Thursday, December 23, 2010

Defining Academic Freedom - Inside Higher Ed

Cary Nelson, "Defining Academic Freedom," Inside Higher Ed, 21 December 2010.

Over the course of decades, a great many books, essays, and policies have been written and published about academic freedom. We have learned how to apply it to pedagogical, technological, cultural, and political realities that did not exist when the concept was first defined. Not only faculty members, administrators, trustees, and students, but also parents, politicians, and other members of the public, would now benefit from a concise summary of its major features. Sometimes academic freedom is invoked in situations where it doesn't actually apply. But many within and without higher education are not well-versed in all the protections it does provide. This statement is designed to help clarify both what academic freedom does and doesn't do. . . . read more

Defining Academic Freedom - Inside Higher Ed

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Google Labs - Books Ngram Viewer: rhetorical criticism / rhetorical theory


Bitzer / Black

Searching Google Ngrams viewer for Lloyd Bitzer and Edwin Black, who between them have authorized much of late twentieth-century rhetorical criticism and theorizing.

peace / war

Google ngrams for peace / war in its database of texts in English, from 1650.

Science and Art / Technology

This is getting addictive. Here is a pair of Google Ngrams queries -- first for science/technology, then for science/art.

Greece, Rome

Here is what Google Ngrams makes of a search for "Greece" and "Rome" in books in English from 1750 to 2010. Apparently, a long, slow decline, sharpest for Rome, as classical education is eroded. A little spike for Greece when the struggle for independence is on. As we might expect, many citations of Rome in the period just before, during, and after the American Revolution and the making of the Constitution.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Communication / Rhetoric::1700 / 2010

Google ngram viewer is a way to visualize the Google Books database. Here is the result of a query asking for a visual comparison of usages of the words "communication" and "rhetoric" in books in English from 1700 to the present. Why the big drop in the year 2000?

The sense of what communication refers to has changed over the centuries. In the earlier period, "communication" often referred to what we would now call "transportation" or "contact."

Try it yourself at

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Fireside Chats and the Public

Lawrence W. Levine and Cornelia R. Levine, The Fireside Conversations: America Responds to FDR during the Great Depression (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2010).

from the publisher:

“My friends, I want to talk for a few minutes with the people of the United States about banking.” So began the first of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s famous Fireside Chats, which came on the heels of his decision, two days after his inauguration, to close all American banks. During this address, Roosevelt used the intimacy of radio to share his hopes and plans directly with the people. He concluded by encouraging Americans to “tell me your troubles.” Roosevelt’s invitation was unprecedented, and the enormous public response it elicited signaled the advent of a new relationship between Americans and their president. In this indispensable book, Lawrence W. Levine and Cornelia R. Levine illuminate the period from 1933 to 1938 by setting each of the Fireside Chats in context and reprinting a moving selection of the letters that poured into Washington from an extraordinary variety of ordinary Americans. In his foreword, Michael Kazin examines the achievements and limits of the New Deal and the reasons that FDR remains, for many Americans, the exemplar of a good president. He also highlights the similarities of the 1930s to our era, with its deep recession and a new progressive administration in the White House.

Media, Memory, and Democracy

Edward P. Morgan, What Really Happened to the 1960s: How Mass Media Culture Failed American Democracy (Lawrence, Kansas: University Press of Kansas, 2010).

from the publisher:

In his provocative look at mass media’s connection with those turbulent years, Morgan simultaneously seeks to explain what happened in the 1960s and what happened to how we remember it. His comprehensive overview and critical analysis reveal how the mass media have shaped the popular image of a raucous decade in ways that have curtailed its promise of democracy.

Morgan’s in-depth study of sixties social movements and their depictions in corporate America’s print media, film, and television helps to explain why the past still provokes deep emotions—even antagonism—half a century later. He blends history, sociology, political science, media and cultural studies, and critical theory to explain why the 1960s have been so virulently targeted, particularly by critics on the right who blame today’s self-indulgent culture on baby boomers and “sixties permissiveness” instead of the real culprits: consumer-driven capitalism and neoliberal politics.

Emphasizing the tensions between capitalism and democracy, Morgan investigates the fate of democracy in our media-driven culture, first by examining the ways that the 1960s were represented in the media at the time, then by exploring how popular versions of the sixties have glossed over their more radically democratic qualities in favor of sensationalism and ideological constructions. He reminds us of what really happened—then shows us how the media trivialized and satirized those events, co-opting and commercializing the decade’s legacy and, in doing so, robbing it of its more radical, democratic potential.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Robert Reich on the Tax Deal

Robert Reich, "Why the Obama Tax Deal Confirms the Republican World View," Huffington Post, December 8, 2010.

Here's the real story. For three decades, an increasing share of the benefits of economic growth have gone to the top 1 percent. Thirty years ago, the top got 9 percent of total income. Now they take in almost a quarter. Meanwhile, the earnings of the typical worker have barely budged.

The vast middle class no longer has the purchasing power to keep the economy going. (The rich spend a much lower portion of their incomes.) The crisis was averted before now only because middle-class families found ways to keep spending more than they took in -- by women going into paid work, by working longer hours, and finally by using their homes as collateral to borrow. But when the housing bubble burst, the game was up.

The solution is to reorganize the economy so the benefits of growth are more widely shared. Exempt the first $20,000 of income from payroll taxes, and apply payroll taxes to incomes over $250,000. Extend Medicare to all. Extend the Earned Income Tax Credit all the way up through families earning $50,000. Make higher education free to families that now can't afford it. Rehire teachers. Repair and rebuild our infrastructure. Create a new WPA to put the unemployed back to work.

Pay for this by raising marginal income taxes on millionaires (under Eisenhower, the highest marginal rate was 91 percent, and the economy flourished). . . .

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Jeremy Engels, "Enemyship: Democracy and Counter-Revolution in the Early Republic"

Jeremy Engels, Enemyship: Democracy and Counter-Revolution in the Early Republic (East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 2010).

from the publisher:

The Declaration of Independence is usually celebrated as a radical document that inspired revolution in the English colonies, in France, and elsewhere. In Enemyship, however, Jeremy Engels views the Declaration as a rhetorical strategy that outlined wildly effective arguments justifying revolution against a colonial authority — and then threatened political stability once independence was finally achieved. Enemyship examines what happened during the latter years of the Revolutionary War and in the immediate post- Revolutionary period, when the rhetorics and energies of revolution began to seem problematic to many wealthy and powerful Americans. To mitigate this threat, says Engels, the founders of the United States deployed the rhetorics of what he calls "enemyship," calling upon Americans to unite in opposition to their shared national enemies.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Are Your Taxes Too High?

What ever happened to the rhetorical presidency?

Frank Rich in the New York Times:

Obama should have pounded home the case against profligate tax cuts for the wealthiest before the Democrats lost the Senate. Even now Warren Buffett — not a socialist, by the way — is making the case with a Christie-esque directness that usually eludes the president. “The rich are always going to say that, you know, just give us more money and we’ll all go out and spend more, and then it will trickle down to the rest of you,” he told Christiane Amanpour on “This Week” last Sunday. “But that has not worked the last 10 years, and I hope the American public is catching on.” . . .

Frank Rich, "All the President's Captors," New York Times, 5 December 2010.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Library: Three Jeremiads by Robert Darnton | The New York Review of Books

Would a Digital Public Library of America solve all the other problems—the inflation of journal prices, the economics of scholarly publishing, the unbalanced budgets of libraries, and the barriers to the careers of young scholars? No. Instead, it would open the way to a general transformation of the landscape in what we now call the information society. Rather than better business plans (not that they don’t matter), we need a new ecology, one based on the public good instead of private gain. This may not be a satisfactory conclusion. It’s not an answer to the problem of sustainability. It’s an appeal to change the system.

The Library: Three Jeremiads by Robert Darnton | The New York Review of Books

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