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Of interest to civic literacy devotees

Friend Who's Into Politics Makes You Feel Stupid Again, from The Onion.

[. . .] whose impromptu analysis reminded you that you still haven't gotten around to reading the Obama cover story in that issue of Time magazine you purchased five months ago.

Sad, but also provocative of discussion.

Lovely conferences

Today was the deadline for the Penn State Conference on rhetoric and composition. It and Watson are the most prestigious regional rhetoric and composition conferences, and I have every intention of going to both someday, but I didn't submit a proposal today. Conferences are expensive and time-consuming, and I don't want to go to too many. Too bad, though; I'm very interested in the rhetorics and technologies theme.

In other conference news, the full-service site for Feminisms and Rhetorics is now up. I'll be going to that one for sure -- I haven't been to it since 2003.

Quick Takes

Not that anyone's been asking, but yes, I have been following the M&M controversy intently. To make a long story short, the John Edwards '08 campaign asked two excellent bloggers, Amanda Marcotte* and Melissa McEwan of Shakespeare's Sister, to write for the Edwards campaign blog. They were hailed by lefty bloggers, not only because they demonstrated web savvy by picking established bloggers who had built audiences, but also because these particular bloggers were women, who are, as we know, underrepresented in punditry.

Then the protests began, spearheaded by Michelle Malkin and Bill Donohue. They, along with some other politically conservative bloggers, objected to posts Marcotte and McEwan had written about the Duke lacrosse team rape case and about reproductive freedom. The Catholic League called for their termination from the Edwards campaign. Edwards seems to have decided to keep them, at least for now. You can find more detailed analyses at Noli Irritare Leones, Obsidian Wings, oh, and a couple thousand via Technorati.

Web 2.0 network ecology stories. This, to me, is potentially a very productive methodology for understanding networks and social software.

If you haven't yet read this stunning and courageous narrative by Eric Fair, do so now.

Watch A Girl Like Me, a film by Kiri Davis. Via BlackProf, and read that post too.

Anyone know how to tweak Google Reader to filter out all stories related to sports? I subscribe to Google News and BBC News, and I want to keep those, but I don't give a yotz about sports.

* whom I'd love to hang out with now that she's in Chapel Hill!

RIP Molly Ivins

This is terrible. We have lost such a brilliant woman. I don't know what else to say.

UPDATE: Norbizness has a much better tribute.

Feminisms and Rhetorics 2007

I am so there:

Call for Papers

The 2007 Feminism(s) and Rhetoric(s) conference invites proposals on civic discourse, feminisms, and rhetorics. The conference draws its inspiration from the 50th anniversary of the integration of Little Rock’s Central High School, the Clinton Presidential Library, Heifer Project International & the Clinton School for Public Service.

This conference asks us to explore civic discourse and how civic discourse, feminism(s) and rhetoric(s) interact with, for, and against each other.

• What is civic discourse? What counts as civic discourse?
• How has civic discourse changed over the years for women? For feminism?
• What does it mean to participate in civic discourse in the 21st century?
• How do we participate in civic discourse?
• How has the internet/electronic discourse affected civic discourse?
• How has civic discourse become corporatized?
• How has globalization impacted civic discourse?
• What does it mean to be a feminist and/or rhetorician participating in civic discourse?

We look forward to reading proposals from a wide variety of disciplines, including, but not limited to, history, ethics, new media, political science, social justice, pedagogy, law, literature, art and art theory, queer theory, international studies, cultural studies, race studies, economics, environmental studies, science, social activism, communication studies, technical communication, visual design, philosophy, and engineering.

It seems like national academic conferences in my field are hardly ever held in the south. There was CCCC 2004 in San Antonio, but that's it. I'd like to see more conferences in Nashville, Birmingham, or Atlanta, as I'd have a free place to stay.

I Smell a Dissertation

There's an interesting story in the Times about the Voluntary Disclosure Form, which those under arrest can use to make a statement sans legal representation:

A homeless man accused of stabbing a tourist as he rode with his girlfriend on the subway found that words weren’t enough. Asked to sign his confession, he instead sketched a cartoon version of his crime: a pair of lovers’ faces — one happy and one sad — and a stormy black cloud floating over a subway train.

Such statements — and occasional illustrations — by defendants in New York City courts are one element of what prosecutors call the V.D.F., more formally known as the People’s Voluntary Disclosure Form. To read them is to experience a kind of poetry of everyday criminal life in New York City.

By turns raw, ugly, poignant, defiant, rarely remorseful and almost always damaging, the statements are a window into the criminal process, part of the common language between detectives and suspects.

“It’s kind of like the literature of the criminal defendant,” said Gerald L. Shargel, a criminal defense lawyer. “The information contained on the V.D.F. is much more rich and colorful than anything the defense lawyer provides.”

Because they can be so revealing, the V.D.F.’s are a bane of defense lawyers’ existence, and they often try to suppress them so they cannot be used in court.

[. . .]

For many people, the urge to explain, if not to confess, is as urgent as it was for Raskolnikov in “Crime and Punishment.”

“My name is Paul Cortez,” is the Melvillian first sentence of the V.D.F. statement handwritten by Mr. Cortez, a yoga teacher who is awaiting trial as the suspect in the fatal stabbing of a dancer in her Upper East Side apartment.

What follows is a three-page roller coaster ride of love, sex and betrayal, culminating in an alibi. On the day of the victim’s death, Mr. Cortez wrote, “I knew something was wrong, so I called back several times.” When she didn’t answer, he called clients, watched a football game with a friend, “then read a little and went to bed. The next morning about 10:30 I found out from my mom Catherine was Dead.”

The last word, “Dead,” is capitalized for emphasis.

It might be a project better suited for a linguistics/discourse analysis dissertation, but it could work for rhetoric too.

Next Rhetoric & Composition MMTOR?

Massive Multi-Thinker Online Review, that is. I think it should be about John Logie's new book, Peers, Pirates, and Persuasion: Rhetoric in the Peer-to-Peer Debates, now available from Parlor Press. You can order it or download it for free as a PDF. The book has a Creative Commons license too. More about the book:

Peers, Pirates, and Persuasion: Rhetoric in the Peer-to-Peer Debates investigates the role of rhetoric in shaping public perceptions about a novel technology: peer-to-peer file-sharing networks. While broadband Internet services now allow speedy transfers of complex media files, Americans face real uncertainty about whether peer-to-peer file sharing is or should be legal. John Logie analyzes the public arguments growing out of more than five years of debate sparked by the advent of Napster, the first widely adopted peer-to-peer technology. The debate continues with the second wave of peer-to-peer file transfer utilities like Limewire, KaZaA, and BitTorrent. With Peers, Pirates, and Persuasion, Logie joins the likes of Lawrence Lessig, Siva Vaidhyanathan, Jessica Litman, and James Boyle in the ongoing effort to challenge and change current copyright law so that it fulfills its purpose of fostering creativity and innovation while protecting the rights of artists in an attention economy.

Logie examines metaphoric frames—warfare, theft, piracy, sharing, and hacking, for example—that dominate the peer-to-peer debates and demonstrably shape public policy on the use and exchange of digital media. Peers, Pirates, and Persuasion identifies the Napster case as a failed opportunity for a productive national discussion on intellectual property rights and responsibilities in digital environments. Logie closes by examining the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in the “Grokster” case, in which leading peer-to-peer companies were found to be actively inducing copyright infringement. The Grokster case, Logie contends, has already produced the chilling effects that will stifle the innovative spirit at the heart of the Internet and networked communities.

So what do you think? Want to do it? What's a date we can shoot for?

(Cross-posted at Kairosnews.)

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