Thursday, July 31, 2008

rhet/comp ink

In the context of a larger conversation on the (re)branding of Rhetoric and Composition (or are we simply talking FYC? it's been unclear), Alex Reid shares an insightful post about massively advancing technological speed and the ways in which conventional FYC and R/C are headed for a sort of tragic scenario, that is, unless and until we haul ourselves out of steerage:

When we talk about branding rhetoric and composition, it's interesting. It is maybe like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. If we are to talk seriously about the future of the discipline it will lie in a near future for which few of us have even the most modest preparation. We comfort ourselves with the thought that colleges and universities are far too incompetent and conservative to change that quickly. It's like the joke where you don't need to outrun the bear, just your friends. Well, we can likely outrun our disciplinary "friends." But maybe that won't be sufficient.

Imagine the interactive, rich media experience I can send to you at 17 DVDs per second. Well not me, but someone. Or more likely a whole production company of someones. These technologies point to a world where course materials will have serious production values as well as extensive real time interactive possibilities. And of course it will be many-to-many where students could upload hours of high-definition raw video footage (as well as other storage-intensive data). Students will be able to collaborate in real time over the web to edit information on a global scale for any number of rhetorical purposes.

And yet, in a few weeks, tens of thousands of FYC instructors will be assigning 500-word, individually-authored, text-only compositions. Those students, btw, will be graduating into this world I'm describing. We have already failed them.

If you really want to brand rhet/comp, it can't be "ink" [only] any more.


Sara Jameson said...

Well, this year we are going to start having students include graphs or charts with their 1000+ word essays and learning how to cite properly and equally importantly how to explain what readers will see. Professors in the Colleges of Science and Business complain that students don't know how to talk about their exhibits, so we will start adding that to our already jammed 10-week term.

bonnie lenore kyburz said...

interesting, Sara. i'd love to push that and suggest that talking about the exhibits could be the thing, the event, the "essay," but that's crazy talk ;)

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