Re: Space & Culture cfp sparks jargon debate (fwd)

Roderick, Ian (roderick@PATHCOM.COM)
Tue, 15 Oct 1996 13:40:10 -0500

-- [ From: Roderick, Ian * EMC.Ver #2.5.02 ] --

Whoops, I forgot to change the return address and accidently sent this back
to Eric...

> Date: Friday, 11-Oct-96 11:19 AM
> From: Eric Crump \ Internet: (
> To: Rhetnt-l Rhetnet \ Internet: (rhetnt-l@mizzou1.missouri.

> On Fri, 11 Oct 1996, Steve Finley wrote:
> -->Hey, how come Ian Roderick's letter is so easy to understand?

> I'll venture a hypothesis, aside from the possibility of by-committee CFP
> composition, and it's based on something I've noticed in writing on the
> The difference between conversation and announcement.

> It's a difference in rhetorical stance toward audience. I was going to say
> was a matter of the degree of familiarity with the people of an audience,
> Ian just joined up & doesn't yet know us much better than he knows anyone
> may have received the CFP (though Ian may correct me on that--perhaps
> the web archives of the discussion proved to compensate? maybe he felt
> connected to this community before venturing to enter the discussion?).
> It may be, though, that 'announcement' is a form that nudges us toward
> sweeps, more formal language, less emotional (whether friendly or
> tone. It's like writing one of those damned application form essays
> (why-I-want-to-go-to-med-school, etc.) in which you feel compelled to
> and impress an audience you don't know and can't really get a sense for
> its authority is to some degree dependent upon its aloofness.
> So Ian, seems to me, quite naturally expresses the same basic thoughts
> differently when he's walked into this virtual room and is talking
directly to
> some real people who he knows are quite interested in what he's got to say
> when he's slinging a formal announcement out to the aloof and faceless
> audience.

> Whatcha think? How's this strike you, Ian?


I quite agree with your hypothesis. There are often significant differences
in register choice dependent upon circumstances of address. After all, the
obvious example is the consistent differences between lexical choices used
in oral and written texts. Clearly, the CFP and my more personal responses
construct intended addressees differently but they also realize different
fields of activity and different modes (one impersonal-formal while the
other personal-informal).

Given that the institutionalized genres of CFPs tend to be monologic anyway,
I think the most interesting difference is that Space & Culture's CFP
presumes far greater cohesion and sodality between writers and readers than
do my subsequent posts. I think this is because, amongst other things, CFPs
are generally not a medium of debate or discussion (certainly this should
not be the case for the venue they advertise). Generally, they either pique
my interest (speak to me?) or they don't and I just delete them. Instead, to
be functional for a moment, I think they are also sort of rallying cries (I
guess this is a military metaphor - sorry) and so presume a higher degree of
commonality and affinity between reader and writers than do my subsequent
posts. This is not to say that the process of drawing up a venue or the CFP
is a conflict-free and cohesive one but that CFPs as product tend to realize
at a variety of levels (semantic and grammatic) a very conventionalized
sense of cohesion and authority over meanings. This being said, I guess I
must express a certain degree of ambivalence. Perhaps it is precisely the
combination of articulating a highly specific theoretical framework (and by
this I *do not* mean more complicated) and within a text and also
constructing interpersonal meanings which presume high degrees of affinity
that some people find upsetting and exclusionary. Certainly, it is selective
in its address and therefore exclusionary but I would not go so far as to
say it is elitist.

Part of the problem here may be, as I have said, the ridiculous premium that
has been placed upon pomo theory in some circles. The other, I think is just
what role we should assign to language in terms of practices and the
reproduction of oppression and subordination. I apologize for my limited
participation but I will try to get to the discussion of elites by tomorrow.


_Space & Culture_ - the journal