Notes: Katja Thieme & Shurli Makmillen, “A Principled Uncertainty: Writing Studies Methods in Contexts of Indigeneity”

Thieme, Katja, & Shurli Makmillen. (2017). A principled uncertainty: Writing studies methods in contexts of indigeneity. College Composition and Communication, 68(3), 466-493.

Summary:

Thieme & Makmillen situate research methods as reproducing disciplinary epistemologies and trouble assumptions of validity and universality by situating research methods as a principled response, drawing on indigenous rhetorics and genre theory.

Keywords: cultural rhetorics, disciplinarity, genre, indigenous rhetorics, methodology, research methods, rhetoric, writing studies

Sources:

Bhattacharya, Kakali. (2007). Consenting to the consent form: What are the fixed and fluid understandings between the researcher and the researched? Qualitative Inquiry, 13(8), 1095–115.

Cole, Daniel. (2011). Writing removal and resistance: Native American rhetoric in the composition classroom. College Composition and Communication, 63(1), 122–44.

Quotations:

“At the heart of critical questions on a method’s transparency and reproducibility are concerns about what it is that is being reproduced if research follows the path of established forms of inquiry” (p. 468).

“References to methods are a shorthand that is similarly indicative of community practices and allegiances. Like genre names, method references focus on central but isolated aspects of a process that involves rich and varying sets of steps and interactions. These shorthands can create a sense of stability and naturalization” (p. 469).

Notes: Heather Horst and Daniel Miller, “Normativity and Materiality: A View From Digital Anthropology”

Horst, Heather & Daniel Miller. (2012). Normativity and materiality: A view from digital anthropology. Media International Australia, Incorporating Culture & Policy, (145), 103-111.

Summary:

Horst and Miller discuss how digital anthropology requires a reconsideration of how materiality and normativity operate in experiences of digital environments.

Keywords: anthropology, culture, digital rhetoric, materiality, methodology, new materialisms, research methods, technology

Quotations:

“Rather than rendering us less human, less authentic, or more mediated, we argue that attention should turn to the human capacity to create or impose normativity in the face of constant change” (p. 103).

“We therefore suggest that one of the central tenets of digital anthropology is the study of how rapidly things become mundane. What we experience is not a technology, per se, but an immediate culturally inflected genre of usage or practice” (p. 108).

Notes: Pamela VanHaitsma, “Gossip as Rhetorical Methodology for Queer and Feminist Historiography”

Pamela VanHaitsma. (2016). Gossip as rhetorical methodology for queer and feminist historiography. Rhetoric Review. 35(2), 135-147.

Summary:

VanHaitsma, drawing on her previously published work, outlines the queer, feminist rhetorical possibilities of gossip as a methodology for rhetorical historiography. She argues that gossip-as-methodology offers the ability for methodological speculation, access to gossip’s illicit knowing-and-meaning-making, and an insistence on openness with special regard for who is allowed to speak for whom.

Keywords: feminist rhetorics, queer rhetorics, rhetoric, writing studies, methodology, research methods, archives, historiography

Sources:

Kirsch, Gesa E., and Jacqueline Jones Royster. “Feminist Rhetorical Practices: In Search of Excellence.” College Composition and Communication 61.4 (2010): 640–72.

Friedman, Andrea. “The Smearing of Joe McCarthy: The Lavender Scare, Gossip, and Cold War Politics.” American Quarterly 57.4 (2005): 1105–29.

Quotations:

“[G]ossip is a speculative methodology indispensible to feminist and queer ways of relating to the past, but instead of seeking to fix history or queerness, gossip ideally remains open to indefinite suggestion” (136).

“Following feminist scholars, gossip may thus be understood, on the one hand, as a positive rhetorical methodology: as another form of speculation or imagination that is practiced in ways consistent with traditional standards for scholarly rigor, reason and order, and truth claims” (138).

“Working with this understanding of gossip as illicit evidence, scholars of queer rhetoric may treat speculation about the past, much like more traditional archival materials, as grounds on which to develop narratives about non-normative sexual, romantic, and/or erotic practices—while simultaneously underscoring the impossibilities and uncertainties inherent in attempts to know the “truth” of sexuality, identity, and history” (139).

 

Notes: Jean Bessette, “Queer Rhetoric in Situ”

Bessette, Jean. (2016). Queer rhetoric in situ. Rhetoric Review, 35(2), 148-164.

Summary:

Bessette argues for a deeply contextual, weaker theory for queer theory within rhetorical studies.

Keywords: Queer, Queer Theory, Queer Rhetoric, Rhetorical Theory, Rhetoric

Sources:

VanHaitsma, Pamela. (2014). Queering the language of the heart: Romantic letters, genre instruction, and rhetorical practice. Rhetoric Society Quarterly, 44.1, 6–24.

Villarejo, A. (2005). Tarrying with the normative: Queer theory and black history. Social Text, 23.3–4, 69–84.

Quotations:

“[S]ome approaches to importing queer theory into rhetoric may render it arhetorical and by consequence, less productively queer. Instead I argue for a queer rhetorical methodology with increased attention to (1) the historical specificity of a potentially queer rhetorical act, (2) the nuanced complexity of power relations within broad categories of queerness and normativity, and (3) the diversity and range of audiences for any given rhetorical act, which might render it both queer and normative at the same time” (p. 149).

“Sedgwick raises a question that should give rhetorical critics in particular pause. ‘Suppose we were ever so sure,’ she inquires, of the facts of circumstances where nonstraight, nonwhite, and/or nonmale lives are made exploited and expendable in the processes of normalization, “what would we know then that we don’t already know?” (p. 150).

“Perhaps, in reading paranoidly, we see less of the precise, historically and contextually specific manifestations of normativity, queerness, and their agonistic interface. Paranoid analysis is one way but not the only way; it productively reveals some things (large systems of oppression) but may blind us to others (the intricate, unexpected ways normativity actually hypostasizes in a given time and place, for a given set of bodies)” (p. 150).

“I want our understanding of normativity to be more nuanced, flexible, and contextual” (p. 151).

“[W]hile texts are situated in the context of their deployment and reception, the meaning of queerness doesn’t seem to shift with time, nor does the meaning of the normativity it opposes” (p. 152).

“[I]mporting early queer theorists’ affect and connotations of queerness and normativity into other rhetorical moments requires some more reflection” (p. 153).

“[A]nything taken as universal has been established through a rhetorical process of making claims and supporting them with the invention and delivery of implicit and explicit regulations…. This regulation, of course, is precisely what queer theory sets out to expose: that the norms governing accepted forms of gender and sexuality are constructions that privilege some and profoundly harm others” (p. 154).

“I am advocating a queer rhetorical methodology in situ, one that asks: Queer to whom? When? Where, and how? Normative to whom? When? Where, and how?” (p. 157).

Notes: Jennifer Clary-Lemon, “Museums as Material: Experiential Landscapes and the Canadian Museum for Human Rights”

Clary-Lemon, Jennifer. (2015). Museums as material: Experiential landscapes and the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. Enculturation, 20.

Summary:

Clary-Lemon develops a network material approach to working with museums as distributed and choric.

Keywords: Archives, Methodology, Materiality, Network, Research Methods

Quotations:

“I map a material-rhetorical approach to analyzing contemporary museum sites, drawing on Vicki Tolar Burton’s notion of rhetorical accretion (547) and the heuristic work of Carole Blair with memorial sites. By bringing the work of these scholars together, I demonstrate that “reading” museum sites with material methodology in mind results in tactics for invention which emphasize networks over discrete discursive elements” (para. 1).

“I argue for an approach to material sites that engages each layer as connected to the next in a network of accretions which can help researchers form an attendant whole from seemingly disparate markers of diffuse texts” (para. 6).

“It is my hope, then, that considering museum interiors and landscapes as both housing and being different “core texts” that can be seen through a lens of material rhetoric can encourage complex understandings of the layers that are formed from objects, spaces, architecture, and affect from a range of different subject positions, and disturb the bifurcation of inside/outside that emerges from considering museums as object repositories—instead opening these landscapes to see inside and outside as connected in a network of place” (para. 6).

“Layers of durability connect with reproduction, with human relationships. Affect and force interconnect with layers of preservation and enabling functions of the museum-as-text on other texts. A material-rhetorical networked approach to invention in museum sites which layers and connects gathered moments, materials, places, emotions, texts, and technologies offers more than heuristical knowledge; instead, it opens up possibilities for analysis that ‘depend greatly on the principle of response’ within diffuse distributed textual and spatial frames (Swarts 122)” (para. 28).

“Too, this analysis reveals a partial look at the ways in which museum texts work within material contexts as they come into being; that is to say, to read other texts, relationships, and artifacts as arising out of and in conjunction with the materiality of museums disrupts, to some degree, the notion of originary orderliness that museums often unintentionally curate. In moving the topos—’place as empty container’—to the chōra—place as a seat of “dream reasoning” (Walter 68)—examining networked accretions of built sites offers another attempt at Ulmer’s (Heuretics) notion of chorography, and gives scholars a rich place to invent, explore, find, and qualify wholes out of seemingly disparate parts” (para. 29).

Notes: Caroline Dadas, “Messy Methods: Queer Methodological Approaches to Researching Social Media”

Dadas, Caroline. (2016). Messy methods: Queer methodological approaches to researching social media. Computers and Composition, 40, 60-72.

Summary:

Dadas explains the queer methodology that ran through her social media research, highlighting the queering of private/public binaries, the complicated role of ethos, and the possibility of queerness as techne.

Keywords: Research Methods, Methodology, Queer Rhetorics, Queer Theory, Technology

Sources:

Browne, Kath & Catherine J. Nash (Eds.). (2010). Queer methods and methodologies: Intersecting queer theories and social science research. Burlington, VT: Ashgate Publishing.

Cushman, Ellen. (1996). The rhetorician as an agent of social change. College Composition and Communication, 47(1), 7-28.

Law, John. (2004). After method: Messiness in social science research. New York, NY: Routledge.

Quotations:

“As more and more citizens are turning to social media platforms for civic work, rhetoric and composition must continue to develop methodological approaches that help study these online spaces. In particular, how do researchers ethically gather data from such sites, considering the tendency for users to treat online spaces as private interactions (McKee & Porter, 2009)? How might we use social media not only as sites of study but also as a method for conducting qualitative research? How can we adapt established research methods to better meet the needs of such dynamic spaces?” (61).

“Queer theory’s rich tradition of interrogating the public and the private provided me with the framework for establishing connectivity between my methods, data, and theoretical approach. The resonances between queer theory and digital research practices in terms of publicity and privacy make queer methodologies particularly fruitful for online research” (61).

“Glasby offered the “rhetorical negotiation” as a way of working through competing ideas (in her case, the dissonance between her personal and scholarly orientations to marriage equality) without expecting the kind of neat resolution that often dominates academic discourse. Rather, as Glasby”s (2014) approach showed, queer epistemologies honor the tensions, fissures, and gaps that often emerge in our research” (62).

“In this context, then, queer methodology functions both as a commitment to researching sites that have not previously found legitimization, as well as a willingness to draw from a range of disciplinary methods. Likewise, Kath Browne and Catherine Nash (2010) emphasized queer research as a way of challenging frameworks of power, located both in the disciplinary tools available to the researcher, as well as in her chosen topic(s). For Browne and Nash, ”Queer research’ can be any form of research positioned within conceptual frameworks that highlight the instability of taken-for-granted meanings and resulting in power relations’ (2010; p. 4″ (62).

“Uninterested in using queerness simply as a theoretical application or a framework for influencing research methods, they [Browne and Nash (2010)] argued that queerness should intersect with ‘those sets of logical organizing principles that link our ontological and epistemological perspectives with the actual methods we use to gather data’ (p. 2). Just as any methodology addresses the relationship between theory, data, and method, queer methodologies help negotiate methods that often do not yield clear-cut results” (63).

“Law (2004), more explicitly than most researchers, acknowledged the profound unknowability of many phenomena that we attempt to study; in doing so, he proposed that we embrace a more messy approach that does not purport to ensure the inherited Enlightenment-era notions of replicability, reliability, or objectivity” (63).

“[A] queer methodology is sensitive to moments when attention from a researcher might bring unwanted publicity to a participant/cause (Banks & Eble, 2009); it also acknowledges the benegits of publicity, particularly when conducting civic-based research, and seeks to harness those benefits in rhetorically savvy ways” (66).

“[U]sing queer ethics as a method involves establishing a more intimate relationship with participants… I drew on a queer ethic to divulge my sexual orientation. Due to the nature of the study…, I believed that disclosing my sexual orientation might be the primary gesture I could make toward establishing intimacy with them. At the same time, I worried that doing so would alienate those potential participants who opposed marriage equality” (66).

“[A] queer methodological stance will often not yield convenient results” (66).

“[A] queer methodology can help weigh all the factors involved and arrive at a decision that demonstrates a commitment to advocating for social justice while also showing care for our participants and ourselves. Such a methodology recognizes that the boundaries between safety and danger are not clear cut, and that acknowledging the fluidity of identity can help us navigate these boundaries in rhetorically savvy ways” (67).

“In other words, transparency can look very different at various stages of research. While being up-front about aspects of one’s life can enrich a project and benefit the researcher-participant relationship, other moments within the same study may require a more reserved approach. Implementing both strategies does not signal inconsistency but rather a kairotic sensitivity” (67).

“The methodology that I claimed, then, allowed for residing along various points on the public/private continuum as a researcher. Queering the methodological notion of transparency allowed me to be ‘public’ in one scenario and to privilege a more private approach in another—and to negotiate the seeming inconsistency by embracing the fissures that emerged in my method” (68).

“In this sense, queerness does not mean being either transparent or not with participants; what is queer is allowing for a broad range of possibilities when it comes to interacting with participants and data. Being able to adjust one’s approach throughout the course of a study, depending on the context, is a valuable tool at a researcher’s disposal” (69).

“Rhetoric and composition as a field has wrestled with its methodological diversity, sometimes seeking out categorization and classification as a way of demonstrating rigor and clarity in our research…. Because queerness flies in the face of clarity, reconciling it with methodological rigor might seem contradictory. In response, I turn to Boelstorff’s (2010) question about what queer studies would look like if it were less concerned with producing episteme than with techne…. When applied to the notion of queer methodologies, techne offers the possibility of troubling normative attitudes toward research rather than setting out a fixed set of characteristics that define such a methodology” (70).

“[V]iewing queerness as techne helps us to reorient toward the process of adaptation, the flexibility of method, the need to constantly change our approaches” (70).

“Using a lens of failure, we can see these disruptions as instances of nonlinearity: that research does not necessarily progress through sequential stages of (private) data collection and analysis and then on to a (public) presentation of the findings when the researcher is ready. Refusing this linear progression is one way that we might adapt established research methods to better meet the needs of dynamic online spaces” (71).

Notes: Ann Cvetkovich, “Reflections: Memoir as Public Feelings Research Method” in Depression: A Public Feeling

Cvetkovich, Ann. (2012). Reflections: Memoir as public feelings research method. in Depression: A public feeling. Durham: Duke University Press.

Summary:

Cvetkovich details memoir as a research method and positions this within academic and therapeutic culture.

Keywords: Depression, Culture, Cultural Studies, Affect, Feminist Rhetorics, Queer, Memoir, Research Methods

Quotations:

“Memoir has been an undeniable force in queer subcultures, where it has been an entry point into the literary public sphere for working-class writers, the backbone of solo performance, and a mainstay for small presses” (74).

“Exemplifying deconstructive principles, academic memoir can expose the material conditions and subject positions that underlie intellectual production” (75).

“The memoir tries to be honest about the ways that activism can sometimes stall out in the routines of daily life, rather than offering revolution as the prescription for change… It suggests that when asking big questions about what gives meaning to our lives, or how art and politics can promote social justice or save the planet, ordinary routines can be a resource” (80).

“The memoir also functions as a research method because it reveals the places where feeling and lived experience collide with academic training and critique” (80).

“Personal narrative can be a forum for the places where ordinary feelings and abstract thinking don’t line up. The impasses of depression and writer’s block can live in those interstices, and alternative forms of writing can spring them loose as foundations for innovative thought” (82).