Rhetoric of Cool: Ch 3 Appropriation

Rice, Jeff. “Appropriation.” The Rhetoric of Cool: Composition Studies and New Media.” Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois UP, 2007. 47-72.


Summary: Appropriation is a rhetorical tool or topos or action to re-create a new thing. Those within the dominant culture may appropriate something, like the definition of cool, and create a new meaning for this. Appropriation of music, re-mixing and mashups, doesn’t create the same thing that was there before but instead re-creates a new thing. Writing is seen as ending in balance or that balance/coherence is necessary; Rice argues that appropriation is necessary to the digital age and the end result may not be balanced or coherent, may not follow a hierarchical organization plan, may not be easy to follow. Appropriation uses parataxis (rearranging items to generate different meanings from them–with each rearrangement, new meanings emerge).

“[W]hen working with appropriation, it’s not enough to simply cut or rearrange words or images. Writers also must reimagine the logic of structure as well…” (Rice 58).
I wonder what this means for an online T&P portfolio. Rice stresses that the digital is not (or should not? be hierarchical), so as I compose for the T&P, should I be working on making something less like a binder of doom and more like a ferris wheel? If I do that, would the committee reviewing the work see it as an advancement in writing–as a legitimate rhetorical move–or would they view it as chaotic, since it would not conform to their expectations nor to previous examples. Would it be a risky move? Should I try it and explain it or not try it and not explain it or try it and not explain it?

Rice argues that appropriation should not be applied to the structure we already know but should find for itself new structures. He doesn’t say that, but it is what he says.

“preference for clarity via organization… weakens appropriation’s rhetorical power” (Rice 59).

Metaphor for appropriation =/= coherence
= collage

cites and discusses William S. Burroughs quite a bit

Appropriation recontextualizes, thus it can be used to undermine the dominant culture as well as to prop it up… depending on how the appropriation is used.

“Academic scholarship turns to appropriation … to learn the methods of persuasion conducive to new media” (Rice 61).

point of using appropriation in classroom = “foster new ways of restructuring language and thought” (Rice 62).

misc_masksHow To
re-mix (music term), cut-up (Burroughs’ term), appropriate (scholarly term)

“As a writing strategy, its purpose is to undermine the dominant ideology of a given text” (Rice 63).

sound, imagery, words, ideas important to writers today (not always?) (Rice 64)

How to synthesize vast quantities of discourse? Sample. (Rice 65)

“digital sampler as an important tool” (Rice 67)
“writing that responds to and makes use of the work of others” (Harris 578 as qtd in Rice 67)

Cecil B. Williams and Alan Stevenson said sampling will help students determine if a work is in the center of a conversation or on the edge. I asked why. Is it because they will see (possibly) that other people are talking about totally different things? Is it because if everyone else is talking about it then it is essential? I can see how it might help, but I think it would depend on the amount of sampling and most folks won’t do enough.

composition incorporating found material is rhetorical innovation (Rice 68)

digital composition undermines traditional authorial constructs (Rice 68)

“appropriation as mix signifies more than just borrowing text” (Rice 69)

appropriation extends beyond writing to personality, alter ego, construction of identity (Rice 69ff)

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