Rhetoric CFPs & TOCs

Rhetoric CFPs & TOCs
Photo: Kristoffer Trolle (creative commons)

Monday, March 18, 2019

Blogora Classic: Writing Tips for Dissertations and Books? February 25, 2005

February 25, 2005

Writing Tips for Dissertations and Books?

It's that season of the year for me when graduate students are submitting drafts of their theses and dissertation. It's also the season when I look at the various writing deadlines I have and realized how far behind I am. I thought it might be useful to pool together our collective rhetorical wisdom on the topic of finishing large writing projects such as dissertations and books. Here are some suggestions I learned a long time ago and have worked well for me: 1. Try to write every day for about 3 hours. 2. Find the time of day at which you're most productive, and organize your schedule accordingly. I work best from about 1-4 in the afternoon, for example. 3. And this is the most important: always stop writing when you know you have more to say. It will be easier to pick up your writing the next day.
Any other tips?
Posted by jim at February 25, 2005 11:51 AM


I'm glad you brought this up, Jim, because I have been struggling lately with getting motivated to write. Even though I have a Master's thesis under my belt, if I have taken a few weeks off from writing, I feel as though I've forgotten completely how to go about doing it. It's a strange mental block that I encounter every so often. I was actually wandering through Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble lately to find some books on tips for better academic writing. I have yet to find anything I think will be useful though...
Since I'm not doing any major writing (no diss. or books yet), I find as though it's useful to write at least 3 to 4 times a week for at least an hour at a time. There's always a paper or draft of something on the horizon for me so I try to put my time towards that. I've also attempted to take what can be an infuriatingly ignorant college campus and make lemons out of lemonade. If I read a story or letter in the school newspaper that gets to me, I try to respond in the form of a letter to the editor. Even if I don't end up sending it, I find it's a nice exercise for regularly writing and also to vent some of the steam that begins to build up every few weeks or so...
Finally, I find that exercise is one of the best opportunities for some good thinking (and I know several other people who feel the same way). Some of my best thinking comes while I'm running...or laying in bed attempting to go to sleep actually...
Posted by: Denise at February 25, 2005 06:16 PM
Those are helpful comments, Denise. One of these days I might actually try exercise--funny how those high school p.e. classes permanently destroyed any desire to do that. . . .
One other suggestion: at some point in any project--dissertation, article, book--the little satanic (in the original sense of "accuser") voice says, "Who the **** is going to read this? Why am I working so hard for so little money?" The best self-help book I ever read was Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy. The author proposes that a depressed person is the victim of self-disparaging inner comments. A good way to work on this is to count (I used a golf counter) the number of self-critical comments one makes during the day, and graph them over the period of a week or so, eventually learning to recognize them and then replace them with affirmative statements. Even for those not clinically depressed, it helps to have some affirmations in mind while working on a big project. The one that sustains me is this: I am paid to publish articles and books. It is my job, and thus has an inherent "craft" quality the same as a good carpenter or welder's work does. Writing scholarship is a civilized activity, a way of being human, a way of participating in a conversation that, a la Burke, began before we were born and will continue after we are gone. It is better than getting drunk or torturing Iraqis.
Posted by: jim at February 26, 2005 07:42 AM
I write best in the early morning, so i try--oh i try--to schedule my teaching and committees and appointments and offic hours and everything else in the afternoon. That, of course, rarely ends up working out. But if at all possible, i get up early and try to write for a while...maybe just an hour, to keep my hand in it. I find that i can't write at school. I don't know why--i wish i could. I can do almost anything else there: i can read, grade papers, prep for classes; i can also write reports and that kind of thing, but not scholarly work.
Oh, and Denise, i agree: when i'm writing and i get stuck, going out for a good run or to the gym typically unsticks me. I can't tell you how many times i've had to jump off a treadmill or whatever to go beg for paper and a pencil in Gold's Gym. :)
When i get stuck, it also helps me to read...to just put MY stuff down and pick up somebody else's really good work--to get into the rhythm of their language, etc... For me, stuckness is often about being in a rhythm rut.
Posted by: ddd at February 26, 2005 04:17 PM
Oh...I fear having to count how many times negative self-talk occurs daily for me! Somewhere along the way it seems to have gotten naturalized into the graduate student-self. For some reason many of us believe that the "I'm not smart enough," "everyone else is so much better than me" thoughts are somehow motivating. I will definitely pick up this book, though, because the more I think about it the more I realize that negative thoughts are nothing but damaging to my productivity.
Perhaps, Jim, it may be useful to think about exercising in a different way. One of my favorite HBO movies, "Wit," is about a highly respected English professor coping with cancer. In one of the first scenes a doctor is getting her medical/social history and he asks "do you exercise?" She responds affirmatively: "I pace."
Posted by: Denise at February 26, 2005 04:50 PM

Monday, March 11, 2019

Blogora Classic: Autism as Metaphor, February 24, 2005

February 24, 2005

Autism as Metaphor

MSNBC.com and NBC News are running a useful series of reports on "Autism: The Hidden Epidemic" this week.
Autism is defined by the American Psychiatric Association as follows: Autism--A complex condition, autism is the most commonly diagnosed pervasive developmental disorder. Autism impairs a personĂ¢€™s ability to communicate, both verbally and non-verbally, to form relationships and to interact with others. It also typically results in a range of unusual and repetitive behaviors. A child with autism may initially appear to develop normally, but then withdraw and lose interest in others. Typically diagnosed by the time a child is age 3 or 4, autism can vary from mild to severe. Autism is frequently accompanied by mental retardation, but not always. In many cases, patients will show uneven levels of intelligence with highly developed talents in some areas.
Autism has now surpassed Down Syndrome as the most widespread developmental disability--affecting perhaps 1 out of 166 people. The causes are mysterious--although the best science we have appears to rule out mercury in vaccines as a potential cause. It is perhaps caused by environmental and other factors interacting with some inherited predisposition (parental learning disabilities and "social shyness"--odd one, that--are vaguely correlated with autism in children).
A good part of my life since 1990 has been defined by the fact that my two sons, Nick and Daniel, have autism. Nick is 16, has been mainstreamed into regular classes from the beginning, and now occasionally makes the honor roll in middle school, although he cannot carry on a normal conversation. Daniel is 14, nonverbal and still in diapers.
When I was in college, the Freudian/Bettelheimian doctrine that autism was "psychologically" produced by "refrigerator mothers" was still dogma, and one still finds social workers and other educated professionals who think that Bettelheim (who regularly beat autistic children under his care at his clinic in Chicago) was somehow a great "humanist." If my children lived in France, where the dogmas of Freud and Lacan are still au courant, they would be treated as having a psychological disorder rather than a neurological one. I hope someday we will finally view Freud and Lacan the way we currently view phrenology--they have about as much scientific basis, although Freud and Lacan have done more damage to peoples' lives.
Deirdre McCloskey and other economic heretics have formed a society for Post-Autistic Economics--which I find amusing rather than offensive. Autism is a good metaphor for a certain kind of academic enterprise.
Autism has been represented in a number of films and books (my favorite one is from the 1960's, where an autistic child is cured by a hug from Elvis Presley). It would be a good study for someone looking for a dissertation topic.
Categories: Rhetoric and politics 
Posted by jim at 11:30 AM | Comments (0)

Sunday, March 10, 2019

From: Thinking in the Open -- "I got told what to call this poem by my male colleague"

From: Thinking in the Open --
"I got told what to call this poem by my male colleague"

This poem is for all the men
Who have sacrificed their time
To explain my research to me.
In train stations and hallways
At 1am drunk at a party
And over bad coffee after a presentation.
Often knowing no more about my research
Than a title
You have sacrificed your chance to learn
In order to enlighten me to the depth of your knowledge...

More at: https://blogs.cardiff.ac.uk/rsrc/2019/03/08/i-got-told-what-to-call-this-poem-by-my-male-colleague/?_thumbnail_id=195&fbclid=IwAR1dQ0aHcHDl0VUaJcgir1sUlzQH0E5O3nPlO7-cyf1GL3qbnaBE2yBH4Ik

Monday, March 4, 2019

Blogora Classic: U.S. Political Ideologies, February 13, 2005

February 13, 2005

U.S. Political Ideologies

Here's my entry as the first discussion of useful concepts in rhetoric for teaching; I posted an earlier version of this on the Blogora in November, and people seemed to find it useful. This version has the links better integrated into the text:
Ideologies in U.S. Public Discourse
In teaching courses about political rhetoric over the years, I have discovered that students do not have a clear sense of the differing political positions out there in the world of partisan politics. If they listen to Rush Limbaugh, they believe that anyone who takes a position somewhere slightly to the left of George H.W. Bush is a "liberal." Most students don't know that the most cogent arguments against the Iraq War have generally been made from the "paleoconservatives" such as Patrick Buchanan and Justin Raimondo. Raimondo's website is an indispensable source of worldwide commentary on the war and on Middle East policy.
One beef I have with many rhetoric texts, especially argumentation textbooks, is their "formalism." That is, they provide checklists for tests of evidence, fallacies, argument patterns, and so on, but do not start with naturally occurring public argument. In recent years I have been working on the following handout, which lays out the main political ideologies in the U.S. from right to left, differentiating them primarily in terms of their views on three core issues: Culture, the Economy, and Foreign Policy. Feel free to make use of this as you wish; suggestions for improvement are welcome.
A. Traditionalists or “Paleoconservatives” (Buchanan, Schlafly, Eagle Forum, Mises Institute, League of the South, American Conservative, Chronicles of Culture)
CULTURE 1. Cultural conservatives (religious, regionalist,anti- immigration, anti-abortion)
ECONOMY 2. Pro-free market but Anti-big business against free trade, for economic nationalism)
FOREIGN POLICY 3. More isolationist/Against Iraq War/anti- Israel
4. Useful websites:
B. Libertarians/Classical Liberals (Milton Friedman, Cato Institute, Reason)
1. Culturally indifferent (often secular, pro-choice, pro- gay rights)
2. Economic liberty comes first (vouchers, deregulation)
3. Strong defense but noninterventionist (some opposed VN War)
4. Useful websites:
Reason magazine
Cato Institute
C. Fusionists (Frank Meyer, Wm F. Buckley, Jr.; mainstream Republicans, National Review): so-called because try to combine A and B
1. Moderate cultural conservatism
2. Free market economics
3. Strong anti-Communism/internationalist, although with a strongly "realist" approach to foreign policy, as opposed to the more "Wilsonian" (export democracy) approach of the neocons
4. Useful websites: National Review
D. Neoconservatives / “National Greatness conservatives” (Norman and John Podhoretz, Bill Kristol, Weekly StandardCommentary)
1. Moderate cultural conservatism (more on education than on abortion/religion--appeal to Jewish intellectuals)
2. Moderate welfare state
3. Fiercely anti-Communist/internationalist/pro-Israel; "neocons" in Bush Administration were primary partisans of Iraq War
4. Useful websites:
Weekly Standard
E. “New Democrats” (Clinton, Gore, Kerry, Democratic Leadership Council, New Republic)
1. “Socially liberal”: Moderate feminist, gay rights, etc.
2. Pro-market, strong free-trade, but defend stronger "safety net" for the poor; relatively indifferent to the labor movement; in favor of "Reinventing government": more efficient military and federal government.
3. Highly “moral” tone to foreign policy; "Wilsonian" interventionists
4. Useful websites: New Republic
F. Social Democrats (Kennedy, Wellstone, American ProspectNation)
1. Strongly feminist, gay rights, etc.
2. Strong defender of welfare state: national health insurance, etc.; strong ties to labor movement
3. Internationalist, but skeptical of American interventionism
4. Useful websites:
American Prospect
The Nation
G. “Greens”/Naderites (ZNet, CounterPunch, Progressive)
1. Strongly feminist, gay rights, etc., but have an emphasis on localism that at times unites them with paleoconservatives
2. Economic views defined mostly by hostility to big business and free trade (WTO protests)
3. Highly critical of US foreign policy, bordering on isolationist
4. Useful websites:
Progressive magazine
Z magazine
Posted by jim at February 13, 2005 07:15 PM


Alternet and Mother Jones might be good additions to E. or F.
Posted by: Clancy at February 14, 2005 01:54 PM
The Mises Institute, if that's Ludwig von, belongs in category "B."
I think of, perhaps wrongly, Chomsky and Albert as being the main intellectual forces behind Z, and I wouldn't define their politics as "localist" or them even being against free trade, though they're certainly against "free trade."
Posted by: Jonathan at February 14, 2005 06:39 PM
I'd keep Mises in A, even if they are classical liberals, because they have a lot of pro-Southern supporters and, in my experience, mainstream libertarians (Deirdre McCloskey, even folks I've met at the Liberty Fund) think of them as a bit extreme. Various Mises Institute publications have referred to me as "Commie" after I cast some alleged aspersions on them a few years ago, so I know whereof I speak.
In re Z, I'm just trying to map out what a position to the left of social democracy might be. I see no particular coherence in their views, so I'm not the best representative; although Albert and the whole parecon movement seems "localist" to me, a la Murray Bookchin. I am, no surprise, a Habermasian social democrat, so my frames may be biased, although if my handout is to work, it needs to be "fair and balanced."
Posted by: jim at February 14, 2005 10:03 PM
The Mises folks are undoubtably ideologically extreme libertarians, but they do not share the other "paleo" aspects of the folks in category A, particularly in the culture and economy sections, so maybe just listing a spectrum within each category could be useful. I don't know how much detail is necessary, but I suspect the protectionist Buchanan would be as horrified by von Misesites as he would by a Habermasian social democrat.
"Localism" has, perhaps inappropriately, to me a primitivist connotation, and Albert's explicitly not a primitivist.
Posted by: Jonathan at February 14, 2005 10:57 PM

Blogora Classic: Aune on Multiple Submissions, February 26, 2005

February 26, 2005

Multiple Submissions

John Holbo at the Crooked Timber blog has an interesting post about multiple submissions to scholarly journals. Law professors can submit articles to several journals at once (often using an acceptance by one journal to bargain acceptance at a higher-ranked journal). It is common to submit book manuscripts to multiple publishers. So why not do so for scholarly journals as well? Two of the last 4 refereed articles I have published have taken two years from submission to publication, and I know I'm not alone on this. (Oh to have the joy of acceptance without revisions; does that ever happen? I don't want to know. . . .) Tenured professors on editorial boards are slow to return articles (I'm guilty of this, too) on which the careers of junior faculty depend, and there seems to be no way to fix the system--short of allowing multiple submissions. Any opinions?
Posted by jim at February 26, 2005 07:00 AM


I'd love to see the no-no on multiple submissions of articles in the humanities lifted. That would at least save authors time in the initial (artical acceptance) stage. But i'm not sure it would do much beyond that first stage. I mean, it doesn't seem to have lit any fires under book publishers. The length of time it takes American university presses to put a book out is ... well, nuts. In France, for example, the process often takes months rather than years. My first book ms was submitted in 1995, accepted in 1997 with barely any revisions, and finally appeared in 2000. (When my author copies came in the mail, I was like: "hi, who are you?") So i don't know if allowing multiple journal submissions would be that effective in speeding up the submission to publication time for journals, either... Maybe i'm wrong.
Posted by: ddd at February 26, 2005 07:54 AM
Speaking from what seems to be the boonies of academia (the two-year college, which generally provides little if any encouragement or opportunity for scholarship), I'd like to pose several questions that--I guess--strike at the heart of the institution known as refereed publication, particularly in the humanities:
Exactly what is the purpose of scholarly publication--and I guess I should refine that question by asking what is its *primary* purpose today? Is it primarily to make possible the communication, the sharing of new theories, perspectives, discoveries . . .? Or is it primarily to serve as one of the hoops through which scholars must jump to enter and stay in the community (to deserve the label of "scholar")? In other words, today is it primarily a means of sharing and developing knowledge, or is it primarily a procedural convention or requirement?
Refereed publication is the academic baseline for scholarly credibility (unless my view from the margins is either hopelessly naive or misinformed). But--are referees still used primarily to ensure the credibility of the text itself? Or is their purpose primarily to help determine those articles "most worthy" of publication--and to help weed the garden? To what extent do the revisions requested by referees impose their own slant on this publication of new insights, etc.; in other words, to what extent does the use of referees serve a conservative purpose, given that referees are presumably veteran, acknowledged scholars--those who've already made a mark via their own theories, perspectives, etc.? To what extent does refereed publication help to stultify discourse in a number of ways, including the canonization of certain theoretical approaches at the expense of others? (For example, how often were stylistic analyses--gasp, formalistic approaches!--published in rhetorical and especially literary journals during the 80s and 90s--except, of course, in the journal Style?)
Obviously, those on the editorial staff of a particular journal shape the theoretical slant, especially--of course--when a journal is intended to promote a particular angle. I'm questioning how the function of referees has developed with respect to theoretical as well as professional gate-keeping.
So, why does it take so long for the referral process to occur? Granted, the humanities are very different from the technologies, in which timely communication of "cutting edge" insights, discoveries, approaches is made more likely via journal publication (rather than book publication). Nevertheless, it does seem quite ironic that at a time when communication of ideas is quicker than ever before, the humanities (and perhaps other areas) seem to be saddled with an apparatus that in fact might slow rather than speed up communication, and therefore possibly impede discourse.
Posted by: Connie Ostrowski at February 26, 2005 03:51 PM
Amen to that sentiment. It takes on average two years for everything--that is, if the editor moves things along. Now that I feel my blood boiling (junior faculty blood), I need to stop typing before a rant . . . .
Posted by: Josh at March 1, 2005 10:35 AM

Monday, February 25, 2019

Blogora Classic: The Dead, February 15, 2005 [on James McDaniel]

February 15, 2005

The Dead

The following was posted on CRTnetnews earlier today. I offer it as an example of a controversy of a sort that breaks out occasionally in academe. And to add: I do not believe that everything is political (a majority of child abusers are women, but I'm not sure that makes child abuse a "feminist" issue.) Sometimes it's better to leave the dead to bury their own dead, as the scriptures say. We remember the dead for a number of purposes; making ourselves feel better about our own moral superiority is not an attractive purpose.
Julie Thompson jthompson08@gw.hamline.edu
The death of a beloved friend is a heartbreaking, life-altering experience and we extend our sympathy to Barbara Biesiecker and those who loved James McDaniel. However, we are writing to clarify points made in Biesecker's recent post regarding a memorial fund being established in memory of James McDaniel, who took his own life while awaiting trial for the attempted murder of his wife, Kimberly McDaniel. Professor Biesecker refers to this euphemistically as an "incident," but we insist on calling domestic violence by name, especially in a field that professes an attention to language; a field -- we would add -- that still harbors much misogyny of its own.
In addition, very, very few people who suffer from mental illness ever attack their intimates. Mental illness is not an excuse for domestic violence, nor is it a cause. Like Professor Biesecker, we believe that it is important to combat the ignorance that surrounds mental illness, and we must also combat the ignorance and disavowal that surrounds domestic violence.
Julie M. Thompson, Trudy Bayer, Kelly Happe, Allen Larson, Carrie Rentschler, Jennifer Wood, Carole Stabile, and Jonathan Sterne
Posted by jim at February 15, 2005 03:22 PM


Wow. I'm with you, jim. ick.
Posted by: ddd at February 15, 2005 05:42 PM
The debate continues on CRTNET today:

Date: Wed 2/16/05
From: Ted Remington theodore-remington@uiowa.edu
I appreciate the points made by Thompson et. al. in their response to Barbara
Biesiecker's announcement of the memorial fund in the name of James McDaniel.
However, the implications of the wording they use is unfortunate.
While we all agree that we are a field that "professes an attention to
language," I would respectfully and gently note that we are also a field that
professes an attention to context, purpose, audience, and the rhetorical
situation. In this case, the context of Dr. Biesiecker's note was an obituary
page, a forum in which we traditionally show respect to those who have died,
despite whatever disrespectful things they may have done in their lives.
Moreover, Dr. Biesiecker's comments are likely to be forwarded to colleagues,
friends, and family members of James McDaniel who aren't members of Crtnet, all
in the context of soliciting donations to a worthy cause. Given this, I don't
think it's inappropriate for Dr. Biesecker to use abstract language in
referring to criminal charges facing Jim at the time of his death.
In short, the use of abstract language in this highly specific context can only
be read as insensitivity to issues of domestic violence if all issues of
context, purpose, audience, and rhetorical situation are deemed unimportant
generally, or somehow only unimportant if the message involves issues of
domestic violence (and/or mental illness) in some way. I hope and trust that
few readers of this list would agree with this mode of communication criticism.
By the way, I agree wholeheartedly with Thompson's et al. that we should not
suggest most people struggling with mental illness commit acts of violence.
But nothing in Dr. Biesecker's post suggests this. As for the claim that
mental illness is never a cause of domestic violence, I appreciate the
sentiment that I assume lies beneath the words, but disagree with the statement
itself. To suggest that someone who suffers from acute mental illness is to be
held as responsible for their actions as someone who is not similarly afflicted
blames the sufferer for her or his condition. To be sure, there are degrees to
which we as a society are willing to consider mental illness as a mitigating
factor when judging the actions of others (as well there should be), but the
blanket statement that mental illness is not a contributing cause of a
particular behavior seems far too universal to be tenable, even if the
particular behavior in question is something as horrific as domestic abuse!
. I say this not to defend Jim McDaniel, since I do not know the specifics of
his condition, but to defend those sufferers who have been treated shabbily and
shamefully by a justice system that often equates the medical condition of
mental illness with personal moral failing.
Ted Remington
Adjunct Assistant Professor
Department of Rhetoric
The University of Iowa
Date: Wed 2/16/05
From: Kristina Drumheller drumhelk@mcmurryadm.mcm.edu
Regarding Julie Thompson et al.'s posting to correct information surrounding the
recent death of James McDaniel, I believe the posting was out of order and
insensitive. First, the fact that the memorial fund was set up to bring
attention to bipolar disorder is a great thing and should remain the focus of
the heartfelt words expressed by Barbara Biesiecker. Did everyone really need
the details of the "incident" which I am sure was a word used out of respect
for the family who must live with McDaniel's unfortunate actions? Second, while
I agree mental illness is not an "excuse," bipolar disorder does often lead
those afflicted to actions of aggression, especially in the manic phase. What
is inexcusable is that we have a society that stigmatizes mental illness, so
those who need help often do not get it. While the issue of domestic violence
is also important, Thompson's posting is a red herring to the real issue and
point of Biesiecker's note - mental illness left undiagnosed a!
nd untreated is harmful not only to the one afflicted but also to his/her loved
Kris Drumheller, Ph.D.
McMurry University
McM Station Box 68
Abilene, Texas 79697
Posted by: Karen at February 16, 2005 09:28 AM
The whole controversy illustrates the classical rhetorical principles of "to prepon" or "decorum." How does our sense of political and aesthetic judgment enable us to craft a "fitting" response to an event?
Posted by: jim at February 16, 2005 10:37 AM
After some off-blogora prodding from others--including rhhhosa--i realize that i should perhaps elaborate my "ick" response above. First of all, as others have suggested, it would have been entirely inappropriate in the context of Biesecker's note to unpack what was coming through under the term "incident." That word was no doubt trembling on the page even as she wrote it, poised to blow, and i personally admire the way she handled it--the way she handled it *in that situation.*
But second and more specifically, what I found distasteful about the Thompson et al post was that they claimed to know something, to have understood, closing the "case" before we've really even figured out how to pry it open. The shocking brutality of the attack that left mcdaniel's wife in the hospital ought not be whited out, of course; it must be remembered....but remembered as one anguishing piece of a tragedy that we don't yet know how to read. To claim to understand, to have discovered an access key in this situation, seems to me inappropriate. This is the part I'm talking about: "In addition, very, very few people who suffer from mental illness ever attack their intimates. Mental illness is not an excuse for domestic violence, nor is it a cause."
Really? Ever? Are we sure? Does that settle it? I'm a Nietzschean to the extent that I consider my reaction to this "debate" a matter of taste rather than of truth or whatever: I find this claim to (damning) knowledge *distasteful*, especially in these circumstances. 
Posted by: ddd at February 16, 2005 12:52 PM
As a former colleague of James McDaniel and someone who watched a community wrestle with very complex and painful issues surrounding mental illness and violence, I want to thank Ted, Kris, and Jim for pointing out what many who were closer to the situation than Thompson et al. were not yet able to say.
Posted by: Lisa Keranen at February 17, 2005 02:16 AM