Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The State of the Cluster

To get discussions started this year, I thought we might reflect on the meaning of our new "cluster status" and the meaning of an interdisciplinary program in "Rhetoric and Public Culture."

For example, many scholarly articles deal with the things "rhetoric" can bring to other disciplines and modes of understanding. Among them would be a sharpened toolkit for the analysis of power and action (especially as it appears in texts), an expanded appreciation for argument and civic debate, a study of the inherently unstable and contingent meanings produced in language, and a problematic stance toward objective language in all fields.

On the other hand, "public culture" remains undertheorized. The department website offers one summary that breaks the scholarly "value-added" of the term into three categories: the analysis of publics, of public identity as performed and understood in shared performances and style, and of public agency (especially as it operates in global and marginalized practice).

Any more ideas on what "public culture" might mean for our department? Is this a necessary supplement to "rhetoric" for our cluster, or could we continue in the same manner without the newer title? Finally, what would be the advantage of "public culture" for our cluster program--what could the study of "public culture" bring to fields outside of communication and cultural studies?

Submit, Submit!

Cheesy "Top 10" lists aside, the deadline for RSA abstracts and panel submissions is Saturday, 9/15. Remember also that most regional communication associations have upcoming deadlines, and the Promise of Reason (New Rhetoric) conference proposals are due 9/21.

Welcome back for Fall Term.