Those of you on the various rhetoric lists, get ready, because you are going to be seeing multiple iterations of the below announcement. I've been working with the editor-elect of Quarterly Journal of Speech, John Lucaites, to get it out. It's already linked at blogora and will be coming to an h-rhetor and crit-net list near you very soon. Below is the Alliance of Rhetoric Society version, which John L and I worked up with the help of Kathie Cesa who works with RSA and ARS--it'll be 'broadcast' very soon.
I thought of subtitling this post "or, why my life just got busier," because I have agreed to be the new book review editor for QJS. I gave this some thought before saying yes, mostly because I have newly vowed never to agree to anything that will require such a significant commitment before at least sleeping on it. But here's a little secret: even though I formally went through the motions of thinking about my answer for the day, even risking making Lucaites think I was an ingrate, I knew what my answer would be as soon as he asked. My enthusiastic acceptance of the post--ie the why of why my life just busier rather than the how--is largely attributable to Lucaites' vision for the journal. His vision is big, and it's broad, just like he believes rhetorical studies ought to be. "Forget all these conversations about rhetoric's size," JL seems to be saying, "and show me."
And as a former book review editor for QJS, Lucaites also has some great ideas for what book reviews should do in this post-expansion moment. Two conditions motivate us where the book review section is concerned: 1) Rhetorical studies, especially in communication, is rather new to the book culture--only very recent generations of scholars have gotten tenure on books rather than articles--and 2) if rhetorical studies is going to be the interdisciplinary practice people are always claiming it is, then we gotta have a mix of perspectives in among the books being reviewed and the book reviewers themselves. Both of these conditions interest me a good deal, in part because I 'grew up' outside of communication/speech communication departments proper, even though I was something of a 'lurker' as a PhD student and have attended NCA since it was SCA. It is the second condition, though--the one about the scope of rhetorical studies--that made me give such an enthusiastic (though some would say ca-razy) yes, and even that led Lucaites to ask me in the first place.
We'd like to see book reviews--both the lead essays and the single-book reviews--become longer and more engaged. We'd like to have scholars review books from around the humanities and social sciences that bear directly on our field of study, while still of course tending to books by folks in rhetoric (the lead essay is a good place for such a mix to happen, but so are single-reviews). And also, there are so many more ways to engage a single book than just the "here's what's great, here's what's not so great. long live rhetoric" model that we sometimes adhere to. The longer format might make the review of essay collections much more feasible as well.
It seems necessary in what is turning out to be a book review-pushing entry too to offer some arguments for doing book reviews at all, so here are a few: they can be good for the field(s), they're pretty easy to do, and they can give you a low-stakes chance to work on stuff you've been thinking about with a manageable (even transportable) research load: one book. Or in the case of the lead review essay, four or five books. People seem to actually read these things too: I have had folks stop me at conferences to talk about my RSQ review of Wayne Booth's penultimate book. You can experiment as well, a la Prof Gunn.
The biggest objection to doing book reviews is that they don't count toward tenure. I believe this is something that tenure committees should rethink, in part because as soon as they say "book reviews don't count toward tenure," they ask "where and how favorably was this person's book reviewed?" Another in a long list of double standards that executive committees hold dear. Now while I don't think BRs should count as much as an article--they're not as much work!--there's no reason why one couldn't write a good book review while writing an article. (I almost went on a tirade against the zero-sum assumptions about writing that people usually apply to blogging as well, but I'll keep that to myself for now.) I recently reviewed Josh Gunn's book because dammit, I needed to force myself to read the damn thing, to really engage it, because it's the field's first book on mysticism (to my knowledge), and I was writing about Burke and mysticism. Plus I wanted to mark it up, and I learned from our pal Kenneth Burke that a good way to get a copy all your own to mark up is to trade a little reviewing work--work that you would do anyway--for a book to keep. Plus I believe in review karma, and having read an exceedingly kind one of my own by Rich Enos, I decided it was time to give it on up.
So do try to choose your reviews wisely, subject-wise and time-commitment wise. If you can't meet a deadline, don't waste my (or any editor's) time. Just write a book review editor to see if you can review the book. And, importantly, if you're among the folks who are no longer (or not yet) thinking about tenure, then stop listening to the nay-sayers and review a book already. Slammed by administrative work but want to keep a toe in the more publishy side of the field? Do a review! Want to think about how books are structured (as compared to dissertations)? Write a review. In between projects? Think about reviewing. Teaching a graduate seminar? Write a review essay on some of the books you're assigning. In the middle of a project and feeling stuck? Review something. Or just sit there, I don't care.
In subsequent posts I will discuss what it's like to take on a review essay, since I let the current book review editor, Kirt Wilson, talk me into writing one (soon!), and I will also address how to manage the typical obstacles to reviewing books. Two such obstacles can be categorized as a version of an 80s song and a t-shirt style slogan: 1) we don't need another deadline!, and 2) I agreed to write a review, but all I got was a book that sucks (a lot)
January 29, 2007
John Louis Lucaites, editor-elect for the Quarterly Journal of Speech, will begin to
accept manuscripts for publication in Volumes 94-96 (2008-2010) on February 1,
2007. All submissions must be made online at the QJS Manuscript Central link (http://mc.manuscriptcentral.com/RQJS).
New users should first create an account. Once a user is logged onto the site
submissions should be made via the Author Center.
QJS publishes articles and book
reviews of interest to those who take a rhetorical perspective on the texts,
discourses, and cultural practices by which public beliefs and identifies are
constituted, empowered, and enacted. Rhetorical scholarship now cuts across many
different intellectual, disciplinary, and political vectors, and QJS seeks to honor and address the
interanimating effects of such differences. No single project, whether modern or
postmodern in its orientation, or local, national, or global in its scope, can
suffice as the sole locus of rhetorical practice, knowledge and understanding.
Accordingly, QJS adopts an ecumenical
attitude towards the full array of best scholarship being produced under
rhetoric's broad purview, including work that advances and enriches long
standing intellectual traditions, as well as theory and criticism that seeks to
forge new intellectual frontiers.
Essays will generally consider the theory and criticism of situated discourse
in its various forms and venues, including the oral, the written, and the
visual; official and vernacular; direct and mediated; historical and
contemporary. We especially invite essays that explore alternative approaches to
the study of rhetoric and public culture, as well as the discourse of
Manuscripts are accepted solely on the basis of their quality and
appropriateness. The journal uses blind, peer review. As such, no indicators of
authorship should appear anywhere in the manuscript. Author details can be
entered where required during the online manuscript submission, and
acknowledgments may be included in the (separately loaded) cover letter. Please
also include a history of the manuscript, including whether it is derived from
an M.A. or Ph.D. thesis, as well as the advisor's name; whether it has been
presented at a convention, and other pertinent information about its
development. On submission authors are also asked to provide an abstract of 100
words or less and a list of five suggested keywords. The manuscript should be
double-spaced throughout and prepared according to the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th
Edition. Manuscripts should be prepared in WordPerfect, MS Word, or RTF.
Queries can be addressed to John Louis Lucaites, editor-elect via e-mail at
firstname.lastname@example.org. Suggestions for book
reviews can be addressed to the book review editor-elect, Professor Debra Hawhee
I'm working on a new genre, hatched in a convo with E, who best be writing one soon. Or actually maybe this genre is so obvious that it's not new at all, and what do I care if E writes one? Anyway, why not, we wondered, write horoscopes toward the end of a day for that day? Here's mine for today:
Cancer. If the cold outside world makes the crab want to tuck its legs (or whatever those are) into its shell, then the crab should tuck its legs up into its shell (note: shell can mean either a. indoors, b. in bed, or c. both. preferably c since it's so damned cold outside). Anyway, you may be concerned about preparing for the busy week ahead or all that's been going on in the past few weeks, so you should definitely do something pointless in order to distract yourself. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
If I were to rename blogos--I'm not, but if I were--I would call it "by the dog." In preparing for next week's focus on Plato and Aristotle by rereading Plato's Gorgias, I was reminded of this, one of Socrates' favorite exclamations. I'm not even a quarter of the way through this
very long dialogue but Socrates has already invoked the dog twice--first, in a forewarning of sorts, when he observes that "to distinguish properly which way the truth of the matter lies will require, by the Dog, Gorgias, no short sitting." (Turns out he wasn't kidding.) And later
when interrogating the feisty Polus, Socrates (perhaps feigning uncertainty) says "By the
Dog, I fear I am still in two minds."
When Socrates invokes the dog, he isn't doing the slangy thing to replace god with dog, as in Oh my dog! (Though perhaps there's some connection between Socrates and OMD.) Instead, the dog is a god. His name was Anubis, an Egyptian dog-god who was thought to oversee and guide the dead, kind of like Hermes. In any event, Anubis is cool--he is frequently depicted as having human legs and arms, a pointy greyhound nose, and at times his ears resemble wings (though not up close).
I wonder to what extent my next book on animals in the history of rhetoric will consider this phrase and whether or not it matters when Socrates swears by the dog or a greek god. I'm thinking of how Socrates sometimes invokes generic deities (often translated as Zeus). By the dog, maybe someday I'll have time to figure it out.
Maybe this is a strange desire to have as a teacher, but I confessed to my Rhetorical Tradition class yesterday that I really wanted one of them to create a Facebook Club to honor one of the rhetors we are studying (full disclosure: this dream is based on an idea Spencer once mentioned to me, which I LOVED.) My suggestion of course was Aspasia, whose abilities have long (and I mean long--she lived in the 5th c bce) been called into question because of her gender, and because she wasn't married to her main fellow, Pericles (Athenian law prohibited non-Athenians like Aspasia to marry Athenian citizens). She is also sometimes considered suspect because she is reputed to have written some of P's speeches for him in addition to teaching such luminaries as Socrates. Indeed, when Plato's Socrates tells the character Menexenus that he studied with Aspasia and then proceeds to deliver a speech he once heard her give, Menexenus's response? (roughly) that's pretty good for a woman.
And so, alas, various people--philosophers, historians, biographers--are on record mulling this question: how can such a smart, powerful woman have held such sway unless she used her body (and the bodies of others, so some of the tales involving something like brothels would have it) to do so? As one of my students put it in her response paper, "these readings made me angry." We had a rousing conversation too about Senator Hillary Clinton in this regard, esp. when she was first lady and her national health care plan drew so many raised eyebrows.
In any case, I begged--begged!--my students today to create a Facebook Club called "Aspasia is NOT a whore," and requested that they all join said club. I also asked them to please send me a screenshot of said club.
Of course by all indications, facebook is now so out. But I'm still hoping someone will indulge me.
Today is National Handwriting Day, sponsored by the Writing Instrument Manufacturers Association. John and I differ a good deal on the importance of good handwriting, and others of you who are close to me will probably agree with John when he complains, "people, including and especially students, write like barbarians." I don't really have the moral indignance about bad handwriting, but I am utterly amazed (and I admit a little charmed) by the limits of legibility. Anyhow, in the spirit of the day, I have handwritten a blog entry (and then taken a digital picture of each page).
I officially put in a 12 hour day today--if you count the hour and a half I got to spend at home reading someone's chapter on my laptop in bed (which I do count). Just returned from the semester's first meeting of the rhetorical studies reading group. It's a good, smart, nice group. We are reading this:
Which as I said tonight reminds me of this:
Only for the idea of communication instead of the idea of vision. Cool!
Today is my only sibling's birthday. She was born 2.5 years (to the day) before I was, and so when we were growing up, she and I got to celebrate half birthdays on the other's birthday. Suspicious of the whole half-birthday thing, I assumed it was a contrived wish to make the sibling of the celebrator feel better when left out of the candlelight. For a couple of years I even thoughtfully (or smugly?) wished my friends happy half-birthday at their siblings' roller skating parties.
And then one time I went to a neighborhood birthday party for the younger brother of my friend Becky, and before I wished Becky a happy half-birthday, it dawned on me that she had three siblings and that the math just wouldn't work. I knew. My third grade class was doing fractions. So I quietly mulled the revelation while the little ice-cream faced boy named Robbie huffed out the candles.
Fast forward many years decades to yesterday, and here's part of the phone conversation I had with my dad:
Dad: Tomorrow's Dawn's birthday. Me: I know! Dad: She's 39 years old. Me: Yeah, I know! Dad: You girls are getting up there. Me: [quietly mulling]. Yeah.
Eh, who cares? I think we're both rather enjoying our fourth decades. Happy birthday, sis! May you enjoy the adult equivalent of a skating party. Or at the very least, maybe Seth can get ice cream all over his face.