Tentative title for the M.A. essay (at least for the plan of work papers–and RM likes it): “Composition 1968-69: George Maicunas, Guy DeBord, and John Lennon.”
Tentative schema for the M.A. (based on where my reading is right now and what thoughts I’ve been developing so far): An essay in four parts:
Introduction. Survey of other work on this period in comp theory–Rice, Sirc, Faigley, Harris, Crowley. Crowley leaves a big gap bbtw post-war comp and the early stirrings of process; her chapter “Around 1971,” about process, offers a space to look at these years more closely. Rice does a similarly temporally inventive project, but around 1963. Faigley still need to read, but Rice cites him as interested in 1963 as well; could serve to back up and inform Crowley’s work. Harris I need to review; his project starts in 1966, Dartmouth conferences, so coming closer still to the period I’m working with. Sirc provides biggest challenge, as his work (English Composition as a Happening) comes closest to my own. So: where to draw distinction. Again, tentatively: Both Rice and Sirc foreground rhetoric as an inventive, generative practice. Yes, good. While I would never say either ignores argumentation, what I might do, then, is situate the bed-ins as a way perform some of the same rhetorical inventiveness they (and I) value while hewing somewhat closer to the classical understanding of rhetoric as an art of persuasion. Okay–but must be careful to not over-emphasize division–I don’t want to make a poetics out of Sirc’s and Rice’s rhetorics. My goal is to complement their work, not compete with it.
Fluxus. Survey of Fluxus projects as rhetoric, as a mode of composition. How Fluxus project are often explicitly pedagogical/instructional–art that foregrounds its own ordinariness in some ways: “You can do this too.” Fluxus as challenge to compositionists and rhetoricians (like Corbett) who insisted that rhetorical practice must be rational.
Situationists. Life as a politcal art–life as a rhetorical practice. A way of living that works as critique and seeks to persuade, to enact change. Detournement–re/appropriation for the Establishment’s means for the revolution’s ends. As challenge to those, like Bitzer, separate a rhetorical discourse from other forms of action. Action/discourse always rhetorical, regardless of the “situation.” Or, perhaps, the SI’s insistence that situations can be created, mustbe created, for political action–preemptive exigence, as opposed to Bitzer’s insistence that rhetor and audience are at mercy of the exigence of speech.
Bed-Ins. A merger of the two. A political act as spectacle. Lennon as producer of and as commodity. Bed-ins as pedagogical: peace can be effected if you do x.
Not sure yet where the essay ends. The bed-ins don’t lead into process theory–this is not a task of fitting the bed-ins into an established narrative of comp’s progress, a teleology of comp theory. But where does this go?
Feedback, as always, welcome.