Saturday, January 28, 2006

The Toronto School

I came across an online essay describing the "Toronto School" of Communication, hosted, appropriately enough, by the McLuhan Program in Culture and Technology and written by Senior McLuhan Fellow Twyla Gibson. The Toronto School is, essentially, media ecology. Among other things, the piece discusses the importance of such figures as Marshall McLuhan, Walter J. Ong, Eric Havelock, Harold Innis, Milman Parry, John Eisenberg, and Rhys Carpenter. It's worth checking out.

Cross posted to Machina Memorialis


Thursday, January 12, 2006

Computers and Writing 2006 (as opposed to Computers and Writing Online 2006) proposals are due Jan. 15. Call for Papers | Submission Form. For what it's worth, here's my proposal:

“Ong’s Digital Turn: Published and Unpublished Writings after Orality and Literacy”

Although the merits and particulars of Walter Ong’s study of orality-literacy contrasts are the subject of some debate, the influence of Ong’s work on many who study computers and writing and digital culture is not. While Orality and Literacy: The Technologizing of the Word remains his most influential and widely known work, Ong continued to work with orality-literacy contrasts for another 15 years, much of it focusing on the role of digitization. Ong’s digital turn can be found in such publications as “Hermeneutic Forever: Voice, Text, Digitization, and the ‘I’” (1995), “Information and/or Communication Interactions” (1996), and “Digitization, Ancient and Modern: Beginnings of Writing and Today’s Computers” (1998), but it can not be fully understood without considering such unpublished works as the short talk “Secondary Oralism and Secondary Visualism,” the article “Time, Digitization, and Dali’s Memory,” and the unfinished 40,000-word manuscript Language as Hermeneutic: A Primer on the Word and Digitization.

This presentation will summarize and contextualize Ong’s digital turn and identify a number of its implications for technorhetoricians and others seeking to apply Ongian thought to digital culture, including such issues such as the debate over Ong’s thought, the use and misuse of secondary orality, visualism, the relationship of digital technologies to analog electronic technologies, and the role of digitization in Western Culture. The purpose of this presentation is not to argue that Ong’s digital turn was groundbreaking or that its implications will revolutionize the study of digital culture. Rather, the goal of this presentation is to bring to light Ong's own reworking of orality-literacy contrasts after the publication of Orality and Literacy so that we may better understand his thought as we continue to use it as a point of departure for our own work.
Cross posted to Machina Memorialis.

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Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Ong's Orality and Literacy turns 25 next year (1982-2007), and as many regular readers know, I believe the book is both widely misread and misunderstood. See, for instance "Reading and Misreading Orality and Literacy," notes for my CCCC 2006 RNF presentation, interview response, and this rant. To mark the 25th anniversary of the book's publication, I've decided to organize a series of conference panels for MLA 2006, CCCC 2007, C&W 2007, Saint Louis University's Ong conference (assuming the plan to make the Ong conference bi-annual holds together), and maybe MEA 2007. One could argue that the MLA panel ought to be held in Dec. 2007 rather than Dec. 2006, but it seems odd to have a concentration of panels in March (CCCC), April (Ong Conference), May (C&W), and June (MEA) and then wait six months for MLA, so I'm starting with MLA 2006. The spring issue of the MLA Newsletter should have the brief (35 word) CFP, which is as follows:
Walter J. Ong's Orality and Literacy at 25
Papers relating to Ong's Orality and Literacy. Suggested topics: considerations/reconsiderations, its reception, extensions, critiques, contextualizations. Inquiries and 1-page abstracts by 15 Mar.; John Paul Walter (walterj at
In the next day or two I'll put up a web page where I'll post all the CFPs as they come available, and, eventually, abstracts and the like.

While I haven't decided yet, for CCCC I'm thinking of something along the lines of "25 Years of Reading/Misreading Orality and Literacy, and for C&W something like "Orality and Literacy in the Digital Age."

If you're interested in getting involved, be it proposing a paper, helping organize a panel for one of the above conferences (I don't see why we couldn't propose more than one panel), suggesting panel topics, or even organizing a panel for a conference I don't list above, please leave a comment or email me.

And yes, I am keeping in mind the possibility of some sort of edited collection, either a book or as a special issue of a journal. We should have Constructing Nations, Reconstructing Myth together well before C&W 2007, so I'll know by then whether I'm up for playing editor again.

Cross posted to Machina Memorialis.

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