Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Ah, rhetoric

Ah, rhetoric.

Light of my life, fire of my neurons.

No class can begin without rhetoric.


And so I directed the students in my Writing Web 2.0 class to the Forest of Rhetoric, Silva Rhetoricae, to learn of rhetoric’s wonders.

I wax poetic. I can’t help myself. I love rhetoric. Sweet rhetoric.

The challenge, then, is how to talk of it. What is it that I really want them to know, to be able to use, as we write web 2.0 together this semester?

I want them to know, I think, that when I talk about the rhetoric of a given text or site, I’m talking about what the text is doing. Not what it means, but what effects it might have. And who it might effect. And how.

According to Gideon O. Burton, the guardian of the Forest of Rhetoric,

for most of its history [rhetoric] has maintained its fundamental character as a discipline for training students 1) to perceive how language is at work orally and in writing, and 2) to become proficient in applying the resources of language in their own speaking and writing.

Yes, that’s basically it, isn’t? I want us all to be curious as we look at Web 2.0 applications and sites, to perceive how they work, and to consider how to apply them.

But there’s always more. Much more.

To some extent, I’ll be using the “canons” as jumping off points. I want to promote the virtues of Web 2.0 as a tool for invention, the first of the canons. Gathering, sharing, juxtaposing, mapping: these are all activities made easier with Web 2.0. But I also want to talk about arrangement and delivery, about the design of pages, about the viral travel of memes. And once we’re talking about memes, we’re talking about memory. And if Web 2.0 doesn’t promote experiments in style through web self-fashioning by way of blogs and social networking sites, well, then, I don’t know what does.

And, of course, I’ll want to talk about the persuasive appeals, with the caveat that they work together, that we can’t privilege logos as folks are sometimes wont to do.

Plus there's the whole situation/ecology thing to talk about. But that will have to be saved for later.


Collin said...

"To some extent, I’ll be using the “canons” as jumping off points."

If only there were a good book that did this...oh wait. ;-)

If only that book were out. :-(


Donna said...

My thoughts EXACTLY! If only.

So...any idea when that might be?

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