We would like to invite you to contribute Tallahassee Voices: A Feminist Archive. We
see the archive as functioning as an important outlet of democratic citizenship
and a re-exploration of what it means to live, work, and study in Tallahassee. In
thinking about proposing a feminist archive for Tallahassee, there are two
overarching ideas that guided my thinking. The first is Campbell’s notion that “efforts
for social change are fundamentally rhetorical” (139) and Hart-Davidson et al.’s
view that “it is possible to see the rhetorical tradition at work, either in
the past or in the present historical moment, at points where institutions and technologies
are in the process of being shaped” (129). It looks to account for the many
ways in which actions have contributed to “changes in personal relationships as
well as systemic changes” (Campbell 141). We found Tallahassee an important
place to study and archive due to the many intersections of people, education,
viewpoints, governance, and discourses that the city provides.
exploratory task, Michael and I decided to propose an archive rooted in
location in order to trace feminist rhetorical activity in Tallahassee. As we
explain in our proposal for the archive, we would like the archive to collect
and house a variety of feminist artifacts, including physical ephemera,
locations of action and events, short narratives, and reports on political
action. Ultimately, this archive looks to explore what it means to be a feminist
and citizen in Tallahassee, and, in so doing, we are better able to show the
intersections between personal and public feminist rhetorical activity,
specifically as it is experienced locally.
I seem to be “stuck” in the realm of signification. On the
one hand, I don’t want to stretch the concept too thin; on the other, I see
value in de/constructing relationships and representations within and between
language as well as other “signification” systems. Last week, I composed a
creation myth using “Gloria” and “Trinh” as characters, relating their notions
of Borderlands and difference to signification. I suggested that Anzaldua has
complicated the signified (mestiza consciousness), and Trinh has complicated
the signifier (I/me/you/we). The week before, we discussed Gates’s theory of
signifyin(g) and its relationship to signifying. Now, I’d like to look at our
proposed art installation as a form of signification through visual
representation, and consider how this perspective provides additional means for
unpacking the concepts of subjectivities and objectivities.
In considering Foss and Griffin’s definition of invitational rhetoric, we were drawn to its inclusive nature: “its communicative modes are the offering of perspectives and the creation of the external conditions of safety, value, and freedom” (2). Although the article was published in 1995, we immediately linked it to a digital community. We believed that a properly structured Tumblr page and digital archive could act in accordance with invitational rhetoric, particularly during a time when many of the internet’s avenues have become divisive, partisan spaces or echo chambers for specific views. In this regard, many online messages have become patriarchical in nature, where “communicative encounter[s]” are “an attempt at persuasion or influence, or as a struggle over power” (Foss and Griffin 2). Our intention was to create an online environment where people—the majority would likely include women but it is not strictly limited to this population, as feminism “implies an understanding of inclusion with interests beyond women”—could discuss, write, create, and work through major cultural events (Foss and Griffin 5).
were placed at the perfect time in the syllabus and created a good follow-up to
our class discussion last week. I worked with Parisa on this exploratory and we
went through a couple of stages when developing our overall concept. We
originally were going to mix both art installation and archive but, after we
decided to use Tumblr as our platform of expression, we settled solely on an
art installation. Our first draft that we presented to the class focused on how
the terms democracy, kairos, and invention played a role in the overarching
concept of feminism. However, after presenting, we were given some great
suggestions and the meaning of our project took a different turn. We ultimately
decided that we would focus on the idea feminism as a performance and how each
moment captured is a kairotic expression. This definitely could have been done
in multiple ways, for example following kairotic moments of the suffragette movement
or prominent moments in women’s rights history, however due to the constraints
of the platform and resources provided we settled on capturing kairotic
feminist expressions within the era of 2000-2016.
As showcased through our archive
plans, Kamila’s and my project was heavily influenced by Foss and Griffins “Beyond
Persuasion: A Proposal for an Invitational Rhetoric.” The reading of this
article was so timely, and, to be honest, I’m not sure if we would have had the
idea we had if it were not for the presidential election. Kamila and I both
felt deeply affected by it, and I know in my own life, I’ve been struggling to
have open conversations with people who have different political views than me.
An approach to conversation, such as the Tumblr project we created, has been
stirring in my mind for the past couple months, but I didn’t have the context
or the foundation for it until reading Foss and Griffin.
Foss and Griffin
note that, in how rhetoric is usually framed as being a process of
persuasion, it demonstrates a “manifestation of the patriarchal
bias” (2). Their intention is to frame feminist rhetorics into an
alternative to this kind of discourse; they want to establish an
“invitational rhetoric” that allows for more open and invited
discussion framed against this “rhetoric of patriarchy [that
reflects] its values of change, competition, and domination” (4).
Hart-Davidson, et al argue for a consideration of Berlin’s shift
away from rhetorical studies to that of a cultural studies focus so
that we can better comprehend the “historically contingent power
hierarchies” (126). The intersection of these two texts is both
call for a more socially aware and accepting means of approaching (or
perhaps distancing) rhetorical discourse. In imagining a hybrid of
these two takes, an intersecting and interesting conceptualization of
rhetoric can emerge, but because of the nature of these two
approaches, it would be a strange one.
The most interesting aspect of this exploratory to me was
how much our project changed from the first draft. Angela and I picked to
pursue the route of using an art installation to provide a general overarching
theme of feminism throughout the readings. To do this, we first focused on the
major definitions in all four of the readings: feminism, invention, democracy
and kairos. After we presented the
draft of our project, we were given many helpful suggestions as to how we
should focus our project, and in the end, we ended up making our “performative”
art installation as a place to post “performative feminism.”
For this week’s exploratory, my group designed an art
exhibition intended to be a participatory narrative from Hawhee’s concept of
“in(ter)vention in the middle” to in(ter)vention in-between using mirrors and
allowing viewers to invent/intervene in the space. By disabling any
participants in the exhibit from standing in the center by using a
multi-layered bridge with multiple entry points, we sought to de-centralize the
concept of single identity or a central identity and instead create kairotic
opportunities (per Hawhee) in Anzaldúan borderlands-esque locations that exist
in-between entry points. The theories we include challenge concepts of
invention as belonging to a powerful rhetor (Foss and Griffin 3) and
destabilize the traditional binary between audience/rhetor (16; Jarrett also
references this in terms of testimonio
) by allowing all participants a (non-obligatory) opportunity to
We will work here (again) on Tuesday as we consider some of last week's unanswered questions:
What would you identify as the principal postmodern dilemma for rhetorical theory, based on our explorations of Cultural Dis/Identification, Cultural Dis/Location, and Rhetorical Subjectivities and Objectivities? Where do you think we are left, in other words?
Last week I mentioned that we managed to challenge the default positioning of standpoint through the various metaphors offered by Gates, Anzaldua, and Trinh, but I postponed our discussion of how. This week, let's take up that question again. If we were to try to do the kind of research that Jarratt describes, what other ways would we have to position ourselves? What questions are we empowered to ask? What attitudes are we encouraged to transgress?
Several weeks ago we surveyed notions of "ideology" for one or more notions that could fit the projects of Richards, Burke, and Crosswhite. Based on your final exploratory (and knowing that you are still very much in the process of completing it), how might you revise your stance on what you think "ideology" is in rhetorical theory or practice, or on what "ideology" should preclude or entail?
Folks, by and large I think your exploratory discussions last Thursday reflected a very good understanding of Foucault's discursive event -- the idea that, in every society, the production of discourse is at once controlled, selected, organized, and redistributed according to a certain number of procedures -- and this was a huge impetus for our discussion. Each of you was able to articulate Muckelbauer's principal contribution: looking more carefully at resistance with/in Foucault's work opens up important re-definitions of resistance and power (Muckelbauer 72) and reveals critics' own programmatic agendas (73), freeing us up to consider the many "certain Foucaults" to whom critics think they are responding (74).
In reading through Adam Banks 2015 CCCC Chairs Address titled ““Ain’t No Walls behind the Sky, Baby! Funk, Flight, Freedom,” our group tackled this project in two steps. The first step in our discourse analysis was to break up our five pages into individual paragraphs and even further, into single sentences. We then created specific columns for intratextual, contextual and transtextual references. Subsequently, each paragraph and sentence were broken down and examined for any of the three themes. Our second step (using the program draw.io) allowed us to explore the overarching themes that we saw present within the last five pages of Banks speech. These themes included connections to culture, audience, agency, communication, and technology as we saw theme playing a big part in the creation of Banks’ argument for the use of Funk, Flight and Freedom in the evolution of contemporary composition. Through these two explorations, I was able to see connects to our readings in terms of historical contexts, which are complicated through McGee’s concept of Audience, Foucault’s discipline and Muckelbaur’s descriptions of freedom.
submits interiority to a radical critique…the inside…is merely the fold of the
outside” (Muckelbauer 76).
I think our exploratory is, in many ways, an attempt to
perform this sort of “radical critique,” this inside as a folding of the
outside. Foucault identifies external and internal factors that influence,
constrain, and reinforce discourse. (And, reciprocally, discourse influences,
constrains, and reinforces reality.) From the outside, in, we attempted to show
the layers of discourse as they operate through—and are operated on by—language
and culture/ideology. Working through the exploratory, using Bella Abzug’s
plenary speech as a grounding, revealed, at least for me, a number of
connections and nuances that I am still struggling to grasp:
Power as Multiple
Muckelbauer’s unpacking of Foucault’s work on resistance
helped me see that “because power is multiple, one must pay precise attention
to the specificity of actions and practices in order to delineate their forces
and effects” (Muckelbauer 78). I now see “action” as a connecting thread that
works with, through, and between discourse/language and the powers of
culture/ideology. Building a flow from language to action to culture (and back
again, as I will go into more detail in a moment) forced me to look more
closely at specific “actions and practices” as we deconstructed and
reconstructed our understanding of Abzug’s speech. By tracing patterns of her
words, we were able to see the tension between the actions and culture she (and
the women of the conference) were pushing against, and the actions they were
taking to manifest a new culture. I could see the tension between Abzug’s
description of dominant ideological and cultural forces that created
restriction and the power that she and the other women were exercising in
resistance. Through these tensions, I could better grasp that “Resistance,
then, is simply the convergence of multiple and conflicting powers”
(Muckelbauer 79). I’m not sure about “simply,” but I can see the way multiple
powers are building, clashing, restricting, and resisting across and through
I decided to apply our multilayered analysis to Nietzsche's “Preface”
of Beyond Good and Evil.
While we were examining it for cultural identifications as Nietzsche
established the premise of his text, we also wanted to explore the
concept of Truth through this lens, as well, since it was where
Nietzsche seemed to place the most importance in. I was also
interested in using Nietzsche to better understand Foucault, as
Muckelbauer noted that Nietzsche was especially influential for
Foucault's theory. Through this lens, this exploration was
surprisingly difficult given Foucault's notion of reading a scholar
outside the “singularity” and instead having him serve as a
multiplicity (Muckelbauer 74). Trying to take our cue from
Mucekbauer's text, we examined the instances of culture with an eye
towards Foucault's “resistance;” or the nebulous notion of
“power” opposed to resistance, and we attempted to do this with
to Foucault, discipline is “a principle which is itself relative and mobile;
which permits construction, but within narrow confines” (1466). For my group's project, Foucault’s
section on disciplinarity helped us to consider the context of Banks’ speech
within academia. Banks’ funk, flight, and freedom trope is rooted in cultural
identification though his call to “value other voices” within
academic scholarship, pedagogy, and service (273). As a field, rhetoric and
composition was “transformed” and re-created through “work” accomplished by feminist
rhetorics, queer rhetorics, black rhetorics, Latino/a rhetorics, first-generation
students, and people from all backgrounds (271). Accordingly, Banks believes rhetoric and composition exists
in a unique, intermediary space between “disciplinary maturity and yet remains
This particular exploratory task pushed me, and our group, to think about rhetoric in new ways. Grappling with big ideas and a new(ish) task (I have done a discourse analysis before using Systemic Functional Linguistics) was difficult at times, but pushed us into a productive space where were able to start articulating relationships between power, language, and culture. The discourse analysis, with its multiple layers, perspectives, and connections, complicated and expanded my understanding of these texts. I found that the analysis of our text, Adam Banks’s “Ain’t No Walls behind the Sky, Baby! Funk, Flight, Freedom,” complicated our understandings of discourse, power, reading, composition, and culture. There were a number of explicit and implicit operators on the speech, such as time, audience, conventions, and content, that existed within and pushed against the disciplinary boundaries and doctrines of rhetoric and composition. Out of the analysis there were two theoretical connections that I saw emerging: Foucault’s double subjugation, especially in relationship to discipline, and Muckelbauer’s productive reading through resistance. While I feel that our work was also informed by Gates and McGee, the connections appear more tenuous.
After many, many ideas for how we wanted to visually represent our discourse analysis of Bella Abzug’s Plenary Address at the Fourth World Conference on Women, delivered September 1995 in Beijing, Jessi and I settled on one that we think helps to represent the complex relationships between language, action, and culture. We wanted to demonstrate the ways in which language can be used to inspire action and produce culture. To that end, we were largely inspired in our analysis by Foucault who asserts that discourse is a form of action, rather than a conveyor of pre-existing meaning: “…we must call into question our will to truth, restore discourse its character as an event, and finally throw off the sovereignty of the signifier” (1470). For Foucault, language constructs knowledge and that knowledge shapes reality. Our representation then, moves through three planes (language, action, and culture) to show the ways in which the language that Abzug uses in her address constitute actions that, in turn, shape cultural ideologies. The three dimensional nature of our representation also allows for showing how culture, too, can influence language. While I realize that our representation is limited—the relationship between language, action, and culture is perhaps more disjointed and nonlinear that our representations suggests—I do think that our representation helps me to see two different ways in which resistance can be enacted through discourse: utilizing tropes and fostering consensus.
The United States is referred to as a “melting pot”, where a
society which is divided and heterogeneous can become homogeneous, creating a
sort of common, shared culture. We call this culture American. Gates’ piece on The Signifyin[g] Monkey challenges this
aspect of the “melting pot” by stressing how Signifying is only taught and
mastered through their own culture, how it is taught to be a second language to
black adolescents. Their challenge, then, is how to be understood in both
universes they are part of, what Gates’ calls linguistic masking: “the verbal
sign of the mask of blackness that demarcates the boundary between the white
linguistic realm and the black, two domains that exist side by side” (Gates
1571). One realm of their culture allows for them to be understood but only to
a certain extent, as Gates’ displays on page 1564. He gives the example of
students constructing a standardized test for McGraw Hill that ultimately
proved they do not speak the same language. Though it has been said before, the
students repeat what has been said already, but needs to repeat what hasn’t
been noticed before. Foucault identifies this as a paradox of commentary
(Foucault 1465). Foucault’s notion of societies of discourse can also play into
this. He defines it as a way to “function to preserve discourses, but in order
to make them circulate in a closed space, distributing them only according to
strict rules” (p. 1468).
As seen through Bizzell and Herzberg, Foucault argues that knowledge and truth are not discoverable, meaning that truth and knowledge do not exist in the world awaiting discovery or realization. What Foucault calls will to truth is his critique on “the desire to locate truth in something other than discourse itself” (Bizzell and Herzberg 1432). Foucault argues that knowledge and truth are produced through discourse—discourse is the object of desire (1461). He states, “discourse is not simply that which translates struggles or systems of domination, but is the thing for which and by which there is struggle, discourse is the power which is to be seized” (1461). With this perception, discourse is no longer merely a medium for which truth or knowledge is translated once discovered; discourse is the discovering (or producing) agent. Discourse is the site of production for truth and knowledge.
While performing a multilayer analysis of JFK’s “Ich bin Ein
Berliner” speech, I really honed in on the semiotic repetition of certain words and
structures and how those repetitions, both in terms of how they created meaning in wider contexts and how they operated on multiple levels. Our
framework included three areas: the contextual positioning of the speech in
West Berlin about 1.5 years after the wall was constructed that in some ways
drew heavily on the memory of World War II; the transtextual references to
geography, ideology (particularly patriotism and democracy), and language as a
positioning tool in terms of you versus us; and finally the intratextual levels
of ekphrasis, multilingualism (mostly German, with a bit of Latin), and
semiotic repetitions. Although this final element—semiotic repetitions—operated
primarily on an intratextual level, these repetitions in some ways work
together to emphasize (or de-emphasize) cultural ideologies and attempt to
create what McGee refers to as “the people.” In some ways, this ties in (although
imperfectly) with this week’s readings on cultural (dis)association and demonstrates
one possible interplay of exclusion, Signfiyin(g), and ideology.
As I have fallen behind in most things over the past few weeks, I will try to synthesize a few thoughts here, primarily in the spirit of acknowledging where I think our discussions have taken us (and where I think your second exploratory took you), and secondarily to mention a few things I've considered after the fact.
Before I forget: While Amy Devitt offered a comprehensive summary of "genre" -- rehearsing its definitions from work to text to situation to ecology -- there are some other terms related to last week's discussion that we never did take up in our class time (e.g., structuralism, dialogic, discourse, langue vs. parole). I include a link here to our collective whiteboard notes from the past two class sessions, with some definitions I have offered gratis and a bit off-the-cuff. For anyone still grappling with heteroglossia, I can offer you a somewhat quirky example of how I distinguish it from other polyvocal phenomena. (Really, this is one of a genre of mediated performances that demonstrate heteroglossia as a kind of rhetorical critique. You probably know of others. Enjoy.)
A recurring theme that appeared through the readings and in our exploratory this week was the psychological and rhetorical impact language had during the Enlightenment period. In Bizzell and Herzberg’s introduction to the Francis Bacon, they mention how Bacon treated “the art of communication (delivery) as the means by which knowledge is used and incorporated into social institutions” (738). In this regard, language is the foundation of communication that forms knowledge, and they argue that Bacon thought that the heuristic qualities of the writing process “are a means of investigating how our knowledge can be formulated in effective language” (739). The emphasis language has on epistemology carries into the Enlightenment period. Bizzell and Herzberg mention that many philosophers during this time “called for broad language reforms in an attempt to purify communication” (792). John Locke expanded on this connection between language and epistemology by arguing that there exists a correlation between words and ideas in which we connect words to mental perceptions and universal sensations (798). He argues the signifiers can be “culture-bound, communal, or even individual” (798). Because language acts as a signifier that produces a mental image in our minds, language should be consistent, and, according to Bizzell and Herzberg, “Locke proposed ways to purify language for philosophy” (799).
As Michael and I mentioned during our presentation, the biggest connection (or tension, perhaps) that we found with our terms during the concordance activity was between “mind” and “body.” The other terms seemed to work in/between the mind and body, constructing a relationship between external reality and mental conceptions.
I’ve been thinking quite a bit about how the Cartesian mind-body split has carried over to certain contexts in the present (even if it has been somewhat disrupted in other contexts). For example, some classrooms, disciplines, and universities still focus on the mind and do not necessarily acknowledge embodied experience as part of intellectual activity. I also find it interesting that our psychological models have not shifted all that far from the Enlightenment conceptualization of faculties of the mind. Noticing the lack of change is what caused me to pose this question during class: How might the mind’s faculties be redivided, redistributed, and/or reconceptualized based on a different (not Enlightenment) epistemology?
I found the task of working with the concordances in association with the texts this week fascinating and challenging. The collaboration and tools offered a different view of our texts and authors, and it was an illuminating to add a different perspective. To borrow from Kirsch and Royster’s, these tasks forced a “tacking in and out, through the use of critical imagination as a dialectical and dialogical analytical tool,” (655) to put texts into conversation with one another and broader contexts. The tools were a places to play as we “learn[ed] to look more systematically beyond our own contemporary values and assumptions” (Kirsch and Royster 652). The use of the tools had us examining the situated knowledge of the texts through a feminist objectivity (Haraway 188). This alternative close and long view, combined with the reading, illuminated a different reading of the texts and their situatedness, especially when thinking about inclusions and exclusions. Using these machine readings helped to illustrate the “politics and epistemologies of location, positioning, and situating, where partiality and not universality is the condition of being heard to make rational knowledge claims” (Haraway 195). The tools offered a positioning and context that broadened and deepened our views of the texts.