Presentation Abstract

Not (Necessarily) a Cosmic Convergence: Rhetorics, Poetics, Performance and the Web

At the 1997 Conference on College Composition and Communication, Matthew Levy and friends hosted a performative event, _Audience Delivers Hypertext_ (ADH), where linked individual web sites were read aloud as the audience directed. A new place was created: for *online discourse performed in real time*.

More accurately, the discourse was performed face to face; or does it matter to say that it was in real time?

In recent pages of _English Education_, _Quarterly Journal of Speech, and _College Composition and Communication_, an unlikely academic discourse is beginning to appear. In the first case, the rhetoric seems indebted to the poetic of the language poets; in the second, the genre of fiction is explicitly employed as a site within which to nest argument; in the third, a place *between* print and online is invoked, a textual place, one plotted, like fiction; coherent, as poetic; toned, like alternate.

The (seeming) opposition of online with/to print opens a new place when it moves to print, a place resonating with the sensibilities of both.

In these three places, we see postmodern aesthetics redefining the place known as academic discourse.

At the 97 Computers and Writing Conference, we--the collaborating authors (Michael Spooner and Kathleen Yancey)-- "performed" our text from Matthew Levy's ADH. Hooked to the conference not by online but by phone, separated from the conference by 5000 miles and not a little envy, we have only second-hand reports as to the effect of the performance.

Regardless: we found that the *preparation* for the performance provided another means of invention, another way for us to understand what the text (that we wrote) might be saying. The text *changed*; we changed the text.

Such a performance offers the (textual) embodiment of Burkean identification. In the proposed performance, we want to explore this notion.

So: What are these different places?sWhat is their relationship to rhetoric? Is there a broad enough rhetoric to account for all of them *and* for the relationships among them?

(What happened to the poetic?)

In terms of extant theory--say, that of Landow, Lanham, and Ulmer--are these places (or this one metaplace) merely exemplars of the already theorized, or do they suggest another rhetoric altogether?

Yeah, that's the question, isn't it? Well, that, and the fun of just talking through the poetic/rhetoric (poetic/noetic?) relationship.

The Computers and Writing Conference, Gainesville, Florida: May 1998. We explore these ideas: by way of performance from online and print; by way of discussion between ourselves and with the audience, in real time; by way of exploring, negotiating, and articulating a new rhetorical poetic/poetical rhetoric/terrain.

Author: Myka Vielstimmig
Second Author: Michael Spooner


Target Audience: Not Applicable

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