Readings, and Related Inspirations

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Rhetoric Colloquium Event – English Rhetoric Students Needed

This Friday – tomorrow – is a gathering of rhetorically motivated minds here at Georgia State University.
I jokingly say I’m in it for the food (and the drink), but really this is an exciting event where we can have a short discussion about out departments. For the most part, it will involve the Communication department and the English department, but Religious studies and other soft sciences are also going to be involved.
So in case you don’t already know – below is the invite.

Colloquium Meet and Greet fall2012

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Computers and Composition Greetings

Hello, my fellow composition comrades!

I’m excited to go back to course blogging – theorizing – and comparing ideas about mutual readings with like-minded people. Though if you read back in this blog, just a little, you’ll see I used it for a Massive Open Online Course about Massive Open Online Courses (or MOOCMOOC) for a few entries. That was a lot of fun, and actually quite relevant to this Computers and Composition Course. Especially my entry called Collaboration and Group 6 Love at #moocmooc

But now that the MOOC is over, I shall return to this regularly scheduled blog response – and I will likely continue puzzling out things I read and think about well after this class is over too.

Now that we have established that – I would like to address my thoughts and goals for the course:

I am interested in exploring the Redefining/Remixing of the Canon – most specifically, the ways in which our currently growing-changing digital culture is affecting the way we invent and arrange. I see the lines of the canon as increasingly blurred as we composition theorists continue to discuss the implications of out digital practices on the processes of language, thinking and writing. Then, I would like to pair these ideas with multi-modal composition which may lead me into looking at some social media writing, and other topics. Of course this is preliminary, so… it could go anywhere.

In another course, I’ll be looking toward Bush’s ideas about early hypertext, and maybe a little Marshall McCluhan?? We’ll see about that. That’s another course, though.

So hello – and I’m happy to be here in this course with all of you, and learn about ideas and perspectives all of you bring to the table.



Career Confusion

The links posted for tomorrow’s guest lecturer aren’t working. And I don’t know about all of you, but I tried and tried to figure out how to access the articles we were to read, but gave up and went for the scotch (not really).

In honor of my inability to access anything class related this week, I have decided to post about how confusing our career path is turning out to be.

I have wanted to get my PhD since I was very small. I didn’t care what it was in – I just knew I wanted one. I’m not even sure how I knew what a PhD was. I grew up in a beach house on stilts (very short stilts, but stilts nonetheless) and the idea of going to college was not much of an option for my parents. My father was a Datsun mechanic (70’s much?) and my mother was a mom, with a short stint as a cashier at a place called Leisure World Market in Seal Beach.

As you can see above – this does not involve some kind of weird theme park. It is in fact a rather upper crust retirement community. If you’re thinking about retiring in the future and have a little dough to blow becauseĀ you, unlike the rest of us, were not confused about your career, you may want to visit:

Leisure World

But I digress.

I’ve been in college a long time. Once I took a break to wait out the unfairness that is federal college funding (as though the fact that we have funding opportunities at all is unfair), I got a ‘real’ job. I was a secretary for a guy that went to prison for a very long time (totally different story). But I didn’t have to look for that job. The guy I worked for went to church with my parents.

Fast forward to going back to school (which I couldn’t do fast enough) and graduating with my Masters degree. I thought I might look for a job while I awaited all my PhD rejection letters. But what to do….

Where to start…

No idea.

And for some reason – my school didn’t come with any resources on how to get a job with an English degree. Well – there was some laughter at my grandiose idea that I could actually get a job with this qualification. And a couple of people told me I should just get married while I still had my looks. I have a thing for science majors… why not? Because dating the physics department is not all it’s cracked up to be, that’s why not.

I didn’t have access to MLA job postings back then. And it turned out that the jobs available on The Chronicle of Higher Ed website were not for the likes of a Masters degree. Not any more. Check the page out – there’s a link. It may say Masters degree, but they don’t really mean it.

So I thought – I have a secondary ed degree and training… why not be a teacher? Never mind that I can’t really function before 8AM (I really mean 9 – let’s not kid ourselves). Never mind that I’m not really that into children. I decided to go to Alaska. Because there they have some jobs.

Did you know that Anchorage Alaska is a bustling metropolis with really good micro-brews? Did you know that the summers are gorgeous and that the tourism industry is booming? Did you know that you can get paid more than 2wice as a teacher from what you can make in the lower 48?

Did you know that the winters can kill you, or that moose and bears wander rather freely in the city picking through garbage and being kind of aggressive? Did you know that the reason the school systems can’t keep people staffed is because most of their teachers can’t handle the stress of teaching throughout winter with practically no light?

I made that last one up, but I’m pretty sure that I could find some kind of seasonal affective correlation somewhere on the interwebs.

Anyway – even though I got to adventure to Alaska looking for jobs (and make friends with some pretty awesome Ukrainians while I was there), I didn’t actually have to get a job. Thank God for GSU’s good taste in me.

Now I have to worry about what’s going to happen when I have to do it again. Will there again be no guidance from my mentors? Will I again be told I should probably just get married? Will I wonder why I decided to get smarter? Is it so I could be MORE aware of what I don’t have?

I guess the moral of this story is: if I want to get to Leisure World, I’d better learn to play golf. Or… harness the power of my resources here at college and figure it out.

I’m sure glad that Dr. Lopez is coming. And that we had that great localized job search luncheon the other day. I learned a LOT about what I need to be thinking about to make my stay here in the South as fruitful as possible. Peachy.



Everyone’s Talking about Sontag

The articles we read for this week’s coursework, Geimer, Jerving, and Sontag, which I read in this order, bring us nicely out of the heavily theoretically tilted articles of Benjamin, Barthes, and Mitchell, and steer us toward some more practical applications and discussions of photo-related concepts.

Geimer argues that, because of the advent of digital image technologies, which I am imagining as photoshop and like products, the power the photograph once possessed is in decline. We may have reached the end of the photographic age. Because of this, or perhaps in light of this, Geimer sets out to re-discuss the concept of ‘trace’, which Sontag introduces in an article which we did not read. Since Geimer neither knows what we read, nor likely has a care what we read and do not read, he goes ahead and tells us about Sontag’s different perspectives of trace. She describes the trace in three ways: the footprint, the death mask, and the relic, all which offer a slightly different position in terms of what the photograph actually is.

The question here is, Are we capturing reality when we take photographs?

I would like to add to this – What is more powerful? The capturing, or the disseminating, of the image?

To Benjamin and Mitchell, the ability to disseminate the photo is perhaps more powerful. We are somehow shifting our ability to see through space and time. But to Barthes, the capturing of the image with light is ‘magic’. So the question is perhaps better asked: Which has more power, light, or mechanical reproduction?

If we think about a photograph as a footprint, we must apply the idea that “its existence [is] fixed in the form of a mark, and subsequently disappear[s]” (Geimer 10). If this is the case, then we can say that the photos taken in Abu Ghraib left marks behind them. We can also apply this to some kind of temporal mark where the photo ‘steals’, if you will, a piece of time that will remain in the frame – I am thinking of this as an anti-footprint.

At this point in our theory, we could probably all get a good laugh out of me labeling this as “This is not a footprint.”

But I wonder what the Bush administration might have said about the footprint idea. I wonder a lot of stuff about the Bush administration. Don’t get me started.

If I think about the a photograph as a death mask – a few images come to mind:

Agamemnon, first:

The second is a book I read back in Master’s school called Wisconsin Death Trip

which has a bunch of old photos and stories about dead people. The book explains how these rather popular death photos worked (it’s much more than that) and is super creepy. Here’s an inside shot:

In both cases, Agamemnon, and these dead babies, we see that the photograph does indeed preserve the dead. We experience further proof of this whenever we look at old photos of ourselves – teenagers that once world – now dead to us. What would our 16 year old selves think of us now?

The last one is a relic, which I think Geimer illustrates really well with the nail from the cross .

A further, and pedagogically interesting, way to think about the perspectives of trace is to apply these photos to the Jerving piece. I am certainly not going to do all 13 steps on one of the photos I posted above, especially not since I’m about to hit the Vegas strip for a bachelorette party, but it could be interesting. Especially with the dead babies. And I wish Jerving had done it in the article. I would definitely like to see his lesson in action.

One thing I do feel I need to point out before I bounce up the the swanky 2-story sweet the wedding is happening in, is that in all of our articles, we are talking about very young adults and their participation in terms of the photograph (arguably not so much in Geimer). All of them address the fact that young adults are holding a bit of power in their hands in the form of the camera. Would Jerving’s students, after the “13 Ways” activity be less likely to commit Abu Ghraib photographic atrocities, having learned how to look at photos? What does the existance of the Abu Ghraib scandal say about the thought process of these young adults in terms of their own agency in visual production?

One last question I have is: If photographs give us a power we didn’t have pre-1839, is trace a strong enough word for what a photograph is, in comparison to reality?

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Laboratory Response – Building a Blog

I’m pretty excited we all voted to create this blog as part of our course, especially since this is a visually themed class. I also much prefer the blogging format over any kind of discussion forum available to us on a content management system such as ULearn.

Our first Thursday lab, the one we were all in a couple of days ago, was informative and kind of fun. Let’s face it, Tim is funny. I had not every operated wordpress before, so I found the introduction helpful. It will be interesting to see what each of us does with our blog in terms of format, look, and content (what else is there, really?). I also look forward to a small forum where we can play with labels, tags, and comments, something that I don’t have a lot of experience with.

Visually, I plan to try new things as much as possible. I have not decided on the ultimate look for my blog as of now. The theme I have up as I compose this post is the one Tim had up in class. I found that if I used the same one he was using, it was easier for me to follow exactly what he was doing. Once I get the hang of all of this, I plan on creating a look that suits me, while including several context appropriate images to go with the blog. Other than that, I plan on going with the flow, to be cliche, and seeing where this blog response business takes us.

I am excited to get this all started, and to see what all of you are coming up with.