Tuesday, June 26, 2007

No wonder hardly anyone reads this blog

Online Dating

Mingle2 - Online Dating

Isn't a G rating the kiss of death for a movie? Maybe I need to throw in a few gratuitous expletives, like "Daggone it!" or "Great day in the morning!"


Saturday, June 23, 2007

Another idea for RSA: Rhetorical Agency for the "Orphan of Asia"

Here's another timely topic for the upcoming Rhetoric Society conference. It's another one I am interested in, but don't have time right now to explore.

Earlier this month, Michael Turton wrote a post about the U.S. government's response to a teleconference between Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian and members of the National Press Club. This teleconference was (predictably) denounced by the PRC, and U.S. government officials avoided the event. According to a Taipei Times article that Turton quotes, "at least one [U.S. State Department] official charg[ed] that Chen's appearance violated the US ban on Taiwanese presidents visiting Washington". Turton comments,
In other words, officials within the US State Department -- thankfully not the whole State Department -- decided to take the exact position that Beijing had advanced: that pixels containing Chen Shui-bian's image should not be allowed to re-assemble themselves on digital screens inside the territory of the United States, especially when accompanied by audio.
The Taipei Times article also notes that no one from the State Department attended the teleconference.

This made me think of a question that Cheryl Geisler noted was raised by Joshua Gunn in a discussion of rhetorical agency at a meeting of the Alliance of Rhetoric Societies: "Under the impact of digital technologies, we have the ability to be in virtual places beyond our physical reach--how does this affect agency?"

The answer in this case seems to be "not a whole lot", but I'd be interested in hearing the views of those who have studied rhetorical agency (particularly in digital environments) in more depth than I have.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it

I was recently reminded that Robert Oliver, author of Communication in Ancient China and India (1971), worked as a publicizer of and ghostwriter for Syngman Rhee, Korea's first (through third) post-WWII president. Oliver wrote quite a few pamphlets and books about Korea and Rhee (Korea's Fight for Freedom, Why War Came in Korea, The Truth about Korea, Syngman Rhee: The Man Behind the Myth, etc.). He also gave a lot of speeches about Korea that have been published in various issues of Vital Speeches of the Day. Rhee, a strong anti-Communist, left office in 1960 after protests regarding the 1960 election and was exiled in Hawai'i.

This got me to thinking about the possible relationships between Oliver's work as a scholar of rhetoric (particularly intercultural rhetoric) and his Cold War-era rhetorical work for Rhee. I haven't seen anyone in the field of rhetoric write about Oliver's work on Korea--no dissertations, book chapters, or even articles. Goodwin Berquist has a little to say about Oliver's Korea period in "The Rhetorical Travels of Robert T. Oliver", but it's not a critical article. Oliver himself mentions his work with Rhee in his memoir The Way It Was--All the Way, but it doesn't appear that anyone else has taken up this topic.

But I don't really have time to work on this topic. So I'm passing it out to whoever wants to work on it, assuming no one has thought of this topic before. If anyone picks it up, I'd be grateful to hear about it. It might make a good paper for the RSA 2008 conference that's focusing on the responsibilities of rhetoric. Might even make a good dissertation topic.

[Update, 6/21/07: There's an article about ghostwriting from the Journal of Business Ethics that mentions Oliver and cites a 1991 book chapter in which Oliver is interviewed. Surprisingly, our library has that book...]

CFP: Rhetoric Society of America, 2008

RSA 2008: Call for Proposals

The Responsibilities of Rhetoric

Seattle, the location of RSA 2008, by virtue of its identity and its imagery compels us to meditate together on the macroforces that are currently shaping our discipline and our democracy.

Seattle means coffee and Boeing and the Port--all of them symbols of the international, globalized market economy and its attendant perils. Seattle means Microsoft and Amazon.com --megacorporations produced by and producing new (and sometimes vexing) communications technologies and practices. Seattle means "metronatural" life: REI (Recreation Equipment Inc.) and bicycles, eco-consciousness and the just-launched Puget Sound Partnership, urban spaces surrounded by Elliott Bay and Mt. Rainier--all of it a reminder of ecological challenges that must be negotiated through rhetoric. And Seattle means multiculturalism: the polyglot citizens who gather at Pike Place Market or Starbucks are African American and native American, Anglo and Asian, Latino and mestizo, native and immigrant.

Let us come together in Seattle, therefore, to consider The Responsibilities of Rhetoric. How can the study and practice of rhetoric contribute to social progress? What does rhetoric offer as means of understanding and coping with globalization, particularly at a time when "global" is associated with "terror" and "exploitation"? What do rhetorical studies have to offer in a presidential election year when political discourses and popular fundamentalisms are polarizing, confrontational, divisive? How do new media affect civic participation and the conduct of argument half a century after The New Rhetoric, The Uses of Argument, and The Rhetoric of Motives? How can rhetorical studies contribute to scientific exchange, technology transfer, and risk management--all in the interest of public and disciplinary good, and particularly on environmental issues? In a nation suspicious of difference, concerned with security, and newly armed with snooping technologies, can rhetorical pedagogies nevertheless protect civil liberties, sustain civic cooperation, and promote understanding and identification? And how can our professional society be sure that our scholarly methodologies and assumptions are themselves highly ethical?

While participants are invited to present their current research on all the topics that fall within the domain of rhetorical studies, the Program Committee will especially appreciate proposals that engage with The Responsibilities of Rhetoric.

Proposals for sessions and individual presentations – due by September 15, 2007 – must be submitted electronically: directions will be posted here shortly. There you will also find information (and regular updates) on housing, registration, special features, and other aspects of RSA 2008.
I should probably try to go--my first RSA presentation was in 1998 and my most recent one was in 2002...