Rhetoric and Communication

D&D and Mental Illness

What do the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (the DSM) and the typical roleplaying game player’s handbook (PHB) have in common? The character typographies that both articulate are what Kenneth Burke would call “recipes for wise living, sometimes moral, sometimes technical” for fantasy worlds. Burke got this idea of recipes for living by analyzing proverbs…

Marriage is Like a Credit Card

Relationship advice on the internet is worse than something in Cosmo or Ladies’ Home Journal, mostly due to sheer volume and banality. The 9 Smartest Marriage Tips Ever from Salon bobbed through the data streams today, its author claiming to provide new, useful information derived from experts who ranged from her grandmother to the latest research. The article disappointed on…

Clarence Darrow

There is more to Clarence Darrow than I thought. As the old story goes, the famous litigator slyly distracted juries with his cigar. He supposedly threaded a thin wire through the cigar to keep the burning ashes from falling. Enthralled juries would watch the ashes with anticipation instead of listening to the opposing counsel. True or not, the story has…

Women Speakers

Until the end of the last century, women didn’t stand up in front of audiences and give speeches on a regular basis. The women who chose to give speeches struggled with challenging gender norms just like women who entered male-dominated professions. Even today, men far outnumber women as politicians and CEOs, the kinds of folks who give speeches regularly in…

On Commas, Court Orders, and College Readiness

Sixty years ago the Supreme Court handed down the Brown vs. Board of Education decision. Until around 2005 or so, give or take a year, the East Baton Rouge Parish school system operated under a federal desegregation order, one of the longest running orders in the country. Today, Baton Rouge Community College continues to receive entering freshmen educated under that order. Due to the…

Salman Rushdie on Hollow Men

Perhaps it’s because they are hollow that our imaginations can occupy them so easily. That is to say, it is their anti-heroism, their apparent lack of Great Qualities, that make them our size, or even smaller, so that we can stand among them as equals, like Dorothy among the Munchkins.

– Salman Rushdie, Step Across the Line
Referring to the Scarecrow, Tin Woodman, and Cowardly Lion of the Oz movie

What is Communication, Exactly?

The place of public speaking in the general education curriculum is constantly questioned. The image of communication majors in pop culture sheds light on why. Because “it’s kinda hard to put into words.” I experienced a moment of synchronicity to illustrate this. The moment is circular, a snake eating its tail. First, I received yet another email stating professional concern for…

Mitt Romney on the Hope of the Earth

Fellow-citizens, we can not escape history. We of this Congress and this Administration will be remembered in spite of ourselves. No personal significance or insignificance can spare one or another of us. The fiery trial through which we pass will light us down in honor or dishonor to the latest generation. We say we are for the Union. The world will not forget that we say this. We know how to save the Union. The world knows we do know how to save it. We, even we here, hold the power and bear the responsibility. In giving freedom to the slave we assure freedom to the free–honorable alike in what we give and what we preserve. We shall nobly save or meanly lose the last best hope of earth. Other means may succeed; this could not fail. The way is plain, peaceful, generous, just–a way which if followed the world will forever applaud and God must forever bless.

– Abraham Lincoln, Second Annual Message to the Senate and House of Representatives, 1862.

Yes, my friends, Romney quoted Abraham Lincoln on the emancipation of slaves to advance an agenda for the 1%. Must be his love for bayonets and horses that did it.

Where’s Neil Postman When You Need Him?

Neil Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death makes a perfect reading for Introduction to Humanities this semester, particularly Chapter 4 (“The Typographic Mind”). Unable to find a free PDF or DOC version online, and unwilling to scan one myself, I opted for the Sparknotes because I am a lazy, bankrupt educator. But SparkNotes are better than a YouTube claymation right? I…