New Media 3.2: Some more CSS positioning

Today in class I want to show you a few more CSS fundamentals, including floats and fixed positioning. Like last class, I have sent out a .zip folder with a files we can use.

In class I am going to follow this 3 column responsive layout from CodeOpen. You can also use a similar tutorial on page 387 of the Robbins.

Here is an updated reminder of the rubric for project one:

  • Image quality (at least one purposely cropped image)
  • Links that work
  • HTML is W3C compliant (it validates, or if it doesn’t validate, there are minor errors)
  • Every .html page shares one .css sheet
  • Every .html page has at least a header and a footer
  • Code uses at least one span and at least one class
  • Uses a Web Font
  • Uses a .css reset
  • Thought-provoking, non-trivial, juxtapositions
  • Beyond quotation, offers some kind of understanding of Ulmer (either in the project, or in an introduction/preface, or in an afterword, or in an about page)
  • Uses color strategically
  • Demonstrates the ability to position images and includes alt tags
  • Thinks about and executes layout
  • Upload to USF server space

Homework

For homework, upload at least one .html file to your USF server space.

Rhetorical Theory 3.2 / Rhetorical Appeals and the SOTU

In today’s class:

  • A brief introduction to a few rhetorical techniques (10 minutes)
  • Time to read and analyze the SOTU address (20 minutes)
  • Discuss the SOTU (30 minutes)
  • Tweet/Discuss Halloran and Sullivan (13 minutes)
  • Homework

Rhetorical Techniques and the State of the Union Address

Because I monopolized all of our last class lecturing on Aristotle, I wanted to hand today’s class over to you. I’m going to give you about 20 minutes to read through Obama’s State of the Union address. The point of this exercise isn’t so much to focus on what Obama is saying, as much as how he is saying it. Let’s pay attention to the following.

In short, how does this speech generate the three primary rhetorical appeals: logos, ethos, and pathos?

I am particularly interested in the SOTU because it is a weird amalgam of all three branches of rhetoric: to the extent that it sets a vision for future policy, it is deliberative and to the extent that it reviews recent accomplishments, it is judicial. Overall, of course, it is largely an epideictic endeavor: one reinforces a particular notion of what it means to be an American.

So, what are the rhetorical techniques to which we should pay attention?

  • Inartistic Proof
  • Artistic Proof (Enthymeme or Paradigm)
  • Balance and Antithesis (when a statement is constructed
  • Repetition (either of a particular term or grammatical pattern)
  • Division (put simply, where a speaker makes a binary opposition / this or that
  • Analogy (whether metaphor or simile)
  • Imagery

As you and your partner read through the SOTU, be on the lookout for these techniques. Also, mark off any passages that seem significant or interesting to you and we can discuss them as a group.

Homework

There’s three articles for homework (by Jarratt, Carter, and McComiskey; all three deal with sophistry). There will be a quiz-like-thing on Tuesday on those articles and the Halloran and Sullivan (nothing to freak out about–if you have done the reading, you should do fine on the quiz).

Rhetorical Theory 3.1 / Aristotle

Today we have to sift through quite a bit of Aristotle. I want to:

  • Discuss Aristotle’s orientation toward rhetoric
  • Identify the major branches of rhetoric
  • Identify the primary rhetorical appeals
  • Identify the five “canons” of rhetoric
  • Explicate a few key terms

Aristotle’s Orientation Toward Rhetoric

A few questions:

  • What does it mean that rhetoric is “antistrophos” to dialectic? Is rhetoric a knowledge?
  • Why is rhetoric necessary? (I.2.12-14; questions of absolute knowledge vs questions of almost absolute knowledge)
  • When does rhetoric go wrong?
  • Let’s look closely at that definition of rhetoric
  • Responses to Plato (I.i.13)
  • Swipes at Isocrates

Rhetoric’s Three Major Branches

Aristotle identifies three major branches, or species, of rhetoric (see I.iii.1-4):

  • Deliberative Rhetoric
  • Judicial (or Forensic) Rhetoric
  • Epideictic Rhetoric

Each of these branches serves a different purpose and focuses on a different time (past, present, or future).

Each, also, prioritizes different appeals.

Rhetorical Appeals

The rhetorical appeals can be thought of as an identification of the central elements of any rhetorical engagement. Later scholars will argue that these appeals are operating in any communicative act, and are not exclusive to a strictly rhetorical speech/performance. They are:

  • Logos
    • Artistic vs. Inartistic
    • Why study dialectic? I.i.12
  • Ethos
  • Pathos

We need to pull these apart and understand what each offers.

The 5 Canons of Rhetoric

We might think of the 5 canons as the five elements of crafting a speech. They were:

  • Invention heuresis
  • Arrangement taxis
  • Style lexis
  • Memory mneme
  • Delivery hypocrisis

How to do invention, see I.ix.28-30.

As you might expect, Aristotle prioritizes invention, or the generation of ideas. He feels that his contemporaries spend far too much time on style and performance, and far too little on substance. Although, I find his acknowledgement of the audience’s disposition to be particularly important.

Aristotle opens Book 2 with a discussion of disposition and pathos, writing:

But since rhetoric is concerned with making a judgment (people judge what is said in deliberation, and judicial proceedings are also a judgment), it is necessary not only to look to the argument, that it may be demonstrative and persuasive but also [for the speaker] to construct a view of himself as a certain kind of person and prepare the judge; 3. for it makes much difference in regard to persuasion (especially in deliberations but also in trials) that the speaker seem to be a certain kind of person and that his hearers suppose him to be disposed toward them in a certain way and in addition if they, too, happen to be disposed in a certain way. (II.i.2-3; see also I.i.9)

If we read this passage (and the rest of the introductory material in Book 2) carefully, then we can see that Aristotle’s definition of pathos is not necessarily theatrical or performative. In fact, in Book 3, he rails against orators who model themselves after actors in the theater. Unlike the sophists, he isn’t interested in pathos as a pull on the heart strings as much as in it as a way of setting a mood. Certainly, it is proper for the orator to demonstrate investment in her topic, to be passionate, but it is a fine line and slippery slope into baffoonery. Much later in the semester we will discuss Thomas Rickert’s notion of ambient rhetorics (the way environs affect judgment and disposition) across this sense of pathos.

A few key terms:

  • Syllogism vs. Enthymeme
  • Topoi (Commonplaces); see Lanham handout
  • Def. of Happiness in the Rhetoric I.v.3, Pleasure I.vi.6.

For homework, you should read the Halloran and the Sullivan readings. Both are linked off of our homepage.

New Media 2.2 / Troubleshooting HTML & Introducing CSS

Today’s class:

  • I’ll check to make sure you have several pages of html
  • I’ll introduce CSS

Introducing CSS

So far this semester, we have worked with basic html, learning how to code up information. Today we will shift gears and work with CSS, or cascading style-sheets, to arrange and style that information. The power of CSS is that it allows us to make a change to a single document (a .css file) that affects the layout/appearance of an infinite number of .html pages.

Structural HTML

In order to maximize our .css file’s ability to alter our .html, we’ll need to add some structural .html tags to our document. In HTML 4 we would have done this with the div tag. In HTML 5, we’ll do this with the article and the section tag.

Page Layout

Now that we have added some semantic, structural tags to our .html, we can begin to adjust layout and positioning (Robbins chapters 15 and 16).

  • A quick fixed layout (p. 374, working w/ a grid)
  • A quick fluid layout (p. 377)

Note: however you design the layout of your page, you will need to have at least two structural elements on every page of your .html: a header and a footer.

I can’t talk about layout and design very long without calling attention to the CSS Zen Garden. To call attention to a few interesting layouts:

If we don’t want text at the edge of our semantic/structural boxes, then we need to adjust margins and padding (Robbins 305).

Typography

We can change how we format fonts (size, font-families, etc). See Robbins 225.

I am going to supplement Robbins a bit by using Google Web Fonts. This gives us access to a wide array of fonts, but also requires we add code to our .html (so that a user’s web browser knows where to find the font that we identify in our .css).

Background Color and Background Images

Here’s where things can start getting fun.

Project One Rubric

Draft of a rubric:

  • Image quality
  • Links that work
  • HTML is W3C compliant (it validates, or if it doesn’t validate, there are minor errors)
  • Every .html page shares one .css sheet
  • Every .html page has at least a header and a footer
  • Uses a Web Font
  • Uses a .css reset
  • Thought-provoking, non-trivial, juxtapositions
  • Beyond quotation, offers some kind of understanding of Ulmer (either in the project, or in an introduction/preface, or in an afterword, or in an about page)
  • Uses color strategically
  • Demonstrates the ability to position images and includes alt tags
  • Thinks about and executes layout
  • Upload to USF server space

Homework

For homework I’ll ask you to create two stylesheets for your .html pages. The first should be what Robbins calls a CSS Reset (see p. 427). This is a sheet that turns off all the default margins, padding, borders, etc. for a page so that you can be sure you are designing from scratch. Note that Robbins provides a link to Eric Meyer’s default css reset page that you can copy and paste.

Then start designing your own .css page for your project. Think about layout: do you want multiple pages or one longer layout? Think about typography. Think about your header and footer. Think about whether you want every page to have its own unique background image (this isn’t too hard–you just give each page a unique article id… I can explain this in class on Tuesday if people are interested).

Rhetorical Theory 2.2 / From Plato to Aristotle

We have too much to do today!

  • Question: Should school teach morality?
  • Use Twitter in class w/ the tag #enc3371
  • Flash read together: Plato’s Phaedrus
  • A Somewhat Spontaneous Defense of Plato
  • Intro to Aristotle
  • Homework

A Question

At the beginning of class please take 5 minutes to consider the following question: should schools teach morality (right from wrong)? Or is morality the responsibility of other social/civil institutions (family, church, television)?

You can write this response wherever you please.

A Twitter Request

I want to try something new today; I want to create a backchannel. Since this is mostly a lecture / discussion class, I want to get more voices involved. So, during class, tweet stuff out: either questions, quotes, or responses. Just make sure to use the hashtag #enc3371.

Plato’s Phaedrus

Last class we focused our attention on Plato’s Apology and Gorgias dialogues, and looked briefly at his Allegory of the Cave from book VII of the Republic. Collectively, they paint a pretty negative picture of rhetoric and politics. Before we move on from Plato, I want to spend a bit of time with his Phaedrus dialogue, in which he articulates a potential value to rhetoric if, and only if, the rhetorician is trained properly in dialectical philosophy (that is, her methodology begins with a systematic, syllogisitic, investigation into the Truth of a matter). Plato’s Socrates explains:

In his later dialogue, The Phaedrus, Plato recognizes the necessity of rhetoric‐but only if rhetoric comes after philosophic, dialectical procedures. In other words, rhetoric is what we use to communicate a message after we have determined the truth. And what marks the center of the now acceptable rhetorical art? Plato:

Since the nature of speech is in fact to direct the soul, whoever intends to be a rhetorician must know how may kinds of soul there are. Their number is so-and-so many; each is such-and-such a sort; hence some people have such-and-such a character and others have such-and-such. Those distinctions established, there are, in turn, so-and-so many kinds of speech, each of such-and-such a sort. People of such-and-such a character are easy to persuade by speeches of such-and-such a sort in connection with such-and-such an issue for this particular reason, while people of such-and-such another sort are difficult to persuade for those particular reasons.

The orator must learn all this well, then put his theory into practice and develop the ability to discern each kind clearly as it occurs in the actions of real life. Otherwise, he won’t be any better off than he was when he was still listening to those discussions in school. He will now not only be able to say what kind of person is convinced by what kind of speech; on meeting someone he will be able to discern what he is like and make clear to himself that the person actually standing in front of him is of just this particular sort of character he had learned about in school‐to that he must now apply speeches of such-and-such a kind in this particular way in order to secure conviction about such-and-such an issue. When he has learned all this‐when, in addition, he has grasped the right occasions for speaking and for holding back; and when he has also understood when the time is right for speaking concisely or appealing to pity or exaggeration or for any other of the kinds of speech he has learned and when it is not‐then, and only then, will he have finally mastered the art well and completely. (271d-272b)

Kennedy notes, in his introduction to Aristotle, that such a rhetoric is best suited for one-on-one encounters and ill-suited to the kind of democratic, one-to-many engagements constituting Greek politics (see p. 15). I want to problematize this differently by highlighting how such a characterization/methodology for rhetorical engagement raises issues of power and authority that undercut cooperation and compromise.

A Somewhat Spontaneous Defense of Plato

I was thinking after last class that I have done too much to frame Plato in the role of a villain. He is, after all, generally considered the hero of philosophy departments (and those working in philosophy generally work with a different “Plocrates” than the one who appears in the dialogues concerning rhetoric–rhetoric brings out the worst in Plato).

Reason #1 I would defend Plato: People. Are. Fucking. Stupid.

Reason #2 I would defend Plato: His idealistic dedication to truth and logic form the basis of Western progress. He is the godfather of the Question. His relentless pursuit of Truth informs every progressive movement: Marxism, Socialism, Feminism, the Enlightenment, etc. In short, he insists that things do not have to remain the way they are. Things can change.

Despite these reasons (and there are others), I have issues.

Intro to Aristotle

Let’s talk.

Homework

We are already slipping behind a bit, but I don’t want to crush you this weekend. Let’s finish Book I of Aristotle’s Rhetoric (47-110) and Chapters 1-11 of Book 2 (11-147). I know, it is a lot (but much of it can be skimmed).

New Media 2.1 / Ulmer, Electracy, and HTML

Class today has a few goals:

  • Discuss Ulmer, his relationship to Ong, and his concept of electracy
  • Discuss Project One. Ask questions, and I might answer them
  • Troubleshoot HTML. What was helpful?
  • Homework:

Ulmer and Electracy

This video will give us a bunch of things to address/consider:

  • Grammatology / Apparatus theory / technological determinism [Part machine / part social / desires and needs]
  • Society of the Spectacle / Entertainment Industry
  • What will have been invented? What are the new opportunities of the new apparatuses?
  • Technology / Institution / Subject-Identity Formation (how do we conceptualize or experience our lives in a different way)
  • Orality: religion and ritual, communal spirit (individuality is akin to death)
  • Literacy: nation state and method, individual self or soul (the distinction between the written word and the transcendent meaning gets laid onto the distinction between the physical body and the transcendental spirit/self/soul; the mind body distinction

Project One

Here’s what I initially conceived:

Our first project speaks directly to this course’s two main objectives. You will construct a web sites that explicates and remediates 3 different (and complicated) media theorists: Walter Ong, Martin Heidegger, and Gregory Ulmer. These websites will be composed in “hand coded” HTML and CSS, using the tutorials provided in the Robbins book.

I’ll be asking you to invent a new genre for the digital essay. How do we remediate the essay to maximize the impact of digital composition? How can we incorporate both images and links in productive, and perhaps unexpected ways?

Obviously, we are already off-script since we aren’t going to be reading Heidegger this semester.

What I am looking for is a strategy of invention/aesthetics/communication unique to electracy and images. I am looking for a project that plays with juxtaposition (here’s the google image page for examples of juxtaposition). I am looking for juxtapositions between quotes from the Ong and Ulmer readings and images that create some kind of tension.

We will discuss this more in class.

Draft of a rubric:

  • Image quality
  • Links that work
  • HTML is W3C compliant (it validates, or if it doesn’t validate, there are minor errors)
  • Every .html page shares one .css sheet
  • Every .html page has at least a header and a footer
  • Thought-provoking, non-trivial, juxtapositions
  • Beyond quotation, offers some kind of understanding of Ulmer (either in the project, or in an introduction/preface, or in an afterword, or in an about page)
  • Uses color strategically
  • Demonstrates the ability to position images
  • Thinks about and executes layout
  • Upload to USF server space.

Homework

Read Santos et al. “Our Electrate Stories” (Home and Electracy sections). This will help flush out what I think Ulmer is up to, and why I think it is important that we consider/work through the questions he raises.

Finish coding 10 pages of html. Make sure they validate. In Thursday’s class we will address HTML layout (Robbins pp. 79-85).

Rhetorical Theory 2.1

In today’s class we will focus our attention on Plato’s castigation of rhetoric. You have read the Gorgias dialogue and the Apology. I want to supplement these readings and open our discussion by introducing Plato’s (in)famous “Allegory of the Cave,” from the seventh book of his Republic. Then we will discuss the Apology and the Gorgias. This discussion will follow the reading grid we have set up. I want to pay particular attention to 1) the metaphors for/surrounding rhetoric Plato introduces and 2) the tension between Plato’s Socrates and Plato’s Callicles.

Finally, I will end class by pointing to Plato’s more charitable consideration of rhetoric in the Phaedrus dialogue.

At some point I want to differentiate Truth and falsity from truth and lie, episteme from alethia, truth in literacy from truth in orality.

Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, The Final Judgement

In his longest work, The Republic, Plato compares the journey and development of the philosopher to a prisoner escaping a cave. (http://www.historyguide.org/intellect/allegory.html)

Already we can see a disdain for mere appearances, and a desire to move beyond normative culture to the Truth. This parable continues to fuel many critical philosophies, which frame themselves in terms of the Matrix‐as a move beyond base ideology and into the realm of Truth.

Plato’s Gorgias

Here’s the passages from the reading that I want to discuss today

  • Apology
    • Socrates’ wisdom: 21b / 23b / *33b*
    • Socrates’ methods: 23d / 30b / *38a*
    • Socrates’ aversion to politics: 31e
    • Socrates and the birth of critical philosophy: 39c
  • Gorgias
    • Favorite line by Gorgias 449c
    • Where Gorgias gets in trouble / what does oratory make? 450b-c
    • Plato’s Gorgias offers a Platonic understanding of rhetoric 452e
    • Gorgias: rhetoric is a weapon *456d
    • Socrates and Gorgias: the doctor or Dr. Oz? 452 / 456b-d
    • Callicles’ “unthinkable” thesis: 483d-e
    • Callicles: philosophy as a child’s game 484c-e
    • Socrates’ method- straight out of Ong–advanced terminology
    • Who is the elitist? (Answer: they both are) see 491b
    • Socrates’ and individualism/libertarianism 491d / 504e
    • Paging Nietzsche 491b
    • Socrates’ distrust of politics 521e / the cerpuscular tale

As a response to Plocrates’s argument that rhetoric is a weapon that promotes injustice (480c), I offer the Quintilian:

There follows the question as to whether rhetoric is useful. Some are in the habit of denouncing it most violently and of shamelessly employing the powers of oratory to accuse oratory itself. 2 “It is eloquence” they say “that snatches criminals from the penalties of the law, eloquence that from time to time secures the condemnation of the innocent and leads deliberation astray, eloquence that stirs up not merely sedition and popular tumult, but wars beyond all expiation, and that is most effective when it makes falsehood prevail over the truth.” 3 The comic poets even accuse Socrates of teaching how to make the worse cause seem the better, while Plato says that Gorgias and Tisias made similar professions. 4 And to these they add further examples drawn from the history of Rome and Greece, enumerating all those who used their pernicious eloquence not merely against individuals but against whole states and threw an ordered commonwealth into a state of turmoil or even brought it to utter ruin; and they point out that for this very reason rhetoric was banished from Sparta, while its powers were cut down at Athens itself by the fact that an orator was forbidden to stir the passions of his audience.
[…]
Doctors have been caught using poisons, and those who falsely assume the name of philosopher have occasionally been detected in the gravest crimes. 6 Let us give up eating, it often makes us ill; let us never go inside houses, for sometimes they collapse on their occupants; let never a sword be forged for a soldier, since it might be used by a robber. And who does not realise that fire and water, both necessities of life, and, to leave merely earthly things, even the sun and moon, the greatest of the heavenly bodies, are occasionally capable of doing harm.

Here is a link to my intro lecture on Plato for Historical Rhetorics.

In Socrates’ exchange with Gorgias, he makes the following comparisons:

cosmetics : gymnastics :: sophsitry : legislation
pastry baking : medicine :: oratory : justice

Because rhetoric satisfies itself with “mere opinion” instead of absolute Truth, Plato views it as a set of tricks (or knack) rather than an art, what the Greeks would call techne.

Ong gives us a rationale for such suspicion‐although he might not have consciously recognized it, Plato was enchanted by the power of the literate sign. Let’s take a minute to conceptualize, roughly, how language works.
Language operates via signification‐the exchange of signs. The sign breaks down into two parts‐the signifier (the symbolic/material component, such as “dog”) and the signified (the meaning). As Ong’s essay stresses, writing externalizes and visualizes this process.

Of course, there is an amount of slippage between signifiers and signifieds. One of the first things you realize when you start to consider language is how we do not have direct access to signifieds‐we live, and are reliant, on signifiers. Furthermore, Plato’s ambitious philosophical goals include transcending (moving beyond) the material register (the signifier, the world) to contemplate (or see) the Ideal forms of things (pure signifieds). Ironically, we can refer to this transcendental realm of pure Ideas as the “Real” for Plato, since he believed this world was just a transitory illusion. The Real world, the world that matters is the world of Ideas/Ideals that exist beyond this material register.

His central method for this movement toward Ideal Forms is dialectic‐a back and forth questioning in which one moves beyond what is probable to arrive at what is essential. Hence, Platonism is often referred to as essentialism.

Let us think of a dog again. When we look at a dog, we can begin to identify a number of characteristics. But which of those characteristics belong solely to a dog? Which of those characteristics are essential to being a dog? What is the essence of a dog? This kind of dialectical investigation into something’s essence is further developed by Aristotle and often referred to by the term “ontology.” Plato believed ontology could reveal how everything in the world had a proper place‐the goal of philosophy becomes identifying the proper essence of everything, understanding to what category of Being it belonged, and making sure that the world was ordered in the proper hierarchy. The proper task of the philosopher, then, involves a kind of critical engagement that distinguishes the eternal, the essential, the universal, the objective from the transient, the accidental, the specific, the subjective.

There is another consequence to this thinking. At the conclusion of the Gorgias dialogue, Plato debates with Callicles regarding the value of thought. Callicles, foreshadowing Socrates’s death, reminds the gadfly that his intelligence is useless if he cannot convince his peers of its utility and veracity, to which Socrates responds that he cares not as to whether a single other person accepts his thinking, for we waits for a higher, divine judgment after death. While this notion of judgment after death might seem commonplace for us now, it was quite revolutionary to Greek culture. In fact, it is upon this notion of final judgment that Nietzsche will later castigate Socrates and Plato for shackling the “true” Greek spirit under the Jewish resentment (a line that Hitler will find quite useful when used out of context decades after Nietzsche’s death).

More on point for the present moment: the debate between Socrates and Callicles is a debate about what tasks a theorists should commit herself to. This debate rages on throughout the next millennia–it is a debate we still engage today. Think of a high school curriculum: what do we teach? What courses? What skills? How might a high school curriculum differ if it was generated by Callicles and not by the Platonic tradition (in actuality, most high school curriculum can be traced back to the Romans, who inherit the various Greek traditions; they designate the 7 liberal arts: Rhetoric, Logic, Grammar, Arithmetic, Music, and Astronomy).

The Phaedrus

In his later dialogue, The Phaedrus, Plato recognizes the necessity of rhetoric‐but only if rhetoric comes after philosophic, dialectical procedures. In other words, rhetoric is what we use to communicate a message after we have determined the truth. And what marks the center of the now acceptable rhetorical art? Plato:

Since the nature of speech is in fact to direct the soul, whoever intends to be a rhetorician must know how may kinds of soul there are. Their number is so-and-so many; each is such-and-such a sort; hence some people have such-and-such a character and others have such-and-such. Those distinctions established, there are, in turn, so-and-so many kinds of speech, each of such-and-such a sort. People of such-and-such a character are easy to persuade by speeches of such-and-such a sort in connection with such-and-such an issue for this particular reason, while people of such-and-such another sort are difficult to persuade for those particular reasons.

The orator must learn all this well, then put his theory into practice and develop the ability to discern each kind clearly as it occurs in the actions of real life. Otherwise, he won’t be any better off than he was when he was still listening to those discussions in school. He will now not only be able to say what kind of person is convinced by what kind of speech; on meeting someone he will be able to discern what he is like and make clear to himself that the person actually standing in front of him is of just this particular sort of character he had learned about in school‐to that he must now apply speeches of such-and-such a kind in this particular way in order to secure conviction about such-and-such an issue. When he has learned all this‐when, in addition, he has grasped the right occasions for speaking and for holding back; and when he has also understood when the time is right for speaking concisely or appealing to pity or exaggeration or for any other of the kinds of speech he has learned and when it is not‐then, and only then, will he have finally mastered the art well and completely. (271d-272b)

What kind of (ethical) problems might this insistence create?

New Media 1.2

Here is the schedule for our second meeting:

  • Theory: Walter Ong’s “Writing is a Technology that Restructures Thought”
  • Practice: Working with Photoshop
  • Homework: Reading / Reading / Coding

Walter Ong

Things I want to address:

  • Technology, artificiality, cybernetics
  • Knowledge as abstract, objective (difference between Knowledge and know-how)
  • Apparatus theory
  • Ong’s claim that computers extend the trajectory of literacy; secondary orality [ironically, technology reprioritizes local context even while it fosters the “global village”]

Here’s a link to my stock lecture on Walter Ong.

Practice: Working With Photoshop

Since the first project asks you to manipulate images, I wanted to dedicate some class time to working with Photoshop. I have sent out a .zip folder containing several images. You should download this folder to your desktop and unzip it.

We will be editing these files in class, learning some of the standard tools and language for working with images.

File Formats:

  • .jpg is a compressed file format. This is the most common format on the web
  • .png is a more robust format that allows for transparency and maintains multiple layers
  • .gif is a format that supports animation. We will work with .gifs later in the semester

In class we are going to quickly run through a range of tools in Photoshop. I will roughly be following the online guide provided by the UNC Health Sciences library. We should address:

  • Image Size / Canvas Size. Working with pixels.
  • Cropping
  • Brightness/Contrast
  • Layers
  • Lasso work
  • Text
  • Clone Stamp

You should also know that you have access to many powerful softwares at home via the USF Application Gateway.

From Ong to Ulmer

It is difficult for me to provide a quick overview of Gregory Ulmer’s work, because his project is quite complicated. But I want to provide some kind of introduction, however brief.

Ulmer’s work is in part inspired by Ong–in fact, it picks up where Ong left off. If Ong explicates the impact of literacy, then Ulmer’s work begins by hypothesizing what the impact of electracy might be. He finds the basis of this hypothesis in the philosophy of Jacques Derrida, a poststructuralist and postmodernist who challenged Modernity’s investment in logos (abstract, universal, Truth).

Ulmer searches for a more imaginative and creative approach to language and language instruction. Why does American education have such an investment in teaching the research paper? Why don’t we invest more energy into teaching creative expression? These are some of the questions that motivate his work.

His solution to these questions involves developing complex systems of invention (how we generate thought). Invention is one of the five core canons of rhetoric. At the beginning of the reading selection from Heuretics, Ulmer references one of these systems: the CATTt (an acronym for Contrast, Analogy, Theory, Target, tale). We won’t be using the CATTt system, but I am interested in his theoretical approach to invention, and his ideas on how cybermedia (as he identifies it in Heuretics) affords new methods for inventing and expressing (ourselves).

Homework

For homework, I would like you to do some theoretical reading, some technical reading, and practice some coding

Read Ulmer’s chapter on “Hypermedia” from Heuretics [PDF], Read Ulmer, “Electracy: An Introduction”

Remember that your first project asks for a web installation that remediates and explicates Ong and Ulmer.

Skim Robbins 3-20. Make sure you can answer all the questions on page 20. Read Robbins chapter 4 “Creating a Simple Page.”

I want you to use what you learn from Robbins’ 4th chapter to code up 10 pages of .html. Pay particular attention to Robbins pp. 56-57 for setting up a page. Ignore style sheets at this point–I only want “naked” html. Make sure you validate your .html using the W3C validator. Select 10 quotes from Ong’s essay. Create 10 html pages with a quote from the Ong on each page, an image on each page, and a link from one page to the next.

Good luck!

Rhetorical Theory 1.2: Walter Ong

We’ve got a number of things to address in today’s class:

  • First, I want to introduce four terms to help us think about philosophy, rhetoric, and language
  • Second, we need to discuss the Ong reading
  • Third, I want to go over my cursory introduction to the Ancient Greek rhetoric
  • Fourth, my quick guide on how to read theory and the homework

Four Terms Germaine to a Discussion of Philosophy, Rhetoric, and Language

They are:

Metaphysics
In short, metaphysics is our sense of what exists “beyond” the physical world. It also asks how we can approach said beyond.
Ontology
Ontology is the most complex of these three terms, since it can have different meanings in different contexts. Loosely, it answers the question “what is real?” How do we know what is real is real? Often (after Aristotle), the West approaches ontology via categories and classifications. As Ong notes, classification is a ramification of literacy. Thus, we can conclude that Western ontology is correlated–if not caused–by the development of literacy.
Ontology is often the attempt to identify what something is.
Epistemology
Epistemology is the study of knowledge. What is knowledge? Is it itself a thing? How can we know something? To what extent can we know something? Epistemology traces its origins back to Plato and Socrates. And, again, Ong show us that the development of literacy radically alters epistemology
Ethics
Ethics addresses the processes through which we make decisions and navigate problems and (and other people).
It is important to differentiate ethics from morality. Ethics deals with general principles (process), while morality seeks to produce concrete mandates (products). Note that this is my way of parsing the terms, and would likely be challenged by others.

Ong Discussion

Let’s talk about Ong’s best sentences.

Here is a link to my stock lecture on Ong.

A Cursory Introduction to a Few Folks Central to the History of Rhetoric

Here’s a quick overview of the theorists we will be working with over the next few weeks.

Socrates (469-399)

Socrates’ nickname was the gadfly, a Greek term for agitator or tormentor. Socrates’s philosophic method involved asking someone questions until you could lead them to a contradiction. The purpose of Socrates’s philosophy often wasn’t to discover the Truth, but rather to reveal our essential ignorance. Socrates: “I am the wisest man alive, for I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing.” Plato has Socrates repeat this sentiment in his famous Apology: “I am wiser than this man; it is likely that neither of us knows anything worthwhile, but he thinks he knows something when he does not, whereas when I do not know, neither do I think I know, so I am likely to be wiser than he to this small extent, that I do not think I know what I do not know” (22d).

It is hard to know exactly what Socrates believed on many topics because he was not a writer–in fact, his most famous student, Plato, documents his suspicions toward literacy and writing in the Phaedrus dialogue. We do know, however, that he was skeptical of politics, especially of those who crafted political and legal speeches. Additionally, he was skeptical of democracy, since he did not believe the typical person had the intellectual or spiritual character required to lead. We do know that, after a despotic period in Greek history, the people of Athens tried Socrates for “corrupting the youth.” He was (in part due to his own obstinance) condemned to death–but he chose to die a martyr to Truth rather than give into “rhetoric.”

Plato (424-328)

Without doubt, Plato is the most important philosopher in the history of Western thought. Alfred North Whitehead offers this quip:

The safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato.

Most of this importance can be traced down to his prolific writing–and to the effects that the act of writing had upon his thinking. We might say that he is the first literate thinker, and thus, serves as the foundation for 2000 years of literate culture (hence the Ong reading).

Plato never forgave the death of his teacher–and that death drives his disdain toward rhetoric (see especially his Gorgias dialogue. In that dialogue, Plato records (?) Socrates’ comparison of rhetoric in terms of “pastry baking.” This is a long passage, worthy of examination:

And now I will endeavour to explain to you more clearly what I mean: The soul and body being two, have two arts corresponding to them: there is the art of politics attending on the soul; and another art attending on the body, of which I know no single name, but which may be described as having two divisions, one of them gymnastic, and the other medicine. And in politics there is a legislative part, which answers to gymnastic, as justice does to medicine; and the two parts run into one another, justice having to do with the same subject as legislation, and medicine with the same subject as gymnastic, but with a difference. Now, seeing that there are these four arts, two attending on the body and two on the soul for their highest good; flattery knowing, or rather guessing their natures, has distributed herself into four shams or simulations of them; she puts on the likeness of some one or other of them, and pretends to be that which she simulates, and having no regard for men’s highest interests, is ever making pleasure the bait of the unwary, and deceiving them into the belief that she is of the highest value to them. Cookery simulates the disguise of medicine, and pretends to know what food is the best for the body; and if the physician and the cook had to enter into a competition in which children were the judges, or men who had no more sense than children, as to which of them best understands the goodness or badness of food, the physician would be starved to death. A flattery I deem this to be and of an ignoble sort, Polus, for to you I am now addressing myself, because it aims at pleasure without any thought of the best. An art I do not call it, but only an experience, because it is unable to explain or to give a reason of the nature of its own applications. And I do not call any irrational thing an art; but if you dispute my words, I am prepared to argue in defence of them.

Pastry baking, as I say, is the flattery that wears the mask of medicine; and cosmetics, in like manner, is a flattery which takes the form of gymnastic, and is knavish, false, ignoble, illiberal, working deceitfully by the help of lines, and colours, and enamels, and garments, and making men affect a spurious beauty to the neglect of the true beauty which is given by gymnastic.

I would rather not be tedious, and therefore I will only say, after the manner of the geometricians (for I think that by this time you will be able to follow):

cosmetics : gymnastics :: sophsitry : legislation
pastry baking:medicine:: oratory : justice

And this, I say, is the natural difference between the rhetorician and the sophist, but by reason of their near connection, they are apt to be jumbled up together; neither do they know what to make of themselves, nor do other men know what to make of them. For if the body presided over itself, and were not under the guidance of the soul, and the soul did not discern and discriminate between cookery and medicine, but the body was made the judge of them, and the rule of judgment was the bodily delight which was given by them, then the word of Anaxagoras, that word with which you, friend Polus, are so well acquainted, would prevail far and wide: “Chaos” would come again, and cookery, health, and medicine would mingle in an indiscriminate mass. And now I have told you my notion of rhetoric, which is, in relation to the soul, what cookery is to the body.

In the Sophist dialogue, Plato’s Socrates maintains that rhetoric/sophistry is an art of acquisition, that it fails to create anything (219c, 226). This is an important point–one that gets at the very heart of the philosophy vs sophistry debate in ancient Greece. Is there a real world out there to which we have access? Or is the world made real through language? In short: nature or culture? Platonic philosophy seeks to (re)present the world in its pure, transcendental, universal, static, True form–in other words, it seeks to strip away the misgivings of culture to return to the natural. From such a position, rhetoric can often be interpreted as mere “bullshit,” political nonsense that intends to manipulate and control us, and thus keep us further separated from the Truth.

As I said in the introduction, Plato never forgave the execution of his teacher, and it left him extremely opposed to democratic government. His long treatise, the Republic, calls for an extended intellectual oligarchy.

Protagoras (490-420)

Historians note that, though they have come to dominate Western history, Socrates and Plato were not the cheif intellectual movement of their day. In fact, Socrates’ diatribe above was part of a project by Plato to discredit competing philosophical systems and promote his own school and thought. One reason why Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle have come to dominate the philosophical tradition is that we have large amounts of their thought recorded in writing. As we shall see this semester, the same cannot be said of the sophistic philosophers.

Protagoras was one of those philosophers. History has only handed to us a few brief fragments of his works–recorded by other philosophers and historians. Protagoras’s most famous fragment comes from Sextus:

Protagoras, too, will have it that of all things the measure is man, of things that are that they are, and of things that are not that they are not, meaning by ‘measure’ the standard of judgment […] And for this reason he posits only what appears to the individual, thus introducing relativity… Now what he says is that matter is in a state of flux […] He says too that the reasons [logio] of all the appearances are present in the matter, so that the matter is capable, as far as lies in its own power, of being everything that appears to everybody. Men, however, apprehend different things at different times according to their various dispositions.

Gorgias (458-380)

We will read about Gorgias more later this semester. For now, I want to highlight Gorgias’s treatment of rhetoric. Like Protagoras, we have very few Gorgian fragments (although instead of single lines, we have whole essays). His most famous piece is his “On Helen,” in which he invents arguments for why Helen should not be held accountable for causing the Trojan War. In his defense, he offers the following description of the powers of language (logos):

Speech is a powerful lord, which by means of the finest and most invisible body effects the divinest works: it can stop fear and banish grief and create joy and nuture pity. I shall show how this is the case, since it is necessary to offer proof of opinion of my hearers. I both deem and define all poetry as speech with meter. Fearful shuddering and tearful pity and grievous longing come upon its hearers, and at the actions and physical sufferings of others in good fortunes and in evil fortunes, through the agency of words, the soul is wont to experience a suffering of its own. But come, I shall turn from one argument to another. Sacred incantations sun with words are bearers of pleasure and banishers of pain, for, merging with opinion in the soul, the power of the incantation is wont to beguile it and persuade it and alter it by witchcraft. There have been discovered two arts of witchcraft and magic: one consists of errors of soul and the other of deceptions of opinion. All who have and do persuade people of things do so by modling a false argument. For if all men on all subjects had both memory of things past and awareness of things present and foreknowledge of the future, speech would not be similarly similar, since as things are now it is not easy for them to recall the past nor to consider the present nor to predict the future. So that on most subjects most men take opinion as counselour to their soul, but since opinion is slippery and insecure it casts those employing it into slippery and insecure success

Isocrates (436-338)

Isocrates founded the most prominent school in ancient Athens–in fact, much of our idea of education today can be traced back to his padeia. Isocrates was among the first to argue that language, logos, rhetoric established humanity, rather than plagued it.

Isocrates viewed Socratic and Platonic philosophy–and its search for transcendental Truth–as an overly abstract project. Such intellectual work failed to live up to his litmus test: will this help me in the courts, the forums, or in everyday life? He saw rhetoric not as an exercise in duplicitousness or as pastry baking, but rather as a civic commitment to making decisions in real time. Responding to Plato, he writes:

They characterize men who ignore our practical needs and delight in the mental juggling of the ancient sophists as ‘students of philosophy,’ but refuse this name to those who pursue and practice those studies which will enable us to govern wisely both our own households and the commonwealth–which should be the objects of our toil, of our study, and of our every act. (343)

Isocrates was Gorgias’s student–and while he doesn’t share his (sophistic) love of agitation and awe, he does share his commitment to democracy and acting with uncertainty.

Aristotle

Aristotle was Plato’s student, and a prolific writer. His works–more even than Plato’s–form the basis of Western metaphysics, philosophy, ethics, and politics. We will discuss Aristotle in greater detail in the coming weeks; for now, I will say that while Aristotle is skeptical toward his mentor’s transcendental leanings, he shares with him a prioritization of truth (logos) and a dubiousness toward rhetoric and the linguistic arts.

Homework

This weekend I would like you to read Plato and make contributions to the Rhetorical Theory Reading Grid.

  • Read Plato’s Gorgias (only the sections w/ Gorgias and Callicles. You can skip the middle section dealing with Polus. Jowett’s introduction is optional, but might be helpful if you have no experience of ancient dialgoues)
  • Read Plato’s Plato’s Apology.
  • Remember to print these dialogues out; do not attempt to read them on-screen.

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