I’ve been slack in the past months about keeping up with my inventory of Inside Higher Ed columns. As always, most recent columns, and all columns, can be accessed through the Tyro Tracts node of IHE’s site.

I think the “hits” this go round were “Teaching Writing is Your Job,” “The Math Doesn’t Work,” and “Writing to Not Print.”

Advising Outside Our Experience (10/28/13)

Writing Letters of Recommendation (9/25/13)

Time on Campus (9/4/13)

Writing to Not Print (8/19/13)

Guide to Administrators (7/31/13)

Benefit of the Doubt (7/10/13)

How to Attend a Conference (6/24/13)

Summer Retooling (6/14/13)

Have a Contingency Plan (5/29/13)

Owning Our Mistakes (5/15/13)

The Math Doesn’t Work (4/22/13)

Teaching Writing Is Your Job (4/10/13)

Blood and Urine ONLY

Mario Untersteiner PRE/TEXT Call For Papers/Participants

Mario Untersteiner was a prolific Italian classicist (arguably philosopher) who focused on the ancient Greeks, and primarily on the origins of tragedy, the sophistic tradition, and the works of Plato and Aristotle. Even though influential within continental European circles during the mid-20th Century, Untersteiner’s works remain relatively unknown to English-speaking rhetoricians. With the notable exception of his most important and widely cited book, The Sophists (translated by Kathleen Freeman,1954), the bulk of Untersteiner’s essays have yet to be translated into English.

This Call for Papers announces a forthcoming double volume of PRE/TEXT: A Journal of Rhetorical Theory (Victor J. Vitanza, Editor and Publisher) that will focus on the work of Mario Untersteiner. The first volume will consist of a series of translations of previously untranslated works by Untersteiner, and the second volume will consist of critical essays that make use of the new translations.

In addition to the goal of making more of Untersteiner’s work available to a broader English-speaking audience, the first volume will also serve as a collaborative experiment in the process of translation and in the rhetorical act of translation. The work will consist of three major phases. Once contributors to the translation volume have been assembled, the translation team will, through a collaborative process, decide which of Untersteiner’s works should be prioritized for translation and inclusion in the volume. Once works have been selected, translation strategies will be devised and executed, and finally, the translations will be reviewed for accuracy both internally and externally.

The subsequent volume of PRE/TEXT will be comprised of critical essays that make use of the translations to contextualize, comment upon, critique, and explore Untersteiner’s place within and contributions to Western rhetorical theory, inquiry, and specifically his contributions to interpretations of the sophistic tradition. Contributors to this second of our two-part Untersteiner series will have access to the set of new translations prior to their publication.

To participate in the compilation, translation, and publication of the first volume in this two-part series, e-mail Nate Kreuter, P/T, Guest Editor (nathankreuter [at] gmail [dot] com) with a brief statement of your interest in Untersteiner and a frank assessment of your own preparedness to translate from Italian to English. We seek the participation of Italian-speaking rhetoricians and rhetoricians with a theoretical interest in the act of translation, as well as the participation of Italian language experts with an interest in the rhetoric of translation, or specific interest in the ancient Greek rhetorical tradition and/or Untersteiner and his work. Suggestions for which Untersteiner essays to include in the translation volume are also welcome at any time, even from those who may not wish to or be able to participate in the actual translation work.

A formal CFP for the second volume of critical essays will be issued at a later date.


My column writing gig with Inside Higher Ed continues. In my most recent batch of columns, archived below, two in particular stand out. The first is the “On Guns in My Classroom” column, which was picked up by three pr0-gun blogs, and drew the ire of an extreme pro-gun demographic. Read the comments, on both my post and the subsequent posts about me. They’re striking. The reaction posts were at The Truth About Guns, Guns Save Life, and No Lawyers, Just Guns and Money. The posts speak for themselves in their ridiculousness, but I’ll point out that the last of these was by an adjunct at my own institution, named John Richardson, who has subsequently stopped returning emails about my proposition that he and I debate the issue for a public audience. I’m glad I wrote that column, and I stick by every word of it.

The second column of significance this go around was the one titled “My Ride to the Airport,” in which I tried to dole out some thanks to a fellow named Jim Marshall, who was a great help to me at a key moment at the beginning of my undergrad career. My only regret about the column is that I didn’t individually thank all of the other folks at Iowa who helped me out so much.

The gig goes on.

My Ride to the Airport (3/19/13)

Just Go to Bed (3/1/13)

On Guns in My Classroom (2/6/13)

A Chance to Advance (1/21/13)

Personal and Professional Boundaries (1/4/13)

How to Handle ‘In Process’ Work (12/3/12)

Veterans in the Classroom (11/12/12)

Prepare for Administration (10/26/12)

 Gambling and Winning


The Rhetoric Society of America just released the CFP for their 2014 conference. For those who don’t already know, RSA holds conferences in alternate years, and holds a summer institute during off years. Right now the cycle is for the conference to take place in even years and the summer institute to take place in odd years.

I have mixed feelings about how large RSA, and its conference in particular, has become, and I’ll probably post on those at a later time. Regardless of my feelings though, it is an important conference, and I would argue the vanguard conference in the field. It is the highest quality, and largest, conference where folks from the English side of rhetorical studies and the Communications side of rhetorical studies converge on the same spot. It’s probably worth attending for that quality alone.

I’ll also say this for the CFP: it’s short, sweet, and not nearly as contrived/cutesy as many conference themes are. Thank you for that, RSA.

What appears below is the official RSA 2014 CFP:

Rhetoric Society of America Conference

“Border Rhetorics”


May 22-26, 2014

Marriot River Center – San Antonio, Texas

San Antonio is an ideal city for thinking about borders.  Not only has the city been positioned along different national borders, but it also exists at the interesting intersection of diverse cultures and histories.  “Border Rhetorics” not only invites consideration of these kinds of geographic, political and cultural borders but also invites consideration of a wider range of borders: the borders between identities, between roles, between disciplines, between concepts, etc.  The 2014 conference theme seeks to spur a broad conversation about the borders that unite and divide us, the ways in which these borders are constructed and deconstructed, confirmed and contested.

The theme of “Border Rhetorics” opens a space for numerous inquiries and conversations about the things that constitute our borders – politically, culturally, academically, etc. – as well as the ways in which those borders are constructed, crossed, challenged, circumvented, diminished and redrawn.  The theme also encourages us not only to think about our borders but also to think across them in the hopes of opening spaces for dialogue and disagreement that may in turn alter our sense of these borders. 

Interested parties are invited to submit abstracts for individual papers, proposals for panels, and ideas for special format events (roundtables, debates, etc.).  Panels representing only one institution are strongly discouraged and a slight preference will be shown for panels representing not only different institutions but also different disciplinary fields (e.g., Composition and Communication Studies). Submissions that take advantage of off-site venues are also encouraged. 

Proposals Due July 1, 2013; Notifications September 1, 2013

For more details and to submit your proposal, visit:  http://rhetoricsociety.org/aws/RSA/pt/sp/conferences

Join the official RSA 14 conference Facebook group for networking, news and updates:  http://www.facebook.com/groups/551900858153994/553997331277680/?notif_t=group_activity


Old Tractor, RSA '08

Better late than never, I’ve posted my syllabi and assignments for the semester. While two of the courses I’m teaching this spring have the same title, Writing and Critical Inquiry, I essentially have three course preps because I’m teaching one of them, an Honors section, very differently than the other.

The Honors class is an open-ended nightmare, because I’m making the students design the course materials, down to the policies, syllabus, readings, and writing assignments. Watch it unfold here. Content will fill in as the class collectively completes it, but I hope to have a complete picture of the semester within a week or two. The sooner we work it all out, the better for students. My other 202 course is more straightforward, though I have tweaked the course considerably since last semester.

In a change from prior semesters I am rolling out major writing assignments only as they arise, and not all at the beginning of the semester. This is to keep students focused on the immediate tasks at hand and to reduce their anxiety. We’ll see if it works in either case.

This is also my very first semester at WCU not teaching a grad class. Instead I’m teaching an upper level English Lit/Liberal Studies class called Stories Retold, in which we’ll read Nicholson Baker, Colson Whitehead, Nicole Krauss, Jose Saramago, Italo Calvino, Michael Ondaatje, Magnus Mills, and related criticism.

As always, fellow instructors are free to crib whatever they like, but I always appreciate getting credit.

 Dogs Must be on a Leash

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