In February, Laurence Rickels stopped by Austin, Texas. Dr. Rickels, who is the Sigmund Freud Professor of Psychoanalysis at the European Graduate School as well as Professor of Art and Theory at the Academy of Fine Arts in Karlsruhe, Germany, was in town as part of the tour for his latest book: Germany: A Science Fiction. During his visit, he also swung by UT-Austin's Digital Writing and Research Lab and was generous enough to sit down for the following interview.
In his new book, Rickels focuses on psychopathy as, quote, "the undeclared diagnosis implied in flunking the empathy test." He does so via an exploration of Germany's role in Cold War-era science fiction: from the Thomas Pynchon novel Gravity's Rainbow to B movies like 1962's The Day of the Triffids to the science fiction of Philip K. Dick. In addition to Germany, Dr. Rickels has written numerous works tracing connections between psychoanalysis, popular culture, critical theory, science fiction, and mourning. His books include The Case of California, The Vampire Lectures, a three-volume series entitled Nazi Psychoanalysis, and Spectre, in which Rickels turns his attention to Ian Fleming's James Bond. He's also the author of a recent article entitled "The Race to Fill in the Blanks: On (Animal) Testing in Science Fiction," which appeared in the 2014 issue of Philosophy & Rhetoric touched on in this podcast's premiere episode.
In our conversation, I ask Dr. Rickels about his use of the term "psy-fi," the impetus behind his new book, the relationship between his work and that of the late media theorist Friedrich Kittler, as well as the puns and juxtapositions that punctuate his pages.
In this episode of Rhetoricity, I interview Dr. Jenny Rice, an associate professor in the Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and Digital Studies at the University of Kentucky. In addition to appearing on this podcast's episode on small talk, Dr. Rice has made extensive contributions to rhetorical studies: she’s the author of the book Distant Publics: Development Rhetoric and the Subject of Crisis as well as articles in the Quarterly Journal of Speech, Argumentation and Advocacy, College Composition and Communication, and Rhetoric Society Quarterly (RSQ, for short). She’ll also be co-chairing the 2016 Rhetoric Society of America conference in Atlanta, Georgia.
In this episode, I talk with Dr. Rice about her current book project, which is tentatively titled Awful Archives. In February 2015, she presented part of that project at The University of Texas at Austin's Digital Writing and Research Lab. A video of that presentation, which was entitled "Archival Magnitude: Quantities of Evidence and Insights into Reality," is available here. We also discuss a forum she's organizing for RSQ, an anthology she's co-editing with UT's Casey Boyle, and her approach to social media.
This episode features an interview with Dr. Sharon Crowley, an accomplished rhetoric scholar and winner of the Conference on College Composition and Communication's 2015 Exemplar Award. Dr. Crowley is the author of Composition in the University: Historical and Polemical Essays, Toward a Civil Discourse: Rhetoric and Fundamentalism, and coauthor of the rhetoric textbook Ancient Rhetorics for Contemporary Students.
In this episode, special guest interviewer Kendall Gerdes talks with Crowley about the recent history of rhetoric as a discipline, her advice for rhetoric graduate students, and what she's been reading lately. They even take a moment to talk about their respective experiences playing the video game Skyrim in connection with Umberto Eco's essay "The Return of the Middle Ages."
Small talk: it's both part of the lifeblood and part of the awkwardness of academic conferences. "Is your hometown treating you well?" "How about this weather?" "When did you get in?" The questions and answers are almost predetermined. Pushing the boundaries of this chatter, one might say, is a rhetorical project, and so this episode features two rhetoric scholars doing just that. Nathaniel Rivers (St. Louis University) and Jenny Rice (University of Kentucky) try out an array of alternate small-talk topoi, from questions about crying to old-timey firefighters to blood.
In this episode, I explore the concept from which this podcast derives its title and part of its inspiration: rhetoricity. In keeping with a spirit of weirdness, I pursue this by asking a few rhetoric scholars--Diane Davis, Will Burdette, Steven LeMieux--the following question: what isn't rhetoricity?