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Welcome to The Well Wrought Urn, Lexington KY\'s least-updated blog.

The Rhetoric of Blogging 2.0: Anticipating “Curriculum Next”

Welcome back, SACS-satiaters .  Once again, I’ve been asked to talk about blogging and its relationship to the new general education curriculum at the University of Kentucky.  Is there any strategy better than going meta and writing a blog post about blogging?  Probably not.

It’s official now.  The Division of Writing, Rhetoric, and Digital Media (formerly known as the Writing Program, now WRDM) and the College of Communications and Information Studies will collectively spearhead a major curricular shift and create a combined course sequence in composition and communication, which will ultimately ask students to participate in new media technologies.  Eventually, new courses designed specifically to teach students how to write on and for the Web will be offered.  As instructors of writing (and other forms of communication), we will have to become more aware of how communication is changing.

There will be more sessions on the intersection between writing and new media forms (photography, video, audio recording, video casting, and blogging).  For now, we’ve decided that blogs are the baseline tool that allow students and instructors to explore converging communication patterns.  Without blogs, we’ll be unable to circulate much of the multi-media work (podcasts, essays, photojournalism, audio files, documentaries, videocasts, etc.) that we do and that we’ll ask our students to do. Read more…


“Progress” Lexington and the CVS Fiasco

“Progress” has always been a slippery concept.  For one thing, it’s hard to critique a collective desire for “progress,” just like it’s difficult to poke holes in a community that wants to valorize its own creativity.  It’s also difficult to draw sensible boundaries around what counts as progressive, especially when what’s at stake with the progress debate is actually the well-being of the entire community in question.

Renderings of Proposed CVS

Recently, a group of well-intentioned public activists have formed ProgressLex, a group dedicated to social justice and “smart and sustainable economic development” in downtown Lexington.  Thus far, the group’s bailiwicks have proved to be upholding the architectural aesthetics of certain downtown buildings, eradicating one way streets in Lexington’s downtown, and branding Lexington as an epicenter of brainpower and social industry. Read more…

Berea College: Injustice is Arbitrary

Major journalistic kudos go to the Lexington Herald-Leader’s Ryan Alessi for his story on Berea College in yesterday’s issue.  Berea boasts one of the largest private nest-eggs in the entire country (among colleges), and like most higher education institutions, Berea has faced significant losses to its endowment in the past year since stock prices have declined and speculative markets have collapsed across the world.

Berea College President Larry Shinn

A shrinking endowment is a particularly worrisome problem for a college that funds all of its undergraduate students and is committed to social justice and equity in higher education.  According to the Berea College website, the school was founded by ardent abolitionists who took seriously the scriptural premise that “God has made of one blood all the peoples of the earth.”  It admits students, many from Appalachia, who come from a limited economic background.  The mission and premise of the college has always been to promote equality through justice.  Berea was founded by people who recognized the arbitrariness of injustice and how unjust societies wreak violence when they refuse to take consistent moral stances that show grace to all people.  Its leaders despised a society that discriminated according to social, gender, or racial difference, and it has always provided a curriculum that has demanded its students to think about the patterns that perpetuate poverty and hatred. Read more…

Lexington Is? A Video Challenge

I want to give a brief plug for a Gaines Center fellow, James Chapman, who is starting a project called the Lexington Video Challenge?  What does it entail?  See the video below:

Chapman simply asks us to create a video that captures what Lexington is all about.  He’s interested in how we “brand” ourselves as a city, what we do, and what images we perpetuate about ourselves.  Since this is a jury project for the Gaines Center, I presume that there will be some synthesis and answer to how the humanities can help us think about these challenging questions. If you’re an expert filmmaker, give this challenge a shot.

Grateful Dead Archivist Position

Yesterday the Library and Information Science world was abuzz when the University of California at Santa Cruz announced that it is seeking applicants for a Grateful Dead Archivist positionAccording to the job posting, the ideal candidate would have an ALA-accredited MLS (and all of the relevant professional knowledge and experience that such training entails) and an “expert knowledge in the history and scholarship of contemporary popular music and American vernacular culture, preferably the history and influence of the Grateful Dead.”

What a great job, right? John Stewart jumped on this one last night in his opening sequence to The Daily Show. A job that requires expert knowledge of the Grateful Dead and top-flight organizational skills?  Stewart’s monologue is nothing more than a string of pejorative conceptions about what it means to be an information professional.  Clips like this are why there’s so much professional insecurity and meaningless backpedaling in LIS graduate courses. Read more…

Worst Commercial Ever

After a long day of thinking about how I’m going to unfold my dissertation project,  I feel like I need to do a little free-wheeling, easy cultural studies writing.  I saw a repulsive and reprehensible commercial for Wal-Mart the other day.

U.S. forces approach a camp that appears to be in a desert landscape.  It’s not clear whether we’re to take this desert camp as being in Afghanistan or Iraq, but since the commercial unfolds as a paean to troop support during this holiday season, and troops are being sent to Afghanistan, rather than Iraq, by the thousands, I suppose we’re meant to believe that this is the Afghanistan desert.

A magical music score begins to play as the soldiers look to the heavens with a sense of awe and wonder.  It’s snowing in the desert! An impossibility.  A miracle, and a sign that somewhere a prayer has been answered.  And it has.  In some undisclosed shopping mall back home, a thirty-something mom and her son leave the Santa booth and the mother stoops to ask her son what he wishes for.  “Something for daddy.” Read more…

PDS on the Rhetoric of Blogging: Ideas and Advice

I’ve been asked to share my experience with blogging to instructors at the University of Kentucky.  What better strategy than to go meta and write a blog post about blogging?  In a year (allegedly) the University of Kentucky Writing Program will spearhead a significant curricular shift, which is part of the university’s larger general education program change.  Writing instruction will become more aware of changing methods of communication and will strive to incorporate the spectrum of media and technology that’s now available.

The Writing Program will be offering a series of PDS(s) on the intersection between writing and these new media forms (photography, video, audio recording, and blogging).  For now, we’ve decided that blogs are the baseline tool that will allow students and instructors to explore and test the limits of converging communication patterns.  Without blogs, we’ll be unable to circulate much of the multi-media work that we do and that we’ll ask our students to do. Read more…