Department of English
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- ItemThe ideal narratee and the rhetorical model of audiences(2022) Copland, Sarah; Phelan, JamesThis article proposes to revise rhetorical narrative theory's model of audiences in fiction (actual, authorial, narrative, ideal narrative, and narratee) by replacing the term/concept of the ideal narrative audience with that of the ideal narratee, defined as the audience the narrator wishes they were addressing. This revision calls attention to the various ways that authors can handle the relations between the actual narratee and the ideal narratee (the actual may—or may not—coincide with the ideal), and such variety, in turn, points to the need for a more general taxonomy of authorial uses of the narratee. This taxonomy identifies three recognizably distinct ranges along a single broad spectrum of degrees of alignment between actual and ideal narratees: (1) clear alignment, (2) uncertain alignment, and (3) non-alignment. The taxonomy also identifies two main variants within each category, based on how an author's handling of the degree of alignment guides their readers’ focus: is it primarily on the narrated, the narrating, or both? The essay demonstrates the interpretive payoffs of the taxonomy through its analysis of a wide array of case studies including Mohsin Hamid's Reluctant Fundamentalist, Andrew Marvell's “To His Coy Mistress,” Sandra Cisneros's “Barbie-Q,” and Albert Camus's Fall.
- ItemTheir own devices: steampunk airships as heterotopias of crisis and deviance(2021) Krentz, Courtney; Perschon, Mike; St. Amand, AmyMichel Foucault uses a sailing vessel as the exemplar of his theory of heterotopia because of its mobility. The lateral and vertical mobility of the steampunk airship indicates the potential for an even greater exemplar of heterotopia, particularly of Foucault’s defining principles of heterotopic crisis and deviance. These principles are explored onboard the steampunk airships of Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan trilogy and Gail Carriger’s Finishing School series, resulting in travel towards progressive social frontiers of gender and race. The protagonists of the Leviathan trilogy move from a position of crisis to deviance, as mediated through the friendship and romance of two representatives of warring factions. In contrast, the heroine of the Finishing School series moves from deviance to crisis as she navigates the vagaries of gender and racial identity. These airship heterotopias of young adult fiction, which not only descend geographically but also socially, cross liminal crisis spaces of class, race, gender, and identity to craft literary cartographies for these social frontiers, providing readers with literary maps for their uncertain real worlds of crisis.
- ItemTruth and reconciliation and narrative ethics, form, and politics(2021) Copland, SarahI am the Canadian daughter of British immigrants and a settler who now gratefully teaches and learns on land known as Treaty 6 territory, an area encompassing central parts of the present-day provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan, where a treaty between "Her Majesty the Queen" and "the Plain and Wood Cree Indians and other tribes of Indians" was signed in 1876 (Treaty Relations Commission of Manitoba). (1) I have benefitted tangibly and intangibly in my life from colonial structures of power that privilege white, native English-speaking settlers and in my work from a colonial academia that privileges Western theories and methodologies for literary criticism and education in general. I begin with this self-positioning because this essay is about the narrative ethics, form, and politics in and of artistic works purporting to contribute to reconciliation for groups that face historical and present-day injustice. Acknowledging my situatedness is a critical first step in formally framing literary criticism about such artistic works in a way that reinforces--rather than undermines--that criticism's politics and ethics. As I address questions that are as pressing for theorizations of narrative ethics and politics generally as they are for specific cases hitting the media, including the peoples and communities affected by these cases, I participate in a conversation led by Indigenous scholars, writers, and activists. In this conversation, which focuses on the politics and ethics of representation, I draw on my expertise in narrative theory and narrative ethics to add a complementary engagement with the politics and ethics of form. In doing so, I address two hitherto unaddressed questions. First, what bearing do the ethics of an author's conduct in writing, publishing, and promoting a work as an act of reconciliation have on the ethics of the work itself, that is, the ethics of the dramatized and narrated events and relationships in the text's action, and the narration itself? Second, how does the interaction between what we might call text-external ethics and text-internal ethics affect the political work a text is ostensibly undertaking to support and contribute to reconciliation for groups facing ongoing inequities? (2) By bringing this conversation to an international context, I also model for scholars working with artistic responses to other Truth Commissions, Truth and Reconciliation Commissions, or their equivalents, one version of what form-specific ethical political criticism might look like. (3)
- ItemSituating ourselves: the development of doctoral programs in rhetoric and composition(2011) Skeffington, Jillian K.The discipline of rhetoric and composition is often defined by binaries: rhetoric/composition, teaching/practice. Our doctoral programs, however, occupy space at both ends of the spectrum through the simultaneous emphasis on composition pedagogy and rhetorical theory. The changing curricula in doctoral programs offer a unique lens through which to interpret some of the forces that have shaped rhetoric and composition as it has developed in the past fifty years. Examining the curricula highlights how our disciplinary identity has been shaped, at least in part, by our various institutional locations.
- ItemOn standing in line(2021) Thompson, WilliamPre-COVID, lines were hard. Now that COVID determines how we interact, how we assemble, how we negotiate public spaces, I’m more lost than ever. But COVID doesn’t consider age, sex, gender, ethnicity, or anything else. And it doesn’t care that I’m blind. And it doesn’t care how it affects my life.