CFP: Serendipity in Rhetoric Research

This CFP sounds particularly interesting to me, though right off hand I cannot think of anything I could contribute.

Peter Goggin & Maureen Daly Goggin, Arizona State University;

Call for Chapter Proposals
Serendipity in Rhetoric, Writing, and Literacy Research
Maureen Daly Goggin and Peter N. Goggin, editors

Dans les champs de l’observation le hasard ne favorise que les esprits préparés.1
–Louis Pasteur (1854)

On December 7, 1854 at a lecture at the University of Lille, Louis Pasteur pointed out that “in the fields of observation, chance favors only the prepared mind.” This edited collection, Serendipity in Rhetoric, Writing, and Literacy Research, takes up two terms from Pasteur: “chance” as serendipity and “prepared mind” as the kinds of work a researcher needs to have done in order to recognize a serendipitous discovery. We invite proposals for essays from scholars and researchers that narrate a serendipitous time they experienced during a research project.

In describing her research project on Dr. Mary Bennett Ritter (1860-1949), Gesa Kirsch notes that it “helps to have serendipity on one’s side, but that, of course, is not something one can arrange purposefully, although I am convinced one can be open to the possibility” (20).2 We also believe that serendipity plays a role in lots of research but only when scholars are open to the possibility of chance discoveries and only if they have done enough research work to recognize those chance discoveries. Students, thus, need to be taught the hows and whys of doing thorough research in order to prepare them for those serendipitous instances. They need to learn how to review the scholarly literature so that they understand that scholars participate in an ongoing “unending conversation,” to use Kenneth Burke’s metaphor.3 Students also need grounded, sound, and tested research strategies to gather data, to ponder them, to rearrange and rethink them, to generate more questions about their project, and so on. The goal of this collection is to help students understand a variety of research practices and the reasons for staying open and “suspending belief” during a scholarly project as Alton Becker has argued. 4

We imagine Serendipity in Rhetoric, Writing, and Literacy Research as a powerful companion to the robust collection Beyond the Archives: Research as a Lived Process (2008) edited by Gesa E. Kirsch and Liz Rohan. While the latter presents tantalizing scenarios of how various researchers came to define a research project, Serendipity will present scenarios of serendipitous moments that can occur anytime during a scholarly project.

We look forward to proposals from a variety of disciplines as we want to present projects from multiple theoretical frames and methodologies that have benefitted from serendipitous moments, including, but not limited to, archival, oral histories, ethnographies, case studies, feminist practices, field work, theoretical work, qualitative and quantitative research, and rhetorical and discourse analysis. Essays will run between seven to twelve pages.

Please send as electronic attachments your 300-word proposal and a CV in MS-word or RTF format to Peter Goggin at and Maureen Daly Goggin by August 1, 2014.

1 “In the fields of observation, chance favors only the prepared mind.” Pasteur, Louis. “Inaugural Lecturer, University of Lille, Douai, France, December 7, 1854.” A Treasury of the World’s Great Speeches. Ed. Houston Peterson. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1954. 473.

2 Kirsch, Gesa E. “Being on Location: Serendipity, Place, and Archival Research.” Beyond the Archives: Research as a Lived Process. Eds. Gesa El. Kirsch and Liz Rohan. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 2008. 3 Burke, Kenneth. The Philosophy of Literary Form: Studies in Symbolic Action 3rd ed. 1941. Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1973. 20-27.

4 Becker, Alton. “A Pikean Way of Thinking.” Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ. 25 September 1997.

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