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Language and Linguistics
A Microparametric Account
In this important new study, Sandro Sessarego provides a syntactic description of the Afro-Bolivian Spanish determiner phrase. Afro-Bolivian Spanish is one of the many Afro-Hispanic dialects spoken across Latin America and, from a theoretical point of view, is rich in constructions that would be considered ungrammatical in standard Spanish. Yet these constructions form the core grammar of these less-prestigious, but equally efficient, syntactic systems. Because of the wide variety of their usages, Sessarego’s study of these contact varieties is particularly valuable in developing and refining theories of syntactic microvariation. This dialect presents phenomena that offer a real challenge to current linguistic theory. The Afro-Bolivian Spanish Determiner Phrase elaborates on the importance of enhancing a stronger dialogue between formal generative theory and sociolinguistic methodology, in line with recent work in the field of minimalist syntax. Sessarego’s study combines sociolinguistic techniques of data collection with generative models of data analysis to obtain more fine-grained, empirically testable generalizations.
Language Culture and Politics in Russia from Gorbachev to Putin
In After Newspeak, Michael S. Gorham presents a cultural history of the politics of Russian language from Gorbachev and glasnost to Putin and the emergence of new generations of Web technologies. Gorham begins from the premise that periods of rapid and radical change both shape and are shaped by language. He documents the role and fate of the Russian language in the collapse of the USSR and the decades of reform and national reconstruction that have followed. Gorham demonstrates the inextricable linkage of language and politics in everything from dictionaries of profanity to the flood of publications on linguistic self-help, the speech patterns of the country’s leaders, the blogs of its bureaucrats, and the official programs promoting the use of Russian in the so-called "near abroad."
Gorham explains why glasnost figured as such a critical rhetorical battleground in the political strife that led to the Soviet Union’s collapse and shows why Russians came to deride the newfound freedom of speech of the 1990s as little more than the right to swear in public. He assesses the impact of Medvedev’s role as Blogger-in-Chief and the role Putin’s vulgar speech practices played in the restoration of national pride. And he investigates whether Internet communication and new media technologies have helped to consolidate a more vibrant democracy and civil society or if they serve as an additional resource for the political technologies manipulated by the Kremlin.
The Study of Discourse Beyond Language and Culture
Aware that categorical thinking imposes restrictions on the ways we communicate, Stephen R. Yarbrough proposes discourse studies as an alternative to rhetoric and philosophy, both of which are structuralistic systems of inquiry.
Discourse studies, Yarbrough argues, does not support the idea that languages, cultures, or conceptual schemes in general adequately describe linguistic competence. He asserts that a belief in languages and cultures "feeds a false dichotomy: either we share the same codes and conventions, achieving community but risking exclusivism, or we proliferate differences, achieving choice and freedom but risking fragmentation and incoherence." Discourse studies, he demonstrates, works around this dichotomy.
Drawing on philosopher Donald Davidson, Yarbrough establishes the idea that community can be a consequence of communication but is not a prerequisite for it. By disassociating our thinking from conceptual schemes, we can avoid the problems that come with believing in an abstract structure that predates any utterance.
Yarbrough also draws on Mikhail Bakhtin's dialogism to define how utterances operate in life and to show how utterances are involved with power and how power relates to understanding. His discussion of Michel Meyer's problematology treats the questions implied by a statement as the meaning of the statement.
Yarbrough introduces readers to a credible theoretical framework for focusing on discourse rather than on conceptual schemes that surround it and to the potential advantages of our using this approach in daily life.
A Language for Our Biotechnological Future
Biotechnological advancements during the last half-century have forced humanity to come to grips with the possibility of a post-human future. The ever-evolving opinions about how society should anticipate this biotechnological frontier demand a language that will describe our new future and discuss its ethics. After the Genome brings together expert voices from the realms of ethics, rhetoric, religion, and science to help lead complex conversations about end-of-life care, the relationship between sin and medicine, and the protection of human rights in a post-human world. With chapters on the past and future of the science-warfare narrative, the rhetoric of care and its effect on those suffering, black rhetoric and biotechnology, planning for the end of life, regenerative medicine, and more, After the Genome yields great insight into the human condition and moves us forward toward a genuinely humane approach to who we are and who we are becoming.
The Past, Present, and Future of Creative Writing in the University
After the Program Era explores the consequences and implications, as well as the lacunae and liabilities, of McGurl’s foundational intervention. Glass focuses only on American fiction and the traditional MFA program, and this collection aims to expand and examine its insights in terms of other genres and sites. Postwar poetry, in particular, has until now been neglected as a product of the Program Era, even though it is, arguably, a “purer” example, since poets now depend almost entirely on the patronage of the university. Similarly, this collection looks beyond the traditional MFA writing program to explore the pre-history of writing programs in American universities, as well as alternatives to the traditionally structured program that have emerged along the way.
Taken together, the essays in After the Program Era seek to answer and explore many of these questions and continue the conversations McGurl only began.
Seth Abramson, Greg Barnhisel, Eric Bennett, Matthew Blackwell, Kelly Budruweit, Mike Chasar, Simon During, Donal Harris, Michael Hill, Benjamin Kirbach, Sean McCann, Mark McGurl, Marija Rieff, Juliana Spahr, Stephen Voyce, Stephanie Young
Composition, Counterpublics, and the Citizen Bricoleur
In After the Public Turn, author Frank Farmer argues that counterpublics and the people who make counterpublics—“citizen bricoleurs”—deserve a more prominent role in our scholarship and in our classrooms. Encouraging students to understand and consider resistant or oppositional discourse is a viable route toward mature participation as citizens in a democracy.
Farmer examines two very different kinds of publics, cultural and disciplinary, and discusses two counterpublics within those broad categories: zine discourses and certain academic discourses. By juxtaposing these two significantly different kinds of publics, Farmer suggests that each discursive world can be seen, in its own distinct way, as a counterpublic, an oppositional social formation that has a stake in widening or altering public life as we know it.
Drawing on major figures in rhetoric and cultural theory, Farmer builds his argument about composition teaching and its relation to the public sphere, leading to a more sophisticated understanding of public life and a deeper sense of what democratic citizenship means for our time.
Interviews with Maverick American Publishers
This collection is the first of its kind to explore with the publishers themselves the historical, aesthetic, practical, and personal impulses behind literary publishing. The publishers included are Harry Duncan (the Cummington Press), Lawrence Ferlinghetti (City Lights), David Godine (David R. Godine), Daniel Halpern (the Ecco Press), Sam Hamill and Tree Swenson (Copper Canyon Press), James Laughlin (New Directions), John Martin (Black Sparrow), and Jonathan Williams (the Jargon Society). Their passion for books, their belief in their individual visions of what publishing is or could be, their inspired mulishness crackle on the page.
Understanding Transfer as a Rhetorical Act
The question of how students transfer knowledge is an important one, as it addresses the larger issue of the educational experience. In Agents of Integration: Understanding Transfer as a Rhetorical Act, Rebecca S. Nowacek explores, through a series of case studies, the issue of transfer by asking what in an educational setting engages students to become “agents of integration”— individuals actively working to perceive, as well as to convey effectively to others, the connections they make.
While many studies of transfer are longitudinal, with data collected over several years, Nowacek’s is synchronous, a rich cross-section of the writing and classroom discussions produced by a team-taught learning community—three professors and eighteen students enrolled in a one-semester general education interdisciplinary humanities seminar that consisted of three linked courses in history, literature, and religious studies. With extensive field notes, carefully selected student and teacher self-reports in the form of interviews and focus groups, and thorough examinations of recorded classroom discussions, student papers with professor comments, and student notebooks, Nowacek presents a nuanced and engaging analysis that outlines how transfer is not simply a cognitive act but a rhetorical one that involves both seeing connections and presenting them to the instructors who are institutionally positioned to recognize and value them.
Considering the challenges facing instructors teaching for transfer and the transfer of writing-related knowledge, Nowacek develops and outlines a new theoretical framework and methodological model of transfer and illustrates the practical implications through case studies and other classroom examples. She proposes transfer is best understood as an act of recontextualization, and she builds on this premise throughout the book by drawing from previous work in cognitive psychology, activity theory, and rhetorical genre theory, as well as her own analyses of student work.
This focused examination complements existing longitudinal studies and will help readers better understand not only the opportunities and challenges confronting students as they work to become agents of integration but also the challenges facing instructors as they seek to support that student work.