RSA 2008 part 2

I arrived around 2 pm that Friday, went and found my cheap hotel, then went to the following panels:

Friday – C02 (Ancient Greek Technical Terms)

Saturday – E04 (Sacred Rhetorics of the Ancient World), F01 (Writing and the Sacred), Go7 (Obama), H02 (Has the History of Rhetoric Losts Its Coherence?), I01 (Supersession on Rhetorical Pedagogy)

Sunday – K09 (Hermeneutics), L08 (Pedagogy on the Edge, where I presented), N05 (The Rhetorical Turn in Jewish Studies), 011 (Rhetoric and Responsibility), P02 (Rhetorical Decisions: Ethics, Subjectivity, and Law)

Monday – Q08 (Theorizing Narrative and Poetry), R01 (Pondering Whiteness), S13 (Presidental Rhetoric)

Two presentations spoke to early Christian rhetoric in particular. F01’s “Disciplining the Word” by Dale Sullivan and Katie Gunter suggested that the opponents in 1 Corinithians were some sort of proto-gnostics. I had a bit of a problem with that because of Goulder’s excellent defense of F.C. Baur’s hypothesis that the opponents are, surprise, agents of Peter and James, as well as the possibility of gnostic forces rampaging through Pauline churches in the 1st century seeming rather dim. 011’s “Between Orality and Hermeneutics: The Responsiblity of Rhetoric in Religion” by Robin Reame talked about Paul’s “rhetorical hermeneutic.” I talked briefly with her afterward – turns out she’s in the early stages of a diss on Pauline rhetoric.

H02 was also of great interest, as it looks like the new rhetoric reader that Lunsford & co are assembling will take a closer look at religious issues. That’s fantastic.

My panel on Saturday went ok, though it was too long by two paragraphs and I had to wrap it up. I always, always go longer than what I timed. I should really start aiming for, say, 12 minutes to fit a 15 minute timeframe so it will magically even out at 15. I think the argument is good enough to send out later this month.

Overall, I liked this conference more than the last CCCC. It was big for an RSA, I was told, but there were still far less people and yet the panels were of high quality throughout. Such a statement is hard to qualify, of course, but I didn’t hear any presentations that seemed thrown together or lacking in seriousness, not even on panels comprised only of graduate students. I came away thinking I’d gotten a brief sample of the pulse of rhetorical studies, as narrowly focused as my panel choices were. I also felt much more comfortable asking questions and approaching people, and I was approached several times by folks who I did not know from Adam, but knew who I was, which is an extremely odd sensation.

What else? Finding a place to eat in Seattle was difficult, as every street corner where a deli or restaurant might have been is occupied by a Starbucks. My sole activity as a tourist was going up the Space Needle Sunday afternoon to take pictures. The layovers necessary to get home cheaply were brutal, but they raced by fast enough via phone calls and my restarting of an old console game on the laptop.

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