the rhetoric of cool: jeff rice

“In rhetoric, cool does not merely reflect the brooding, male figure; the marginal African-American; the hipster; the rebel; or any other cliche. The cool writer encompasses what Burroughs calls a ‘media being’, an individual who mixes and is mixed, who composes with media by commutating, appropriating, visualizing, and chorally structuring knowledge. ‘The basic law of association and juxtaposition,’ Burroughs writes, ‘the basic law of association and conditioning is known to college students even in america: any object, feeling, odor, word, or image will be associated with it’. The cool writer understands how media shapes her view of the world and her ability to communicate within that world. The composition program, in general, does not yet understand that fact. Even as it hypes media as something to be studied (as its current crop of popular textbooks do), composition studies still does not envision the media shaped writer. It has refused to give up its grasp on the print shaped writer, an image cherished in our profession for so long.”

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