Composition II ENC 1102
University of Central Florida
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Date Created: 10/22/15
ENNY EDBAUER Unframing Models of Public Distribution From Rhetorical Situation to Rhetorical Ecologies ABSTRACT Whereas earlier work on rhetorical situation focuses upon the elements of audience exigence and constraints this article argues that rhetorical situations operate within a network of lived practical consciousness or structures of feeling Placing the rhetorical elements within this wider context destabilizes the discrete borders of a rhetorical situation As an example of this wider context this article explores the public rhetoric surrounding issues ofurban sprawl in Austin Texas While public rhetorical movements can be seen as a response to the exigence of overdevelopment it is also possible to situate the exigence s evocation within a wider context of affective ecologies comprised of material experiences and public feelings Places are best thought of not so much as enduring sites but as moments ofencounter not so much as presents xed in space and time but as variable events twists and uxes of interrelation Even when the intent is to hold places still and motionless caught in a cat s cradle of networks that are out to quell unpredictability success is rare and then only for a while Grand porticos and columns framing imperial triumphs become theme parks Areas of wealth and in uence become slums iAsh Amin and Nigel Thrift Elemental Frameworks In his multifaceted description of what constitutes a public Michael Warner explains why certain notions of public communication have done us such a disservice He writes No single text can create a public Nor can a single voice a single genre or even a single medium All are insuf cient since a public is understood to be an ongoing space of encounter for discourse It is not texts themselves that create publics but the Rhetoric Society Quarterly 5 Fall1005 lVolume 35 l Number4 concatenation of texts through time Between the discourse that comes before and the discourse that comes after one must postulate some kind of link And the link has a social character it is not mere consecutiveness in time but a context of interaction 62 Warner tells us that this is why the overly simpli ed models of communicationi often represented through the triangulated terms sender receiper textiare nothing short of a conceptual paradox He continues A public seems to be selforganized by discourse but in fact requires preexisting forms and channels of circulation 7S Herein lies the paradox senderreceiver models of public communication tend to ident39 a kin of homeostatic relationship which simultaneously abstracts the operation of social links and circulation The triangle of sender receiver text misses the concatenations that come to constitute Warner s version of a pu ic Of course oversimpli ed senderreceiver models of public communication have been productively complicated by theories like Lloyd Bitzer s notion of the rhetorical situation Whichtheorizedthe contextual dimensions of rhetoric As Bitzer explains When I ask What is a rhetorical situation I want to know the nature of those contexts in which speakers or writers create rhetorical discourse Rhetorical 382 This starting point places the question of rhetoriciand the de ning characteristic of rhetoricalnessisquarely within the scene of a situational context In his explicit de nition Bitzer writes that a rhetorical situation is a natural context of persons events objects relations and an exigence which strongly invites utterances 385 As many commentators of Bitzer have pointed out his de nition locates exigencies in the external conditions of material and social circumstances Bitzer imself tells us that exigencies are located in reality are objective and publicly observable historic facts in the world we experience are therefore available for scrutiny by an observer or critic who attends to them Rhetoric 390 emphasis mine In Bitzer s schema rhetoricians answer an invitation to solve a problem through discourse which is then rendered as rhetorical discourse Richard Vatz s infamous critique against Bitzer s realism chal enges the notion that exigencies exist in any autonomous sense Whereas Bitzer suggests that the rhetor discoltvers exigencies that already exist Vatz argues that exigencies are created for audiences through the rhetor s wor In yet another critique of Bitzer Craig Smith and Scott Lybarger argue that rhetorical situation involves a plurality of exigencies and complex relations between the audience and a rhetorician s interest In this way Smith and Lybarger revise Bitzer s relatively autonomous notion of exigence by making it more interactive with other elements of the situation They offer an example of this reconceptualized situation in their analysis of two 1989 speeches from President George Bush concerning the war 011 drugs Using 6 Rhetoric Society Quarterly a modi ed version of Bitzer s model Smith and Lybarger identify three main elements of Bush s speeches exigences audiences and constraints At the time of these speeches they write polls reported that the public felt drug abuse was a serious problem Media reports helped increase the interest in the problem by providing direct knowledge of it Bush took advantage of an attitude that the press reinforced 203 Accordingly this public concern constrained Bush s choices of which public exigences to address in his of cial attention At the same time of course Bush s articulation of the drug crisis helped to reinforce this exigence as a rhetorical problem that must be addressed Smith and Lybarger emphasize the mutuality of exigence from the positions of rhetorician and audience re ecting how both elements help to create the sense of problem This is a careful modi cation of Bitzer s model in that the authors link the articulation of exigences to multiple agents and constraints In short Bitzer s theories as well as the critiques and modi cations like those above have generated a body of scholarship that stretches our own notions of rhetorical publicness into a contextual framework that permanently troubles senderreceiver models Returning to Warner for just a moment however we might still ask whether notions of rhetorical situation adequately account for the constitutive circulation of rhetoric in the social eld Do theories of rhetorical situation allow us to theorize how concatenation of texts through time help to create publics Barbara Biesecker s critique of these models suggests that perhaps the answer is no According to Biesecker the problem with many takes on rhetorical situation is their tendency to conceptualize rhetoric within a scene of alreadyformed alreadydiscrete individuals For Biesecker this problem can be seen in the way these models often treat audience as a ratherunproblematic and obvious site The trouble she writes is that i we posit the audience of any rhetorical event as no more than a conglomeration of subjects whose identity is xed prior to the rhetorical event itself then the power of rhetoric is circumscribed it has the potency to in uence an audience to realign their allegiances but not to form new identities 111 Here we arrive at an underexplored line of inquiry into one of rhetoric s most familiar and most revered theoreticalpedagogical paradigms Biesecker s critique points to the way in which various models of rhetorical situation tend to describe rhetoric as a totality of discrete elements audience rhetor exigence constraints and text In other words despite their differences these various takes on rhetorical situation tend to be rooted in the views of rhetorics as elemental conglomerations Louise Weatherbee Phelps proposes a similar critique in her argument that many theories of discourse and by extension we could also say of Edbauer I Rhetorical Ecologies 7 rhetoric represent discourse as a set of discrete components units and correlated functions based on variations and elaborations of the traditional communication triangle 60 Rhetoric and discourse thus become conceptualized as a collection of elementsioften called by such names as speakeraudiencemessage ethospathoslogos or rhetoraudience constraintsexigence Although such elementbased theories of discourse have important explanatory power continues Phelps there is also great power in describing how an element eg the writer as ethos is discriminatedfrom a wc and perceived as invariant stable and autonomous Natural and traditional categories acquire greater depth and scope when we temporalize them interpret them as metaphors expand their range of variation multiply their interpretants pursue their logic to the limit or treat them in historical institutional terms 60 emphasis mine Rather than seeing rhetoric as the totality of its discrete elements Phelps critique seeks to recontextualize those elements in a wider sphere of active historical and lived processes That is the elements of a rhetorical situation can be reread against the historical uxes in which they move While the incarnations of rhetorical situation create complex frameworks for understanding a rhetoric s operation in a particular social scene therefore both Biesecker and Phelps interrogate the effects of building a model around a conglomeration of distinct elements in relation to one another The weakness of conglomeration models is tacitly exposed in Smith and Lybarger s analysis of Bush s war on drugs speeches for instance When Smith and Lybarger discuss the exigences involved in t e war on drugs they point to audience perceptions Bush s speeches media images and the various constraints of all participants They emphasize the important role that perception plays since each au 39tor will have a perception of the rhetor and the message in addition to a perception of the issues which means that rhetorical communication is always in a state of ux that requires the critic to move beyond the strict realism of Bitzer 200 The exigence is more like a complex of various audiencespeaker perceptions and institutional or material constraints Indeed because exigencies are everywhere shot through with perceptions 197 there can be no pure exigence that does not involve various mixes of felt interests Their analysis thus suggests a problem of location the exigence does not exist per se but is instead an amalgamation of processes and encounters concerns about safe neighborhoods media images encounters of everyday life in certain places concerns about reelection articulations of problems and the circulation of those articulations and so forth The exigence is not properly located in any element of the model Instead what we dub exigence is more like a shorthand way of describing a series of events The 8 Rhetoric Society Quarterly rhetorical situation is part of what we might call borrowing from Phelps an ongoing social ux Situation bleeds into the concatenation of public interaction Public interactions bleed into wider social processes The elements ofrhetorical situation simply bleed In order to rethink rhetorical publicness as a context of interaction therefore this article proposes an augmentation to our popular conceptual frameworks of rhetorical situation Rather than primarily speaking of rhetoric through the terministic lens of conglomerated elements I look towards a framework of a ectipe ecologies that recontextualizes rhetorics in their temporal historical and lived uxes In what follows I want to propose a revised strategy for theorizing public rhetorics and rhetoric s publicness as a circulating ecology of effects enactments and events by shifting the lines of focus from rhetorical situation to rhetorical ecologies Like Biesecker Phelps and Warner I want to add the dimensions of history and movement back into our visionsversions of rhetoric s public situations reclaiming rhetoric from arti cially elementary frameworks While one framework does not undermine the other I argue that this ecological model allows us to more fully theorize rhetoric as a publics creation Situs Situation and the Idea of Place We might begin this conceptual augmentation by exploring some etymological tropes that remain buried within our popular theories Consider the following tracking the Latin roots of situation brings us to the key words situare and situs both of which resonate with our de nitions for location site and place The Latin word situs is closely tied to the originary position of objects Signi cantly this term still has currency in legal vocabulary as reference to the places in which a crime or accident occurs or the location of property By de nition then situs implies a bordered xed spacelocation Consequently the concept of rhetorical situation is appropriately named insofar as the models of rhetorical situation describe the scene of rhetorical action as located around the exigence that generates a response We thus nd a connection between certain models of rhetorical situation and a sense of place But the public existence of situs is complicated As Steven Shaviro points out in Connected the social does not reside in xed sites but rather in a networked space of ows and connections The predominant form of human interaction is networking he writes 131 Moreover this networked life is a matter of actual historicallyshaped forces of ows themselves Shaviro explains The network is not a disembodied information pattern nor a system of frictionless pathways over which any message whatsoever can be neutrally conveyed Rather the force of all messages as they accrete oltver time determines the very shape of Edbauer I Rhetorical Ecologies 9 the network The meaning of a message cannot be isolated from its mode of propagation from the way it harasses me attacks me or parasitically invades me 24 emphasis mine Temporarily bracketing the rather ominous perspective that Shaviro brings to this sense of connection we and t at networks involve a different kind of habitation in the social field To say that we are connected is another way of saying that we are never outside the networked interconnection of forces energies rhetorics moods and experiences In ot er words our practical consciousness is never outside the prior and ongoing structures of feeling that shape the social field At the same time lifeasnetwork also means that the social field is not comprised of discrete sites but from events that are shifting and moving grafted onto and connected with other events According to Shaviro The space of networks can be exhilarating disorienting or oppressive but in any case it is quite different from the space of places 131 Our sense of place tends to remain rooted in an imaginary that describes communities as a collection of discrete elements like houses families yards streets and neighborhoods Nevertheless Shaviro explains that place should be characterized less in terms of this sense of community discrete elements taken together and more in the interactions between those elementsitheir encounters in the crease and folds What s crucial about the space of places is rather something other than community the fact that in large urban agglomerations networking is less important than contact the serendipitous encounters between strangers These sorts of encounters happen in the pedestrianfriendly spaces of older large cities The space of places is less that of nostalgically idealized traditional communities than that of turbulent urban modernity 132133 In this way place becomes decoupled from the notion of situs or xed series of locations and linked instead to the inbetween enaction of events and encounters Place becomes a space of contacts which are always changing and never discrete The contact between two people on a busy city street is never simply a matter of those two bodies rather the two bodies carry with them the traces of effects from whole fields of culture and social histories This is what it means to say that the social field is networked connected rather than a matter of place sites and home The notion of place has also recently become much more complicated in the theoretical frameworks of both cultural geographers and rhetoricians In Geographies of Writing for example Nedra Reynolds argues that it is important to understand geographies as embodied and how the process of social construction of space occurs at the level of the body not just at the level of the city or street or nation 143 What we normally take as sites I0 Rhetoric Society Quarterly are not only comprised in a situs or fixed location Reynolds explains that these sites are made up of affective encounters experiences and moods that cohere around material spaces This is why sites are notjust seen but perhaps even more so they are felt 147 She gives the example of certain students with whom she worked during her study in Great Britain When questioned about their city the students had no trouble at all identifying the bad and good parts of town Although these goodbad sites may even have fairly solid boundary markers east of the freeway downtown southside of town we might argue that these sites are not only comprised as such through their location or collection of elements Instead they obtain their descriptions as goodbad sites from the affective and embodied experiences that circulate feelings of fear or comfort for instance Even in those spaces that are more obvious examples of bordered sites we nd it increasingly dif cult to speak in terms of xed place Take the example of cities which cultural geographers Ash Amin and Nigel Thrift thoroughly rework in Cities Reimagining the Urban According to Amin and Thrift Contemporary cities are certainly not systems with their own internal coherence The city s boundaries have become far too permeable and stretched both geographically and socially for it to be theorized as a w ole T e city has no completeness no centre no fixed parts Instead it is an amalgam of often disjointed processes and social heterogeneity a place of near and far connections a concatenation of rhythms 8 emphasis The city itself is less a situs say Amin and Thrift than a certain way of processing In fact it may be more appropriate to rethink city less as a noun implying a situs and more of a verb as in to city We do city rather than exist in the city Amin and Thrift argue that cities are more about movements and processes than the elements that materially construct their borders They explain We certainly take circulation to be a central characteristic of the city Cities exist as a means of movement as means to engineer encounters through collection transport and collation They produce thereby a complex pattern of traces a threadwork of intensities 81 Amin and Thrift thus move away from the sitemodel framework of urban spaces which renders the city as a kind of container for the unique elements that the city envelops The sitemodel would imagine for example that Austin is a container for the local elements within a given space much as New York is a container for another set of local elements Talking about those two different cities merely involves talking about the different elements held by the same kind of container called city New York might thus be described as containing more diverse population elements than Austin or perhaps Austin could be described as a container for more conservative political elements Yet Amin Edbauerl Rhetorical Ecologies I I and Thrift suggest that the cityascontainer does not adequately describe the city as an amalgam ofprocesses or as a circulation of encounters and actions Rather than relying upon the container metaphor therefore they offer up an ecological metaphor in order to read the city It is only by moving beyond the slower times of the city s built fabriciwhich seem to form a containerito the constant to and fro of the movements which sustain that fabric that we can begin to understand what a city is T e city becomes a kind of weather system a rapidly varying distribution of intensities 83 Though cities are indeed sites or can even be described in terms of borders boundaries and containers Amin and Thrift suggest that these sites the situs are sustained by the amalgam of processes which can be described in ecological terms of varying intensities of encounters and interactionsimuch like a weather system From Situs to Distribution What does this discussion of cities and sites have the do with the rhetorical situation For one thing we find in the early models of rhetorical situation a notion of rhetoric as taking place as if the rhetorical situation is one in which we can visit through a mapping of various elements the relevant persons events objects exigence and utterances But this placebased perspective becomes troubled when attend to the ecological models that cultural theorists such as Shaviro Reynolds and Amin and Thrift have developed alongside sitespecific models of social processes In The Wealth ofReality An Ecology of Composition Margaret Syverson performs one such alternative framework by arguing that writing is a radically distributed act rather than an isolated act of creation among individual elements According to Syverson The knowledge involved in writing depends on activities and communications shared in interactions not on y among people but also interactions between people and various structures in the environment from physical landmarks to technological instruments to graphical representations Our theories of composition have been somewhat atomistic focusing on individual writers individual texts isolated acts processes or artifacts 8 Syverson argues that rhetoric and composition has posited a triangle of writer text and audience which has tended to single out the writer the text or the audience as the focus of analysis 23 This isolated view fails to highlight what Syverson calls the emergent ecological process of writing Rather than focusing on the familiar triangle that places various elements into a static relation with the other elements Syverson maintains that we can speak of the distribution of text composing across physical social psychological I2 Rhetoric Society Quarterly spatial and temporal dimensions The social dimensions of composition are distributed embodied emergent and enactive 23 Syverson s ecological approach places the scene of writing into a eld that is distributed and socially situated Writing is thus more than a matter of discrete elements audience a writer text tools ideas in static relation to one another a writer types her ideas into a computer for an audience who reads the text Rather writing is distributed across a range of processes and encounters the event of using a keyboard the encounter of a writing body within a space of discomfort the events of writing in an apatheticenergeticdistantclose group A vocabulary of distribution points to how those elements are enacted and lived how they are put into use and what change comes from the inprocessesness itself1 Much like Syverson has done in her own work we can tune to a model of public rhetoric that sets its sights across a wider social eld of distribution Such attunement is important if we want to account for rhetoric s public operation in the social eld That is if we are to explore how rhetoric circulates in a practical consciousness of a present kind in a living and interrelating continuity as Raymond Williams puts it 132 we need a model that allows us to discuss such movement Rather than imagining the rhetorical situation in a relatively closed system this distributed or ecological focus might begin to imagine the situation within an open network Returning to Amin and Thrift s notion of a city as a weather system or an agglomeration of processes we recall how we saw that city might better be conceptualized in terms of a verbias in to cityias opposed to a noun This grammatical oddity parallels the ways we speak in terms of rhetoric as a verb we do rhetoric rather than just nding ourselves in a rhetoric By extension we might also say that rhetorical situation is better conceptualized as a mixture of processes and encounters it should become a verb rather than a xed noun or situs This kind of foregrounding within an affective eld offers the possibility of a vocabulary that reveals a wider context for public rhetorics To borrow another conceptual metaphor we are speaking about the ways in which rhetorical processes operate within a viral economy The intensity force and circulatory range of a rhetoric are always expanding through the mutations and new exposures attached to that given rhetoric much like a virus An ecological or a ectipe rhetorical model is one that reads rhetoric both as a process of distributed emergence and as an ongoing circulation process Deleuze and Guattari give us one example of such an affective rhetoric in their introduction to A Thousand Plateaus where they write about the becoming of evolutionary processes that happen between two or more species Rather than a hierarchical transmission of genetic information evolution involves a kind of sharing and an emergence that happens in the inbetween of species This is what Remy Chauvin describes as an aparallel evolution of two beings that have absolutely nothing to do with each other quoted in Deleuze and Guattari 10 For example write Deleuze and Guattari Edbauer I Rhetorical Ecologies I 3 Consider Benveniste and Todaro s current research on a type C virus with its double connection to baboon DNA and the DNA of certain kinds of domestic cats There is an aparallel eltvolution between the baboon and the cat it is obvious that they are not models or copies of each other a becomingbaboon of the cat does not mean that the cat plays baboon T ransfers of genetic material by viruses of through other procedures fusions of cells originating in different species have results analogous to those of the abominable couplings dear to antiquity and the Middle Ages Transversal communication between different lines scramble the genealogical trees 1011 The image of a viralgenetic connection between baboon and cat two beings that in Chauvin s words have absolutely nothing to do with each other suggests a new kind of model for thinking of rhetoric s transversal communication and travel in the world A given rhetoric is not contained by the elements that comprise its rhetorical situation exigence rhetor audience constraints Rather a rhetoric emerges already infected by the viral intensities that are circulating in the social eld Moreover this same rhetoric will go on to evolve in aparallel ways between two species that have absolutely nothing to do with each other What is shared between them is not the situation but certain contagions and energy This does not mean the shared rhetoric reproduces copies or models of original situations any more than the shared C virus turns a cat into a baboon Instead the same rhetoric might manage to infect and connect various processes events and bodies Situations Unbound City Problens In order to explore what this shifted emphasis on rhetorical ecologies might look like in our scholarship I would like to take an example of a public rhetoric from my a opted Texas hometown Austin When I first moved to Austin in 1992 the economy was less than ideal While Austin is a place of state government affairs and bureaucracy the city economy was far from being competitive with larger Texas cities like Dallas or Houston Few graduates from the University of Texas remained in Austin for the jobs you stayed because you loved Austin2 But this all changed in the mid to late 1990s when the technology boom brought new infrastructure into the city Thanks to an onslaught of dot com startup companies in the area as well as bigger companies like Dell Computers Austin quickly became a major player in the technology sector The city earned the nickname Silicon Hills which echoed its close connection with the technologically saturated areas known as Silicon Valley and Silicon Alley Almost overnight Austin became a major player in the nancial and technological sector As a result of this growth Austin experienced signi cant changes to its entire economy Not only did the city s population explode but real estate I4 Rhetoric Society Quarterly prices and median income also began to climb According to a 2002 city council whitepaper on Austin economic development Local economic growth in Austin has been extraordinary in recent years A combination of corporate relocations and expansions rapid population growth extensive investment in technology and Internetrelated startups and the meteoric rise of Dell helped make Austin among the ve fastest growing metropolitan areas in the United States over the last decade Since 1990 per capita personal income has risen from 18092 to 32039 during 2000 more than 280000 jobs have been created and the average price of a home sold has grown from 87600 to a current estimate of 199500 a gain of almost 130 percent Austin s Economic Future Because of the grth in income levels and a more professional population many large chain stores began to view Austin as a viable market for retail outlets like Home Depot Barnes and Nobel Starbucks Target Borders and other big box franchises Locally owned businesses in Austin quickly began to feel the sting of increased rents in those areas that had previously been affordable Higher costs of operation forced many smaller local businesses to either move outside of their longestablished sites in central Austin or close down business completely Sound Exchange a popular local record store in the heart of central Austin commonly referred to as the Drag is one example of a business that was forced to shut down its operation due to higher rent Whereas Sound Exchange s rent had previously been 2800 throughout the 1990s the new lease in 2003 climbed to 4369 per month Gross After serving as one of the most unique independent record stores in Austin since 1977 Sound Exchange nally closed its doors in January 2003 The business was quickly replaced by Baja Fresh Mexican Grill a national fast food chain In Austin the experience of Sound Exchange is hardly unusual As journalist Lacey Tauber writes in a story for the Austin Independent Media Center about local businesses along the Dra On the south end Captain Quackenbush s aka Quack s coffee house moved out more than two years ago to Hyde Park The smell of incense no longer wafts down the street from the Aframe of Good Gawd what used to be a lledtoover owing vintage and costume shop now relocated to South Lamar Banzai Japanese and sushi restaurant and its smiling Buddha mural are nowhere to be found In their place sits the new home of Diesel clothing company a branch of a major corporation that can set shoppers back more than 130 for a pair of jeans Continuing up the Drag more corporate faces appear A longvacant area is now home to Chipotle Mexican Grill a business that is partially owned Edbauer I Rhetorical Ecologies by the McDonalds corporation where the old Texas Textbooks once stood 39lyler s shoe and beach shop displays a giant Nike logo ls Austin slowly Losing its Character9quot By the time I began teaching rstryear writing at The University of Tex s in 1 e Drag s main businesses consisted of The G 39 N o o r o to sense the palpable transformation that was moving throughout the city n wo local businesses Boo People Bookstore and Waterloo gainst the city s p an to give taxrbreaks for a arge Borders Bookstore to open up i ectly across from the two shops According to Steve Bercu the owner of BookPeople I w s talking with the owner of Waterloo Records about our from our stores I suggested that said Keep Austin Weirdquot put both our logos on them and then give em away at our stores We decided that we should buy 5000 stickers and see what our customers thought Bercu another 10000 and then 25000 stickers Almost a year later nearly 60000 stickers had been distributed Soon enough other Austin businesses joined individual logos on front and the same Keep Austin Weird logo on the back The phrase Keep Austin Weird quickly passed into the city s cultural circulation taking on the importance of a quasi 39vic duty One pledge pi h for a local public radio station told listeners You too can Work towards keeping Austin weird y p e 39ng to keep KOOP Radio 917FM onrtherairquot In certain parts of Austin it is nearly impossible to go for very long without nding some display ofthe slogan on a trshirt bumper sticker tote bag mug Rhe tone Socaety Quarterly or a local business s billboard vowing to keep it weird Ironically enough the injunction to Keep Austin Weird has even erupted at the level of city politics In a 2002 white paper on Austin s economic development the city council formally acknowledged the reality of weird Austin and its effect on the life of the city itself Quality of life an umbrella term that loosely covers variables such as recreational and cultural amenities overall cost of living diversity of local residents and a sense of p ace is an increasingly important asset This is especially the case in Austin where there is a strong sense that the above factors combine in a unique and special way Austin s Economic Future The white paper footnotes that this strong sense of uniqueness is encapsulated in the popular bumper sticker Keep Austin Weird Austin s Economic Future With this public incorporation of the slogan the city council legitimated the rather intangible weirdness as a very real element of Austin s everyday existence At this point one familiar question seems appropriate What is the rhetorical situation here Using Bitzer s model of rhetorical situation to read Austin s weird rhetoric we might describe the big box in ux as in the eyes of many Austinites an exigence or an imperfection marked by urgency Certain rhetorical bodies involved in this scene like BookPeople and Waterloo chose to make the exigence salient by evoking it speci cally as a problem to a number of audiencesiAustin residents city government etc There were also a number of constraints upon antibig boxers including a reluctance to be seen as undermining free and fair competition While this is only one possible and quite truncated reading of this scene s rhetorical situation we can already begin to see how this model can be useful for reading the complex relation of elements within public scenes But at the same time we can also bracket these analytical terms in order to bring something else into focus the lived inprocess operations of this rhetoric Here we re simply shifting eld and ground of the same scene Because the rhetoric of weirdness is distributed through ecologies that expand beyond audiencerhetorexigence we begin to see more about its public operation by bracketing these terms for a moment Consider the ways in which this rhetoric has circulated in the social eld The original rhetoric has been expanded in the course of new calls which adopt the phrase and transform it to t other purposes The University of Texas Liberal Arts college gives away shirts that are very similar to the weird shirts though they feature the slogan Keep Austin Liberal Arts in place of the earlier motto Likewise the Austin Public Library circulated many popular bumper stickers that also kept the same weird font but instead featuring the words Edbauer I Rhetorical Ecologies I7 Keep Austin Reading Similarly new businesses that emerged as replacements of older local businesses have begun to adopt the Keep Austin Weird slogan as advertisement Older businesses too have started using the phrase as a way of promoting themselves in local publications Even the corporate giant Cingular Wireless has created an advertisement in local publications that prominently features the phrase Keepin Austin Weird beside their corporate logo The obvious irony in Cingular s use of this phrase relates to the weird slogan s origination in a movement against big business and nonlocal corpor ate interests in Austin These various rhetorics overlap through a kind of shared contagion though the calls for local business support the promotion of Liberal Arts and the encouragement of literacy are hardly overlapping in terms of their exigencies or even their audiences At the same time of course the weird rhetoric receives an increased circulation through these kinds of affective transmission TIMh Aunin errn For over 30 voarx 2 a Rb Stneet Antists Manket Open Bani Dusk with the best selection on Saturdays Rhetoric Society Quarterly even me mareann x39 Papulzr cauneenelagnne mnnzge m x ustrzte Th mhewen39d metancs afAuxtm nddta the weird nnemnc ecamy unmugn s afextended pmnmxty a pnmce af mmre and encaunter Dmnbunan cancatenatmn encwunQEr Thu pubhc scene farce us mm a when md fumewark af exchm esi mm 2an bleeds me elements af nnemncnl ntuahan 1ndeeddne nEDJEItzenzn madels cmnat accaunt m me undenmnnane an a a nythe mud em but am 1121 nc call is currde cumlnnng an slums md cm 12 Ismacked and pushed ennn 1nd chanbuted names pumases md mmmhanzl Spaces 12 mrcuhtes m a Edhaurz RhetmmzlEchDae w wide ecology of rhetorics To play off Shaviro s words the force of messages as they accrete over time determine the shape of public rhetorics A New Model Distributed Rhetorical Eoolo ie Althou the standard models of rhetorical situation can tell us much about the elements that are involved in a particular situation these same models can also mask the uidity of rhetoric Rhetorical situations involve the amalgamation and mixture of many different events and happenings that are not properly segmented into audience text or rhetorician We must therefore consider whether our popular models re ect the fullness of rhetoric s opera tion in public Rhetorical ecologies are coordinating processes moving across the same social eld and within shared structures of feeling The original call of Austin s weird rhetoric for example has been affected by the actions events and encounters that form small events loosely joined 3 as a kind 0 rhetoricalevent neighborhood Even when a multinational corporation like Cingular coopts the phrase placing it within a completely antithetical context from its origin we find that Cingular s rhetoric adds to the original rhetoric of weirdness in Austin They mark two different situations of courseicom plete with different exigence audience rhetors and constraints But Cingu lar s rhetoric coordinates within the same neighborhood as the anticorporate rhetoric Thus in the course of this evolution the weird rhetoric receives what we might call an extended halflife in its range of circulation and visibil ity as well as a changed shape force and intensity Like a neighborhood the amalgamation of events can both extend the street s visibility or impact and its very contours Consequently though rhetorical situation models are undeniably help ful for thinking of rhetoric s contextual character they fall somewhat short when accounting for the amalgamations and transformationsithe spreadiof a given rhetoric within its wider ecology Rather than replacing the rhetorical situation models that we have found so useful however an ecological augmen tation adopts a view toward the processes and events that extend beyond the limited boundaries of elements One potential value of such a shifted focus is the way we view counterrhetorics issues of cooptation and strategies of rhetorical production and circulation Moreover we can begin to recognize t e way rhetorics are held together transsituationally as well as the effects of transsituationality on rhetorical circulation As urban scholar Helen Liggett writes presentations of situation can be understood as somewhat open ended processes involving relays and connections that are both theoretical and practical 2 In other words we begin to see that public rhetorics do not only exist in the elements of their situations but also in the radius of their neighboring events By shifting the ground and field in this manner we add the dimension of movement back into our discussions of rhetoric Brian Massumi illuminates 20 Rhetoric Society Quarterly the dilemma of movement s absence in our theories When positioning of any kind comes a determining rst in our theories movement comes a problem atic second Movement is entirely subordinated to the positions it connects The very notion of movement as qualitative transformation is therefore lacking 3 We hear echoes of Biesecker s critique here that rhetorical situ ation too often imagines an audience as a conglomeration of subjects whose identity is xed prior to the rhetorical event itself which circumscribes the power of rhetoric as movement Massumi s hope is that movement sensation and qualities of experience couched in matter in its most literal sense and sensing might be culturally theoretically thinkable without falling into either na39139ve realism or subjectivism and without contradicting the very real insights of poststructuralist cultural theory concerning the coextensiveness of culture with the eld of experience and of power with culture 4 Our rhetorical theories can thus acknowledge the affective channels of rhetori cal communication and operation by testifying to them Such testimonies would invent new concepts and deploy them in order to theorize how publics are also created through affective channels Producing Rhetorical Pedagogies One implication of conceiving rhetorics in ecological or eventfull terms relates to rhetoric and composition pedagogies More speci cally I argue that this augmented framework can emerge at the level of production In her dis cussion of classrooms as potentially protopublic bodies Rosa Eberly argues that rhetoric is a process not a substance that inheres in the collection of traits within a given text Instead she continues Rhetoric is thus not only understood but practiced as the powerful architectonic productive art that it is 293 Emphasizing production should not mean falling into the trap of real vs arti cial writing situations but instead should stress the ways in which rhetorical productions are inseparable from lived encounters of public life Richard Marback calls this inseparability a material theory of rhetoric which would articulate the impact of material and representational practices on each other 87 The kinds of pedagogies I would like to pursue attune to this mutuality of material practice embodied experience and discursive rep resentation that operate in public spaces every day By way of concluding my discussion I want to brie y highlight one way that this ecological publicness can inform our pedagogical practices in order to place greater emphasis on production in the classroom Whereas research is often considered by students and even some teach ers as a process leading to public production and circulation a means to an end so to speak we can look to the logics of a generative research method Edbauer I Rhetorical Ecologies ZI that takes the circulation of effects as an aim Some of the most compelling live examples of generative research are city blogs or weblogs often written by individuals that track the life of a place through images text comments and links to relevant stories and sites Take the example of G Schindler s photoblog which documents the life of Austin and its urban spaces through images The blog writer or blogger tracks the city in what we might rec ognize as a kind of localresearchinthewild Schindler is a stalker of sorts documenting local places without any other telos beyond the documentation itself His images are unframed by eXtra commentary or descriptions allowing the reader to simply drift through the city in a kind of deri ve Through his im ages of signs storefronts abandoned couches and handmade lost pet yers Schindler captures the eXtraordinary details of life in the city Instead of attempting to give readers the true version of Austin he documents his own encounters within the city Images from Schindler s photoblog l Call it generative research These encounters can be tracked among stu dent users as an example of how representations of place like Austin are constructed discursively visually affectively and linkfully Moreover because this kind of documentation is public often open to comments and citation in other blogs and websites the research grows in social waves The networked nature of blogs puts research into a circulation that becomes linked put to other uses transformed In fact without such citation and use by others a blog is as good as dead After a bit of caveating we might even dub it an act of open source research eXposing the myth of research as a personal process that only later leads to a public teXt The photoblog s logic turns documenta tion into a kind of social production in itself Rather than thinking only in terms of audience purpose clarity and information therefore the logic of the photoblog focuses on the e ects and concatenations of our local ecologies Bringing this logic into the realm of our own rhetorical pedagogy we are reminded that rhetoricallygrounded educa tion can mean something more than learning how to decode elements analyze 22 Rhetoric Society Quarterly texts and thinking about public circulations of rhetoric It can also engage processes and encounters Not learning by doing but thinking by doing Or better yet thinkingdoingiwith a razor thin slash mark barely keeping the two terms from bleeding into each other This is a rethinking of the in order to later model where students learn methods skills and research in order to later produce at other sites other sites in the university or workplace for example This oneway ow can be radically revised in everyday settings where rhetorical ecologies are already spatially affectively and conceptually in practice As Eberly puts it rhetoric matters because rhetoriciwhich demands engagement with the liltvingiis the process through which texts are not only produced but also understood to matter 296 emphasis mine This mattering is not fully explained only by a text s elemental properties but also in the sense of material e ects and processes When we approach a rheto ric that does indeed engage with the living hooking into the processes that are already in play then we nd ourselves theorizing rhetorical publicness We nd ourselves engaging a public rhetoric whose power is not circumscribed or delimited We encounter rhetoric English Department The Pennsylvania State University Notes I would like to thank Diane Davis Jeff Rice and Collin Brooke for their feed back on earlier drafts of this article 1 Perhaps we can rephrase this notion of distribution in terms of music the lived experience of listening to a song cannot be framed only in terms of its constituent parts the experience also includes the distributed processes of earingiand in my apartment with the bass turned up even feeling the song 2 Jokes used to circulate about Austin being the only city in the United States where the 711 employees also happened to have PhDs 3 Here I purposefully play off David Weinberger s Small Pieces Loosely Joined which makes a similar kind of argument about networking and social ecologies Works Cited Amin Ash and N Thrift Cities Reimagining the Urban Polity Cambridge 2002 Bercu Steve Letter to the Editor Keep Everywhere Weird Publishers Weekly Dec 5 2003 lthttpprintgooglecomprintjdocarticleidf3yp x1QKhYEgt Edbauer I Rhetorical Ecologies Z3 Biesecker Barbara A Rethinking the Rhetorical Situation from Within the Thematic of Diff rance Philosophy and Rhetoric 222 1989 11030 Bitzer Lloyd F The Rhetorical Situation Philosophy and Rhetoric 11 1968 114 City of Austin Austin s Economic Future November 20 2002 lthttp wwwciaustin txusredevelopmentjwl1itepaper1htn1gt Deleuze Gilles and F Guattari A Thousand Plateaus Capitalism and c izophrenia University of Minnesota Press Minneapolis 1987 Eberly Rosa A Rhetoric and the AntiLogos Doughball Teaching Deliberat ing Bodies the Practices of Participatory Democracy Rhetoric amp Public Affairs 52 2002 287300 Gross Joe Say Goodbye to Sound Exchange AustinAmerican Statesman 9 January 2003 1112 Liggett Helen Urban Encounters University of Minnesota Press Minneapolis Marback Richard Detroit and the Closed Fist Toward a Theory of Material etoric Rhetoric Reltvieltw 171 1998 7491 Massumi Brian Parables for the Virtual Moltvement A ect Sensation Duke University Press Durham 2002 Phelps Louise W Composition as a Human Science Oxford University Press New York 1988 Reynolds Nedra Geographies of Writing Inhabiting Places and Encounter ing Di erence Southern Illinois University Press Carbondale 2004 Schindler G ltl1ttpwwwgscl1indlercomblogl1tmgt Shaviro Steven Connected or What it Means to Live in the Network Society University of Minnesota Press Minneapolis 2003 Smith Craig R and Scott Lybarger Bitzer s Model Reconstructed Commu nication Quarterly 442 1996 197213 Syverson M A The Wealth ofReality An Ecology of Composition Southern Illinois University Press Carbondale 1999 Tauber Lacey Is Austin Slowly Losing its Character Austin Independent Media Center 04 Dec 2002 lthttpaustinindymediaorgnewswire display9888indexphpgt Vatz Richard The Myth of the Rhetorical Situation Philosophy and Rheto ric 6 1973 154161 Warner Michael Publics and Counterpublics Public Culture 141 2002 4971 Williams Raymond Marxism and Literature Oxford Oxford University Press 1977 24 Rhetoric Society Quarterly Copyright of RSQ 939 t 39 39 39 4 4 39 39 h uarterly 139 39 39 39 39 39 L 39 39 L in certain cases Content may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a 39 39 39 39 39 39 Hnwe er users may print download or email articles for individual use
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