Monday, May 22, 2006

C&W 2006 @Get Info Blurb

While I don't have a fancy video or anything like that for @Get Info at Computers and Writing, I do have a little blurb. I intended to make a video last week, which would have been me saying something like what I've got below with various places in the archive as backdrop, but plans changed. My hope is that the subject itself will be enough of a draw...

@Get Info Blurb for “Ong’s Digital Turn: Published and Unpublished Writings after Orality and Literacy”
In February of 1990, Ong wrote a letter to Harvard University Press regarding his most recent book project, entitled Language as Hermeneutic: A Primer on the Word and Digitization.

Wait, I’m sure many of you are thinking, Ong wrote a book on digitization? Kind of. He wrote 40,000 of a projected 50,000 words, some of which did make it into print in such publications as “Hermeneutic Forever: Voice, Text, Digitization, and the ‘I’.” And he wrote a number of other things on the topic that didn’t make it into print, such as the presentation “Secondary Oralism and Secondary Visualism,” and my favorite, the unpublished but brilliant article “Time, Digitization, and Dali’s Memory.”

And that’s what my presentation’s going to be about: the stuff that makes up Ong’s “digital turn.” While I’ve talked about what’s in the Ong Manuscript Collection before, this is my first presentation about what I’ve learned while working in the archive.

Session G.3, which is Saturday right after lunch.


C&W 2006 Handout (Select Bibliography)

I thought I'd post my bibliography handout, which goes with my Computers and Writing 2006 presentation "Ong’s Digital Turn: Published and Unpublished Writings after Orality and Literacy." There should be streaming video archives of a number of the presentations at On it are a number of unpublished material found in the archives.

Select Bibliography for "Ong’s Digital Turn: Published and Unpublished Writings after Orality and Literacy"

“Kleine, Michael and Frederic Gale. “The Elusive Presence of the Word: An Interview with Walter Ong.” Forum 7.2 (1996): 65-86.

Ong, Walter J. “A.M.D.G.: Dedication or Directive?” Review for Religious 11 (1952): 257-263. Rpt. in Faith and Contexts. Vol. 3: Further Essays, 1952-1990. Ed. Thomas J. Farrell and Paul A. Soukup. Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1992. 1-8.

---. “The Church and Cosmic History.” American Catholic Crossroads: Religious-Secular Encounters in the Modern World. New York: The Macmillian Company, 1959. 1-15.

---. “Digitization Ancient and Modern: Beginnings of Writing and Today’s Computers.” Communication Research Trends 18.2 (1998): 4-21. Rpt. in An Ong Reader: Challenges for Further Inquiry. Ed. Thomas J. Farrell and Paul A. Soukup. Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press, 2002. 527-49.

---. “Ecology and Some of Its Future.” Explorations in Media Ecology 1.1 (2002): 5-11.

---. "Evolution and Cyclicism in Our Time." Thought 34 (1959-60): 547-68. Rpt in revised form in Darwin's Vision and Christian Perspectives. Ed. by Walter J. Ong. New York: Macmillan, 1960. 125-48. Rpt. in In the Human Grain: Further Explorations of Contemporary Culture. New York: Macmillan, 1967. 61-82; Rpt. in Faith and Contexts. Vol. 2: Supplementary Studies, 1946-1989. Ed. Thomas J. Farrell and Paul A. Soukup. Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1992. 85-103.

---. Forward to The Barefoot Expert: The Interface of Computerized Knowledge Systems and Indigenous Knowledge Systems. By Doris M. Schoenhoff. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1993. ix-xii.

---. Forward to Electric Rhetoric: Classical Rhetoric, Oralism, and a New Literacy. By Kathleen E. Welch. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1999. xiii-xiv.

---. “Hermeneutic Forever: Voice, Text, Digitization, and the ‘I.’” Oral Tradition 10.1 (1995): 3-36. Rpt. in Faith and Contexts. Vol. 4: Additional Studies and Essays 1947-1996. Ed. Thomas J. Farrell and Paul A. Soukup. Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1999. 183-203.

---. “Information and/or Communication: Interactions.” Communication Research Trends 16.3 (1996): 3-16. Rpt. in Faith and Contexts. Vol. 4: Additional Studies and Essays 1947-1996. Ed. Thomas J. Farrell and Paul A. Soukup. Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1999. 217-38. Rpt. in An Ong Reader: Challenges for Further Inquiry. Ed. Thomas J. Farrell and Paul A. Soukup. Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press, 2002. 505-25.

---. “Knowledge in Time.” Introduction to Knowledge and the Future of Man: An International Symposium. Ed. Walter J. Ong. New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1968. 3-38. Rpt. in Faith and Contexts. Vol. 1. Selected Essays and Studies, 1952-1991. Ed. Thomas J. Farrell and Paul A. Soukup. Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1992. 127-53.

---. "The Knowledge Explosion and the Sciences of Man." American Benedictine Review 15.1 (1964): 1-13. Rpt as "The Knowledge Explosion in the Humanities" in In the Human Grain: Further Explorations of Contemporary Culture. New York: Macmillan, 1967. 41-51. Rpt. as "The Knowledge Explosion in the Humanities" in Faith and Contexts. Vol. 4: Additional Studies and Essays 1947-1996. Ed. Thomas J. Farrell and Paul A. Soukup. Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1999. 55-68.

---. Language as Hermeneutic: A Primer on the Word and Digitization. Ts. Walter J. Ong Manuscript Collection. Pius XII Memorial Library, Saint Louis University.

---. “Oralism to Online Thinking.” Explorations in Media Ecology 2.1 (2003): 43-4.

---. Orality and Literacy: The Technologizing of the Word. London: Methuen, 1982.

---. “Orality, Textuality, and Electronics Unlimited.” Ts. Walter J. Ong Manuscript Collection. Pius XII Memorial Library, Saint Louis University.

---. The Presence of the Word: Some Prolegomena for Cultural and Religious History. New Haven: Yale UP, 1967.

---. “Secondary Orality and Secondary Visualism.” Ts. Walter J. Ong Manuscript Collection. Pius XII Memorial Library, Saint Louis University.

---. "Secular Knowledge, Revealed Religion, and History." Religious Education 52.5 (1957): 341-49. Rpt as "Secular Knowledge and Revealed Religion" in American Catholic Crossroads: Religious-Secular Encounters in the Modern World. New York: The Macmillian Company, 1959. 74-95.

---. “Time, Digitization, and Dali’s Memory.” Ts. Walter J. Ong Manuscript Collection. Pius XII Memorial Library, Saint Louis University.

---. “Voice, Text, Fundamentalism, Hermeneutic, and God’s Word: The Personal Grounding of Truth.” Ts. Walter J. Ong Manuscript Collection. Pius XII Memorial Library, Saint Louis University.

---. “Writing is a Technology that Restructures Thought.” The Written Word: Literacy in Transition. Ed. Gerd Baumann. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1986. 23-50. Rpt. in Faith and Contexts. Vol. 4: Additional Studies and Essays 1947-1996. Ed. Thomas J. Farrell and Paul A. Soukup. Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1999. 143-168.

Swearingen, C. Jan. “On Photographic ‘Literacy’: An Interview with Walter J. Ong.” Exposure 23.4 (1985): 19-27.

Cross posted to Notes from the Walter J. Ong Archive.

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Sunday, May 21, 2006

Eurovision Upset: "Monsters" Of Rock Win

Eurovision? What?

Most of you, I'm guessing, don't follow the annual Eurovision Song Contest, Europe's battle of the bands. I don't either except for the little bit of coverage it gets on the BBC World News, but this year was different. While Eurovision is usually dominated by Europop so bad even Europeans make fun of it, this year's contest was swept away by the Finnish "monster metal" band Lordi and their song "Hard Rock Hallelujah." Even for me, a casual observer of Scandinavian metal, Lordi's invention of monster metal just makes sense. Quite frankly, I'm surprised it hasn't been done by a metal band before, Scandinavian or otherwise. It's a logical move blending the stage presence of KISS, Alice Cooper, and the like with the metal band monster mascot like Iron Maiden's Eddie.

And the song's not bad either as far as metal tributes to rock go. And it's much better than the usual Eurovision fare., of course, already has a number of videos of the Eurovision performance:

BBC stories on Lordi's win:

Finnish monsters rock Eurovision

How horror rock conquered Europe

Finns shocked by Eurovision band

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Link Roundup

The Scotsman has a short piece based on an interview with the Vatican's astronomer. The story has a very Ongian take on the intersection of science and religion: "Creationism dismissed as 'a kind of paganism' by Vatican's astronomer." Via Neil Gaiman.

Cow abductions. Watch the video on the front page. Via Lisa at The Truth Hurts.

Michael Drout's How Tradition Works: A Meme-based Cultural Poetics of the Anglo-Saxon Tenth Century is now out. It's a must read book for me, but I'm not sure if it's going to be a read-for-dissertation book. It would have been a must-read for the old dissertation, and while it's something I should read now, the cut off point for new books has probably been passed.

The Center for Studies in Higher Education has published the report "Use and Users of Digital Resources: A Focus on Undergraduate Education in the Humanities and Social Sciences."

The European Commission’s Future and Emerging Technologies (FET) initiative is funding the NEW TIES project, which seeks to create a "computer society" of software agents capable of developing their own culture and language. Via CogNews.

I forgot to add:

University of Toronto Press has published Marcel O'Gorman's E-Crit: Digital Media, Critical Theory, and the Humanities, a book which I want to check out.

Matthew Driscoll of the Arnamagnæan Institute has an article in the new issue of Digital Medievalist that describes the new manuscript description module in TEI P5: "P5-MS: A General Purpose Tagset for Manuscript Description."

Ong at MLA 2006

MLA has accepted my panel "Walter J. Ong's Orality and Literacy at 25," which I hope will be the first of a series of 25th anniversary celebrations for the book. MLA's on board, C&W 2007 will likely be a go, so now it's up to CCCC. Steve may be right: 2007 just might be the year of Ong.

The MLA panel's three papers and presenters are:

"Orality, Literacy, and Ong's Asymmetrical Opposition" by Jerry Harp of Lewis and Clark College

"Orality and Literacy as a Methodological Apparatus for Examining Women's Rhetorics" by Melissa Fiesta of California State University, Long Beach

"Ong, Derrida, and the New Media Theory" by David Martyn of Macalester College

We'll be posting abstracts later this summer.

Cross posted to Notes From the Walter J. Ong Archive.

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Friday, May 19, 2006


I meant to post this much earlier, but the time between returning from a celebratory dinner and discovering the theft of the Neon was about 8 hours. Any way, on May 2, Gina Merys defended her dissertation, "Teaching Freedom: The De-Colonized Classroom, Empowerment, and First Year Writing," and she was hooded yesterday. Dr. Merys joins Creighton University as an assistant professor later this summer.

I finished grading over the weekend and submitted grades on Sunday. For the most part, the final papers were good, and a number of them taught me something about the texts we read, which is always a great thing. All in all, a good class. I'll be posting a wrap up in the not too distant future.

We bought a new PT Cruiser on Tuesday because, as I mentioned yesterday, our Neon was stolen and totaled. While it means having a car payment, and, therefore, me having to pick up freelance work this summer to cover it, we wanted a new car rather than an used one. My mother-in-law loves brokering car deals, so we let her at it. She got us a better price than we were hoping for and other than the color, the car has everything we wanted. While we wanted black, we got magnesium, which was our second choice.

I need to need to reread Heaven's War. With the movie hype going around, I couldn't help but note some echoes of the Da Vinci Code, which isn't to say that Heaven's War has anything to do with the Da Vinci Code but rather that both stories draw from the Grail/Knights Templar/Merovingian mythologies covered in Holy Blood, Holy Grail. I've not read either book, but I know good amount about both, so I was able to pick up Heaven's War's use of Holy Blood, Holy Grail well before I read the notes in the back of the book. I've been told by a number of people that I should read the Da Vinci Code at some point and I probably will. Even if it wasn't enjoyable, and I've been told by enough people that it is, it's medievalism and it's bringing students into medieval studies courses, and that's a good enough reason to put it on a "to read" list. Heaven's War itself focuses much more on Charles Williams than on Tolkien or Lewis, which I found disappointing, but I expected as much. The title, after all, is a nod to Williams' own grail story, The War in Heaven.

The backyard lawn, which we replanted last October is doing quite well. Too well, I think. It needs to be mowed more than once a week and it's so thick it jams up the lawn mower. With this new found lawn success, we're probably going to rent a roto-tiller again and tear up the front yard, which not only suffers from the hard-packed Missouri clay but a steep slope and too much shade. We're also thinking about turning the front yard slope into terraced flowerbeds. We've also got canna coming in and the hostas have grown in. We've filled our screened-in porch with flowers and other plants (including two basil plants), and we've also got a number of moonflower seedlings ready to transplant. I need to build a trellis to put up alongside the porch so we can enjoy the moonflowers when we sit out there in the evenings. I'm also supposed to build a number of bamboo border fences in the Yotsume style. The bamboo has even been ordered.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

"No sign of theft"

Just over two weeks ago, our 1995 Neon was stolen, taken for a joyride, and, as is almost always the case in St. Louis, intentionally crashed before abandoned. The aftermath, for the most part, was one long nightmare. Before we could see our car, we had to once again talk to the police, who tried to get us to admit to crashing our car and fleeing the scene. That was a two hour nightmare in which the detective told us a number of lies, including that she had sent someone down to the impound lot to check our car and that there were no signs of theft. (When we finally got to see the car, we found the steering column exposed, the ignition lock busted up, and ignition lock fragments all over the floor of the car.) At some point, I called my dad, who is an attorney, a retired FBI agent, and a retired judge, and he told me how to push back. He also told me it would piss the detective off, but that she'd give us the paperwork to get our car. She got pissed off, but she did let us go shortly after. She wouldn't, however, ever give us a theft report number. I had to call back to ask for one and she told me there wasn't one. I then asked if she'd had someone look at the car because, contrary to what she'd told us earlier, there were clear signs of theft. She said someone would look into it, and called the next day to tell us that the car had been stolen. She then told my wife that the accident report would also serve as our theft report. When we picked it up five days later, it didn't. We've finally gotten it all resolved, but it took the intervention of the Crime Victims' Advocacy Association.

And here, for your enjoyment, are a few more pictures of the non-existent signs of theft: The ignition, in b&w:

A pulled back view. Note the small item on the floor mat above the black rectangle of rubber -- that's the biggest piece of the ignition lock. Apparently it's too small for a St. Louis Police officer to notice. But then, they assumed I've driven the car for the past three years with the steering column and ignition lock in the state you see above.

Monday, May 08, 2006

"Heaven's War": The Inklings Vs. Crowley

I don't remember where I learned about Heaven's War by Micah Harris and Michael Gaydos, but it was sometime in the last 6 months. I ordered it last week as a post-semester diversion. It's short, so it won't be that much of a distraction, and finishing up a semester of teaching science fiction (it's finals week), I can't rationalize reading something like the Quicksilver, the first novel in Neal Stephenson's Baroque Cycle, which has been sitting on my shelf for a few years now. I could, probably, rationalize Gene Wolfe's The Fifth Head of Cerberus or Tales of a Scottish Grandfather Vol. 1: From Bannockburn to Flodden: Wallace, Bruce and the Heroes of Medieval Scotland by Walter Scott (justified, even, as Scott engaging in the production of social memory). But, really, I just can't pass up this comic, which is described as such:
1938: As the world moves toward global war, a secret angelic battle is waged in the heavenly realms to determine mankind's fate. The infamous Aleister Crowley plans to manipulate those angelic struggles and thus shape the world according to his will.

Only "The Inklings"--20th century fantasy authors J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and Charles Williams--oppose his scheme. Their altercation with Crowley will take them to the very threshold of Heaven--and one of the Inklings outside time itself!
Lewis and Tolkien have long been favorite authors of mine, and I've enjoyed their scholarship as much as their fiction. And not only did I TA and then teach my own Tolkien course before the movies made it fashionable to do so, I team taught a class on the Inklings with T.A. Shippey a few years ago. Like I said, I can't pass this up.

It came much earlier than I expected, so now I've got to put it away until I've submitted grades.

And need I mention that I've got Ozzy Osbourne's "Mr. Crowley" going through my head?

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Thursday, May 04, 2006

Resources on Electronic Scholarly Publishing

Via the Humanist Discussion Group:
  • Version 62 of the Scholarly Electronic Publishing Bibliography is now available. This selective bibliography presents over 2,680 articles, books, and other printed and electronic sources that are useful in understanding scholarly electronic publishing efforts on the Internet.

  • The Open Access Bibliography: Liberating Scholarly Literature with E-Prints and Open Access Journals provides in-depth coverage of the open access movement and related topics (e.g., disciplinary archives, e-prints, institutional repositories, open access journals, and the Open Archives Initiative) than SEPB does.

  • The Open Access Webliography (with Ho) complements the OAB, providing access to a number of Websites related to open access topics.

  • Subject Index to Literature on Electronic Sources of Information: The page-specific "Subject Index to Literature on Electronic Sources of Information" and the accompanying "Electronic Sources of Information: A Bibliography" (listing all indexed items) deal with all aspects of electronic publishing and include print and non-print materials, periodical articles, monographs and individual chapters in collected works. This edition includes 2,300 indexed titles. Both the Index and the Bibliography are continuously updated.
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CFP: The Digital Archive

via the Humanist Discussion Group:

Image (&) Narrative (, a peer reviewed, online journal published by the University of Leuven (Belgium), is inviting submissions for a special issue on:

The Digital Archive

In human societies memory is organized in two basic forms: material forms (tablets, paintings, books, etc.) on the one hand and immaterial forms (oral history, dances, songs, etc.) on the other hand. These forms represent two organizing principles that function in different ways. While material forms of memory are fixed, immaterial ways of remembering are fluid. Tablets, paintings, texts, & are affirmative and stable, while conversations, oral traditions, ... have a more ambiguous or dialogic' character. Especially in western societies, the first organizing principle has gained more authority. Material memory' has laid the foundation of modern bureaucracy and of every industrial or post-industrial company. Contracts and laws are the most evident examples of material memory' which guarantee the relative stability necessary for every modern organization. In this context, the classical archive often functions as a library of proof' on which societies can always rely when appointments are discussed, rules are violated or facts are disputed. In other words, the classical archive as a reservoir of material memory is one of the crucial foundations that have made modern society & modern.

The introduction of digital databases transforms the way Western societies use their archives. The most visible result of digitization is of course the fact that the classical archive, once digitized, becomes a more fluid one. Although it may not become as instable as conversations, oral history or urban legends, the possibility of permanent transformation is real. As soon as new data enter a networked archive, the database can reorganize itself just as oral legends transform over time when the storyteller or the audience changes. At least we can say that the digital archive is a strange hybrid between material and immaterial memory machines. But in the digital era classical' archives do not disappear. Just as the paperless' office has proven a fiction (utopian or dystopian, following the sources), the world of archives is not one-dimensional. Classical and digital archives coexist, not always pacifically, their respective logics, areas and scopes interact, and their users have to switch permanently from one type of archive to another.

Deadline for submissions: 1st of November 2006
Please contact:
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Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Writing Tickets

When I read Laurence Musgrove's IHE piece "The Real Reasons Students Can’t Write" last week, my reaction to it was, not surprisingly, similar to the reactions of Steve Krause and Mike Garcia. As I read it, Ed White's recent invoking of Peter Elbow on WPA-L came to mind. White reminded us of Elbow's argument that we shouldn't use revision as punishment, that we shouldn't revise our "bad" writing, but, rather, that we should use revision to make our good writing better.

As much as I agree with that notion, however, we're not always left with the option of revising our best work, or even good work. Sometimes, we're stuck with the crap we've got. And that's the problem Musgrove is trying to solve. As states in the piece, most student errors are the result of not caring about the writing or not noticing the error in that particular instance rather than not knowing how to write.

Musgrove's answer to making students care--the writing ticket--can't be a good solution. While punishment can be a strong motivation to reduce error, the reliance upon a system of negative feedback, of punishment, is going to teach students, especially students who need the most writing instruction, to write as little as possible and to avoid writing whenever possible.

If the problem here is with error, maybe a better solution would be to increase training in editing distinct and separate from writing and revision. Yes, editing is part of the writing process, but editing is also a distinct craft and most professional writers have editors who edit their work because it's understood that even the best writers make and fail to catch errors. Not everyone is cut out to be a good editor--I'm pretty sure I'm not--but we can all learn how to systematically scan a piece for error. Done well, this separates revision from editing, revision from the elimination of error, and it directly addresses editing as a rhetorical act along the lines of Joseph Williams' "The Phenomenology of Error."

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Monday, May 01, 2006

Book Meme

I'm resisting the urge to say that I don't do memes but I'm doing this one because, well, we all say that. I came across this one at blogos

1. Grab the nearest book
2. Open it to page 123
3. Find the fifth sentence
4. Copy it onto your blog/journal along with these instructions

The book is David Farrell Krell's Of Memory, Reminiscence, and Writing: On the Verge which is on my desk between the keyboard and my iMac. Here's the fifth full sentence:
They allow only particular peridos of stimulus to pass.

Constructing Nations, Reconstructing Myth

Back in October, I made a brief reference to Constructing Nations, Reconstructing Myth: Essays in Honour of T.A. Shippey, a collection which I'm co-editing with Andrew Wawn and Graham Johnson. While we knew Brepols Publishers was going to pick it up for over a year, we now have a contract. It will be published as part of Brepols' Making the Middle Ages series, and the collection is about the “the Grimmian Revolution," what Shippey calls the development and the results of comparative philology in the 19th and 20th centuries. In the initial contact letter that we sent to potential contributors and in our initial discussions with Brepols, we offered the following possible topics:
-the effects of literary and linguistic discovery on European national self-definitions
-the way in which comparative philology was extended, successfully or not, to comparative mythology
-the creation of folkloristics as a study, including the collecting of folktale and folk-ballad
-the history of the recovery of the old Northern literatures and languages
-the reception of those literatures and languages in general, and the way they have altered modern literary sensibility.
The collection will have 16 essays divided into three topics (nationalism, philology, and mythology) by scholars from 7 countries. It covers such topics the rise of Finnish vernacular literature, Beowulf, Tolkien as philologist and mythologist, Old Norse poetry and myth, the Mabinogi, Macpherson's Ossian and Scottish nationalism, Frisian and Danish "Grimmian" figures, and Anglo-Irish-Icelandic connections. It's on track to be published in October 2007.

What I don't think is going to be made explicit in the collection is how all of this, the whole of Grimmian Revolution, is social memory. Sometime after we finish editing the whole thing -- probably after the collection itself is out -- I plan on writing an essay on the Grimmian Revolution as projects in social memory.

There's something a bit exhilarating and a bit intimidating about signing a book contract.