Month: August 2008

Underway, Well

Our school year here is already underway and at speed, with tomorrow being lesson 4 of a 40-lesson semester. I’m happy with what I’m teaching, and happy to have had a bit of a hand in shaping the curriculum related to some of the courses I teach. The students are wonderful, as they always are, and I think I’m going to try keeping a teaching journal again, as I’ve done sometimes in the past.

One nice thing about my institution is that we’ve been lately getting some recognition for the teaching we do: according to the U.S. News and World Report, we’re ranked #14 nationally for top liberal arts colleges, and #1 for top public liberal arts colleges. In a similar vein, Forbes magazine ranks us at #6 for top 10 colleges overall, and #1 for top public colleges. I’ll admit to having some questions about methodologies for those rankings, but I don’t mind at all that people think we’re doing good work here.

Next step: working towards some recognition of what we’re starting to do with the writing program here. (What’s that? Oh, why yes — we do have a plan.)

Dream Team

I’m not sure how enthusiastic I am about Obama’s choice of Joe Biden as a running mate — I remember the ways he embarrassed himself in past candidacies — but I think Obama, if he and his team are smart, can use Biden’s past criticisms of Obama with some rhetorical savvy to show how an Obama administration might value diverse perspectives, in contrast to the Bush administration’s echo chamber of the last eight years. But it got me thinking: who else would I like to see contributing their perspectives to a possible Obama administration?

Secretary of State: Hillary Clinton
Secretary of the Treasury: Warren Buffett
Secretary of Defense: Wesley Clark
Attorney General: Lawrence Lessig
Secretary of the Interior: Al Gore
Secretary of Agriculture: Carolyn Mugar
Secretary of Commerce: Joseph Stiglitz
Secretary of Education: Kathleen Blake Yancey

Well, sure, some of them are reaches, but it’s a wish list, a dream team. An assertion of hope about the direction in which we might go. And, yes, I’ve left off Labor, HHS, Transportation, Energy, VA, and Homeland Security. So I’ll ask: what would your choices be, reader? Who would you change or add?

All In

Watched the Olympic opening ceremonies, and I’m amazed. It’s like China pushed its economic and public relations chips — its whole pile — to the center of the table, and said, “All in.”

Kairos CFP: dot mil

Here’s part of my excuse for not posting much lately. Alexis and I are pretty excited about it. And I might be soliciting some of you, dear readers, for contributions.

Call for Proposals

Kairos Summer 2010 Special Issue
dot mil: Rhetoric, Technology, and the Military
Guest Editors: Mike Edwards and Alexis Hart

This special issue of Kairos seeks to investigate the intersections between technology, rhetoric, and the military, as well as the connections between the military and literacy instruction. During World War II, College English published four articles (February 1944, May 1944, March 1945, May 1945) explicitly concerned with connections between literacy instruction in higher education and the contemporary military. Today, in a time of ongoing conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan and anxieties about military action in Iran, such connections merit renewed attention. Furthermore, advances in communications technologies have complicated those connections. ARPANET, the first packet-switching network and direct predecessor to the global internet, went live as a Department of Defense project in 1969, and the intersection of networked rhetorics and military affairs has evolved in intriguing ways since. For example, email, web video, cell phones, video games, weblogs, and other digital technologies have become increasingly available as well as increasingly controversial within military contexts. For this special issue on rhetoric, technology, and the military, examples of possible topics of investigation might include, but are not limited to:

How soldiers’, sailors’, airmen’s, and Marines’ access to 24/7 networked communications technologies has changed the rhetoric of conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere.
Online alternative news sources and their influence on public perceptions of conflicts.
How digital technologies complicate concerns of operations security (OPSEC).
The Army’s ban on weblogging by soldiers without command approval.
The rhetorics and aesthetics of military-themed video games.
Distance learning for deployed soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines.
The use of just war theory, torture, protest, and other military-related subjects as topics for argument essays in first-year writing courses.
Corporal Pat Tillman and the public uses of the rhetorical canon of memory.
The rhetoric of PowerPoint in command briefings.
The use of netwar strategies by insurgency groups and conventional military organizations.
Media representations of the ethics and rhetoric of the “revolt of the generals.”
The rhetoric of recruiting.
Online “swiftboating” and the place of military service in political rhetoric.
The rhetorical framing of conflict in documentaries and news reports, as well as in first-hand accounts from on-the-ground warfighters.

Submission Guidelines:

For this special issue, we seek submissions for all sections of the journal (Topoi, Praxis, Reviews, Interviews, and Disputatio). We ask that contributors visit current and previous issues to determine which section best matches your work.

Topoi: Extended scholarly analyses related to the special issue theme.
Praxis: Longer classroom spotlights and brief digital tool-use narratives related to the special issue theme.
Reviews: Individual or collaborative reviews of books, media, and other texts of interest related to the special issue theme.
Interviews: Interviews with scholars doing work related to the special issue theme.
Disputatio: Short digital texts that invite or incite further commentary. This section operates like letters to the editor in more traditional journal venues; however, these texts take native digital forms, even if rudimentary in nature.

Additional Guidelines:

Please consult general submission guidelines at
Kairos can accept most web-ready file formats (check with the guest editors if you are unsure). Please keep in mind that this excludes word-processing documents.
We prefer URLs for review purposes. If you do not have access to open (or password-protected) webspace, please contact the guest editors in advance of the submission deadline to arrange alternate means of delivery.
We cannot accept email attachments larger than 2 megabytes (MB).
Queries to the guest editors are welcome in advance of the deadline. (Responses may take up to a week.)

Submission Deadline (Proposals): November 1, 2008

Contact both guest editors with a proposal via email. (Subject line: “dotmil submission: YOURNAME”.) The proposal should include a 1-2 paragraph explanation of the webtext’s topic and argument; a 1-2 paragraph description of the webtext’s structure, design, and associated technologies (including a URL and/or images, if authors wish); and a brief annotated bibliography. Authors will receive confirmation of submission, via email, within 2-3 days.

Publication Timeline:

Proposals due: November 1, 2008
Acceptance notification: December 1, 2008
Full webtexts due: March 1, 2009
Revised webtexts due: October 1, 2009
Publication date: May 15, 2010