Saturday, January 22, 2005

"Institutionalizing Rhetoric"?

Although I've taken the Blogora off my "Other blogs I frequent" list (b/c I don't look at it very frequently anymore), there was an interesting post (to me, anyway) up about the future of 'the profession' of rhetorical studies in the U.S. (or at least North America, I take it). (Hmmm... 3 parentheticals in one sentence--overkill?)

I'm not much in contact with other rhetoricians in Taiwan--this is something I hope to start doing if and when I get that &#@!!*& dissertation done. But I wonder if they have a similar situation. I get the impression they (we?) are primarily in English (Foreign Language) and Communication departments here, too. Wonder how they (we?) see their (our?) future as a profession here. Any Taiwan rhetoricians reading this? What say ye?

For starters, I have a heckuva time figuring out how to classify my work according to the National Science Council's classification system. They have a category for Communication Studies (fairly recently added, if I'm not mistaken--it used to be part of Sociology, I think). But last time I submitted a grant proposal (I'm doing historical work on language/rhetorical education in Taiwan), they didn't feel my study fit into that category. I forget what they ended up classifying it as, but my proposal got rejected, partly, I imagine, because it didn't fit the category into which the NSC folks placed it. I suppose I could do more "traditional" rhetoric studies such as work on public address (actually, I'll be doing a presentation on p.a. in April), but I'm a little concerned about having my research program determined by the NSC's classification system.


Anonymous said...

I can well imagine your frustration about how your work is classified, Jon. There's the content of the work, the methodology of the work, the goal of the work, and the audience for the work--just to name a few factors that I would see playing a role in how an organization would base its classification. One could look at a "traditional" issue via non-traditional methods; one could look at a non-traditional issue with "traditional" methods; the goal could be to inform, persuade, corrupt...; the audience may or may not be the right one for the stated purpose. All of these could complicate academics' classifications of one's work, and if one is seeking a grant, then surely the taxonomy grows more specific and nit-picky. Some potentially good work likely doesn't earn grant money because it's not "framed" in relation to these elements in precisely the ways in which the funding organization wants it to be. Hence, again, your frustration! --Eric

Jonathan Benda said...

Yeah, it's quite a complicated business because there *is* a section under linguistics that concerns language teaching, but my guess is that most folks in that discipline that would be evaluating proposals in that category wouldn't expect something that related to rhetoric education... So as you say, the issue, goals, and methods are all somewhat untraditional, though the subject area seems to fit.