When I was in grad school the prof who taught rhetorical theory (a man who grew up on the rough side of Chicago & read 7+ languages) warned us against reading a book preface or introduction. "Just read the damn text. Think for yourself damnit," he'd say. I think about that a lot.
The preface of a translation tells you what to think about the text. It's someone else's judgment about what the text means, why it's important, what you should learn from it. It frames your understanding. As a reader it positions you to look for & see what you're told to see.
It was fine for undergrads to read the preface, but grad students had to form their own opinions about what a text meant, if or why it was important, and what was meaningful. He wanted us to start from the beginning and figure it out for ourselves.
It meant that we got an idiosyncratic education. We didn't really know what other important theorists said about previous ones. This led to moments like when I met with him to explain I had figured out that Aristotle's ethics/politics/rhetoric were a system that worked together.
He said, "yeah, that's what George has been saying for years," he said. I was excited by that, but I didn't know who "George" was. (and this guy was the kind of guy you just nodded along with and pretended to understand and then found out for yourself later)
Turned out "George" was George Kennedy. I realized this when I read his translation of Aristotle's rhetoric and my prof had a blurb on the back of the book. amazon.com/Rhetoric-Theor…
Anyway, I'm still interested in ethics/politics/rhetoric.
I'm also now more interested in the ways that framing works to shape our understanding, which is why I've been thinking about this prof.
I see some disagreement about this. I hear you. It's also difficult framing to resist as a grad student because, "what, you _want_ to be told what the book is about?" is hard to defend against. More framing, you see? Anyway, just something I'm thinking about.
Now profs are more likely to walk their grad students through difficult texts (and Introductions). Folks would probably say that they were terrible teachers if they didn't. I'm not sure what my prof did was ever a "norm," but if it was, it's certainly changed.

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More from @jenmercieca

4 Oct
No scholar of deliberative democracy or democratic deliberation would make "engagement" a metric for designing a deliberative process. We use these platforms for democracy, but they were never designed for that. What kind of platform would be good for democracy? Build that.
FB's response via @brianstelter. This is what's called "eulogistic covering," using a positive term (democracy here) to cover over a negative motive (economic self-interest here). FB isn't interested in democracy or people expressing themselves. Image
In 2016 FB could pretend it didn't know about its negative effects, but it can't in 2021: "I think the idea that fake news on Facebook, of which it’s a very small amount of the content, influenced the election in any way, I think is a pretty crazy idea."
techonomy.com/conf/te16/vide…
Read 5 tweets
27 Sep
Several things about this are interesting to me:
-uses enthymeme to avoid censors
-it's a bad parallel case (compares two things on the strength of the comparison between a known thing & unknown thing)
-a bad analogy (the relationship between two things is essentially the same)
First, enthymeme: to avoid getting the post flagged for covid misinformation the post does not explicitly state its point. It assumes that the audience will supply the missing information to make it make sense. Here the enthymeme is "everyone has to be vaccinated to end covid."
Second, parallel case: the post uses irony to argue that what is true for curing headaches is also true for curing covid. This is untrue because the two are not essentially the same case. One is an infectious communicable disease (covid), one is not. They share no similarities.
Read 8 tweets
25 Sep
Remember that Trump’s “big lie” about the election is supported by an even Bigger Lie, ongoing these last 30 years: politics is war and the enemy cheats. Politics is not war, war is war. Political opponents are not enemies, they have different policy preferences.
I know y’all have seen this thread about why conspiracy is so hard to debunk & how Occam’s Razor can help, but it’s still relevant after the AZ recount found that the big lie was a lie:
It’s difficult for people to abandon the conspiracy theories that turn them into heroes. No evidence in AZ means the show will move to TX, because “politics is war & the enemy cheats.”
Read 7 tweets
17 Sep
oops, thanks all. I mean, bummer because my county is now reporting covid deaths of vaxxed (4) and unvaxxed (304). (I had it backwards the first try) Image
Also, local mother & daughter died on the same day (both unvaxxed). It's all so sad & wrong: kbtx.com/2021/09/16/nav…
Our new cases on campus are starting to go down after they surged with the last home football game. We have another home game tomorrow. 😱
Read 4 tweets
17 Sep
Every morning I redistribute my newsletters from my inbox to my tabs and then spend the day opening more and more tabs until an accumulation of open tabs and as yet unlearned information about the world collapses my ability to process any information at all.
Then the next day I open a new browser window and begin the process anew. One can only assume that I keep the previous window open because it serves to mock my pain, which I must apparently enjoy. This modern life is rough.
I feel this: “He read all night from sundown to dawn, and all day from sunup to dusk, until with virtually no sleep and so much reading he dried out his brain and lost his sanity,” Don Quixote.
Read 4 tweets
11 Sep
Updated now with blogs + pods. Amazeballs that these fringe sites on the right set the nation's agenda. Image
Interesting that Fox Business is more reliable than regular Fox and CNN online is more reliable than CNN tv.
oh and it's: 1) Fox Business, 2) Fox online, 3) Fox tv.
Read 9 tweets

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