Monday, August 03, 2015

Evolving the Rogue Rhet Blog

The first rogue rhetorician blog posts appeared in June 2005, a little over 10 years ago. I was about to begin my second year as a graduate student in English composition and rhetorical theory. My primary interest was, and remains, the rhetoric of creative writing especially for the stage and screen.

In that decade, the word "screen" has expanded from television and film to websites and streaming video services. Though certainly less noticeable to the general public, the theatrical stage has also evolved to include new media. The rhetoric of stage and screen now includes social media, with readers and viewers responding to texts, performances, and video in real time.

I still believe that fiction and creative nonfiction remain more persuasive than academic or journalistic writings. Entertainment remains the best way to reach a mass audience and change public opinion, especially entertainment that unifies audiences through laughter.

During my graduate studies, I found myself shifting from the rhetoric of creative writing to studies of how technology affects composing of texts, video, and other forms of self-expression. Studying the interfaces of software and online communities, I do consider the software tools we use significant factors in how we write. Writing software, from brainstorming applications to full-featured word processors, guides authors through a process the software development team has selected as the "best" approach to composition.

Digital technologies, though increasingly affordable, feature many barriers beyond price. As writers, our cultures and experiences shape our relationships with any tools we use to record words or express ourselves in other ways. To relate to software and websites, the user must understand the concepts embodied by icons, text menus, and other interface elements. The user must also accept and embrace the theoretical approach to writing inherent within the application.

When people ask how I can be interested in the rhetoric of fiction, visual rhetoric, marginalized communities, software development, and the history of the printed word, it is because some people fail to see the connections I take for granted.

As this blog continues, I hope to include more about the rhetoric of fiction and visual rhetoric. Although discussions of public policy, community divisions, and overall pedagogy of rhetoric will continue on this blog, I seek to expand the rogue rhetorician and increase its value to every visitor, including creative writers, artists, students, teachers, and, yes, writing application developers.

I began my graduate studies seeking a Masters degree in creative writing, with a specialization in poetry. I opted to pursue a doctorate instead of a Master of Fine Arts in writing. Looking back, the MFA would have been valuable as a playwright and screenwriter interested in all creative writing. However, the doctorate allowed me to explore rhetorical theory and tradition beyond what an MFA typically covers. Thankfully, I have been able to explore the histories of cinema and stage in classes, seminars, and professionally. That professional experience as a writer complements my doctorate.

Five years have passed since completing my graduate studies. I have a deeper understanding of rhetoric as a discipline, and my conviction that creative writing is among the most effective rhetorical forms has been reinforced. Likewise, I often consider how the tools I use influence my writing process.

Appreciate this blog for the variety of topics it will cover under the title Rogue Rhetorician. If I can expand the concept of rhetoric for some readers, and support the comprehensive understanding of rhetoric of other readers, then this blog should be interesting. If nothing else, writing helps clarify my thinking process; writing is thinking.

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