theoretical apparatus justification

so i'm thinking about Jeff Rice's The Rhetoric of Cool (as i have before), and, well, i wonder if i can develop a theoretical frame for my project based upon a summary of his book. l-a-z-y?? i don't know. time-compressed? absolutely. but i think i am able to use Clay Spinuzzi's review of Jeff's book as a way of beginning to see what i'm after for my C's project, which is in many ways both an extension of theories i've been developing and practices i've begun to incorporate in my 2nd block FYC class (which began Tuesday of this week). and it may all converge nicely with WJT Mitchell's ideas about ekphrastic hope, fear, and indifference because it is in some ways about how we imagine our words articulating (effectively or not) our experience of an image.

it's about image and how we teach (with) it. a lot of what i see (in textbook assignments, in syllabi i've studied from various courses at various institutions) is frontloaded. *we* set up some frames for thinking about image, give a few design principles, and ask students to write (words) about the images (we do this with film, too). not bad, but why not begin with images? begin with film-composition? and, especially, why not drop the move of frontloading and begin with what students bring? . . . because our students know a lot about design. they may not be ideally aware of their skills sufficient to call upon them as "strategies" . . . but maybe they are just so disposed. our courses can be(come) spaces in which we work with students to enhance and refine their design/composition skills (and, for many of us, we will learn).

and. rather than *merely* writing *about* images, images are design, compositions. the key problem for me is that in our writing classes, we so often want to use the image as a way of getting after written discourse. i keep wanting to resist this move (even when i see it as valuable). and i suppose that for some compositionists, this is trouble. correction: i know it's trouble. i've been publicly excoriated for suggesting such a thing, publicly taken to task by a high profile comp scholar at a conference. i did not have my defense available for articulation . . . then. i've been working on it ever since. and i'm still not sure that i'm able to argue my position effectively *for an audience* . . .

...but so what i think i've gotten after is that the argument (against words as necessary for the rhetorical efficacy of the image-event) gains momentum in ways that are contingent upon the image-event we are experiencing. i've watched films that were "set up" by a filmmaker prior to spectation, and it's sometimes quite awful. i think,"can you trust your audience to have a brain cell, please?" because often, what they say is so obvious, and they sometimes destroy certain aspects of spectation because of what they give away. BUT. in other scenarios (at screenings for both Bill Morrison's spectacular Decasia, and Amy Redford's first feature, The Guitar), i imagine that had they shared the information they shared in the Q & A that follows the screening prior to the screening, i might have enjoyed the film more than i did. i might have suppressed my criticisms (in the moment of spectation) in light of the contextual information that necessarily explained things i was left to wonder about during the event. for example, at Amy's screening, had i known that her film was based largely upon a true story, i might have embraced it more fully (however, when i discovered that it was based upon a true story, i realized the extent to which Amy had reformulated the story, and i was ultimately let down by the revisions she'd made because of how they manifested a "moral" i couldn't fully get with . . . and much of this involves execution. but, it was a first effort, and there was beauty in the film, to be sure). so, who knows? maybe it was best that Redford said little to intro the experience, after all. hmmmm . . .

at PSU this summer, i argued that we should embrace the image/expression-event as the composition itself, absent contextualizing discourse (that is articulated in words). in some cases, this is possible and even desirable. in others, not. how do we determine when it's necessary? maybe this is the rhetorical work with written discourse that is valuable in a class producing image-events? rather than simply assuming that the end goal is a written, academic essay, maybe the work is deciding if written discourse is the most effective mode for expressing the argument?

there's more. but i've got to get ready for class. if you've read this at all and especially if you've read to the end, thanks for listening. i'm really struggling to pull these many concepts into a "presentation," and while i'm happy to vibe out in all directions and just talk about film and image and teaching writing, i don't think my C's audience will tolerate my polymorphous engagement (chora; this is the link to Jeff's work) with myownlittlemind.

Comments

Jeff said…
"so i'm thinking about Jeff Rice's The Rhetoric of Cool (as i have before), and, well, i wonder if i can develop a theoretical frame for my project based upon a summary of his book."

Summary?
maybe i should have called it a review (sorry, J).