Going Public

A few days have passed since Friday’s presentation.  And, as Katie expressed in her post, the experience has left me reflecting not only on the organization and design of our presentations but also on the design, theory, and practice of Harlot.  Personally, Friday’s discussion with the audience was exactly what I needed.  In many respects, since I first jumped on board, with a genuine personal and intellectual interest and devotion to the project, I have not really stepped outside of it or forced myself to see the project from multiple views.  Some of the issues raised during the question/answer session on Friday forced me to begin that process–an important one, and a timely (kairotic, perhaps) one.

It’s a good time to reflect on what we’ve done so far–what we’ve put into action–and how well it fits with our goals and philosophy.  One of the greatest challenges we face (and we were reminded of this on Friday) is gaining interest from and facilitating engagement with the public…and this is central to Harlot.  How will we capture the attention of the public?  How will we gain their interest and respect?  What will make them want to participate and to continue to participate in Harlot?

Though this week we need to focus our attention on revising our presentations for the Fem(s) Rhet(s) conference on Friday, I think when we return, we need to spend more time working with the public on Harlot.  We need to talk to more non-academics as we move forward with this project.  We need to “go public.”

Work-in-Progress, with emphasis on the progress

Today we delivered our first editorial presentation to the OSU Literacy Studies Grad Student Interdisciplinary Working Group (or something with some combination of those words), a dry run of the presentation we will deliver next Friday at the Feminism(s) and Rhetoric(s) conference in Little Rock, AR.

So, WHEW. Big sigh of relief after weeks of astonishingly intense stress and sleeplessness — and not a little bit of excitment and even confidence. And, for the most part, things went as hoped… especially in the sense that this run-through served its purpose of teaching us what we need to revise to make next week’s that much better.

We have put a moratorium on apologies, so I will only say that my presentation will need the most revision. I knew this going in; the campus talk targeted a vastly different audience than we will face at Fem/Rhet — who won’t be quite as interested in the cast of supporters, for example. More importantly, the audience today helped us realize a major gap — a concretization of the project and product from the opening. So my “film” will be scrapped (and those lost hours mourned appropriately) in favor of a brief origins/development story culminating in a thorough exploration of the site and submissions. Problem solved… and humility safely intact.

The pride, though, is also still there — especially when I consider the amazing performances given by the rest of the board. They were smooth, professional, and inspiring. We were, however, gently called out on our tendency towards self-deprecation. As rhetoricians, we need to be mroe aware of our own ethos, in our persons as well as our site.

To close on a positive note, then, we found our work validated by the warmth of the audience’s response — and even more so by the engaged and engaging conversation that followed our presentations. Such provokative and good-natured dialogue is exactly Harlot‘s theory in practice. Thanks to all who made that happen.

“my humps, they got you”

I am still a big fan of Alanis Morissette cover of Fergie’s “My Humps.” If you don’t know what I’m referring to, congratulate yourself on making good use of your free time. Then, go here:

It’s a strange and glorious mix of the ridiculous and the…kind of good? Mostly, it’s ridiculous.

Now, Tori Amos is giving impromptu performances inspired by other, um, cultural phenomena. Here are a few lyrics to a song she recently performed in concert. The best part of the audio is the audience reaction. After a few uncomfortable laughs, it’s completely silent. What are these singers up to?

Britney, they set you up
Is your contract winding up?
But you drank from the cup
Boy, this is what it looks like
Yes, I said, this is, this is what it looks like, Disney, yes

When a star falls down
When a star falls down

You may be a mother
Baby, you still need a mother
Yes, I may be a mother
But I still need a mother
To pick me up
Yes, to pick me up

doo dah, doo dah . . . the clowns are coming to town . . .

Thanks to the indomitable Chris Higgs for passing along this news link:


Given this town’s love for subversive humor (cf. Doo Dah parade), this story will undoubtedly find some supportive listeners. Will someone PLEASE write about dark humor and the rhetorical strategies of these avant-garde-esque responses to entrenched ideologies? Is their unusualness their effectiveness? How is it that laughter and dalliance can challenge hate groups? Are demonstrations like these fundamentally different than the satire we’ve become accustomed to (like the Daily Show)?

I should also point out (for those of you who read the article linked above), that the chant “Who’s street? OUR street!” is most likely taken from the Reclaim the Streets movements that happened in the late ’90s. Viewed as rhetorical occasions, these events are fascinating: mobs of people are covertly alerted to a gathering at a specific time and a specific place, where they “flash” on the scene and basically throw a party in the streets. The trick? Pavement is ripped up and trees planted in the middle of the road (while others provide cover). Talk about rhetorical strategy! These events (in my own opinion) were the precursor to “Flash Mobs” which earned notoriety a few years ago.

Alright . . . enough from the kid who is looking to make a dissertation out of the rhetoric of social movements . . .

check this out . . .

As I compile and formulate my thoughts on digital rhetoric for a Ph.D personal statement, I often feel wonderfully overwhelmed with the possibilites for rhetorical studies and the distribution of its findings in our tech-age. Harlot is attempting to push rhetorical literacy into new realms using new technologies; and discovering what is on the forefront of technology can be truly astonishing. Such is the case with multipoint interfaces, illustrated in the video posted here:


Check it out! I love to hear the speaker’s repeated use of “making it more intuitive.” Furthermore, I found it fascinating how much technology, forethought, creativity and intelligence goes into “making it more intuitive.” Any thoughts?