Thursday, December 15, 2011

Why College?

What is college for?

"Students, in turn, need to recognize that their college education is above all a matter of opening themselves up to new dimensions of knowledge and understanding. Teaching is not a matter of (as we too often say) “making a subject (poetry, physics, philosophy) interesting” to students but of students coming to see how such subjects are intrinsically interesting. It is more a matter of students moving beyond their interests than of teachers fitting their subjects to interests that students already have. Good teaching does not make a course’s subject more interesting; it gives the students more interests — and so makes them more interesting. . . ."

Gary Gutting, "What Is College For?" New York Times, 15 December 2011.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Cold War Rhetoric

Ned O'Gorman, Spirits of the Cold War: Contesting World Views in the Classical Age of American Security Strategy (East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 2011).

from the publisher:

In spring of 1953, newly elected President Eisenhower sat down with his staff to discuss the state of American strategy in the cold war. America, he insisted, needed a new approach to an urgent situation. From this meeting emerged Eisenhower's teams of "bright young fellows," charged with developing competing policies, each of which would come to shape global politics. In Spirits of the Cold War, Ned O’Gorman argues that the early Cold War was a crucible not only for contesting political strategies, but also for competing conceptions of America and its place in the world. Drawing on extensive archival research and wide reading in intellectual and rhetorical histories, this comprehensive account shows cold warriors debating "worldviews" in addition to more strictly instrumental tactical aims. Spirits of the Cold War is a rigorous scholarly account of the strategic debate of the early Cold War — a cultural diagnostic of American security discourse and an examination of its origins.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Rhetorical Education in Antiquity

Jeffrey Walker, The Genuine Teachers of This Art: Rhetorical Education in Antiquity (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2011).

from the publisher:

Genuine Teachers of This Art examines the technê, or "handbook," tradition—which it controversially suggests began with Isocrates—as the central tradition in ancient rhetoric and a potential model for contemporary rhetoric. From this innovative perspective, Jeffrey Walker offers reconsiderations of rhetorical theories and schoolroom practices from early to late antiquity as the true aim of the philosophical rhetoric of Isocrates and as the distinctive expression of what Cicero called "the genuine teachers of this art."

Through a study of the classical rhetorical paideia, or training system, Walker makes a case for considering rhetoric not as an Aristotelian critical-theoretical discipline, but as an Isocratean pedagogical discipline in which the art of rhetoric is neither an art of producing critical theory nor even an art of producing speeches and texts, but an art of producing speakers and writers. Walker grounds his study in pedagogical theses mined from revealing against-the-grain readings of Cicero, Isocrates, and Dionysius of Halicarnassus. Walker also locates supporting examples from a host of other sources, including Aelius Theon, Aphthonius, the Rhetoric to Alexander, the Rhetoric to Herennius, Quintilian, Hermogenes, Hermagoras, Lucian, Libanius, Apsines, the Anonymous Seguerianus, and fragments of ancient student writing preserved in papyri. Walker's epilogue considers the relevance of the ancient technê tradition for the modern discipline of rhetoric, arguing that rhetoric is defined foremost by its pedagogical enterprise, the project of producing rhetors capable of intelligent, effective, and useful civic engagement through speech and writing.

This groundbreaking vision of the technê tradition significantly revises the standard picture of the ancient history of rhetoric with ramifications for the contemporary disciplinary identity of rhetoric itself.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Peace Now

Political protest art focus of University Libraries exhibit

Friday, November 11, 2011

An exhibit featuring political protest art from the Thomas W. Benson Collection, will be on display from Nov. 18 to Feb. 1, 2012, in the Diversity Studies Room, 203 Pattee Library, Penn State University. The collection captures the intensely political climate and emerging student engagement with war, patriotism and anti-imperialism in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The exhibit is open during standard library hours. Call 814-865-3063 to confirm times.

Benson will give a gallery talk at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 29, in the Foster Auditorium, 102 Paterno Library and also on MediaSite Live at No login required.

The Benson Political Protest Poster Collection began in August 1969, when Thomas W. Benson, then on the faculty of SUNY Buffalo, arrived as visiting professor to spend the year in the Department of Rhetoric at the University of California, Berkeley. Political activity on campus was common though a fairly quiet presence, but the climate on the Berkeley campus changed dramatically in 1969 when the public learned of the 1968 My Lai Massacre, a murder of more than 350 innocent victims by U.S. troops. This massacre, combined with then Governor Ronald Reagan’s anti-University campaign and fiscal cuts, along with President Nixon’s April 1970 Cambodian invasion, fueled emotional demonstrations and strikes by faculty and students.

Benson noted, “The university became a sort of teach-in about the war.” Student design artists and activists banded together and created the Berkeley Political Poster Workshop that designed, printed, and distributed hundreds of political protest posters in support of the anti-war movement.

The Eberly Family Special Collections Library acquired the political protest posters in 2009 as a gift from Benson, the Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of Rhetoric, Communication Arts and Sciences, Penn State College of the Liberal Arts, and the editor of the series in Rhetoric and Communication for the University of South Carolina Press.

To view the full online Thomas W. Benson Political Protest Digital Collection, go to online.

Library announcement is here.

Police Attack at UC Berkeley

Police at the University of California, Berkeley, attacked students with billy clubs as part of the response to the Occupy movement there. The video above is borrowed from You Tube and from a story about the attacks in the Huffington Post.

See also Robert Hass, "Poet-Bashing Police," New York Times, 19 November 2011.

The Future of Nonviolent Protest

from Bob Ostertag in the Huffington Post:

Yesterday, police at UC Davis attacked seated students with a chemical gas.

I teach at UC Davis and I personally know many of the students who were the victims of this brutal and unprovoked assault. They are top students. In fact, I can report that among the students I know, the higher a student's grade point average, the more likely it is that they are centrally involved in the protests.

This is not surprising, since what is at issue is the dismantling of public education in California. Just six years ago, tuition at the University of California was $5357. Tuition is currently $12,192. According to current proposals, it will be $22,068 by 2015-2016. We have discussed this in my classes, and about one third of my students report that their families would likely have to pull them out of school at the new tuition. It is not a happy moment when the students look around the room and see who it is that will disappear from campus. These are young people who, like college students everywhere and at all times, form some of the deepest friendships they will have in their lives. . . .

Bob Ostertag, "Militarization of Campus Police," Huffington Post, 19 November 2011.

photo: AP Photo/The Enterprise, Wayne Tilcock

Friday, November 11, 2011

Rhetoric in Society 4 Conference

Call for Papers

Rhetoric in Society 4

“Contemporary Rhetorical Citizenship:

Purposes, Practices, and Perspectives”

Department of Media, Cognition, and Communication
Section of Rhetoric
University of Copenhagen
January 15-18, 2013

Greetings all,

This is the first bulletin of the fourth biennial Rhetoric in Society Conference to be held January 15-18, 2013 at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark.

With this bulletin, we want to invite you to do two things: mark your calendars and start thinking about how you might contribute to the conference with your scholarship.

Below, we introduce the theme of the conference and provide basic information about the various presentation formats.

Within a few weeks, we will contact you again with more information about the conference program, key-note speakers, and how to submit an abstract.

In the planning of the conference we wish to promote discussion among conference attendees. One way is to set time aside for discussion in all meetings, another is to allow for regular breaks, and a third way is to arrange social gatherings suitable to networking and amicable conversation. We hope you will come and be part of the discussion!


The theme for this fourth conference on Rhetoric in Society is “Contemporary Rhetorical Citizenship: Purposes, Practices, and Perspectives”.

With the concept of rhetorical citizenship we want to draw critical attention to the ways in which being a citizen in a modern democratic state is in many respects a discursive phenomenon. Citizenship is not just a condition such as holding a passport, it is not just behavior such as voting; citizenship also has a communicative aspect: Some perform citizenship when they watch a political debate on TV or discuss a program about homeless people with their colleagues over lunch - or when, one day, they don’t duck behind the fence but engage their cranky neighbor in conversation about her views on city street lighting. Others enact citizenship when they engage in political debates on Facebook or Twitter or join their friends in coming up with the most poignant wording for a protest sign the day before a street demonstration. And for others still, “rhetorical citizenship” is a distant ideal far from the realities of their everyday life; because the legal citizenship, literacy, and media access that such a conception of citizenship often presupposes aren’t within their reach, their experience with rhetorical citizenship is one of exclusion.

Rhetoric, with its double character as academic discipline and practice, stands in a unique position to engage the linguistic and discursive aspects of collective civic engagement. Drawing on and in collaboration with neighboring fields of inquiry such as political science, discourse studies, linguistics, media studies, informal logic, practical philosophy and social anthropology, scholars of rhetoric are able to study actual communicative behavior as it circulates in various fora and spheres – from face to face encounters to mediated discourse. With our diverse theoretical and methodological backgrounds we hold many keys to pressing concerns such as the alleged polarization and coarsening of the ‘tone’ in public debate, the turning away from political engagement toward smaller spheres of interest, and the general difficulty in making politics work constructively in many parts of the world, not least the EU.

We invite attendees – scholars, teachers, students, and citizens across a range of disciplinary traditions – to extend our knowledge of the social roles of rhetoric through theoretical and critical study, and to consider our roles as public intellectuals: how are we to name, describe, criticize, analyze, and, indeed, undertake or teach rhetorical action on matters of communal concern whether locally, nationally, or internationally?

We invite papers that help address questions such as, e.g.:

* How is rhetorical citizenship to be defined and developed as a critical frame for studying rhetoric in society?

* What conditions must obtain for rhetorical citizenship to be possible and thrive?

* What rhetorical processes and maneuvers can be observed in practitioners of rhetorical citizenship?

* How is rhetorical citizenship instantiated across genres, settings, and cultural or geographical settings?

* How is rhetorical citizenship experienced differently, even controversially, depending on power differentials and social or regional constraints?

* How can rhetorical history and pedagogy serve as a resource for contemporary theory, practice and critique of rhetorical citizenship?

* What disciplinary connections need to be made or reinvigorated for fruitful interdisciplinary work on rhetorical citizenship?

* What are potentials and pitfalls for sound and dynamic public rhetorical engagement?

* What is good and what is poor rhetorical citizenship?

Your contribution to the conference

Please consider submitting a panel, individual, poster and/or special session proposal that speaks to the conference theme.

In addition to the specified length requirements (see below), please include in an abstract: the title of the paper, name(s) of presenter(s), the nature of the material for analysis/the ‘case’, the guiding research question and/or overall argument as well as identification of the theoretical and/or methodological basis of the inquiry.

Panel proposals, individual proposals, and special format proposals will all be placed in sessions of 60 - 90 minutes. Generally, 30 minutes will be set aside for each presentation to be used in this manner: 15-20 minutes for the presentation and 5-10 minutes for questions and discussion with the audience. After each presentation a few minutes should be set aside to allow audience members to leave the room and go to a different session.

Submission options

1) Panel proposals

Panels should consist of 3-4 presentations and preferably a respondent. A panel will have a 90-minute slot of which 20-30 minutes should be set off for discussion. Proposals should include a 250 word abstract for each individual presentation. Proposals should be no more than 1250 words in total.

Panel organizers are strongly encouraged to invite a respondent to initiate and lead discussion after the presentations.

Individual proposals

Individual presentations will be given a slot of 30 minutes of which 5-10 minutes should be set off for discussion and time to allow audience members to change rooms. Proposals should include a 250 word abstract.

Individual papers will be grouped according to topic and/or theoretical approach by the conference planners. Once the program is ready, we encourage presenters on each session to exchange papers two weeks in advance of the conference in order to participate in a common discussion of the papers toward the end of the session.

3) Special format proposals

Special format sessions of 60-90 minutes are invited. Special format proposals are meant to encourage panels that are unusual in format, especially those that invite the active participating of both presenters and audiences. Consider such formats as debates, a series of short position papers designed to generate discussion, roundtables, screenings of rhetorical performances followed by discussion, workshops or other special formats. In addition to explaining the nature of the special format, the technical requirements needed to carry it through, and the estimated time need, proposals for such sessions should adhere to the formal requirements of ‘regular’ panels, i.e., analytical focus, theory, and explain the role of the participants, and the goals and aims of the session. The word limit is 350 words.

Poster proposals

A poster is a visual artefact of ‘poster’ size that represents a scholarly project on the conference theme in a visual/graphic manner. Posters will be exhibited in designated areas throughout the conference area, and there will be time set aside for conference participants to study the posters and discuss them with the presenters in an informal manner. Posters may present work not otherwise presented at the conference.

Submit your proposal

Proposals should be submitted to the conference website by March 1, 2012. We will notify you when we are ready to accept submissions.

In upcoming bulletins we will provide information about when and how to submit proposals.

Conference website

The conference website for RiS4 2013 is still under construction but can be found at this URL: <>

Why not bookmark the website today, so that you can easily return and stay abreast as it develops and provides information on how to submit proposals, how to register for the conference, where to stay, etc.?

academic committee

Hilde van Belle, Lessius University, Antwerp, Belgium

Robert Ivie, Indiana University, Bloomington, USA/Honorary Professor, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

Jens Kjeldsen, University of Bergen, Norway/Södertörn University, Sweden (RSE)

Marie Lund Klujeff, Aarhus University, Denmark (RSE)

Kendall Phillips, Syracuse University, USA (RSA)

Organizing committee

Mette Bengtsson, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

Mark Herron, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

Christian Kock, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

Rasmus Rønlev, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

Lisa S. Villadsen, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

Monday, October 31, 2011

Can the Government Create Jobs?

Paul Krugman in the Times, on the rhetoric of job creation:
A few years back Representative Barney Frank coined an apt phrase for many of his colleagues: weaponized Keynesians, defined as those who believe “that the government does not create jobs when it funds the building of bridges or important research or retrains workers, but when it builds airplanes that are never going to be used in combat, that is of course economic salvation.” . . .
Paul Krugman, "Bombs, Bridges, and Jobs," New York Times, 31 October 2011.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Apple Picking

Picking apples. Camden County, New Jersey.

Rothstein, Arthur, 1915-1985, photographer. October 1938.

FSA-OWI collection, Library of Congress.

fsa 8b17177

In our course in American Rhetoric in the New Deal Era, 1932-1945, we have recently read John Steinbeck's In Dubious Battle, which describes a strike in California apple orchards in the period.

Another October

Migratory field worker, leader of the cotton strike of October 1938, which took place just before the election. Kern County, California.

Lange, Dorothea, photographer. November 1938. Farm Security Administration - Office of War Information (FSA-OWI) Collection, Library of Congress.

Digital ID - fsa 8b32701

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Tree Topping

Tree Topping. A worker topping an elm tree on Fisher Plaza, on the Penn State campus this week. October 24, 2011. Photo taken with my iPhone.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Occupy Education?

Tenured Radical on Occupy Wall Street and education:

Today’s lesson is: thanks to the absence of leadership from the political class; the failure to nurture an empowering dialogue between high school and college teachers that might have a broad impact on education policy; the domination of university Boards of Trustees by the 1%; and Wall Street’s destructive attempts to transform education into a tradable commodity, educators are increasingly drawn to the Occupy Wall Street movement. There could not be more chaos in the education world than there is now. . . .

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Democracy Does Matter

Kern Conference on Visual Communication - call for papers

The 5th William A. Kern Conference

on Visual Communication

Rochester Institute of Technology

May 3-5, 2012

When Images Cause Trouble:

Visual Communication,

Controversy, and Critical Engagement

Call for Papers

When do images cause trouble? One purpose of this conference is to discuss recent controversies in visual communication, including photojournalism, social media, advertising, and the visual arts, invoking issues of privacy, security, censorship, freedom of expression, and religious belief. In addition, as concerns over the power of images are not new, we would seek to historicize and contextualize current debates with historical perspectives, including, as an illustrative example, iconoclasm and the Protestant reformation in Europe –particularly Puritan image smashing in England during the 16th and 17th centuries. Following in the tradition of Kern conferences, we plan a rich program of interdisciplinary scholarship and conversation.

We invite submissions that address this theme from multiple points of view. How does work in visual communication, visual culture, visual rhetoric, and related fields shed light on controversial issues that surround the production and consumption of images? How can we understand current events in a historical perspective? What are the roles of regulation, oversight, government, and grass roots organizations in thinking seriously about images? What roles do technologies of surveillance play? How can we think about the ethics of representation?

Individual papers, visual presentations, panels and workshop proposals are welcomed.

Send extended abstracts (500 – 2500 words) via email to Jonathan Schroeder (

Submission deadline: January 15, 2012

Jonathan E. Schroeder

William A. Kern Professor of Communications

Rochester Institute of Technology

Rochester, New York 14623

Monday, October 17, 2011

St. John's College

New York Times on education, St. John's College, and Sarah Benson --

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Sarah Benson last encountered college mathematics 20 years ago in an undergraduate algebra class. Her sole experience teaching math came in the second grade, when the first graders needed help with their minuses.

And yet Ms. Benson, with a Ph.D. in art history and a master’s degree in comparative literature, stood at the chalkboard drawing parallelograms, constructing angles and otherwise dismembering Euclid’s Proposition 32 the way a biology professor might treat a water frog. Her students cared little about her inexperience. As for her employers, they did not mind, either: they had asked her to teach formal geometry expressly because it was a subject about which she knew very little. . . .

Alan Schwarz, "Seeing Value in Ignorance, College Expects Its Physicists to Teach Poetry," New York Times, 17 October 2011.

Sunday, October 16, 2011


Nicholas D. Kristof on Occupy Wall Street -
The 400 wealthiest Americans have a greater combined net worth than the bottom 150 million Americans.

The top 1 percent of Americans possess more wealth than the entire bottom 90 percent.

In the Bush expansion from 2002 to 2007, 65 percent of economic gains went to the richest 1 percent.

Nicholas D. Kristof, "America's 'Primal Scream,'" New York Times, 16 October 2011.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Sims Like Old Times

Did Herman Cain take his 9-9-9 tax plan from Sim City? This brings a whole new dimension to the notion of role of the think tank in American politics. According to the Huffington Post,

WASHINGTON -- In Herman Cain's America, the tax code would be very, very simple: The corporate income tax rate would be 9 percent, the personal income tax rate would be 9 percent and the national sales tax rate would be 9 percent.

But there's already a 999 plan out there, in a land called SimCity. . . . (more)

"Herman Cain 999 Plan: Did It Come from SimCity?" Huffington Post, 13 October 2011.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Civil War in the Civil Rights Era

David W. Blight, American Oracle: The Civil War in the Civil Rights Era (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2011).

from the publisher:

Standing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on August 28, 1963, a century after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, Martin Luther King, Jr., declared, “One hundred years later, the Negro still is not free.” He delivered this speech just three years after the Virginia Civil War Commission published a guide proclaiming that “the Centennial is no time for finding fault or placing blame or fighting the issues all over again.”

David Blight takes his readers back to the centennial celebration to determine how Americans then made sense of the suffering, loss, and liberation that had wracked the United States a century earlier. Amid cold war politics and civil rights protest, four of America’s most incisive writers explored the gulf between remembrance and reality. Robert Penn Warren, the southern-reared poet-novelist who recanted his support of segregation; Bruce Catton, the journalist and U.S. Navy officer who became a popular Civil War historian; Edmund Wilson, the century’s preeminent literary critic; and James Baldwin, the searing African-American essayist and activist—each exposed America’s triumphalist memory of the war. And each, in his own way, demanded a reckoning with the tragic consequences it spawned.

Blight illuminates not only mid-twentieth-century America’s sense of itself but also the dynamic, ever-changing nature of Civil War memory. On the eve of the 150th anniversary of the war, we have an invaluable perspective on how this conflict continues to shape the country’s political debates, national identity, and sense of purpose.

David Brooks on Occupy Wall Street

If there is a core theme to the Occupy Wall Street movement, it is that the virtuous 99 percent of society is being cheated by the richest and greediest 1 percent.

This is a theme that allows the people in the 99 percent to think very highly of themselves. All their problems are caused by the nefarious elite.

Unfortunately, almost no problem can be productively conceived in this way. A group that divides the world between the pure 99 percent and the evil 1 percent will have nothing to say about education reform, Medicare reform, tax reform, wage stagnation or polarization. . . .
David Brooks, "The Milquetoast Radicals," New York Times, 11 October 2011.

Amending Senate Debate Rules

On Thursday, Republicans tried to get around that limit with a multitude of “motions to suspend the rules,” which violate the concept of cloture and could keep debate going even after a supermajority votes to move on. Senator Harry Reid, the majority leader, decided that he had had enough and prompted a majority to vote to end this practice. It will now be out of order to try to suspend the rules once 60 senators have voted to end debate.

Any change that chips away at the gridlock in the Senate should be encouraged. Over the last three or four years, Senate Republicans have made a mockery of the minority party’s protections, routinely filibustering virtually every bill, blocking nominations and spending hours on political stunts designed to stymie and embarrass President Obama and the Democrats. . . .

"Chipping Away at Gridlock in the Senate," Editorial, New York Times, 11 October 2011.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Voter Fraud

It has been a record year for new legislation designed to make it harder for Democrats to vote — 19 laws and two executive actions in 14 states dominated by Republicans, according to a new study by the Brennan Center for Justice. . . .
Editorial, New York Times, 10 October 2011.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

What They Want - What We Need

"Protesters Against Wall Street," editorial, New York Times, 9 October 2011

The problem is that no one in Washington has been listening. . . . No wonder then that Occupy Wall Street has become a magnet for discontent. There are plenty of policy goals to address the grievances of the protesters — including lasting foreclosure relief, a financial transactions tax, greater legal protection for workers’ rights, and more progressive taxation. The country needs a shift in the emphasis of public policy from protecting the banks to fostering full employment, including public spending for job creation and development of a strong, long-term strategy to increase domestic manufacturing.

Debit Card Fraud

Lloyd Constantine, "Debit Card Fees Are Robbery," New York Times, 8 October 2011.
Banks that charge customers to use debit cards are trying to rationalize one of the largest illegal transfers of wealth from consumers to banks in American history.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Naomi Klein at Wall Street

Here's Naomi Klein's speech to Occupy Wall Street, reprinted in The Nation:
“Why are they protesting?” ask the baffled pundits on TV. Meanwhile, the rest of the world asks: “What took you so long?” “We’ve been wondering when you were going to show up.” And most of all: “Welcome.” . . .
Naomi Klein, "Occupy Wall Street: The Most Important Thing in the World Now," The Nation, 6 October 2011.

Cheering for Occupy Wall Street

Paul Krugman on Occupy Wall Street:

. . . It would probably be helpful if protesters could agree on at least a few main policy changes they would like to see enacted. But we shouldn’t make too much of the lack of specifics. It’s clear what kinds of things the Occupy Wall Street demonstrators want, and it’s really the job of policy intellectuals and politicians to fill in the details.

Rich Yeselson, a veteran organizer and historian of social movements, has suggested that debt relief for working Americans become a central plank of the protests. I’ll second that, because such relief, in addition to serving economic justice, could do a lot to help the economy recover. I’d suggest that protesters also demand infrastructure investment — not more tax cuts — to help create jobs. Neither proposal is going to become law in the current political climate, but the whole point of the protests is to change that political climate.

And there are real political opportunities here. Not, of course, for today’s Republicans, who instinctively side with those Theodore Roosevelt-dubbed “malefactors of great wealth.” Mitt Romney, for example — who, by the way, probably pays less of his income in taxes than many middle-class Americans — was quick to condemn the protests as “class warfare.”

But Democrats are being given what amounts to a second chance. The Obama administration squandered a lot of potential good will early on by adopting banker-friendly policies that failed to deliver economic recovery even as bankers repaid the favor by turning on the president. Now, however, Mr. Obama’s party has a chance for a do-over. All it has to do is take these protests as seriously as they deserve to be taken.

And if the protests goad some politicians into doing what they should have been doing all along, Occupy Wall Street will have been a smashing success.

Paul Krugman, "Confronting the Malefactors," New York Times, 7 October 2011.

What's on your list? The media may be concerned that Occupy Wall Street has no obvious leader or spokesperson, and that it has no coherent message, all of which make it hard for the news to create a story. But see Tod Gitlin's The Whole World Is Watching, in which he tells how SDS foundered on its interaction with the media's hunger for stars.'

A variety of writers on the left are offering lists of suggested objectives for the Occupy Wall Street movement to support -- that in itself is an accomplishment, as it has reached the level of visibility and energy that good thinkers are being drawn to offer shaping messages. Something like this happens in the run-up to an important Presidential speech -- op-ed writers offer hypothetical drafts. If the movement has already reached a point where concerned citizens can project longings in its direction, that's something. Not the whole story, and not enough, but something interesting from a rhetorical perspective.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Ecofeminism and Rhetoric

Douglas A. Vakoch, Ecofeminism and Rhetoric: Critical Perspectives on Sex, Technology, and Discourse (New York: Berghahn Books, 2011).

contents, from the publisher:

Glynis Carr, Bucknell University

Douglas A. Vakoch, California Institute of Integral Studies and SETI Institute

Chapter 1. “The rhetorics of critical ecofeminism: Conceptual connection and reasoned response”
Jeffrey Bile, Spalding University

Chapter 2. “Into the wild: An ecofeminist perspective on the human control of canine sexuality and reproduction”
Karla Armbruster, Webster University

Chapter 3. “Gender representations in orangutan primatological narratives: Essentialist interpretations of sexuality, motherhood and women”
Stacey K. Sowards, University of Texas at El Paso

Chapter 4. “Invitational rhetoric: Alternative rhetorical strategy as ecofeminist practice for transformation of perception and use of energy in the residential built environment from the Keweenaw to Kerala”
Merle Kindred, Centre of Science and Technology for Rural Development

Chapter 5. “Ecofeminist ethics and digital technology: A case study of Microsoft Word”
Julia E. Romberger, Old Dominion University

Patrick D. Murphy, University of Central Florida

Epilogue: “Unwrapping the enigma of ecofeminism: A solution to the illusion of incoherence”
Jeffrey A. Lockwood, University of Wyoming

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Politics of Child Care

Natalie M. Fouseckis, Demanding Child Care: Women's Activism and the Politics of Welfare, 1940-1971 (Champaign, IL: University of Illinois Press, 2011).

from the publisher:

During World War II, as women stepped in to fill jobs vacated by men in the armed services, the federal government established public child care centers in local communities for the first time. When the government announced plans to withdraw funding and terminate its child care services at the end of the war, women in California protested and lobbied to keep their centers open, even as these services rapidly vanished in other states.

Analyzing the informal networks of cross-class and cross-race reformers, policymakers, and educators, Demanding Child Care: Women's Activism and the Politics of Welfare, 1940–1971 traces the rapidly changing alliances among these groups. During the early stages of the childcare movement, feminists, Communists, and labor activists banded together, only to have these alliances dissolve by the 1950s as the movement welcomed new leadership composed of working-class mothers and early childhood educators. In the 1960s, when federal policymakers earmarked child care funds for children of women on welfare and children described as culturally deprived, it expanded child care services available to these groups but eventually eliminated public child care for the working poor.

Deftly exploring the possibilities for partnership and the limitations among these key parties as well as the structural forces impeding government support for broadly distributed child care, Fousekis helps to explain the barriers to a publicly funded comprehensive child care program in the United States.

The National Woman's Party

Belinda A. Stillion Southard, Militant Citizenship: Rhetorical Strategies of the National Woman's Party, 1913-1920 (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2011).

from the publisher:

Between 1913 and 1920, the National Woman’s Party (NWP) waged a campaign to write women’s voting rights into the U.S. Constitution. Unlike the more moderate campaign strategies adopted by other woman suffrage organizations of the Progressive Era, the NWP remained committed to militant agitation—that is, holding political party leaders responsible for social change and doing so through nontraditional means of protest. Some of these militant strategies included heckling President Wilson, protesting silently outside the White House gates, and publicly burning his speeches in “Watch Fires.”

Such militancy resulted in institutional acts of social control including censorship, arrests, beatings, and force-feedings. And yet, by the end of the woman suffrage movement, the NWP had earned the endorsements of every major political party, as well as of prominent politicians (including Wilson), and had found its name splashed across the front pages of the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Chicago Tribune. One Times article even referred to the NWP as the “suffrage leaders.” Exploring the ways in which the militant NWP negotiated institutional opposition and secured such a prominent position in national politics drives the analysis offered in this manuscript.

In light of the NWP’s militant identity and its demonstrated political viability, Belinda A. Stillion Southard treats the party’s campaign for woman suffrage as an example of how a relatively powerless group of women constituted themselves as “national citizens” through rhetoric. To this end, she uses volumes of NWP discourse, including correspondence, photographs, protests, and publications, to situate the NWP in the historical and ideological forces of the period, particularly as they are inflected by meanings of nationalism, citizenship, and social activism. In addition to this project’s historical focus, this study features the critical concept of political mimesis to help explain the ways in which the NWP mimicked political rhetorics and rituals to simultaneously agitate and accommodate members of the political elite.

Taking root in Aristotle’s notion of mimesis as the process of representation and drawing upon more postmodern theories that link mimesis to identity-formation, this study demonstrates that the NWP’s mimetic strategies took multiple forms, including parody and appropriation. Through the rhetoric of political mimesis, the NWP militantly inserted itself into U.S. politics while it also earned the political legitimacy needed to assert women’s citizenship rights. Ultimately, the strength of political mimesis as a strategy of social change was demonstrated by the ways in which the NWP’s rhetoric circulated within national and international political discourse and solicited a response from political leaders, the U.S. news media, and NWP supporters.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Who Occupies Wall Street?

Nicholas Kristoff of the Times has some suggestions for the Occupy Wall Street protests - here is his list:

So for those who want to channel their amorphous frustration into practical demands, here are several specific suggestions:

¶Impose a financial transactions tax. This would be a modest tax on financial trades, modeled on the suggestions of James Tobin, an American economist who won a Nobel Prize. The aim is in part to dampen speculative trading that creates dangerous volatility. Europe is moving toward a financial transactions tax, but the Obama administration is resisting — a reflection of its deference to Wall Street.

¶Close the “carried interest” and “founders’ stock” loopholes, which may be the most unconscionable tax breaks in America. They allow our wealthiest citizens to pay very low tax rates by pretending that their labor compensation is a capital gain.

¶Protect big banks from themselves. This means moving ahead with Basel III capital requirements and adopting the Volcker Rule to limit banks’ ability to engage in risky and speculative investments. Another sensible proposal, embraced by President Obama and a number of international experts, is the bank tax. This could be based on an institution’s size and leverage, so that bankers could pay for their cleanups — the finance equivalent of a pollution tax.

Nicholas D. Kristoff, "The Bankers and the Revolutionaries," New York Times, 2 October 2011.

Media History in the U.S.

Janice Peck and Inger L. Stoller, eds., A Moment of Danger: Critical Studies in the History of U.S. Communication Since World War II (Milwaukee, WI: Marquette University Press, 2011).


Chapter 1: Introduction: Moments of Danger and Challenges to the “Selective Tradition” in U.S. Communication History
Janice Peck 1

Chapter 2: Politics as Patriotism: Advertising and Consumer Activism During World War II
Inger L. Stole 13

Chapter 3: The Revolt against Radio: Postwar Media Criticism and the Struggle for Broadcast Reform
Victor Pickard 35

Chapter 4: “Our union is not for sale”: The Postwar Struggle for Workplace Control in the American Newspaper Industry
James F. Tracy 57

Chapter 5: “Things will never be the same around here”: How See It Now Shaped Television News Reporting
Dinah Zeiger 83

Chapter 6: “We can remember it for you wholesale”: Lessons from the Broadcast Blacklist
Carol A. Stabile 105

Chapter 7: Foreign Correspondents, Passports and McCarthyism
Edward Alwood 133

Chapter 8: “Love that AFL-CIO”: Organized Labor’s Use of Television, 1950-1970
Nathan Godfried 15

Chapter 9: The Postwar “TV Problem” and the Formation of Public Television in the U.S.
Laurie Ouellette 179

Chapter 10: Lockouts, Protests, and Scabs: A Critical Assessment of the Los Angeles Herald Examiner Strike
Bonnie Brennen 207

Chapter 11: The Reporters’ Rebellion: The Chicago Journalism Review, 1968-1975
Steve Macek 231

Chapter 12: Oprah Winfrey and the Politics of Race in Late Twentieth Century America
Janice Peck 253

Chapter 13: Public Radio, This American Life and the Neoliberal Turn
Jason Loviglio 283

Chapter 14: “Sticking it to the man”; Neoliberalism: Corporate Media and Strategies of Resistance in the 21st Century
Deepa Kumar 307

Chapter 15: Contesting Democratic Communications: The Case of Current TV
James F. Hamilton 331

Chapter 16: Critical Media Literacy: Critiquing Corporate Media with Radical Production
Bettina Fabos 355

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Where is liberal rhetoric?

Michael Kazin in the Times:

SOMETIMES, attention should be paid to the absence of news. America’s economic miseries continue, with unemployment still high and home sales stagnant or dropping. The gap between the wealthiest Americans and their fellow citizens is wider than it has been since the 1920s.

And yet, except for the demonstrations and energetic recall campaigns that roiled Wisconsin this year, unionists and other stern critics of corporate power and government cutbacks have failed to organize a serious movement against the people and policies that bungled the United States into recession. . . .

Michael Kazin, "Whatever Happened to the American Left?" New York Times, 25 September 2011.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Human Rights Rhetoric

Wendy S. Hesford, Spectacular Rhetorics: Human Rights Visions, Recognitions, Feminisms (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2011).

From the publisher:

Spectacular Rhetorics is a rigorous analysis of the rhetorical frameworks and narratives that underlie human rights law, shape the process of cultural and legal recognition, and delimit public responses to violence and injustice. Integrating visual and textual criticism, Wendy S. Hesford scrutinizes “spectacular rhetoric,” the use of visual images and rhetoric to construct certain bodies, populations, and nations as victims and incorporate them into human rights discourses geared toward Westerners, chiefly Americans. Hesford presents a series of case studies critiquing the visual representations of human suffering in documentary films, photography, and theater. In each study, she analyzes works addressing a prominent contemporary human rights cause, such as torture and unlawful detention, ethnic genocide and rape as a means of warfare, migration and the trafficking of women and children, the global sex trade, and child labor. Through these studies, she demonstrates how spectacular rhetoric activates certain cultural and national narratives and social and political relations, consolidates identities through the politics of recognition, and configures material relations of power and difference to produce and, ultimately, to govern human rights subjects.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Model T Bliss, Ithaca

Paul Carter, "Ithaca, New York. Interior of a shack in which a man lived for twenty-five years. His wife would not let him live with her. She was mad at him for having backed a Model T Ford over her on their honeymoon." (1936 June).

Farm Security Administration - Office of War Information Photograph Collection. LC-USF341- 011053-B. fsa 8c51333

Monday, September 5, 2011

Political Poster Collection

A collection of political posters -- most of them from Berkeley in May 1970 -- is now online at the Penn State Libraries. I collected the posters at the time, and donated them to Penn State a couple of years ago, where they have been under development as a special collection, thanks to James Quigel, Head of Historical Collections and Labor Archives in the Special Collections Library, and the staff of the Libraries. Ellysa Cahoy at the Libraries has also been important to its development, and tells me the collection will soon be mounted on Flickr, as the Library's first-ever interactive on-line exhibit.

Thomas W. Benson Political Protest collection

Making Chastity Sexy

Christine J. Gardner, Making Chastity Sexy: The Rhetoric of Evangelical Abstinence Campaigns (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2011).

from the publisher:

Even though they are immersed in sex-saturated society, millions of teens are pledging to remain virgins until their wedding night. How are evangelical Christians persuading young people to wait until marriage? Christine J. Gardner looks closely at the language of the chastity movement and discovers a savvy campaign that uses sex to “sell” abstinence. Drawing from interviews with evangelical leaders and teenagers, she examines the strategy to shift from a negative “just say no” approach to a positive one: “just say yes” to great sex within marriage. Making Chastity Sexy sheds new light on an abstinence campaign that has successfully recast a traditionally feminist idea—“my body, my choice”—into a powerful message, but one that Gardner suggests may ultimately reduce evangelicalism’s transformative power. Focusing on the United States, her study also includes a comparative dimension by examining the export of this evangelical agenda to sub-Saharan Africa.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Security and Liberal Reform

Katherine Henry, Liberalism and the Culture of Security: The Nineteenth-Century Rhetoric of Reform (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2011).

from the publisher:

Figures of protection and security are everywhere in American public discourse, from the protection of privacy or civil liberties to the protection of marriage or the unborn, and from social security to homeland security. Liberalism and the Culture of Security traces a crucial paradox in historical and contemporary notions of citizenship: in a liberal democratic culture that imagines its citizens as self-reliant, autonomous, and inviolable, the truth is that claims for citizenship—particularly for marginalized groups such as women and slaves—have just as often been made in the name of vulnerability and helplessness.

Katherine Henry traces this turn back to the eighteenth-century opposition of liberty and tyranny, which imagined our liberties as being in danger of violation by the forces of tyranny and thus in need of protection. She examines four particular instances of this rhetorical pattern. The first chapters show how women’s rights and antislavery activists in the antebellum era exploited the contradictions that arose from the liberal promise of a protected citizenry: first by focusing primarily on arguments over slavery in the 1850s that invoke the Declaration of Independence, including Harriet Beecher Stowe’s fiction and Frederick Douglass’s “Fourth of July” speech; and next by examining Angelina Grimké’s brief but intense antislavery speaking career in the 1830s.

New conditions after the Civil War and Emancipation changed the way arguments about civic inclusion and exclusion could be advanced. Henry considers the issue of African American citizenship in the 1880s and 1890s, focusing on the mainstream white Southern debate over segregation and the specter of a tyrannical federal government, and then turning to Frances E. W. Harper’s fictional account of African American citizenship in Iola Leroy. Finally, Henry examines Henry James’s 1886 novel The Bostonians, in which arguments over the appropriate role of women and the proper place of the South in post–Civil War America are played out as a contest between Olive Chancellor and Basil ransom for control over the voice of the eloquent girl Verena Tarrant.

Workers' Gospel

Erik S. Gellman and Jerod Roll, The Gospel of the Working Class: Labor's Southern Prophets in New Deal America (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2011).

from the publisher:

In this exceptional dual biography and cultural history, Erik S. Gellman and Jarod Roll trace the influence of two southern activist preachers, one black and one white, who used their ministry to organize the working class in the 1930s and 1940s across lines of gender, race, and geography. Owen Whitfield and Claude Williams, along with their wives, Zella Whitfield and Joyce Williams, drew on their bedrock religious beliefs to stir ordinary men and women to demand social and economic justice in the eras of the Great Depression, New Deal, and Second World War.

Williams and Whitfield preached a working-class gospel rooted in the American creed that hard, productive work entitled people to a decent standard of living. Gellman and Roll detail how the two preachers galvanized thousands of farm and industrial workers for the Southern Tenant Farmers Union and the Congress of Industrial Organizations. They also link the activism of the 1930s and 1940s to that of the 1960s and emphasize the central role of the ministers' wives, with whom they established the People's Institute for Applied Religion.

This detailed narrative illuminates a cast of characters who became the two couples' closest allies in coordinating a complex network of activists that transcended Jim Crow racial divisions, blurring conventional categories and boundaries to help black and white workers make better lives. In chronicling the shifting contexts of the actions of Whitfield and Williams, The Gospel of the Working Class situates Christian theology within the struggles of some of America's most downtrodden workers, transforming the dominant narratives of the era and offering a fresh view of the promise and instability of religion and civil rights unionism.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Critical Rhetorics of Race

Michael G. Lacy and Kent A. Ono, editors, Critical Rhetorics of Race (New York: New York University Press, 2011).

from the publisher:

According to many pundits and cultural commentators, the U.S. is enjoying a post-racial age, thanks in part to Barack Obama's rise to the presidency. This high gloss of optimism fails, however, to recognize that racism remains ever present and alive, spread by channels of media and circulated even in colloquial speech in ways that can be difficult to analyze.

In this groundbreaking collection edited by Michael G. Lacy and Kent A. Ono, scholars seek to examine this complicated and contradictory terrain while moving the field of communication in a more intellectually productive direction. An outstanding group of contributors from a range of academic backgrounds challenges traditional definitions and applications of rhetoric. From the troubling media representations of black looters after Hurricane Katrina and rhetoric in news coverage about the Columbine and Virginia Tech massacres to cinematic representations of race in Crash, Blood Diamond, and Quentin Tarantino’s films, these essays reveal complex intersections and constructions of racialized bodies and discourses, critiquing race in innovative and exciting ways. Critical Rhetorics of Race seeks not only to understand and navigate a world fraught with racism, but to change it, one word at a time.

Shooting Nature

Ronald B. Tobias, Film and the American Moral Vision of Nature: Theodore Roosevelt to Walt Disney (East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 2011).

from the publisher:

With his square, bulldoggish stature, signature rimless glasses, and inimitable smile — part grimace, part snarl — Theodore Roosevelt was an unforgettable figure, imprinted on the American memory through photographs, the chiseled face of Mount Rushmore, and, especially, film. At once a hunter, explorer, naturalist, woodsman, and rancher, Roosevelt was the quintessential frontiersman, a man who believed that only nature could truly test and prove the worth of man. A documentary he made about his 1909 African safari embodied aggressive ideas of masculinity, power, racial superiority, and the connection between nature and manifest destiny. These ideas have since been reinforced by others — Jesse “Buffalo” Jones, Paul Rainey, Martin and Osa Johnson, and Walt Disney. Using Roosevelt as a starting point, filmmaker and scholar Ronald Tobias traces the evolution of American attitudes toward nature, attitudes that remain, to this day, remarkably conflicted, complex, and instilled with dreams of empire.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Contesting Public Space in New York

Benjamin Shepard and Gregory Smithsimon, The Beach Beneath the Streets: Contesting New York City's Public Spaces (Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 2011).

from the publisher:

Focusing on the liberating promise of public space, The Beach Beneath the Streets examines the activist struggles of communities in New York City—queer youth of color, gardeners, cyclists, and anti-gentrification activists—as they transform streets, piers, and vacant lots into everyday sites for autonomy, imagination, identity formation, creativity, problem solving, and even democratic renewal. Through ethnographic accounts of contests over New York City’s public spaces that highlight the tension between resistance and repression, Benjamin Shepard and Gregory Smithsimon identify how changes in the control of public spaces—parks, street corners, and plazas—have reliably foreshadowed elites’ shifting designs on the city at large. With an innovative taxonomy of public space, the authors frame the ways spaces as diverse as gated enclaves, luxury shopping malls, collapsing piers, and street protests can be understood in relation to one another. Synthesizing the fifty-year history of New York’s neoliberal transformation and the social movements which have opposed the process, The Beach Beneath the Streets captures the dynamics at work in the ongoing shaping of urban spaces into places of repression, expression, control, and creativity.

Tourist Ethics

Dean McCannell, The Ethics of Sightseeing (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2011).

from the publisher:

Is travel inherently beneficial to human character? Does it automatically educate and enlighten while also promoting tolerance, peace, and understanding? In this challenging book, Dean MacCannell identifies and overcomes common obstacles to ethical sightseeing. Through his unique combination of personal observation and in-depth scholarship, MacCannell ventures into specific tourist destinations and attractions: “picturesque” rural and natural landscapes, “hip” urban scenes, historic locations of tragic events, Disney theme parks, beaches, and travel poster ideals. He shows how strategies intended to attract tourists carry unintended consequences when they migrate to other domains of life and reappear as “staged authenticity.” Demonstrating each act of sightseeing as an ethical test, the book shows how tourists can realize the productive potential of their travel desires, penetrate the collective unconscious, and gain character, insight, and connection to the world.


Monday, July 18, 2011

Culture and Rhetoric

Christian Meyer and Felix Girke,eds.,
The Rhetorical Emergence of Culture (New York: Berghahn Books, 2011).

contents, from the publisher:

Felix Girke and Christian Meyer


Chapter 1. The Dance of Rhetoric: Dialogic Selves and Spontaneously Responsive Expressions
John Shotter

Chapter 2. Co-opting Intersubjectivity: Dialogic Rhetoric of the Self
John W. DuBois

Chapter 3. Echo Chambers and Rhetoric. Sketch of a Model of Resonance Theory
Pierre Maranda

Chapter 4. Discourse beyond Language: Cultural Rhetoric, Revelatory Insight, and Nature
Donal Carbaugh and David Boromisza-Habashi

Chapter 5. The Spellbinding Aura of Culture. Tracing its Anthropological Discovery
Bernhard Streck

Chapter 6. Tenor in Culture
Ivo Strecker


Chapter 7. Attending the Vernacular. A Plea for an Ethnographical Rhetoric
Gerard A. Hauser

Chapter 8. Enhoused Speech: The Rhetoric of Foi Territoriality
James F. Weiner

Chapter 9. Transcultural Rhetoric and Cyberspace
Filipp Sapienza

Chapter 10. Jesuit Rhetorics: Translation Versus Conversion in Early-Modern Goa
Alexander Henn

Chapter 11. Evoking Peace and Arguing Harmony. An Example of Transcultural Rhetoric in Southern Ethiopia
Felix Girke and Alula Pankhurst


Chapter 12. In Defense of the Orator. A Classicist Outlook on Rhetoric Culture
Franz-Hubert Robling

Chapter 13. Rhetoric, Anti-Structure, and the Social Formation of Authorship
James Thomas Zebroski

Chapter 14. Attention & Rhetoric: Prolepsis and the Problem of Meaning
Todd Oakley

Chapter 15. Emergence, Agency and the Middle Ground of Culture: A Meditation on Mediation
Stephen A. Tyler

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Remembering the AIDS Quilt

Charles E. Morris III, ed., Remembering the AIDS Quilt (East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 2011).

from the publisher:
A collaborative creation unlike any other, the Names Project Foundation's AIDS Memorial Quilt has played an invaluable role in shattering the silence and stigma that surrounded the epidemic in the first years of its existence. Designed by Cleve Jones, the AIDS Quilt is the largest ongoing community arts project in the world. Since its conception in 1987, the Quilt has transformed the cultural and political responses to AIDS in the U.S. Representative of both marginalized and mainstream peoples, the Quilt contains crucial material and symbolic implications for mourning the dead, and the treatment and prevention of AIDS. However, the project has raised numerous questions concerning memory, activism, identity, ownership, and nationalism, as well as issues of sexuality, race, class, and gender. As thought-provoking as the Quilt itself, this diverse collection of essays by ten prominent rhetorical scholars provides a rich experience of the AIDS Quilt, incorporating a variety of perspectives, critiques, and interpretations.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Debating the Economy

Paul Krugman on the economic debate:

Yet a destructive passivity has overtaken our discourse. . . . The truth is that creating jobs in a depressed economy is something government could and should be doing. Yes, there are huge political obstacles to action — notably, the fact that the House is controlled by a party that benefits from the economy’s weakness. But political gridlock should not be conflated with economic reality.

Paul Krugman, "No, We Can't? Or Won't?" New York Times, 11 July 2011.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Robert Frank's "The Americans"

Jonathan Day, Robert Frank's "The Americans": The Art of Documentary Photography (Intellect Books; distributed by University of Chicago Press, 2011).

from the publisher:

In the mid-1950s, Swiss-born New Yorker Robert Frank embarked on a ten-thousand-mile road trip across America, capturing thousands of photographs of all levels of a rapidly changing society. The resultant photo book, The Americans, represents a seminal moment in both photography and in America's understanding of itself. To mark the book’s fiftieth anniversary, Jonathan Day revisits this pivotal work and contributes a thoughtful and revealing critical commentary. Though the importance of The Americans has been widely acknowledged, it still retains much of its mystery. This comprehensive analysis places it thoroughly in the context of contemporary photography, literature, music, and advertising from its own period through the present.

Visual Anthropology

Marcus Banks and Jay Ruby, ed., Made to Be Seen: Perspectives on the History of Visual Anthropology (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2011).

from the publisher:

Made to be Seen brings together leading scholars of visual anthropology to examine the historical development of this multifaceted and growing field. Expanding the definition of visual anthropology beyond more limited notions, the contributors to Made to be Seen reflect on the role of the visual in all areas of life. Different essays critically examine a range of topics: art, dress and body adornment, photography, the built environment, digital forms of visual anthropology, indigenous media, the body as a cultural phenomenon, the relationship between experimental and ethnographic film, and more.

The first attempt to present a comprehensive overview of the many aspects of an anthropological approach to the study of visual and pictorial culture, Made to be Seen will be the standard reference on the subject for years to come. Students and scholars in anthropology, sociology, visual studies, and cultural studies will greatly benefit from this pioneering look at the way the visual is inextricably threaded through most, if not all, areas of human activity.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Ponzi Gas?

The New York Times publishes a story today with some evidence that the natural gas fracking rush is a giant and corrupt financial bubble in the making -- with risks of doing enormous damage to investors and the economy, and at the same time leaving behind enormous environmental damage in unproductive and abandoned wells. Is this a Ponzi scheme?

“Money is pouring in” from investors even though shale gas is “inherently unprofitable,” an analyst from PNC Wealth Management, an investment company, wrote to a contractor in a February e-mail. “Reminds you of dot-coms.”

“The word in the world of independents is that the shale plays are just giant Ponzi schemes and the economics just do not work,” an analyst from IHS Drilling Data, an energy research company, wrote in an e-mail on Aug. 28, 2009.

Get-rich-quick mining and drilling schemes have been a feature of American life for a couple of centuries at least -- are we at it again?

Ian Urbina, "Insiders Sound an Alarm Amid a Natural Gas Rush," New York Times, 26 June 2011.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Lawrence W. Rosenfield

Larry Rosenfield died yesterday in Minneapolis.

Larry was an inspirational teacher and a major scholar in rhetorical studies. He earned the B.A. and Ph.D. degrees at Cornell University and went on to teach at the University of Wisconsin, Hunter College, Queens College, Penn State University, and the University of New Hampshire.

I will post an obituary here when it becomes available.

From Betsy Hall: "Larry will have a memorial this coming Tuesday at 11:30 A.M. at Tifereth Israel in Lincoln Nebraska. The funeral home is Butherus Funeral Home in Lincoln. An obituary may be in Sunday's Lincoln Journal. He will be buried on Sunday, July 3rd at West Lawn Cemetery in Johnson City, NY (outside Binghamton) at 11:00 A.M. All are welcome."

The following obituary appeared online at the Butherus, Maser & Love Funeral Home:

Lawrence William (Larry) Rosenfield, 72, a retired professor of speech communication and rhetoric, died Friday, June 24, 2011, at his home in Lincoln, where he had lived since 2005.

He was born August 11, 1938, in Binghamton, N.Y., to Sam and Nettie (Feinberg) Rosenfield and grew up in Hancock, N.Y., where his parents owned a general dry goods store.

He spent a long career in university teaching and scholarship, beginning in 1963 at the University of Wisconsin, continuing at Hunter College and Queens College of the City University of New York in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s and a visiting appointment at Penn State University in the 1980s, and ending at the University of New Hampshire from 1998 to 2005.

He graduated from Hancock Central School in 1956 and then attended Cornell University on a National Merit Scholarship, participating in intercollegiate forensic debate as a member and vice president of the Cornell Debate Association and graduating in 1960 with high honors. He went on to complete a master’s degree at the University of Illinois and then returned to Cornell, where he earned a Ph.D. in speech and drama in 1963.

In 1999 the National Communication Association presented him with its Lifetime Teaching Excellence Award.

Preceded in death by his parents; a sister, Edna Rosenfield; and a brother, Jerry Rosenfield, he is survived by his wife, Sylvia Hermanson, of Lincoln; a brother, Arthur Rosenfield, of Randolph, N.J.; and numerous cousins around the country.

Services are at 11:30 a.m., Tuesday, June 28, 2011, at Tifereth Israel Synagogue.

A graveside service is scheduled for 11 a.m., Sunday, July 3, 2011, at Westlawn Cemetery in Johnson City, N.Y.

A panel to remember Larry's work is is being organized for the November 2011 meeting of the National Communication Association.

Bonnie Johnson Shurman

Bonnie Johnson Shurman, a dear friend and former student and colleague, died on June 2, 2011. Bonnie earned the Ph.D. in speech communication at SUNY Buffalo and taught for some years at Penn State in the 1970s.

Here is an obituary from Palo Alto online:

Bonnie Johnson Shurman
Jan. 20, 1944-June 2, 2011
Oak Island, North Carolina

Bonnie Johnson Shurman, age 67, of Oak Island, formerly of Palo Alto, Calif., passed away Thursday, June 2, 2011, in Southport, N.C.

She was born in Baytown, Texas, to the late Buck and Osie McDaniel. A loving wife, mom and grandmother, she celebrated each day of her life with joy and was cherished by her many friends, fellow church members and family.

A university professor for almost two decades and then another two decades as a visionary/strategic planner in corporate and consulting settings, Bonnie left Silicon Valley after a life-changing Acute Leukemia terminal diagnosis. Her miracle remission allowed her to follow her spirit to discern God's purpose for her life and enroll in the Episcopal Divinity School in Boston Massachusetts.

Her years at EDS were ones of tranquility, love, learning and inspiration. Bonnie lived for many more years infused with joy and grace and surrounded by her family and friends' constant love and support. While we are in sorrow, we also rejoice that Bonnie has let go of her earthly body to join her loving God. As Bonnie said in her Lenten sermon at St. Phillips, "Remember that we are love, and to love we shall return."

She is survived by her husband, Daniel; son, Ron and fiancée Amber; daughter, Jennifer and husband Scott; and her much-loved grandchildren, Zac, Lucas, Abi and Landen; and many dear friends.

Friends and family are invited to a memorial service to celebrate Bonnie's life on Friday, June 10, at 2 p.m. at St. Phillips Episcopal Church, Southport, N.C. Reception in the Parish hall to immediately follow the service.

Bonnie's family requests that in lieu of flowers that a donation may be made to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. You may offer online condolences at Peacock-Newnam & White Funeral and Cremation Service, Southport, NC.

other links:

Terry Winograd eulogy