CCCC in St. Louis

A lot just happened. I went to St. Louis for the first time; I presented at Cs for the first time; I ate and drank and saw Richard Lanham speak and went to the zoo to escape the conference for an afternoon and experience some bestial rhetorics. (Anyone get the Debra Hawhee reference? No? Okay.) Like I said, a lot happened.

There’s a lot to say and I’m too busy to say it all, so I’ll limit myself to a few points. First off, I was pretty delighted by the turnout at my panel, and by the quality of the presentations. One fellow on my panel, a Mr. Brian Fotinakes out of Indiana U of Pennsylvania, revealed what writing evaluation software actually looks for when it assesses style — and it’s terrifying. I thought my own paper went well, too, and people seemed receptive. I’ve sold myself on the read-aloud-but-write-a-paper-designed-to-be-read-aloud method when I have a lot to say and I need to make it fit the time slot. Worked well here, and last week at the MEGAA Symposium.

I also have this insight about Cs in general: I think the theme matters more than we realize. This isn’t to say I like themes in conferences. I dislike them. At least I dislike them for Cs. I think they limit people in weird ways, and generate forced, awkward arguments that strain to place emphasis on some halfcooked buzzword instead of following an organic line of inquiry. But the “writing gateways” theme allowed a lot more room, for instance, than the “remix” theme two years ago, just because it was more abstract a term, and thus, I think, allowed a wider range of topics and a more diverse and interesting program than 2010’s. Though spawning numerous and somewhat annoying “Gateways to ____” panel titles, the gateway metaphor translates to pretty much whatever you want, which is better than 50 panels about remixing remixes and digital media studies owning the conference.

Last thing: Richard Lanham’s talk was completely charming when you could hear him (microphones? not his specialty). My friend Kate Ronald delivered an impromptu encomium for him during the Q&A at the end, reading aloud from a student reflection on how Lanham’s “paramedic method” of be-verb removal drastically helped her prose. It was completely heartwarming(Or, it warmed my heart completely? Hmm.) Also, Lanham made me want to go back and read his Handlist of Rhetorical Terms cover to cover. What an indispensable little book.

At least one conference attendee wanted a copy of my Cs paper. I’m going to add it here, and make a section for conference papers on the Writing page.

That’s all for now. Signing out!

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