Archives: June 2007

Peter Elbow’s 1973 Writing Without Teachers

WWT, and everything else of Elbow’s I’ve read, is obsessed with the idea that nurturing invention through constant practice with active but nonjudgmental feedback will lead to more effective communication. Style, structure, grammar, any kind of formalism is swept aside by waves and waves of freewriting, drafting, and any exercises or classroom stances that promote

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Kitzhaber’s 1953 Rhetoric in American Colleges, 1850-1900

This work has an air of legend about it, and it’s more or less deserved, because it’s damn good, and effectively timeless – 99% of it feels like it was written yesterday, as when Kitzhaber notes dryly that something in rhetorical textbooks or pedagogy hasn’t changed between 1896 and 1953, I can observe, wryly, that

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Stray thought of the day

I think it would be wonderful if Al-Qaida acquired a moonbase. A single terrorist cell on the moon – or better yet, Mars – and the administation would immediately give NASA a trillion-dollar budget. The entire solar system would be colonized in a decade or so and we would have faster-than-light travel not long after.

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Partition or leave

An article in the NYT about how the Iraqi government is still utterly useless reminds me of my standards for our next president. I want to hear one of the following two plans for Iraq, to be implemented immediately – either a forced Shiite/Sunni/Kurd partition that finally acknowledges Iraq as a united nation is not

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Richard Weaver’s Language is Sermonic

Richard Weaver, who died in 1963, is an strange figure in rhetoric and composition. He was a Platonist – and I don’t mean a neo-Platonist, or a middle Platonist, but a Platonist, as he got his view of rhetoric straight from the three speeches in the Phaedrus and applied it directly to the teaching of

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Sopranos – End of the line

The Sopranos is over. And the net is abuzz, because the ending did not offer closure – but the show has never offered closure, and that is what made it great. Tony does not die, go into witness protection, or jail; he sits in a restaurant and eats onion rings like they were communion wafers

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No mere printer shall defeat me

So I’m getting ready this afternoon to head over to the office to work, and my laser printer at home – an old Brother HL-1440 – stops working. I hit it, cursed it, and then it made a further broken noise I hadn’t heard before and stopped. An hour later, after disassembling nearly the entire

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Jasper Neel’s 1988 Plato, Derrida, and Writing

This is the story of how one should not read a text; or, rather, how one should read a text, barring an initial mucking up of the process. I was warned not to read Jasper Neel’s Plato, Derrida, and Writing, that it would be a waste of time. Of course, that amounted to a challenge.

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Carol Mattingly’s Well-Tempered Women

I didn’t know much about 19th century temperance rhetoric as of this morning. Now I know a bit more. This book, from 1998, is an engaging rhetorical study of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union and the documents (oh, how I like archival work!) and rhetoric that accompanied it – a tactical and savvy set of

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