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A Rhet/Comp Manifesto -- "Naming What We Know"


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I should preface this post by saying that I am not ultimately a rhet/comp person, even though the field is a minor interest of mine.

That said...

I've just read what I consider to be an excellent book on the subject -- one that can be of prime importance to those teaching freshman comp in the near future, as well as one that can help communicate the importance of rhet/comp as a viable, independent field of study. Naming What We Know, edited by Linda Adler-Kassner and Elizabeth Wardle, was essentially crowd-sourced from a bunch of rhet/comp luminaries on a highfalutin Wiki forum, and the breadth of the discipline was distilled into 37 key concepts and subconcepts...all of which are discussed in individual (yet linked) articles of no more than 1000 words. The concision is impressive, considering the significance of many of the concepts. A few are seemingly self-evident, but given that the work as a whole is largely intended as a legitimization of the field, and a presentation of its essential mores, a few "it goes without saying" moments can be forgiven.

It's not a book you can go peddling door-to-door, Book of Mormon style, but I do think that it has the potential to be a game-changer if it makes it into enough hands of those who have less-than-savory thoughts about rhet/comp as its own field. Even beyond that, there is a lot of wisdom imparted in the key concepts and subconcepts, as well as the lengthier explications later in the book.

I hope this post doesn't come across as too proselytizing ("Hello! My name is Elder Wyatt, and I would like to share with you the most amazing book!"), but it's not often that I sit down with a book of theory and find myself nodding vigorously, instead of nodding off. I think a lot of you would find it very useful.

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I'm also going to put in plugs for Digital Rhetoric, by Doug Eyman, and Rhetoric and the Digital Humanities, by Bill Hart-Davidson and Jim Ridolfo.

Incidentally, Bill Hart-Davidson has one of the concepts in Naming..., dealing with genre.

 

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