Five Footnotes to 'Lec(ri)ture' (pages 18-25)

Glen Southergill


Glen Southergill is an Assistant Professor of Professional and Technical Communication at Montana Tech of the University of Montana and Associate Editor of K.B. Journal: The Journal of The Kenneth Burke Society.  He earned his Ph.D. from Clemson University in Rhetorics, Communication, and Information Design in 2014 following dissertation research into the emergent nature of rhetorical cannon of memory in post-humanistic conditions.  His research interests surround the intersections of rhetorics with interactive medias (gaming and play, literacies/electracies, user experience design, networked writing(s), new approaches to scholarly publishing).  Dr. Southergill teaches various professional writing, theories, and histories of rhetoric, and user-experience/interaction design courses.

Pages 18-25


[1]   [page 18: end of first paragraph, after “orientation to knowledge”]: The core idea (of drama) can serve also as a welcomed addition to the corpus of advice geared towards new academics, notably responsive to the Modern Language Association’s (“MLA”) 2012 “Guidelines for Evaluating Work in Digital Humanities and Digital Media.”  The MLA notes “. . . the transformative adoption of digital information networks, coupled with the proliferation of advanced multimedia tools, has resulted in new literacies, new literary categories, new approaches to language instruction, and new fields of inquiry” (para. 2).  For junior scholars, the MLA encourages faculty members and candidates to “document and explain your work.” Applying the language of a dramatic orientation to knowledge opens possibilities for further defense of and elaboration into the “intellectual rigor” of the associated works (MLA para. 11).


[2]   [page 19: end of full paragraph, after “finally obedient to the law”]: The relationships or interfaces of texts, audiences, and actions under the auspices of genre theory has received broad and significant scholarly attention.  Seminal contributions include those by Carolyn R. Miller, Tzvetan Todorov, Elizabeth Wardle, Charles Bazerman, Leslie Olson, JoAnne Yates, and Anis S. Bawarshi & Mary Jo Reiff.  In this treatment of Derrida’s “Title (To Be Specific),” Ulmer calls attention to the necessity of “explaining oneself.”  Genre can consequently, in this treatment, be subverted insofar as influence on audience remains a guiding principle.                                                              


[3]   [page 21: end of full paragraph, after “. . .—a mass of fat applied to the corner of the room—as the ‘score’ of all his other Actions.”]: Recent thought by Thomas Rickert concerning the concept of ambience resonates neatly with engaging rhythm as a logic of arrangement.   Notes Rickert, “[ambience] encompasses various shades of meaning, but largely it refers to what is lying around, surrounding, encircling, encompassing, or environing” (5). By extension, the musicality brought to bear via rhythmatic orientations benefits from being considered in an ecological sense, in that any scene invariably includes multiple voices and environmental affordances.  Rickert describes a “vital quality” of space, which invites via lec(ri)ture an application of common auditory terms such as “accelerando” (speeding up of tempo), entrainment (synchronizations with bio-activities), or paradox (violations of expectations).


[4]   [page 22: beginning of final paragraph, after “the lecture as text is a certain kind of placing or spacing, the point being to refocus our attention, as composers or auditors, to the taking place of this place”]: Aligned with Richard Lanham’s treatment human attention as a limiting factor amongst informational floods, the crafts associated with affect remain a subject of significant conversation in contemporary scholarship.  Framed formatively, the question to be posed becomes less “what work do you wish to do?” than “via what things do you wish to have a particular resonance?”  It is a question to be begged of Jan Holmevik’s “hacker.” Holmevik, expanding Claude Lévi-Strauss’s thinking of the bricoleur-craftsperson, provides an analysis of the hacker as an electrate/digital inventor.  Such inventors become masters, through the crafts of design, of attention redirection (via media). Lec(ri)ture beckons a technê of hacking human attention structures.


[5]   [page 23: end of paragraph which reads “. . . by reading a conventional academic paper with a variety of emotional tones . . .”]: Voice becomes a means not simply of re-orienting the audience to the place of knowledge making, but an effort at disrupting and reforming scene of theory-crafting.  Such performative gestures, as Sean Morey fruitfully reminds us, can be productively approached as assemblages.  Notes Morey, “what delivery best delivers is not an information of literate logic, but affect produced by a larger network of associations between bodies, objects, and environments” (3).  The voice of the speaker, in its musicality, permits entering the conventional academic paper into the broader ecology of which it is a part.


Contextual Statement

A haunting . . .

Kenneth Burke reaches out from (beyond) the page, 110, of his Philosophy of Literary Form.  “Where,” Burke speaks, “does the drama get its materials?”  It is a question of genesis that haunts.  Burke answers through an oft-cited parlor metaphor, which gains its name (parlor) for the places in which speaking is likely to occur (such as funerals).  But in this usage, the parlor makes manifest “social idioms” (112) in an unending conversation that hails, changes, and extends beyond “you[r]” presence.  In the parlor, Burke points towards a shared nature of the human as “homo loquax” (112). 

Gregory L. Ulmer graciously has entered the parlor.  Others were present before.  The conversation changes course as new oars enter the waters.  Now I/we can respond. I do so in this writing, an impulsive scheme without question, to expand the scope of lec(ri)ture. In my chosen subject, I wish (via footnoting) to begin to (re)consider “the possibilities” in which “laughter” can become an added ingredient to (the texts) of lecture. Drama, Ulmer notes, becomes an orientation to knowledge.  Burke situates it towards the beginning in the chattering nature of the (academic) human. Drama’s relationality to knowledge, whether amongst peers or to reinvent the lecture, serves as a grounding from which to continue to speak.

In my “footnotes” I hail several other interlocutors to join this particular discussion.  And consistently with the Textshop’s call to offer “scraps” that allow “various possibilities of understanding and creating new theory,” I interject several connections as early gestures towards significant questions.  What, for instance, becomes of lec(ri)ture if situated as an ambient rhetoric in which the sound of keys tapping or projectors humming offer more than noise against which to compete?  How can it be used by digital rhetors and humanists endeavoring to explain the significance or value of their works amongst the contexts of their institutions?  How does it redirect established conversations in genre theory, rhetorical delivery, or digital invention?

These are but some of the questions I wish to offer scribbles about and upon, in the hope that the conversation(s) continue without end.



Burke, Kenneth. The Philosophy of Literary Form: Studies in Symbolic Action. 3rd Ed. Berkley: University of California Press, 1973. Print.

Holmevik, Jan Rune. Inter/vention: Free Play in the Age of Electracy. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2012. Print.

“Guidelines for Evaluating Work in Digital Humanities and Digital Media.” MLA.Org. Modern Language Association of America. Web. 26 Feb. 2016.

Lanham, Richard A. The Economics of Attention: Style and Substance in the Age of Information. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006. Print.

Morey, Sean. Rhetorical Delivery and Digital Technologies: Networks, Affect, Electracy. New York: Routledge, 2016. Print.

Rickert, Thomas. Ambient Rhetoric: The Attunements of Rhetorical Being. Pittsburgh: University Pittsburgh Press, 2013. Print.

Ulmer, Gregory L. "Textshop for Post(e)pedagogy." Electracy: Gregory L. Ulmer's Textshop Experiments. Eds. Gregory L. Ulmer, Craig J. Saper, and Victor J. Vitanza. Aurora, CO: The Davies Group, Publishers, 2015. 17-46. Print.