Presentation Title

Negotiating Our Intellectual Roles on Social Media in the Age of Neoliberalism

Biographical Sketch

Dr. Jennifer Beech is Professor of English at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, where she teaches course in race and class-based rhetoric, style, humor, research methods, and composition theory and pedagogy.

Dr. Heather Palmer is Associate Professor of English at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, where she teaches courses in rhetoric, women's studies, and queer theory.

Dr. Matthew Guy is Associate Professor of English at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, where he teaches courses in British literature, horror, and critical theory.

Type of Presentation

Panel submission

Brief Description of Presentation

This panel takes up the critical pedagogical imperative of addressing with our students our constructions of ethos and our roles as intellectuals on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram)-- particularly in light of the 2016 presidential election in which a candidate was aided to victory not only by Russian interference, but also by a proliferation of fake news circulated via social media.

Abstract of Proposal

In 2005, Peter McLaren worried about a world in which our president used his position as a private playground to support corporate interests, where the stakes “are even higher when the game is allowed to continue uncontested by any rival superpower that can hold the rapacious quest for U.S. world domination in check” (Capitalists and Conquerors). We take up the critical pedagogical imperative of addressing with our students our constructions of ethos and our roles as intellectuals on social media at a time when a presidential candidate was aided to victory by Russian interference and a proliferation of fake news. Speakers address their own positions and rhetorical strategies, as well as discussions with and writing from their students.

“Constructing an Ethos on Facebook that Works at the Intersection of the Gramscian Organic and Traditional Intellectual.” Speaker 1 draws upon the work of rhetoricians Grabill and Pigg to consider how the construction of ethos works as an emergent (rather than stable product) in online spaces and considers the implications for what sort of (Gramscian) intellectual ethos we and our students project when acting as critical citizens on Facebook.

“Rhetoricity, Digital Media, and Student Ethos in Social Networking Sites.” During a unit on digital communication, Speaker 2 discovered that students were highly aware of how their ethos as a nonhuman digital “object” was radically relational, based on networks, fluctuations, variations in audience response, and circumscribed by a relationship with the medium that was ultimately pedagogical, providing an immediate feedback loop that shapes the possibilities for self-presentation. Students have a finely developed sense of what Diane Davis and Eric Detwiler call “rhetoricity”: rhetoricity does not emphasize the rhetorical power or agency of a masterful communicator, but rather "the vulnerability, the openness and feeling of exposure that have to be in place for any attempt at persuasion to unfold." Speaker 2 shares the results of the students’ final papers, in which they report that their very identities are constituted by such spaces—and since such spaces are direct products of neoliberal economic relations and inherently rhetorical in nature, their very identities are simultaneously marked as both the consumer and the consumed, the producer of the product and as the product itself.

“’Follow Me at @Gadfly’: The Twitter Model for Intellectuals in the Age of Identity Politics.” Speaker 3 addresses the recently developed form of the “twitter essay” as a new model for intellectual engagement with the global culture at large. The twitter essay has its most authoritative defense by the New Republic editor Jeet Heer in his essays, “In Defense of the Twitter Essay” and “I Didn’t Create the Twitter Essay Genre. I Just Made It Popular.” In these essays Heer defines the stringing together of tweets on a specific idea or topic as a new approach to creating “vibrant, democratic conversations.” This new social media-driven genre can speak to the current political and cultural climate that many have seen as a crisis, as with Mark Lilla who most recently in the New York Times pointed to what he termed “The End of Identity Liberalism.” Given that intellectuals before him such as Judith Butler, Edward Said, and Emmanuel Levinas have warned against strongly allying theory and intellectual engagement with what can in time become rather inflexible orthodoxies, this paper puts forth the new genre of the “twitter essay” as a way by which intellectual engagement can more effectively return to the role of a “gadfly” as put forth by Socrates and Martin Luther King, Jr., in this age which has effectively cemented social media and politics.

Location

Coastal Georgia Center

Start Date

2-25-2017 8:10 AM

End Date

2-25-2017 9:40 AM

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Feb 25th, 8:10 AM Feb 25th, 9:40 AM

Negotiating Our Intellectual Roles on Social Media in the Age of Neoliberalism

Coastal Georgia Center

In 2005, Peter McLaren worried about a world in which our president used his position as a private playground to support corporate interests, where the stakes “are even higher when the game is allowed to continue uncontested by any rival superpower that can hold the rapacious quest for U.S. world domination in check” (Capitalists and Conquerors). We take up the critical pedagogical imperative of addressing with our students our constructions of ethos and our roles as intellectuals on social media at a time when a presidential candidate was aided to victory by Russian interference and a proliferation of fake news. Speakers address their own positions and rhetorical strategies, as well as discussions with and writing from their students.

“Constructing an Ethos on Facebook that Works at the Intersection of the Gramscian Organic and Traditional Intellectual.” Speaker 1 draws upon the work of rhetoricians Grabill and Pigg to consider how the construction of ethos works as an emergent (rather than stable product) in online spaces and considers the implications for what sort of (Gramscian) intellectual ethos we and our students project when acting as critical citizens on Facebook.

“Rhetoricity, Digital Media, and Student Ethos in Social Networking Sites.” During a unit on digital communication, Speaker 2 discovered that students were highly aware of how their ethos as a nonhuman digital “object” was radically relational, based on networks, fluctuations, variations in audience response, and circumscribed by a relationship with the medium that was ultimately pedagogical, providing an immediate feedback loop that shapes the possibilities for self-presentation. Students have a finely developed sense of what Diane Davis and Eric Detwiler call “rhetoricity”: rhetoricity does not emphasize the rhetorical power or agency of a masterful communicator, but rather "the vulnerability, the openness and feeling of exposure that have to be in place for any attempt at persuasion to unfold." Speaker 2 shares the results of the students’ final papers, in which they report that their very identities are constituted by such spaces—and since such spaces are direct products of neoliberal economic relations and inherently rhetorical in nature, their very identities are simultaneously marked as both the consumer and the consumed, the producer of the product and as the product itself.

“’Follow Me at @Gadfly’: The Twitter Model for Intellectuals in the Age of Identity Politics.” Speaker 3 addresses the recently developed form of the “twitter essay” as a new model for intellectual engagement with the global culture at large. The twitter essay has its most authoritative defense by the New Republic editor Jeet Heer in his essays, “In Defense of the Twitter Essay” and “I Didn’t Create the Twitter Essay Genre. I Just Made It Popular.” In these essays Heer defines the stringing together of tweets on a specific idea or topic as a new approach to creating “vibrant, democratic conversations.” This new social media-driven genre can speak to the current political and cultural climate that many have seen as a crisis, as with Mark Lilla who most recently in the New York Times pointed to what he termed “The End of Identity Liberalism.” Given that intellectuals before him such as Judith Butler, Edward Said, and Emmanuel Levinas have warned against strongly allying theory and intellectual engagement with what can in time become rather inflexible orthodoxies, this paper puts forth the new genre of the “twitter essay” as a way by which intellectual engagement can more effectively return to the role of a “gadfly” as put forth by Socrates and Martin Luther King, Jr., in this age which has effectively cemented social media and politics.