Notes: Paul Walker, “Let’s Disagree (to Agree): Queering the Rhetoric of Agreement in Writing Assessment”

Walker, Paul. (2017). Let’s disagree (to agree): Queering the rhetoric of agreement in writing assessment. Composition Forum, 35. Web. http://compositionforum.com/issue/35/agreement.php

Summary:

Walker uses queer theory perspectives on failure to challenge assumptions of agreement or validity.

Keywords: composition, failure, queer, queer rhetorics, rhetoric, writing assessment, writing studies

Sources:

Heard, Matthew. (2013). Tonality and ethos. Philosophy and Rhetoric, 46(1), 44-64.

Scott, Tony and Lil Brannon. (2013). Democracy, struggle, and the praxis of assessment. College Composition and Communication, 65(2), 273-298.

Walker, Paul. (2013). Composition’s akrasia: The devaluing of intuitive expertise in writing assessment. enculturation, 15. http://enculturation.net/compositions-akrasia.

Quotations:

“In such an ‘uncontained’ sense, here I adopt a queer positionality from which perspective I consider the “disorienting excess” emerging from an assessment study relegated to the margins as a result of its failure to meet empirical measures of significance—statistical reliability standards—that orient and are “contained” by writing assessment scholarship”.

“[F]ailure becomes instead a path to nowhere, a space wherein we cannot predict, and by doing so, generate alternative ways of sustaining”.

“I am in no way suggesting agreement, confirmation, or reliability are wrong intrinsically; rather, I propose that agreement as the subsumption of difference can, through institutional mandates and what D. Diane Davis calls the “rhetoric of totality” (12), marginalize queerness by reifying masculinized and capitalistic traditions, including the persistent upward trajectory of merit or value-added results and the assumption that answers to difficult questions about learning and performance and identity are waiting to be found by acting subjects”.

“Constantly moving towards the center, towards explicit harmony and sameness via expected standards of social-scientific statistical measurement to determine the “success” of assessment, reinforces for those outside our discipline the primacy of a correct methodology over complexly and ecologically hermeneutic meaning and validity, thus maintaining enough legitimacy for administrators to continue to coopt a reductive and possibly irresponsible holistic methodology”.

“Intuition, of course, is scientifically queer, for it resists the requirement of outside or empirical verification; indeed, it resists replicated verity as validation, proposing instead that extensive experience affords individually nuanced interpretations by multiple individuals that is more valuable in their ecological complexity than multiple individuals arriving at one clear determinate interpretation”.

“Our aim as teachers is to facilitate learning, which stubbornly resists accuracy, consistency, generalizability, fairness, efficiency, or any other term that is usually applied to calibrated assessment”.

Notes: David Harvey, “Calculating Risk: Barebacking, the Queer Male Subject, and the De/formation of Identity Politics”

Harvey, David O. (2011). Calculating risk: Barebacking, the queer male subject, and the de/formation of identity politics. Discourse, 33(2), 156-183.

Summary:

Harvey discusses the rhetorical challenges of barebacking discourses and works to departicularize them from queer experience by articulating how these discourses operate.

Keywords: barebacking, biopolitics, queer, queer theory, queer rhetorics

Quotations:

“The definitional ambiguity about the practice will shed light on what I understand as a queer mode of world-making that blurs the connection between the behavior of barebacking and its connection to a specific and namable mode of being” (p. 158).

“Considering barebacking as an intricately vitiating force may be unsettling, but accepting the validity of such an insight need not an exclude an acknowledgment of the dangers associated with barebacking. Moreover, the manner of calculation in relation to barebacking is not limited to its practitioners; it includes the discourse by which these persons are narrated, accounted for, and figured. Risk again animates these discussions, as many fear the risk barebacking poses not only in the war against HIV/AIDS but also in the campaign for gay equality” (p. 159).

“A biopolitical import can be gleaned within this tacit disagreement between discourses of print and media and discourses of the queer everyday if we understand the mechanics of prescriptive culpability operating behind finger-pointing discursive models. These models ultimately serve to locate and isolate the particularized bodies that behave outside their laws of calculability, laws that are instantiated upon the discovery of a physiologically and sociopolitically hazardous mode of sexuality” (p. 175).

Notes: Pamela VanHaitsma, “Queering the Language of the Heart: Romantic Letters, Genre Instruction, and Rhetorical Practice”

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

Summary:

VanHaitsma, in studying 19th Century letter writing manuals and letters, argues that these genre instruction manuals taught heteronormative rhetorical practices of letter writing, but in this instruction created moments of queer repurposing or adaptation.

Keywords: genre, queer, queer rhetorics, rhetoric, writing studies

Quotations:

“In teaching ways of being, genre instruction in the romantic letter was heteronormative insofar as it systematically normalized opposite-sex relations—and, just as importantly, particular versions of them” (p. 8).

“Yet, even as manuals taught a heteronormative conception of romantic relations, they provided resources for composing queerly gender-crossing forms of address” (p. 10).

“Manuals did not teach that writers compose romantic letters simply to develop romantic relationships, or to develop conversations within romantic relationships about a range of topics, such as politics. Instead, manuals taught that the purpose of romantic letters was to court or be courted in pursuit of marriage between a man and a woman” (p. 16).

“Yet even as manual instruction was mainly heteronormative, it taught the romantic letter genre as open to nonnormative adaptation through gender-crossing address, unrestrained outbreaks, and queer repurposing. In other words, however normative genres and genre instruction may be, they are not entirely settled; they are flexible and susceptible to queer challenge and repurposing” (p. 20).

Notes: Gust Yep, “From Homophobia and Heterosexism to Heteronormativity: Toward the Development of a Model of Queer Intervention in the University Classroom”

Yep, Gust A. (2002). From homophobia and heterosexism to heteronormativity: Toward the development of a model of queer interventions in the university classroom. Journal of Lesbian Studies, 6(3-4), 163-76.

Summary:

Yep discusses the ways in which heteronormativity exists structurally and develops an activity that Yep integrated into a classroom to get students engaged in understanding LGBTQ experiences and heterosexual privilege.

Keywords: affect, communication, LGBTQ, pedagogy, queer, queer rhetorics

Quotations:

“These pervasive messages promote and maintain the ideology of heteronormativity, that is, if ‘you are not heterosexual, there is something wrong with you.’ When such messages are internalized and incorporated into one’s conception of selfhood and identity, they become internalized homophobia and they constitute soul murder” (p. 169).

“For LGBT individuals, heteronormativity creates the conditions for homophobia, soul murder, psychic terror, and institutional violence. In addition, such violence is experienced and negotiated differently based on the individual’s race, class, and gender. For heterosexual individuals, interrogation of heteronormativity means understanding their unearned privileges and perhaps seeing how sexual hierarchies limit personal freedom, human creativity, and individual expression” (p. 174).

Notes: Karma Chávez, “The Precariousness of Homonationalism: The Queer Agency of Terrorism in Post-9/11 Rhetoric”

Chávez, Karma. (2015). The precariousness of homonationalism: The queer agency of terrorism in post-9/11 rhetoric. QED: A Journal in GLBTQ Worldmaking, 2(3), 32–58.

Summary:

Chávez describes how homonationalism’s protections depend on the exclusion and leaving for dead of others.

Keywords: citizenship, homonormativity, LGBTQ, queer, queer rhetorics

Quotations:

“This tension between scapegoating and leaving or marking for death on the one hand, and protecting and fostering life on the other, reveals the precarious positioning of gays and lesbians in homonationalism; even when included, we are always potentially threatening to the “us” that many imagine to comprise the national body” (p. 33-34).

“The queer necropolitics of homonationalism ensures that some queers are always left to die” (p. 48-49).

“The homonormative white, middle-class U.S. citizen gay and the queered brown Muslim immigrant terrorist cannot be reduced to one another. A reading of two archetypes of each of these figures reveals their suspension together, and the way in which queerness comes to be framed as the central agency that enables the destruction of the nation in rhetoric ranging from the extremely conservative to the moderate or mainstream” (p. 49).

“For those who through their exceptionalism experience the fantasy of protection within the precarious project of homonationalism, this haunting is a call to reject this protection and to refuse participation in necropolitical logics. One way to reject and refuse is to center the perspectives and work of those queers left or targeted for death—the queer people of color, poor, trans, and gender nonconforming queers, homeless and disabled queers, prostitutes, and drug-using queers” (p. 50).

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).