Rhetoric of Cool: Ch 1 History 1963

steampunk_archive_icon_by_yereverluvinuncleber-d5jsav0Rice, Jeff. “The Story of Composition Studies and Cool.” The Rhetoric of Cool: Composition Studies and New Media.” Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois UP, 2007. 11-29. Print.

The first chapter introduces the history of Composition Studies, when it first began being written with a capital C. According to Stephen North, Eric Havelock, and James Berlin, Composition began in 1963, though Jim noted that it was a re-birth.

Rice delineates the factors which make most composition theorists choose 1963 as the renaissance of composition theory and practice. One includes McCrimmon’s 1963 textbook Writing With a Purpose, which focuses on writing as process. Forty years after the book came out, I was using it in a college classroom; we as practitioners have seen process as a focus. Another is the revival of classical rhetoric, a bit of neo-neo-classicism, spearheaded primarily by Edward P.J. Corbett. A third is the focus on empirical research, participant observation, with the student as variable and an emphasis on control.

So, what, exactly is Rice encouraging or focusing on or uplifting or point out? McLuhan mentioned cool. Weathers’ Grammar B is somewhat related to Rice’s ideas.

Rice says the focus is not on the tools of the trade, not on the computer and the fingers and the motions of hitting the keys, but on the practices that result from the technological means we use to compose. These practices or rhetorical principles he lists as:

Like Lev Manovich, Rice calls attention to “specific rhetorical features conducive to new media” (Rice 28).

Rice ends with the idea that movement, change, fluidity, and malleability are emphasized. Chora, his first rhetorical principle, focuses on the instability of rhetorical meaning–its inevitable, though not always slow, change.

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