thanks to a form of birthright that gives humans precedence over other species. Can we get beyond this premise so as to imagine and put into practice another form of sharing? The Cartesian view of man as “master and possessor” of nature has been analyzed as an example of the dualistic naturalism that divides subject from object, human from non-human, and mental from material domains and that characterizes a specifically Western ontology (Descola). But if we replace the vision of man as nature’s master and possessor by that of “master and protector,” do we still manage to escape that vision of the world in which the non-human is reified and considered as property to share?

What might it mean in theory and practice to treat non-humans (animals, vegetals, places) not as objects to share but as beings with whom to share? We can find numerous works of fiction that show how naturalistic and animistic visions coexist and come into conflict within a single text, just as they can coexist within one individual’s experience (as Descola himself suggests). Fiction or memoirs seem like privileged sites not only to observe situations of companionship, symbiosis, or parasitism (whether or not mutualistic) between humans and non-human species, but also to initiate, beyond the pathetic fallacy, thought experiments that imagine what it might mean, including in terms of politics, to “think like a mountain” and thus to share the planet with that mountain, to take up Aldo Leopold’s phrase and initiative.

The issue of sharing also raises the question of what it is that should be shared by all members of a community. Thus, at the end of the nineteenth century a division was made between ordinary places and sanctuaries, as we see, for example, in the history of the National Parks, especially in the U.S.A. Certain places and certain natural resources are then treated as common or public property and are spared the systematic exploitation of nature. But is this a way to guarantee environmental justice? Or is it, on the contrary, a way to create environmental hotspots or wilderness temples, the better to forget about environmental problems elsewhere (Cronon), notably in the places occupied by the economically dispossessed?

In the English-speaking world writers relay these questions and debates, but it is important to notice that most of the time within their writings certainscarcely modified natural sites are envisioned as sanctuaries and continue to play a central role and to be associated with an emotional or sacramental experience that the writing itself transforms and circulates as an intangible form of property.

Finally, the appropriation of land by colonizers or by the political forces that follow and organize that appropriation puts into play a concept of sharing that is both unequal and “leonine” in its principle. Moreover, the spoliation of native lands by multinational companies reveals not only an unequal power dynamic, but also a conception of resource allotment in which the land is res nullius, not common property but something that belongs to no one and is therefore available for an economic system geared to productivity. Literature can play a crucial role in the representation and critical understanding of this kind of sharing, notably in the case of protest writings like those of biologist and veterinarian, Wangari Maathai, Nobel Prize winner in 2009, who relates Jean Giono’s widely diffused Provençal tale, The Man Who Planted Trees, to the African context.

Note: Seems like this would be a good place for a paper on the rhetoric of space.

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Definition of Rhetoric

by Dr Davis on July 13, 2015

I’m always interested in definitions of what rhetoric is, particularly simpler ones which can be understood by non-academics. I have used a selection of rhetoric definitions to introduce rhetoric in my section of the graduate class on history of rhetoric (which I won’t be teaching this next year) as a way to make the students aware of what rhetoric is and to create some of the dissonance that Dr. Janice Lauer believes is significantly responsible for creating learning.

–I find that very ironic considering that I was very uncomfortable with the “throw the baby in the ocean” aspect of my PhD program, but it is a way to start them thinking.

ancient woman with bookKendall R. Phillips, in his introduction to the edited collection Framing Public Memory, wrote that rhetoric is “an art interested in the ways symbols are employed to induce cooperation, achieve understanding, contest understanding, and offer dissent” (2).

While “interested in” seems vague to me, the other aspects of the definition–symbols, cooperation, understanding, and dissent–are particularly noteworthy.

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PCA Harry Potter Learning Communities

by Dr Davis on April 13, 2015

Kate Fulton and Alicia Skipper
San Juan College
Harry Potter Learning Community

Love and Tokuno provide a set of categories:
Common cohort of students taking class
Interdisciplinary teams of faculty teaching courses around a common theme
Students forming study groups and socializing together

Students were interested in HP. Will be teaching 4th time this fall.

13/16 said theme was what drew them to the course.

Challenges:
Lack of understanding about learning community
Unfamiliarity of theme
Expectations of easier courses because of theme

Ways to overcome challenges
Embracing the theme

First step: The Letter
Young witches and wizards get an invitation from the owls
Significant—formal invitation
Lets them get a wand
Helps them become full members
We send a letter in same format, same font.
Received letter with HP postage.
They were psyched.

HP and the Sorcerer’s Stone
The Psychology of Harry Potter
Exploring Psychology
Laura King

Include information that you should watch the HP movies…
Movie marathon with their family so will be refreshed/familiar.

Policies Connected to Theme
In red have the related points…
Leave early, you’ll be hunted like a horcrux.
Plagiarism, not even Hermione, should be doing your work for you.
Group work “even a suspected Deatheater, is unacceptable… We don’t take that even from Slytherin.”

Creating a Community: Sorting into Houses
Sorted on first day with Myers-Briggs type assessment, link personality theory with their sorting
House points by knowledge and discussion “5 points for Ravenclaw”
Students really hold each other accountable.
Peer review by houses sometimes doesn’t work.
Really want to win the house cup. Who knew that Chocolate Frogs was so motivating?
One student created a poster so could visually move up and down… So she could see visually who was in the lead.
Competed up until the last day of class.

Common assignments
Good aspect of a learning community

Easy- sleep and dreams play an important part of the HP series. You have been reviewing consciousness and dream theory. Take concepts and analyze one dream from HP using two different dream theories.

Reading response…
Discuss chapter in psychology, read related essay in Psych of HP.
Explain to HP and to their own lives.

Theme helps them understand…
They get it, when HP.

Multigenre research project:
Collection of documents in different genres that relate to a concept.
Write a research paper, annotated bibliography, and 3 creative pieces. Bind those together. They present to class last day.
Have to show they understand English concepts and psych concepts.
Letter to the reader to introduce the concept.
Last reflection…

Because they get to do creative stuff, they get really excited about it. Publishing it and presenting it to the class.

One student created a contract on wand use and bystander effect. Also made wands for every student. She said they had to read the contract before they could get a wand.

Project keeps students involved.

Benefits for psychology
Every concept covered in Intro to Psych can be related to HP and the lives of the students
Personality theory
Dreams
Psychological disorders
Social psychology

Split on Harry and PTSD
Ron has arachnophobia
Dobbie has anxiety

Benefits for English
Minimizes fear factor
Provides clear connections
Makes research more meaningful (doesn’t just only relate to English, also psych)
Holds student interest

Instructor Benefits
Classroom support
Immediate feedback on teaching and lessons
Collaboration
Makes class more fun

Students don’t want to leave.
In fall we’re doing Intro Psych/freshman comp
Advanced psych/advanced comp
“Now I just have to find a way to do the rest of my degree this way.”

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Next Grad Class Idea

by Dr Davis on March 26, 2015

Tom Scheinfeldt ?@foundhistory Mar 18
Next year I’m teaching a class called “Trending.” Each week we’ll pick apart what’s current on social media from a historical point of view.

Trending… from a rhetorical viewpoint. Wouldn’t that be fascinating?

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HOF: Not Marked Down

by Dr Davis on January 2, 2015

You were not marked down – you just failed to achieve excellence.

from ptarmigan

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HOF: How to Straighten Out a Thesis–Less Hand, More Moon

by Dr Davis on December 24, 2014

Here is the thesis statement of his paper about “Pride and Prejudice”. He examines Darcy’s letter to Daisy (yes, he calls Lizzy Bennet “Daisy” for no known reason):

“Darcy’s character, simply put, is a still an a**hole , but an a**hole with who is trying to overcome his faults .”

Can anyone give me any suggestions as to what to say to him? My impulse is to go all prim and school-marmish on him, but perhaps another approach might work.

Thank you.

My own approach would be a bit different from what’s been suggested here. I’m less inclined to think that appealing to his sense of future professionalism would really be a successful motivator.

Jan van Eyck hands w bookInstead, I’d call him out on the subtext of what he’s doing:

“There is an old Buddhist quote which, when adapted to teaching (as often happens), goes something like this: The best teachers point to the moon and say, ‘Look! See the moon.’ The less-good teachers do the same, but say, ‘Look! See my hand, pointing at the moon.’ Those teachers are more interested in students seeing *them* rather than the moon: they instruct, yes, but we are always aware that they are interested in showing students their cleverness first, and the moon second. When you use language like ‘Darcy is still an a**hole,’ you are drawing the reader’s attention to you, not to the text. This is not something to aspire to in teaching, and definitely not something to aspire to in papers. Always show us less hand, more moon; less [studentlastname], more Austen.”

from voxprincipalis

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HOF: Limiting Topics Brings Knowledge to Life

by Dr Davis on December 13, 2014

Here’s why I and my composition-teaching colleagues do not let students write arguments about certain topics.

First, let’s remember that I’m talking about first-year students who are learning about argument–about logic, fallacies, good evidence, bad evidence, finding common ground with opponents, refutation, and so on–for the very first time in their lives. The three or four short essays that my students have already written for me are the most writing they have ever done in one semester and perhaps more writing than they did in all of high school. Nearly all of my students enter our community college underprepared for high school, much less first-year college work. Many of these students have never used a library and none of them has used a college library.

In the catalog, the title of the course is Composition I. But it could just as well be called “Basic Introduction to College through Writing.”

school_research computer martinI’ll begin with a banned topic that rarely has anything to do with religion: gun control. When I allowed students to write about gun control, those who chose this topic were almost without exception paranoid far-right survivalist/militia fanatics who see New World Order conspiracies everywhere, or the children of such people. It was a self-selecting group: those obsessed with the topic were those who chose to write about it. And to these students, the gun-control argument has two sides: people who love freedom, and people who hate America and want to destroy America and want this to become a land of mindless slaves. A person who wants any sort of gun regulations whatsoever belongs to the second group. A person who’d like to see 30- and 50-round detachable magazine made illegal isn’t merely incorrect; he is an enemy every bit as dangerous as any foreign terrorist.

And to those students, arguments that support regulation of firearms simply don’t exist. Any data used to support arguments for gun regulation are fake–simply made up–or come from some foreign dictatorship where the people are already mindless slaves. It’s not that my no-gun-restrictions students didn’t want to consider other points of view. It’s that they simply denied the legitimacy of those points of view, since the students already knew that such viewpoints are lies concocted by communists or fascists who hate America, and so on and so forth.

My gun-loving students simply couldn’t do real research or construct even part of a proper argument. I think the term is “epistemic closure.” There’s really not an argument to be made when the choices are Good and Absolute Evil, is there? It’s as pointless as explaining why one should prefer Mister Rogers to Hitler. The inevitable poor grade on the assignment merely proved that colleges are controlled by communists or fascists who hate America, and so on and so forth.

The same kind of thing happened when I and my colleagues let students write about abortion, same-sex marriage, or prayer in public schools. With those topics, the self-selecting group consisted of religious fanatics. Please note that I am not saying that all religious people are wild-eyed fire-breathing theocrats. But I live in a part of the country where we have lots and lots of fanatics and more than a few wild-eyed fire-breathing theocrats. Catch John Hagee’s or Rod Parsley’s act on television sometime. To many of my students, that’s what a real Christian looks like. Pope Francis? Not a Christian. Demonic, in fact. I’ve had to shut down such a diatribe this semester.

For the religious fanatics in Comp I, the argument over abortion has two sides: God’s and Satan’s. It ain’t complicated. They don’t write arguments. They write sermons. Other points of view simply do not exist. My students who wrote about abortion always repeated the usual claims: women who have abortions are more likely to get cancer; women who have abortions kill themselves; women who have abortions become sterile. Giving them evidence to the contrary–science-based evidence from good sources–accomplished nothing. The articles are lies; the data are fraudulent; it’s all the work of pagans or atheists who like to kill babies. There is no need to waste time considering the ideas of people who have already proved that they are demonically evil by having such ideas.

Some of our students have been taught to leave a room when ungodly or demonic talk begins. If, say, a beginning-of-class conversation about a science story in the news drifts into mention of evolution or the Big Bang, a student will quietly pack up his or her books and leave, because he or she has been trained to get out of a room when Satan starts talking. It has happened to me and most of my colleagues.

And as with abortion, so with same-sex marriage, prayer in public schools, and other topics with a religious component. The students who write about them will not, can not, consider ideas other than their own because they already know that those other ideas are quite literally lies from Hell. They don’t write arguments. They refuse to. They write bad sermons. And if they get bad grades, they know that the instructor is on Satan’s side.

Again, please note that I am not claiming that all Christians fit a stereotype or caricature. But I live where the stereotypes and caricatures originated. I live where it’s not hard to find ramshackle little churches–old single-wides, as often as not–on back roads, churches that fly the Confederate battle flag next to and sometimes above a cross, and where men go to worship service with their AR-15s slung over their shoulders.

So I proscribe some topics. I try to make students begin arguments and research papers not with an opinion, but with a question about an important topic about which they know little and about which they know that they know very little. Then they need to show me that they have learned to use the college library well enough to find sound evidence that steered them to a point of view on the topic, and that they have examined the evidence for other points of view, and that they can assemble the products of their research into a logical and coherent whole that meets the requirements of the assignment.

It’s easier to accomplish that by proscribing topics that begin and end with Us or Them, Jesus or Satan, Liberty or Slavery. If it’s a topic that sometimes leads to shouting and screaming, pushing and shoving, fisticuffs, or gun play, then maybe it’s a topic that first-year composition students will not handle well.

Then, once a student has constructed a reasonably good written argument, I can say, “See what you did here? This is what grown-up discussion looks like. This–this way of thinking–is how all of should approach everything we think and believe, because everybody believes at least a few things that just aren’t correct. What you did in this assignment is how we can make sure that the things we believe make sense.” And I repeat the old saw: If you never change your mind, what’s the point of having one?

And then, next semester or next year, my composition students can apply their new knowledge in other courses such as sociology and philosophy, and maybe even re-examine some of their own assumptions. My Comp I class, after all, is not the last one in which students will have to make arguments. They’ll have plenty of opportunities to tackle controversies in other courses. My goal is to help them take the very first step in learning how to tackle a controversial topic.

from eumaois

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University Cannot Educate You

by Dr Davis on December 12, 2014

“You must realize that a university cannot educate you. You must do that for yourself, although a college or university is the place where it is likely that you can study most efficiently.” –Seville Chapman, in chapter 2 of How to Study Physics, 1955. Found online at: http://www.lhup.edu/~dsimanek/chapman.htm

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Plagiarism sources

by Dr Davis on December 11, 2014

The first one I found referenced on the CHE fora is a flowchart of levels of plagiarism–though not all the academics agree it is accurate. I linked it because it is a place to start talking.

The second one is an online test for recognizing plagiarism from Indiana U.

Another plagiarism source–which I cannot watch because my flash is out of date–was recommended to me. It is at Northern Arizona U.

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CFP: Multiliteracies in Underrepresented Populations

by Dr Davis on December 7, 2014

Multiliteracies in Underrepresented Populations
full name / name of organization:
Dr. Abigail Scheg and Dr. Mary-Lynn Chambers, Elizabeth City State University
contact email:
[email protected]

Call for Papers for an edited collection:
Developing and Understanding Multiliteracies in Underrepresented Populations
As new technology based communication skills are being developed, researched, and used for educative purposes, a greater understanding of these skills is necessary not just in our majority student populations, but in our minority populations as well. Arguably, the first population to experience a new literacy tool (and therefore, skill) is the population that has the financial and educational means to do so. Thus, our more privileged students are experiencing the benefits of developing multiliteracy in the classroom. However, what about the minority students? What about the online classroom? Are there challenges being faced, and what are some of the solutions being discovered?

Chambers’ (2014) research identifies an agency issue experienced by minority students who attempt to navigate their learning in a strictly text based, online environment. This challenge requires a pedagogical re-writing regarding technology based learning so that all students will benefit from a multi-modal approach in the face-to-face and online class.
Considering this perspective, the many voices of instructors who work with minority populations needs to be explored, heard, and shared. This edited collection calls for the unique perspectives of educators who work with underrepresented or minority populations in terms of multiliteracy skill development. Specifically, this call for papers is looking for educators to describe the context of their situation, their student population, and the unique challenges of building one or more literacy skills based on technology, when working with their students.

Please email inquiries or abstracts of approximately 250 words to Dr. Abigail Scheg (@ag_scheg) and Dr. Mary-Lynn Chambers to [email protected] by January 15, 2015. Dr. Abigail Scheg and Dr. Mary-Lynn Chambers are both Assistant Professors at Elizabeth City State University in the Department of Language, Literature, and Communication.

From UPenn

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