Episode 27: Addressing Racism in the Classroom

I started the research really struggling to understand how seemingly good people could say such awful things, and that’s really what I wanted to understand. I think what I found is that people are not all one thing or another. They aren’t as awful as they seem in a particular moment. Our students are struggling I think to make sense of the world. –Jennifer Trainor

As educators, we ought to discuss issues of racism and structural inequality in our classes. How do we do this with students who are in the process of forming their identities, beliefs, and values? Episode 27 features an interview with Jennifer Seibel Trainor, author of Rethinking Racism: Emotion, Persuasion, and Literacy Education in an All-White High School. In this episode, Trainor addresses anti-racist pedagogies and how we can talk about racism productively with students in the classroom, particularly when students may feel defensive about these issues. Trainor argues that we need to read deeper into the racist comments students make in the classroom to try to understand why they’re saying what they’re saying. You can read a review of Trainor’s book in Composition Forum here: http://compositionforum.com/issue/19/rethinking-racism-review.php


To access a PDF of the full transcript of this episode, please click here.


The songs sampled in this episode are “Biomythos” by Revolution Void and “From Stardust to Sentience” by High Places.

Episode 26: Conversations about Academic Labor, Academic Freedom, and Palestine

There’s a certain set of conceits around academic freedom that limit its functionality and its practice, and those conceits often have to do with critiques of state power, critiques of colonization, critiques of structural violence. –Steven Salaita

I think using academic freedom as a way to open these more political conversations and more potentially more transformative conversations about Palestine and about labor, and allowing people to see the connections between these issues is really important. –Vincent Lloyd

Organizing around solidarity communities and connecting with allies and creating networks of solidarity in that way is so crucial. We cannot resist in isolation. –Carol Fadda-Conrey

How do the precarious conditions of academic labor affect the conversations that are possible in the academy? How does academic freedom protect—or fail to protect—academics from doing politicized work? How do questions of Palestine in particular affect our understandings of academic labor and academic freedom—and vice versa? In episode 26, Steven Salaita, who lost a tenured job offer after writing a series of tweets condemning Israel’s “Operation Protective Edge,” talks about the rhetorical commonplaces of civility in the academy, and the stakes of circulating critiques of state power on various media platforms. Assistant professor of religion Vincent Lloyd, and associate professor of English Carol Fadda-Conrey—who helped to organize a talk by Salaita on SU’s campus this fall—reflect on their academic trajectories and political work, offer suggestions for how young scholars can build networks of support, and remind us to realize the critical potential of our discipline.

To access a PDF of the full transcript, please click here.

The music sampled in this podcast is akaUNO’s “Hidden Leaves,” and “Another Word” by The Left Curve.



Episode 25: The Pod(cast) People Speak

Scholarship is designed to reach some sort of conclusion, even provisional, whereas the podcast because I think it’s still anchored in a kind of entertainment model [stardust clicking] is actually sort of less interested in conclusions and probably also—even if it was interested—that that’s sort of antithetical to the form that it’s working through. You want people to keep coming back. You want them to be able to take the episode with them.
—Nathaniel Rivers

Welcome to our 25th episode! For this meta episode, we solicited contributions from other disciplinary podcasters, so we feature segments from Courtney Danforth and Harley Ferris who edit KairosCast, Casey Boyle and Nathaniel Rivers who co-produce PeoplePlaceThings, Eric Detweiler who helped launch Zeugma, Mary Hedengren who started Mere Rhetoric, and finally Kyle Stedman who hosts Plugs, Play, Pedagogy

To access a PDF transcript of this episode, please click here.

The music we feature in this episode is “Synergistic Effect” by morgantj and “Scratch My Warhol (ft. Mr. Yesterday & Rey Izain)” by Scomber. There are references in the transcript for the many sound effects used.

Episode 24: On Ferguson

Can’t we find more creative ways to report these stories? The story of Michael Brown is so important, but we get trapped, I think, in this narrow narrative that we’ve been telling for a really long time. —Tessa Brown

Social media and mobile technology has particularly been important for people of color, for working class people, for immigrants, for LGBT people, people who belong to groups who have been traditionally marginalized in the media because they don’t have to not only wait for the media to tell their stories but they also don’t have to wait to have their stories be misconstrued, too, and have their stories misinterpreted.   —Sherri Williams

These aren’t just flukes, these aren’t just accidents, these aren’t just deviations from an otherwise decent society. The whole society is bankrupt, its corrupt, its racist, its sexist, its homophobic, and ablist and because this is an entrenched deep issue it is going to have to be an entrenched long-term kind of movement to fight those kinds of things.  —Nikeeta Slade

Episode 24 focuses on media representations of Ferguson, Missouri after the killing of Mike Brown. As Ben notes in the introduction, This Rhetorical Life focuses on the practice, pedagogy, and public circulation of rhetoric. By focusing on Ferguson, we connect all three: how rhetoric circulates around Ferguson, how our public texts work to either create and sustain or to challenge and resist unjust systems, and how we as writing instructors can help students analyze and flip unjust systems. This episode features interviews with three Syracuse graduate students: Tessa Brown, Sherri Williams, and Nikeeta Slade.

To access a PDF of the full transcript, please click here.

The music sampled in this podcast is “Strange Arithmetic” by The Coup, “Note Drop” by Broke For Free, “EMO Step Show” by The Custodian of Records, and “This is the End” By Springtide.

Episode 23: Women Scholars of Computers & Writing

Even as I sort of talk about the notion of community, though, I think that it’s important to problematize that emphasis because it suggests a homogeneity that may inadvertently exclude other voices or presume that a gender issue isn’t also a race issue, a class issue, a sexuality issue. So I think it’s very important even as we sort of try to come together and be advocates and change agents to really use this conference through venues such as the gender caucus tomorrow and the race caucus a little later this afternoon to problematize and not presume that everyone feels included—that we’re one big happy family. Because that’s not realistic. Every community operates within a system of power, and who feels enabled by that, and who feels disenfranchised? — Kris Blair

Episode 23 is a special compilation of statements collected from this past year’s Computers & Writing in Pullman, WA. Inspired in part by the excellent line of female keynotes (on disability, access, and women in technology fields), the second year of the gender caucus, and a general urgency in the field—and beyond—to discuss what it’s like to be a woman working and researching and teaching in a male-dominated field, we put out a call for women scholars to share their experiences in the field. This podcast features statements from 12 teacher-scholars ranging from graduate students who attended C&W for the first time to women who have actively shaped the field.

To access a PDF of the full transcript, please click here.

The music sampled in this podcast is “Por Supuesto,” “Blessed,” and “Not the Droid” by Podington Bear, “Homesick” by Keytronic, and “Rain-bow Window” by Diaphane.

Episode 22: (Social) Media Representations of Venezuela Protests

[T]he danger of [sharing posts] is getting swept up when there’s this frantic information exchange, and you find yourself endorsing values and agendas that you would not normally agree with, and that’s a little bit scary. But I think there’s also potential there. This is not to demonize social media as a site of exchange—I think it has tremendous potential. The question here is how to have meaningful conversations. —Yanira Rodriguez

Episode 22 features a conversation between Ben Kuebrich and Yanira Rodriguez about the representations of the Venezuela protests earlier this year, focusing particularly on how the protests and political situation was represented through the February 20th blog post, “The Game Changed in Venezuela Last Night – and the International Media Is Asleep at the Switch.” Kuebrich and Rodriguez raise questions about international news coverage, the representation and circulation of news on social media, and how we can read news articles more critically.

To access a PDF of the full transcript, please click here.

The music sampled in this podcast is “As Colorful as Ever” by Broke for Free, “Adventure, Darling” by Gillicuddy, and “Y por qué no hacer una canción de Facebook y cantarla en un camión?”

Episode 21: Reflections on Latin@ Rhetorics

“The ethos of Latina/o Rhetoric is embodied in many of the traditions of resistance that link back to first contact with Europeans in the Americas spanning across time and space to current moments and sites of resistance. Whether it’s the colonialism of Columbus or the neocolonialism of states like Arizona, Latina/o rhetoricians are not lacking in moments of kairos or polemics in the polis that necessitate rhetorical invention to communicate and respond to dominant systems of power.” – Cruz Medina

Episode 21 features a collaboration with the Fall 2013 special issue of Reflections: “Latin@s in Public Rhetoric, Civic Writing, and Service-Learning” about how scholars are defining Latina/o rhetorics and why it’s an important issue for the field right now.

To read a PDF of the full transcript, please download it here.

The music sampled in this podcast is “The Afterlife” by YACHT, “Readers! Do You Read?” by Chris Zabriskie, “Tea Top” by ROW, and “Separate Ways Remix” and “Walking All Day Long” by Willbe.

Episode 20: Thinking Collectively about Academic Labor

A lot of times, contingent faculty do an incredible job of being incredibly professional in unprofessional working conditions. I think that’s the first big cost: the humanity and the economic stability of those folks who are in contingent positions—many of whom are grad students, people who have earned Master’s degrees or Ph.D.s, and obviously made commitments to being in higher education and commitments to wanting to teach and be with students. And, ironically, that group that is often the most committed to teaching—the most committed to being there for students—has to just struggle to be in something that they love to do. — Eileen Schell

We’re happy to share a special collaboration with Present Tense: A Journal of Rhetoric in Society for Episode 20! Academic labor is something that greatly concerns us as graduate students, and we think it’s an important concern for both full-time faculty and contingent faculty. That’s why this podcast features the voices of both full-time (Eileen Schell and Tony Scott are both Associate Professors of Writing and Rhetoric at Syracuse University) and contingent faculty (Jeff Simmons is a Professional Writing Instructor at Syracuse University).

To read a PDF of the full transcript, please download it here.

The music sampled in this podcast is “N35-40-19-800” by Springtide and “Adventure, Darling” and “Multitudes” by Gillicuddy.