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Some Musings on my own preoccupations

Rhetoric and its Compositions

Disciplinarily speaking, I spend most of my time thinking about how our composition (the Composition of Rhetoric and Composition) can be a Latourian compositionism--that is, affirmative and about making. This kind of composition is creative, poetic, artistic, multimodal and critical (in the additive way), and it is the kind of work I want to do, practice, and be a part of as a scholar of composition and rhetoric. I want to think of and proffer affirmative work, at the level of the first-year composition classroom and beyond. What does it mean to take seriously the idea that composing (writing, making) can do something? Can be affirmative and inventive? This is Brian Massumi's question in the opening to Parables For The Virtual, and I extend it to include digital making as creative-critical composition. Along with this creative- critical making, though, I also want to imagine my work and the kind of composing I teach as public composing. More and more I want scholarship, both mine and my students', to reach out and touch the public.

Of course, where does this leave rhetoric? I see rhetoric as the glue atwixt the composition(s). To this end, I am interested in a rhetoric that is always as and for relations and relationality. I am no longer sure of what a rhetoric as argument can make or compose for our world (thinking back to the kind of composition I imagine), thus I think of rhetoric as relationality on multiple levels. This is, for me, an opening for futures and new scholarship, and ways of making new "rhetors" legible (i.e. words as material agents, objects, bodies, animals, & affect). I like to think of Jussi Parikka's re-telling of Uexkull's example of the tick, where a tick was kept alive for 18 years in isolation and it just kept sort of waiting, suspended in time. Uexkull's conclusions: "no relationships, no world, no time" (66). This is yet another way rhetoric and composition feed off of each other, as a relationship, towards the inquiry of relations. When I say composition, then, I mean it's rhetoric, and vice versa.

Yet there is something else. This last part comes from Slavoj Zizek's reading of Hegel's “true infinity.” In the post 9/11 world, Zizek claims, our failure was/is that we sought to choose a camp, a side, rather than realizing what Hegel calls “true infinity,” which is the realization that together we (Americans) and them  (terrorists) make up a totality. That in relating to others, we must also relate to ourself. Otherwise, as we exert justice through means like the “war on terror,” we are involved in what we are fighting against.  Thus, I hope to invent scholarly projects and teach my students  (perhaps idealistically) about this self-relating, inclusion of oneself in the picture. To see ourselves in the Other and to see the Other in us.

My areas of Emphasis

Given the way I wish to practice composition and rhetoric, I am interested in topological histories, historical re-assemblings, and digital historiography. That is, I want to slowly re-assemble histories (through the archive-as-method) to make different futures, different relations, and different possibilities. Along with this, I study non-human agents (like the gun, Facebook, words of rage, trauma) and their relations, which pushes my work into the interdisciplinary intersections of new materialisms, archives & queer archives, rhetoric, historiography, digital humanities and affect studies. On a different level, I am wholly dedicated to teaching as something that can be affirmative and inventive, but that must take up all modes of composing to do so (digital, textual, analog).