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Against the Grain

Interviews with Maverick American Publishers

Against the Grain is a collection of interviews with nine small press publishers, each one characterized by strength of resolve and a dedication to good books. Each press reflects, perhaps more directly than any large trade publisher could, the character of its founder; and each has earned its own place in the select group of important small presses in America.

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.

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Agents of Integration

Understanding Transfer as a Rhetorical Act

Rebecca S. Nowacek

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.

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Agreement and Head Movement

Clitics, Incorporation, and Defective Goals

Ian Roberts

An argument that, contrary to Chomsky, head-movement is part of the narrow syntax.

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Agreement and Its Failures

Omer Preminger

In this book, Omer Preminger investigates how the obligatory nature of predicate-argument agreement is enforced by the grammar. Preminger argues that an empirically adequate theory of predicate-argument agreement requires recourse to an operation, whose obligatoriness is a grammatical primitive not reducible to representational properties, but whose successful culmination is not enforced by the grammar. Preminger's argument counters contemporary approaches that find the obligatoriness of predicate-argument agreement enforced through representational means. The most prominent of these is Chomsky's "interpretability"-based proposal, in which the obligatoriness of predicate-argument agreement is enforced through derivational time bombs. Preminger presents an empirical argument against contemporary approaches that seek to derive the obligatory nature of predicate-argument agreement exclusively from derivational time bombs. He offers instead an alternative account based on the notion of obligatory operations better suited to the facts. The crucial data involves utterances that inescapably involve attempted-but-failed agreement and are nonetheless fully grammatical. Preminger combines a detailed empirical investigation of agreement phenomena in the Kichean (Mayan) languages, Zulu (Bantu), Basque, Icelandic, and French with an extensive and rigorous theoretical exploration of the far-reaching consequences of these data. The result is a novel proposal that has profound implications for the formalism that the theory of grammar uses to derive obligatory processes and properties.

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Agreement Restrictions in Persian

Anousha Sedighi

“Agreement Restrictions in Persian” is the first comprehensive attempt to tackle the issue of verbal agreement in Persian from a cross-linguistic point of view. Persian is a field of research within theoretical linguistics that is yet to be sufficiently explored. This book adopts the Minimalist Program of Chomsky (1995-2004) which is at the forefront of recent theories of formal syntax and applies it to the Persian language. Although it is commonly believed that in Persian the verb agrees with the subject, several constructions seem to constrain this obligatory rule. Adopting the framework of Distributed Morphology, the author argues that agreement is in fact obtained with the plural inanimate subjects but a morphological rule may block the result. Unlike the previous analyses which consider the experiencer as the subject of the psychological constructions, the author argues that the psychological state is the subject of the sentence. The findings of this book not only contribute to better understanding of Persian syntax, but also have important implications for grammar theory

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Alterity and Narrative

Stories and the Negotiation of Western Identities

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Ambient Rhetoric

The Attunements of Rhetorical Being

Thomas Rickert

In Ambient Rhetoric, Thomas Rickert seeks to dissolve the boundaries of the rhetorical tradition and its basic dichotomy of subject and object. With the advent of new technologies, new media, and the dispersion of human agency through external information sources, rhetoric can no longer remain tied to the autonomy of human will and cognition as the sole determinants in the discursive act. Rickert develops the concept of ambience in order to engage all of the elements that comprise the ecologies in which we exist. Culling from Martin Heidegger’s hermeneutical phenomenology in Being and Time, Rickert finds the basis for ambience in Heidegger’s assertion that humans do not exist in a vacuum; there is a constant and fluid relation to the material, informational, and emotional spaces in which they dwell. Hence, humans are not the exclusive actors in the rhetorical equation; agency can be found in innumerable things, objects, and spaces. As Rickert asserts, it is only after we become attuned to these influences that rhetoric can make a first step toward sufficiency. Rickert also recalls the foundational Greek philosophical concepts of kairos (time), chōra (space/place), and periechon (surroundings) and cites their repurposing by modern and postmodern thinkers as “informational scaffolding” for how we reason, feel, and act. He discusses contemporary theory in cognitive science, rhetoric, and object-oriented philosophy to expand his argument for the essentiality of ambience to the field of rhetoric. Rickert then examines works of ambient music that incorporate natural and artificial sound, spaces, and technologies, finding them to be exemplary of a more fully resonant and experiential media. In his preface, Rickert compares ambience to the fermenting of wine—how it’s distinctive flavor can be traced to innumerable factors, including sun, soil, water, region, and grape variety. The environment and company with whom it’s consumed further enhance the taste experience. And so it should be with rhetoric—to be considered among all of its influences. As Rickert demonstrates, the larger world that we inhabit (and that inhabits us) must be fully embraced if we are to advance as beings and rhetors within it.

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American Indian English

American Indian English documents and examines the diversity of English in American Indian speech communities. It presents a convincing case for the fundamental influence of ancestral Native American languages on respective modern Indian English codes.

A distillation of over twenty years’ experience, William Leap’s pioneering work on the varieties of American Indian English explores the linguistic and sociolinguistic characteristics of language use among Navajo, Hopi, Mojave, Ute, Tsimshian, Kotzebue, Ponca, Chilcotin, Seminole, Cherokee, and other American Indian tribes.

Unlike contemporary studies on schooling, ethnicity, empowerment, and educational failure, American Indian English avoids postmodernist jargon and discourse strategies in favor of direct description and commentary. Data are derived from real-life conditions faced by speakers of Indian English in various English-speaking settings. This practical focus enhances the book’s accessibility to Indian educators and community-based teachers, as well as non-Indian academics.

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