Coco Lynne Presents Us with “Warpaint”

If you have a minute, I highly recommend checking out this article on The Huffington Post about “Warpaint,” “a nuanced art project addressing the subtleties of gender expression.” It explains how photographer Coco Layne decided to play with her own physical representation in order to explore the subtleties of gender expression. What I find particularly interesting is her point about gender identity:

“It’s important to open up this conversation about gender presentation because its often confused and read as gender identity,” she added. “Gender presentation is not about sexual orientation at all! Playing around with gender expression is strictly an avenue to explore my identity as a queer person not my sexual identity.”

Since gender presentation is so often correlated with gender identity, it is interesting to note the nuance and distinction that she speaks of. It’s definitely worth a read.

 

Philosophical Spanish Lessons

Yesterday, my Spanish teacher and I were discussing Martín Fierro (1870s), a culturally significant epic poem in Argentina because of its depiction of gauchos. (If you’re not aware, gauchos are kind of like Argentine cowboys. At the time the poem was written, they were a sort of “sub-class” because they were multi-racial, being a mixture between the colonizing Europeans and the indigenous people. Traditionally, they weren’t land owners themselves, but worked with the cows and horses for other ranchers throughout the Pampas region of Argentina). Essentially, Martín is a gaucho who is drafted into the Argentine civil war, but doesn’t want to be a part of it. So, he runs away and escapes into the southern part of Argentina (Patagonia, really) until he is able to reunite with his children.

So, when Martín runs off to Patagonia, the book describes this by saying that he goes to “el desierto.” In some cases, based off of context, this could refer to a desert as we think of it in English–a place with sand, heat, and not a lot of water. However, in this context, it refers more to wilderness–a place which is “deserted.” (And, in fact, Patagonia is known for being extremely cold.) But herein lies the question: deserted by who? The poem itself describes how Martín and another gaucho, Cruz, spend their time with the indigenous people there. Obviously, this means that it was not truly deserted, only deserted by the European colonizers.

So, this prompted my teacher to pull out a hundred-peso bill. On one side is a picture of Julio Argentino Roca, an army general and president of Argentina in the late 1800s. On the other was “La Conquista Del Desierto,” the conquest of the desert (or wild as the case may be).

La Conquista del Desierto

The image itself depicts Roca and his men expanding and “uniting” Argentina, which pretty much meant killing or displacing the indigenous people living there and allowing more ancestral-Europeans to settle.

Why am I telling you all of this? Because my teacher made this point: these bills are being phased out. In 2012, the Argentine government started to make new bills depicting Eva Peron instead of Roca:

Evita on 100 peso bill

I (and my Spanish teacher) find this to be a fascinating indication of cultural priorities and the change thereof. Personally speaking, I was always aware of how commercials, newspapers, political campaigns, etc. were parts of a society that spoke to its greater cultural needs and how those cultural elements connected to the rhetoric performed in addressing those needs. But, the money. The thing that I carry in my pocket every single day. That had not occurred to me. The money itself–what we choose to put on it to represent our national identities–is symbolic for what we want to say about ourselves. And the changes to that imagery is important too. In Argentina (as in many other places), people are no longer persuaded by “the conquering forces.” Not only that, but choosing Evita is important. This is the first woman to be on an Argentine bill in over 200 years. Is that an indication of cultural priority? Are Argentines becoming more open to women in positions in power or is it Evita’s connection to social programs which speaks to the nation (even though Peronismo is a highly contentious subject here)? And when, for heaven’s sake, will there be a woman on a U.S. bill and not just being relegated to an unused coin? (Susan B. Anthony / Sacagawea, anyone?)

YOUR NEXT BIKE

Speaking of rhetoric in everyday life, I love a smart and savvy Craigslist ad:

http://columbus.craigslist.org/bik/3983222753.html

baller bikeGrab a paper bag, breathe into it and calm your ass down. You’re hyperventilating because you ain’t never seen a deal like this before. Now collect yourself, then keep reading this incredible description that barely serves to do justice to my 2003, 19″, KONA Muni Mula, 7005 Double-butted Aluminum, multi-gear mountain bike. Also known as the greatest bike the suburbs have ever had the privilege of existing around.
What makes this bike so much better than every other bike that has ever been pedaled? Glad you asked. It starts with the paint scheme. It looks like 24 Karat gold if they made bikes out of 24 karat gold. That’s bold, son. Curb appeal.
What else? Ryan, the paint’s a little dinged up. Yeah, well, that’s called real life. It comes at you fast, bro. Besides, you really want this glimmering, shimmering sex machine catching the eye of some small time thief? You really don’t want to be living your own version of PeeWee’s big adventure. Consider the lived-in feel a natural crime deterrent. If this bike were denim jeans, it’d be called “de-stressed” and you’d be paying extra for the privilege. I’m not gonna charge you extra for it, though. Cause I’m not trying to take advantage of you. But you should take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
What else? Let’s talk about that Marzoochi Bomber front fork for a second. It’s as gnarly as it is exotic. Like the tropical, saw-toothed platypus. Which is a species that does’t even exist. Fortunately this crazy front fork does. It offers bomb-a$$ shock absorption, as the name implies.
What else? Did you see those Shimano Deore Rapid-Fire Shifters? These shifters make you wanna take this thing off road in a big way. They also offers a terrific chance to introduce that dome of yours to a tree. So don’t trip. Ride safe. Get a helmet and if you’ve never ridden a bada$$ mountain bike, maybe it’s time to move along, young sir because this thing is made for big hills and mud trails. What this bike does offer is a one-way ticket to legits-ville. Find a bowling ball. Then find another one. Your nuts must be at least that big to even consider making this whip the dreamiest object to ever take up space in your garage. But you’ll be filled with joy once you throw a leg over this flawless piece of cycling excellence.
But, Ryan, aren’t you sad about selling the greatest bike on earth? No. When you ride this bike once it permanently eliminates your ability to feel sad about anything ever again. Even for little puppies who are afraid to walk down the stairs, because the stairs…they’re so big, and they’re so little. Puppies who are young, but have already discovered the world to be a cold, unforgiving place. But you won’t give a shit about it because you’ll be on your awesome new bike living the dream.
And you’ve just learned something else about me. That’s right, my name is Ryan. And your name is lucky motherfather if you make the best choice of your life and pay me cold, hard cash for this ridiculous ride.
2003, 19″, KONA Muni Mula, 7005 Double-butted Aluminum, multi-gear, hard-tail mountain bike with Marzoochi Bombers, Deore Shimano Rapid Fire Shifters. Barely Ridden, like new.
In no rush to sell, big ballers only, no low-ballers. $650 OBO
Contact Chris near Alum Creek Trails
In terms of rhetorical strategies, I love how this is simultaneously a spoof on typical advertisements and a genuinely persuasive advertisement at the same time. It has that sense of humor which builds rapport between the seller and the audience as well as talks up the bike in that “and that’s not all” infomercial genre. Very clever.
 

Cultural Rhetoric

I moved to Argentina. No, really. It’s true. I just graduated with my MFA in May (woot!), packed everything into boxes, sold what I could, and took a flight to Buenos Aires. Of course, here is your obligatory picture of French buildings in latin america:

Recoleta

 

Anyway, while in Buenos Aires, it has become incredibly apparent how culture plays a major factor in rhetoric. Of course, we all think about communication in different, individual ways, but the culture that surrounds us has a large impact on the framing of that communication. As a foreigner, coming into contact with that different use of rhetoric reveals the kind of audience and culture that rhetoric is geared toward. Argentines are known for being very forward, a little ego-centric, and, really, all up in yo’ business. Por ejemplo, I had a friend get some money out of a wire transfer and the teller proceeded to ask what the money was for. In Argentina, this guy is just making small talk. In the US, he’s rude. Herein, we can see the cultural differences of customer service. What might be rapport-building in one culture is offensive in another.

I think this might be an interesting discussion when applied to teaching. In my own classes, I would tell my students that it’s important to avoid colloquial phrases because academic writing is intended to be a global endeavor; therefore, what may make sense to us and our culture may not be translatable to other academics in other countries. Similarly, this issue of what is cultural accepted or appropriate also speaks to audience. In one culture, being very direct and pointed may be persuasive and in another it would actually work against you. It’d be interesting to see a rhetoric class framed around that–the rhetorical awareness of cultural appropriacy. Has a ring to it, no?

But Then I Found Harlot

As someone interested in rhetoric, new media, and in joining a digital publishing community, I’ve spent the last few years eye-balling various online journals.  I’ve anxiously watched as a number of journals released shout-outs for editorial assistants, reviewers, or editors, but never found myself getting excited enough about any particular journal to send in that familiar “Hello, I’m interested in working for your awesome journal” query.

But then I found Harlot.

I began following the journal in the summer of 2012 when one of my much-admired professors, Kristin Arola, published an award-winning video in the journal.  After watching the video and reading various other pieces, I thought “Wow, this journal is doing some cool stuff.”

My interest in Harlot continued to grow as I encountered creative multi-media pieces like Abigail Lambke’s “The Oral Aural Walter Ong,” quirky sci-fi analyses like Rita Malenczyk’s  “Scully and Me: Or, The X-Files, Revisited” and big-statement pieces like Elizabeth Kuechenmeister’s “‘I Had an Abortion’”: A Feminist Analysis of the Abortion Debate.”  These works, along with my growing admiration for the journal editors’ dedication to publishing articles that don’t fit tidily into traditional academic venues, led me from simply reading Harlot to wanting to join the staff.  At last I was ready to send in that long overdue email inquiry.

Luckily for me, the Harlot crew responded to my query with a generous “welcome aboard!” and I’m now working on cool social media projects with folks like Paul Mulhuaser and Kaitlin Dyer.  Over the next year, we hope to expand the journal’s social media presence as well as craft and curate educational materials for teachers.  Working on these projects, as well as getting to know both the Harlot editors and contributors, is an exciting process and already titillating my inner rhetor-teacher-tech-nerd.

*****

Lori Beth De Hertogh is a Ph.D. student in the Rhetoric and Composition program at Washington State University.

 

Call for Submissions, Fall 2013 General Issue!

Call for Submissions for Harlot’s Fall 2013 general issue

It’s that time again! Harlot is inviting adventurous critics, artists, and thinkers to examine the real, important, and everyday powers of rhetoric in innovative and creative ways. With a broad readership (including academics and non-academics), Harlot asks critical questions and provokes playful discussions that are interesting and relevant to diverse audiences. We welcome contributions of all sorts–in terms of subject, style, and presentation–and encourage pieces that engage our audience through meaningful media productions (i.e. accessible alphabetic texts and/or multimedia pieces such as videos, audio files, webtexts, etc.). Submit to Harlot and reveal those arts of persuasion.

If you have any questions or want to chat through an idea, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the editors ([email protected]).

Submission Deadline: July 15th

Laugh, cry, & identify with readymade rhetoric in episode 1: valediction


Dear Viewers,
A Rousing Intercourse is a vlog that comments on everyday rhetorical practices. This first episode is about readymade rhetoric and valediction. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and you’ll identify with that frustrating aspect of our digital lives: email valediction. Enjoy our humorous take on email valediction as well as our suggestions for changing valediction to better fit with our current cultural moment.

Warmest Regards,
A Rousing Intercourse

Play #DefineRhetoric & win pounds of prestige

Rhetors, Technorhetors, Rhetotechnos, and Compositionists,

It’s that time again.  Our Define Rhetoric competition has begun. Help us add to the almost three million different definitions of rhetoric we’ve found. Help us flavor the world with new perspectives on what rhetoric is, isn’t, and does, doesn’t. Come up with THE best definition of rhetoric for 2013 and you’ll win a sweet trophy, a gift certificate to Amazon.com, and, well, between 10-20 pounds of prestige.

To play:

  1. You’ve gotta tweet. If you don’t have a Twitter account, ya gotta make one.
  2. Tweet your brand new definition of rhetoric, your tweaked or remixed definition of rhetoric, one you’ve liked from a theorist, or even a visual or audio definition. You can play or define as many times as ya’d like.
  3. Put the hashtag #DefineRhetoric somewhere in your definition because we find the definitions using that hashtag.
  4. DUE DATE- September 15th 2013.

We encourage you to have fun and play with what rhetoric can mean. Be your own Plato, Aristotle, Aspasia. Be your own Burke, Richards, Perelman. Be your own Villanueva, Glenn, Lanham. And in the spirit of givin’ cred where cred is due, we ask you to try to cite your sources as best ya can when ya tweak or remix or quote a definition.

Here are a few we’ve gotten so far.  Check out how last year’s champ @RhetRock is already defending his title:

  • #definerhetoric Rhetoric is how your persuade yourself that you can get ONE MORE DAY out of that empty tube of toothpaste.
    by @RhetRock

And, if ya getta chance, follow us on Twitter (@HarlotTweets) for competition updates and tweets that will make your wildest dreams come true!

Good luck and good rhetoricking!

Sweet Trophy!
Sweet trophy
#DefineRhetoric Champion 2012
Rhetoric is a bag of Halloween candy, sometimes you get the good stuff and sometimes you get apples with razor blades.
by @TheOriginalRock (now @RhetRock)

ink & interpretation

Harlot O tattoo

design by my friend James Thornburg!

I have a Harlot tattoo. Yup. That fancy O from the logo? It’s on the inside of my left ankle. It is, nearly needless to say, awesome. I got it the day before my dissertation defense; it offered a great physical distraction from mental strain. It also felt good to literally mark the end of that era, the final, long-time-coming accomplishment of the degree — and it made sense to mark it with Harlot. The visibility of the tattoo, its placement where people would see it all the time, was something I struggled with. Not just because my mother hates it, but because it felt like a rather public statement.

I went to a cool talk at a conference recently, and one of the presenters–the delightful folklorist Martha Sims–was talking about the rhetoric of tattoos, particularly verbal ones. The most interesting part, for me, was that several of the people she’d interviewed said that they don’t think about their tattoos as having an audience other than themselves. Their choices are meaningful and in some cases private; the fact that many people will see and interpret these texts was not a significant contributor. So this got me thinking about my own.

I have another tattoo, one I got in my 20s, that has personal significance but is otherwise, as first tattoos will be, a bit silly. Thankfully, that one is on my lower back — which means it gets mocking names like “tramp stamp,” but it’s also conveniently out of sight almost all the time. (Thank god I aged out of those super-low-rise jeans.) So that’s like my personal tat, whereas the Harlot one is my public tat.

I’m not sure what it communicates, of course. For most viewers, it would just be some fancy black design, without significance itself — but significant in its presence alone. I am a person with a visible tattoo. Different audiences will see this differently: I might be the cool professor or the trying-too-hard-to-be-cool professor or the edgy junior faculty or the trite gen-x-er… or, as in reality, some combination of all. I like that people don’t know what it is, because they’re less likely to have an immediate response to the content (and I might get to tell them about Harlot). But inevitably, it will be read, as will my body and therefore me. This, I realize, is not particularly novel: our bodies are read as texts all day long, whether based on elements under our control or not…

Perhaps that’s what a tattoo communicates: that we’ve chosen to textualize our bodies, to have a say in what they say. Even if what they say is incomprehensible…? Even when we’re/they’re only talking to ourselves…? Even when others overhear and understand — or not?

I should do some research on this, but we have an issue to put out. So… what do you guys think?

In the wake of tragedy, rhetorical reflections…

I don’t have much to say in the wake of Sandy Hook’s tragedy.  And of the little I think I could say with passable confidence, I’m going to reserve, and instead take the moment to ruminate—turning over the ideas, opinions, and arguments again and again to make sure they’re properly digested.

Here are three of the most useful pieces I’ve encountered in reflecting on some of the rhetorical elements at play in this awful situation.  Well, there are two pieces directly relevant to the massacre, and one to help pull you out of that pit of gloom you are probably curled up in if you’ve watched more than an hour of media coverage.

1.  I’ve linked to Charlie Brooker’s rhetorical genius before on Harlot, so perhaps some of you are already familiar with his work in breaking down the formulas of mass media.  From what I’ve witness on television in the past twenty-four hours, however, the lesson bears some repeating:

2.  Nate Silver knows as well as any other politically astute fellow that you don’t win any long-term argument without first shifting the key terms of the debate in your favor.  In his post, “In Public ‘Conversation’ on Guns, A Rhetorical Shift,” Silver has an introductory paragraph that should make just about any rhetorician shiver with gratitude:

Friday’s mass shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., has already touched off a heated political debate. Opponents of stricter regulation on gun ownership have accused their adversaries of politicizing a tragedy. Advocates of more sweeping gun control measures have argued that the Connecticut shootings are a demonstration that laxer gun laws can have dire consequences. Let me sidestep the debate to pose a different question: How often are Americans talking about public policy toward guns? And what language are they using to frame their arguments?

3.  Straight and simple: Buzzfeed’s, “26 Moments that Restored Our Faith in Humanity.”  There are plenty of uplifting stories in here, and more than a few tear-jerkers, so be prepared.  I made it through most of the way with a grateful grin and welled eyes, but I’m a hopeless dog lover, so I pretty much lost it at #23:

When John Unger had suicidal thoughts after a breakup, it was his dog Shoep who brought him back from the brink. This photograph shows Unger cradling his friend in lake Superior to soothe the dog’s arthritis.