Project on Rhetoric of Inquiry

Introduction to Volume 10,1

David Depew

University of Iowa, Emeritus
Iowa City, IA

Poroi 10,1 (January 2014)

POROI 10.1 contains articles by Celeste Condit, G. Thomas Goodnight, and Joshua Welsh.  It also features seven short reports from the 2013 pre-conference of the Association for the Rhetoric of Science and Technology (ARST).

The articles are linked together by their thematic concern with how new technologies affect common sense and deliberation. 

Celeste Condit, Communication Studies, University of Georgia, suggests that digital communication can become an effective means of deliberation and decision.  She relates how experts bungled risk analysis of bio-engineered super-flu viruses.  She calls for worldwide participatory deliberation by using digitally mediated means of deliberation.  She argues that digital deliberation can accommodate emotion-laden commonsensical argumentation of the sort that the official experts wrongly disdained.  An early version of this paper was given as a POROI Rhetoric Seminar in Spring 2013, when Professor Condit also delivered the Samuel L. Becker Lecture sponsored annually by the University of Iowa’s Communication Studies Department.

Joshua Welsh, English, Central Washington University, contrasts Aristotle’s negative attitude toward the effect of new technologies on common sense with the more welcoming attitude of modern, epistemologically sensitive rhetorical theorists.  He contends that technology’s tendency to revise our ideas about common sense can come into its own only if we adopt a discriminating, critical view of technology.  

G. Thomas Goodnight, Annenberg School of Communication, University of Southern California, recalls how closely entwined since Greek antiquity have been the arts of architecture and rhetoric.  Against this background he shows why the mid-century philosopher of rhetoric Richard McKeon called for rhetoric to serve as a new “architectonic” art of communication in a rapidly changing world community.  But Goodnight also observes that the rise of digital technology constitutes contemporary communication practices as “polytechtonic.”  He contends that the struggle between modern and postmodern rhetorics should extend its critical reach into spaces where communication flows become networked for a control society.

Contributors to the 2013 ARST pre-conference report their experiences on how as rhetorical scholars they are productively entering into funded collaborative research projects with scientists by serving as communication consultants.  Reports are by Caroline Gottschalk Drushcke, University of Rhode Island; Jean Goodwin, Michael F. Dahlstrom, Mari Kemis, Clark Wolf, Christine Hutchison, and Sara Parks, Iowa State University; John J. Reif, University of Pittsburgh; and  Kenny Walker, University of Arizona.  The reports are introduced by Jean Goodwin, Iowa State University.  They are commented on by Jamie L. Vernon, a scientist at Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education; and by Leah Cecarrelli, University of Washington.

POROI appears twice a year.  The editors welcome submissions that bring rhetorical invention and criticism to bear on the production, circulation, and consumption of claims to knowledge in all disciplines, professions, communities, and cultures.  Submissions are carefully and professionally reviewed.  A submission portal will be found on the POROI website.