Shortly before I left my MA program, bound for Clemson, a professor quipped, “You’re going to be studying rhetoric and you’re not a fan of sci-fi?”
Not sure how exactly to react or respond to that, being uncertain as to all the implications of the statement, I replied uncertainly, “Uh…Yeah, I guess not.” This was followed by a little laugh on my part, which was met with a raising of the eyebrows of my companion.
To date, I’d forgotten about this exchange. Or, perhaps more accurately, did not have occasion to re-member it, to give it a place in the stream of goings-on which comprise my course of study these days. Now, however, that seems to have changed.
Since coming to Clemson relatively (okay…entirely) unequipped to handle the permutations of rhetorics, I’ve been confronted with the reality of classes in which I have learned The Rhetorics of _____ <–insert what you will: science, information design, digital environments, cultural research methods, etc. Now, I find myself excited to learn about the rhetorics of topias.
In terms of my expectations, I should admit that I have very few. I went into the Rhetorics of Science class last semester with some pretty wrong-headed notions of what I would get out of my time there, and have been schooled (yes, I take my hits when they come, humbly I hope) accordingly–for that was surely one of the most unexpectedly rewarding re-educational experiences I’ve EVER had. And I’ve taken a few classes in my life. :]
So, I’ve actually tried to disabuse myself of preconceived notions about what an RCID class will hold for me. Barring that, though, I expect that the professor will have a keen grip on the material, the direction she wishes the course to move, and the objectives she wishes to realize, but beyond that, I expect that my relationship to the material (which will all be new to me, for the most part) will materialize by degrees as I wrap my mind around the high level concepts and decide how they will apply to my dissertation reserach.
I’ve read the Edward James and Moylan piece so far, and have been happily introduced to some major terms (“critical utopia”, “dystopia”, “anti-utopia”, e.g.) and canonical works, so I feel a bit more grounded than I did before I’d actually looked at any of the material. Yet, I know that simple definitions don’t begin to expose the complexity of thought that I’ll encounter later. In that vein, I expect everything to be problematized. And, ultimately, I expect this class to allow me to add new ways of knowing, doing, and making to my vocabulary.