Author Archives: scholarcache

Adams, Hazard, and Leroy Searle. Preface & Introduction. Critical Theory Since Plato. 3rd ed. Wadsworth Publishing, 2004. Print.

Hazard Adams and Leroy Searle included more people’s work in this compilation than ever before, and have included passages that have been previously imagined to be irrelevant. They explain that they have arranged the works chronologically on purpose, as they don’t wish to attempt to classify or categorize any strands of thought or to privilege or put forward their own ideas about the trajectories of these works.

They explain that the title of the book is meant to refer to literary criticism and theory, and caution the reader not to confuse this with the term “critical theory” that designates the social thought of the Frankfurt School of the 1930s. They include theorists which call into question the nature of literature itself because they are concerned with studying how literature as an art has been and continues to be thought about, even when the immediate effect is to call it into question.

They enlarged the selections by Plato and Aristotle in order to reflect the variety of their views and influences. The selection of Classical texts was also expanded to show the relation of rhetorical theory with poetics. Reading these, the authors tell us, “enriches one’s sense of the movement of literary thought” and gives perspective on the phenomenon of issues recurring in “different dress.”

They briefly discuss 4 stages in the history of philosophy and literary thought:

Ontological: ~2000 years

  • Questions on the nature of Being

Epistemological: ~300 years

  • Questions on the nature of Knowing

Linguistic: 17th & 18th centuries (200 years at most)

  • To what extent does language inform us?
  • To what extent are we enclosed within it?

[Deconstruction closed out the linguistic phase]

Moralism: 1960s

  • Political and cultural critique

They point out how the time periods involved in each stage have gotten much shorter as time has progressed.

When considering the work of a critic, they say that it’s important to look at the words that carry the most weight in one’s argument. Burke wrote about how disciplines and critics steal symbols back and forth, each one claiming their meaning or usage to be supreme. A quarrel of this nature, over the word “imitation” (mimesis) begins the beginning of the history of Western criticism as we know it, and questions surrounding imitation dominated the Ontological stage as we know it.

The Epistemological stage is characterized by Descartes’ rationalism and Locke’s empiricism, which separated all experience into primary (objective) and secondary (subjective) experience. Primary experiences were privileged: anything that was ascertainable through measurement was considered REAL – everything else was secondary. Here, literature was relegated to subjectivity and thus deprivileged, as Knowledge became equated with the results of the scientific method.

The Linguistic stage brought questions about whether Knowledge could be separated from language or other systems of symbols. People began to understand that language, not merely perception, plays a constitutive role in the way reality appears to us. Language theory rain wild, then died down some as the realization grew that the origins of language are as mysterious as the origin of humanity itself.

When the more recent excursion into language known as semiotics, or the theory of signs, came about, it was more interested in the origins of language than it was in analyzing language as if it had a life of its own or was itself a system.

Structuralists like Sassure (whose work grounds structuralist linguistics) and Claude Levi-Strauss were concerned with the relations among things and investigated how “differences” between things or ideas became real. Deconstructionists, like Derrida, challenged structuralist theories by calling into question the idea that anything was real, pointing out that there is no true origin or grounding point for any cultural understanding or expression. If there is no origin, nothing ever comes to rest. Deconstruction closed out the Linguistic phase, ushering in the Moralism of the 1960s, which has many branches, feminist theory and race theory being two of the most notable.

Brooks, Kevin, Kathleen Blake Yancey, and Mark Zachry. “Developing Doctoral Programs in the Corporate University: New Models.” Profession (2002): 89-103. Print.

The authors present a new model for doctoral studies which fuses several (many) traditional courses of study, allowing students to shape their own graduate education according to their degree plans under the scope of a doctorate in Professional Communication. Other programs are skeptical, citing significant overlap with other, already existing programs. The narratives also recount other degree programs’ incredulity at a Department of English offering a doctoral degree in Professional Communication, with the idea that other departments’ specialists were more advanced and better equipped to handle students seeking such a degree.

Literature faculty were also hesitant because of the challenges it would present for faculty relationships and because of the perceived adherence to the corporatization of the academy. In [what is the three letter acronym that signaled a corporate structure in the university???], there were cost-benefit analyses, etc. Buying into all of that by offering a more “practical” degree in Professional Communication was a threat to the old vanguard who still harbor a desire to pursue “true” liberal arts learning as it has been historical defined in Departments of English. So, the narrators ran into a host of problems with the pursuit of these degrees, and each met varying successes and pitfalls along the way.

The schools were Utah (Zachry), Clemson (Yancey), and North Dakota State (Brooks).

A question of mine, with the idea that graduate students would be able to design their own course of study, I jotted “really? who really knows what their degree plans are at the outset of grad school?” A lot do, I understand, but just as many if not more do not. If you look at the narratives of rhetoric and composition scholars (like David Bartholomae does in in Bizzaro’s essay), many weren’t sure exactly what they were getting themselves into at the outset of graduate school.

Possible threads to pick up from: Stephen North’s Refiguring the PhD in English Studies

Profession 1996 Mark A Johnson “asserts that graduates of English doctoral programs can find successful and fulfilling work in corporate America. Rejecting the idea that English departments produce too many doctorates, Johnson suggests that English PhDs have the research, information management, and communication skills that a variety of industries (although predominantly software) value.

Battelle, J. (2005). The birth of Google. Wired, 13.08. Retrieved from

Google was the brainchild of Sanford graduate students Sergey Brin and Larry Page, who named the software googol, the name for the number one followed by 100 zeroes.

Unlike search engines that ranked results by keyword, Page and Brin’s system ranked results by the amount of links at each site. This mechanism privileged sites with more links, making them more “important” in search. The students cobbled equipment together in their dorm rooms and offices to service Stanford with PageRank, which regularly brought down Stanford’s internet connection in the fall of 1996.

Barlow, J.P. (1996, February 8). A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace. Retrieved from

John Perry Barlow was a libertarian who helped write lyrics for the Grateful Dead and who was involved in shaping the political identity of cyberspace in the early 90s. He published an essay titled “The Economy of Ideas” in a 1994 issue of Wired magazine and his declaration of independence in 1996. The Declaration, which was widely distributed after its publication and was both celebrated and strongly critiqued, is described about a decade later as Barlow’s “Thomas Jefferson moment” in a 2004 interview with Brian Doherty of Reason Magazine.

In this interview, he explains that his political philosophy was one of passivity; that his beliefs centered around the idea that taking care of oneself and raising consciousness was better than confronting authority directly. He changed his mind at the beginning of the 2000s, saying in this interview that civil liberties were in grave danger. He joined the Democratic party in hopes of confronting what he saw as issues very damaging to intellectual property and a free society.

Copyright and intellectual property are the most important issues now. If you don’t have something that assures fair use, then you don’t have a free society.

If all ideas have to be bought, then you have an intellectually regressive system that will ensure you have a highly knowledgable elite and an ignorant mass.

In explaining his comments on how Microsoft was operating an information monopoly, he said,

Anytime you engage with information, the reality that you extract from that information is shaped bu the tools that deliver it.”

This statement supports what I am trying to demonstrate and articulate in these exams.

Barlow’s Declaration was hailed by many triumphantly, but it was also called “hogwash” by critics who viewed Barlow with skepticism as an idealogical hippie who was out of touch with the economic and political realities of the internet. His lifelong fight for the freedom of information online, however, has played an important role in helping define (and relax) boundaries around the free exchange of knowledge on the internet.