Cheryl Ball, Editor
In This Issue
We didn't intend for this issue to be special, but sometimes specialness is brought forth from the universe without any human interference: The contents of this issue came about serendipitously—kairotically, even—as we received submission after submission on sound, aurality, multimodality, and embodiment. We had made no call for this theme. It just happened.
The first webtext to kick off this theme tackled sonic rhetorics from the perspective of Deaf culture in an exciting piece by Janine Butler on ASL (American Sign Language) music videos. Butler first presented on this topic for the Computers and Writing (C&W) community at the conference's 30th anniversary in Pullman, Washington. That was also her first C&W conference, which she attended as a recipient of the Hawisher–Selfe Caring for the Future scholarship. This webtext is an outgrowth of her work on the rhetorics of multimodality within Deaf communities and shows us, among other things, how sound is felt and interpreted visually through these music videos. Her Topoi webtext also offers a rich section on praxis, making it a two-fer for readers!
Soon after we received Butler's submission, Crystal VanKooten approached the journal with her experiment on sound and multimodality—a beautifully edited compilation of choral music, poetry, and remixed presentations from the 2013 C&W conference. With her commentary on the composing process, VanKooten's webtext, "Singer, Writer: A Choric Exploration of Sound and Writing," was a great match for the Inventio section.
Then things really got rolling, when we received Tanya K. Rodrigue's webtext, co-authored with nine of her students, on "Navigating the Soundscape, Composing with Audio." This webtext, like several in this issue, cross topical boundaries in ways that productively complicate how the journal editors delineate which webtexts appear in which sections. Rodrigue et al's webtext is a rich tapestry of student-produced audio projects, which might initially suggest its candidacy for the Praxis section, but it also contains significant sets of reflections from the students and the instructor on how those projects were composed and why, the approach for which lends itself to the Inventio section. In the end, we (the journal and authors) pursued the Praxis section features because we believed that readers will find the pedagogical structuring of the assignments to be highly useful. So, like Butler's text, it's a two-fer!
Now, those are all the embodied sound webtexts that went through our peer-review process. But, our editorially reviewed sections were also participating in this unintended special issue! (I honestly did not know until we were putting the issue together earlier this summer how well all of these webtexts related to the theme!) I am delighted we have one interview and four reviews, each of which speak to the embodied rhetorics of sound in some way:
In the Interviews section, Daniel Ehrenfeld uses juxtaposed perspectives of video, audio, and written text in his interview with big-data artist Brian House.
In the Reviews section, April Conrad provides a soundtrack to listen to while reading her review of The Available Means of Persuasion, which also features a recomposed review of the book in video form. Angela Moore's review of the edited collection Embodied Consciousness: Performance Technologies connects this performance studies book with rhetoric through multiple lenses. Brian Hendrickson reviews Thomas Rickert's book, Ambient Rhetoric: The Attunements of Rhetorical Being in a webtext called "Attuning (to) Ambience." And Timothy Briggs gives us a video review of Bump Halbritter's Mics, Cameras, Symbolic Action.
Finally, we have one Topoi webtext in this issue which isn't explicitly about embodied sonic rhetorics, although it does include several videos, interactive playlists, and an interview-style Q&A by the authors: "Polymorphic Frames of Pre-tenure WPAs: Seven Accounts of Hybridity and Pronoia," by Derek Mueller, Kate Pantelides, Laura Davies, Matt Dowell, Alanna Frost, Mike Garcia, and Rik Hunter, provides composed videos that these authors presented at the 2014 Conference on College Composition and Communication, remixed and reinterpreted, in some ways, to discuss the issues of being a tenure-track (i.e., junior) Writing Program Administrator. This will be an important piece on this topic for a long time to come, and I encourage you to spend some time with it and share it with your colleagues both in and outside of writing studies—particularly those who serve on hiring and review committees.