Practitioner Stories

I’ve always been a fan of Jim Ridolfo’s article on rhetorical delivery via the practitioner story of Maggie, a feminist activist who was working on a manifesto. In the production of that manifesto, she shopped it around for feedback before publication before it was eventually recomposed and recirculated after she distributed it.

I think that such stories of writing are compelling because they’re suggestive of the range of practices and concerns that writers take up in order to achieve their ends. I’ve done a little of this work in a CCCC ’17 presentation about my friend, Michael, who produced a handmade booklet for me when he was my dog sitter in the summer of ’15.

Recently, I’ve been thinking about developing a unit of practitioner stories for fyw students keyed to genre, rhetorical situation, delivery, and technology. So far, I’m planning to include the likes of Comey, Macedonian fake-newsmakers, academics, Kendrick Lamar (interviewed by Rick Rubin), a zinemaker, and a guy involved in challenging the racist practices of academic debate.

I think such stories demonstrate the value of theory as part of the lived experiences of producers and distributors of discourse. As I become more familiar with the students attending a liberal arts institution in a historic city, I think that such stories matter because they’re suggestive of how everyone writes with these concepts whether or not they have the vocabulary to identify them as such.

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