Call for CCCarnival: Sirc’s “Resisting Entropy”

A few years back, when an interesting article would seem to capture the attention of blogging scholars in rhetoric and composition, someone might call for a blogging carnival about the article. There might be a more recent example, but the one that comes to mind is Derek Mueller’s 2008 call for a CCCarnival about Karen Kopelson’s “Sp(l)itting Images; or, Back to the Future of (Rhetoric and?) Composition” (CCC 59.4).

I’d like to renew the idea/practice of a blogging CCCarnival. In the most recent issue of College Composition and Communication (63.3), Geoffrey Sirc has a review essay (PDF) in which he calls out rhetoric and composition for seeming “so stunted and contrary” (508), asking (or perhaps, rather, demanding) that we question and re-imagine our “sniffy attitude toward literariness” (510) and leave behind our “bland, sanitized pedagogy” that has misread vitalism (511) and fetishized and reduced the complexities of invention and audience as a teachable method (512, 514). (I hope that, at the very least, this is a fair and concise summary of his polemics.)

Bonnie has already asked “us” to discuss Sirc’s claim that the pedagogy that has persisted in “Official composition” is “so limited, it’s unbearable” (511). And I’ve seen numerous Twitter posts questioning his various claims and logics, or, at the very least, his tone toward those scholars’ recent books he derides.

Despite some’s belief that it might not be worth blogging about the piece (hi Brian!), I think it would be interesting to hear responses that are a bit more in-depth than Twitter conversations. (Though I won’t make this a post about how blogging is dead. haha!) And it seems that the piece is rich for topoi to launch from.

So, if you’re in, post something in response to Sirc’s piece on your blog—say by a week from today. Post a comment here or a trackback, and I’ll try to keep track of the links and post them all so they’re easily accessible. UPDATED: You could also tweet a link at me (@sisypheantask).

CONTRIBUTIONS to the CCCarnival:
Earth Wide Moth: Resisting “Resisting Entropy”
• The Parable Maternal: Sirc/Blog Carnival
Transmedia Me: Sirc, Shipka, Summers
Political & Rhetorical: Joining the (proposed) CCCarnival on Sirc’s “Resisting Entropy”
Digital Digs: First Year Composition’s “Doomed Enterprise”
Steven Krause: Nothing Personal
Page Techtonics: Sirc Blog CCCarnival
Culture Cat: Fashionably Late to the Sirc CCCarnival
Clinamen: Back and Forth on the See Saw
englishgal516: CCCarnival: Sirc’s “Resisting Entropy”
Resembling Amber: Sirc — Resisting Entropy
The Blogora
Vitia: Literary Texts and Solipsistic Pedagogies

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27 Responses to Call for CCCarnival: Sirc’s “Resisting Entropy”

  1. bonnie says:

    Great idea, Michael! I’m in. But it’s hard to know where to begin; how do you follow Geoff Sirc? I suppose I hafta start w/ the obvi: It’s tough to be critical without offending. But, to quote another alt-rock star-type icon, “everybody hurts,” (Stipe) so, we have that.

    Jeez, if I sent out even a whiff of a nanodraft of my ideas for feedback before trashing them as *already* dated or better said elsewhere, I’d have that highly lauded book out there by now, though I couldn’t even begin to hope for the kind of praise Sirc heaps on the always laudable Jody Shipka in his review of her book (can’t wait to read it; somebody give me a raise so I can afford to buy books anymore!). So but I guess I’m here feeling for Miller, and I must admit that I have not read his book. And Sirc’s review causes me to wonder about the extent to which it deserves the tonally and analytically painful treatment it gets. I mean, it’s EASY to find oneself agreeing with the familiar lament regarding our field and its situation within English departments and all that this has meant for Composition (as a happening) in its full(est) complexity. Maybe it’s too easy, and so the harsh tone calls out distinctions that are bypassed in light of the (victim’s) narrative that might more productively be(come) a generative hybrid form. I have always, frankly, loved Sirc for going there, for catapulting me beyond a complacency that can at times feel safe even though I’m often truthfully uncomfy, sort of willing the courage to speak, wondering …

    I want to say more, but I’m held back because I have only read Bryon’s (fabulous) book, and just as I trust Sirc to have generated his review after thoroughly rigorous contemplation, I should want others to trust me in my comments, and I have read the review only once. So for now, I can only say that I sense the value in Sirc’s critique, and frankly, it aligns pretty nicely with my own disposition toward Composition and its still-emerging fuller complexity.

  2. Michael says:

    Right, Bonnie. I’m not sure where I want my response to begin, either. I was interested in this CCCarnival in part because I found myself agreeing with him at a number of points, but seeing so much disagreement in other forums. Though his tone, and what to do with that? As a past adviser of mine would put it, it’s fairly masculinist, in the tone of English Composition as a Happening. On the other hand, it’s lively and rich and, well, I think, fun, rejecting the literary nod of agreement he derides in his book. And how to respond when I haven’t read the books he’s reviewing, except for parts of Hawk’s book? Tensions, but fine tensions to write in the midst of, I suppose.

    It seems, though, that you’ve got a number of wonderful places to begin. 😀

  3. Matt says:

    I know where I’d begin: someone tell that man how to use a paragraph break! While I realize it’s hardly a substantive critique, I blame at least half of my unwillingness to read the rest of his review on the length of the second and third paragraphs. Just sayin’…

  4. bonnie says:

    Matt, I’d imagine that stylistic choice is a function of Sirc’s disposition toward poetic delivery. If you read it aloud, it might work for you.

  5. Michael says:

    You know, I found the piece so engaging as I read it, I didn’t even notice the paragraphs were so long. You’re probably reading it on your computer. Grab your printed copy and read it. 😀

  6. Pingback: Sirc/Blog Carnival « the parable maternal: a blog on writing, rhetoric, and literary studies.

  7. Chelsea says:

    I’m in…and it’s my first blog carnival. I’m a student of Dr. Mueller’s, who forwarded your post to me!

  8. Michael says:

    Looking forward to reading your post, Chelsea! And I’ve seen a couple posts — I’ll get to posting a list of participants’ links soon!

  9. Pingback: Sirc, Shipka, Summers « Transmedia Me

  10. Pingback: Nothing Personal |

  11. Pingback: Sirc Blog CCCarnival « page tectonics

  12. Jana says:

    First experiment with the blog carnival, also a student of Dr. Mueller.

  13. Michael says:

    Thanks, Clancy! I haven’t even contributed yet, but plan to today! 😀

  14. Clancy says:

    OK, that makes me feel better!

  15. Pingback: Clinamen » Back and forth on the see saw

  16. Pingback: CCCarnival: Sirc’s “Resisting Entropy” | englishgal516

  17. Englishgal516 says:

    Thought I’d jump in, too!

  18. Michael says:

    Thanks! Looking forward to reading it, Englishgal516 😀 I’ve got a draft — just need to find time to finish mine while trying to get a few larger projects done.

  19. Heather says:

    There is no mistaking Sirc’s opinions about the authors and the works. His tone for Miller’s work, although harsh, makes it more compelling for me to want to read. I do not totally agree with all of Sirc’s ideas and I may find that if I read Miller’s book, there may be more to it than the “half- truths” that Sirc contends comprise the book.

  20. Pingback: Literary Texts and Solipsistic Pedagogies « Vitia

  21. Pingback: Russell, David. “Activity Theory and Its Implications for Writing Instruction.” In Reconceiving Writing, Rethinking Writing Instruction. Ed. Joseph Petraglia. (Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum,1995): 51-78. « New Seeds

  22. Drew Kopp says:

    Yes, thanks Michael for setting this up. I have just a brief comment:

    With Sirc’s glowing approval of Shipka and Hawk, only to be matched by his excoriation of Miller, what strikes me as noteworthy is the emphasis (in the form of an incantatory, guttural plea, or is it a syncopated moan?) on shifting our focus toward the material register of writing. I found this quite eloquently present in Jody Shipka’s recent talk at Rowan (and like many others, I’m excited about reading her book). And so I have to ask about the inevitable disruption such a pedagogical directive evokes–whether as paralogy, vitalism, happening, or rearticulating process–in writers who cannot but show up to the scene of writing enframed within a technological relationship to writing–the drive to employ writing as a means to get it right. While this emphasis on the material register of writing does not invoke a critical pedagogy (as Sirc inveighs against), such an emphasis, in its shocking difference from the customary familiar approach to writing, inevitably courts a spectrum of response from resistance to willing participation. It just so happens that the latter cases are the rule, and the former the rare exception.

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