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"Fighting for Life is a book about contest, the agonia of the Greek arena, and its roots in male life, especially academia. Ong describes this work as an 'excavation' which was prompted by his previous explorations of such areas as the characteristics of oral and literate cultures, Peter Ramus and his 16th-century intellectual milieu, and the early dominance and more recent decline of classical rhetoric in education. In Fighting for Life, he weaves the results of a year's study of agonistic structures running through the biological, social, and noetic worlds. Describing his text as an 'essay in noobiology,' the biological roots of human consciousness, Ong claims that 'contest has been a major factor in organic evolution and it turns out to have been a major, and seemingly essential, factor in intellectual development.' . . . The work is a valuable synthesis of a wide body of research and theory."-Rhetoric Society Quarterly
Connors provides a history of composition and its pedagogical approaches to form, genre, and correctness. He shows where many of the today’s practices and assumptions about writing come from, and he translates what our techniques and theories of teaching have said over time about our attitudes toward students, language and life. Connors locates the beginning of a new rhetorical tradition in the mid-nineteenth century, and from there, he discusses the theoretical and pedagogical innovations of the last two centuries as the result of historical forces, social needs, and cultural shifts. This important book proves that American composition-rhetoric is a genuine, rhetorical tradition with its own evolving theria and praxis. As such it is an essential reference for all teachers of English and students of American education.
This collection is about writing contests, a vibrant rhetorical practice traceable to rhetorical performances in ancient Greece. In their discussion of contests’ cultural work, the scholars who have contributed to this collection uncover important questions about our practices. For example, educational contests as epideictic rhetoric do indeed celebrate writing, but does this celebration merely relieve educators of the responsibility of finding ways for all writers to succeed? Contests designed to reward single winners and singly-authored works admirably celebrate hard work, but do they over-emphasize exceptional individual achievement over shared goals and communal reward for success? Taking a cultural-rhetorical approach to contests, each chapter demonstrates the cultural work the contests accomplish. The essays in Part I examine contests and riddles in classical Greek and Roman periods, educational contests in eighteenth-century Scotland, and the Lyceum movement in the Antebellum American South. The next set of essays discusses how contests leverage competition and reward in educational settings: medieval universities, American turn-of-the-century women’s colleges, twenty-first century scholarship-essay contests, and writing contests for speakers of other languages at the University of Portsmouth. The last set of essays examines popular contests, including poetry contests in Youth Spoken Word, popular American contests designed by marketers, and twenty-first century podcasting competitions. This collection, then, takes up contests as a cultural marker of our values, assumptions, and relationships to writing, contests, and competition.
In Interfaces of the World, Walter J. Ong explores the effects on consciousness of the word as it moves through oral to written to print and electronic culture.
Walter Ong pioneered the study of how orality and literacy mutually enrich each other in the evolution of human consciousness, arguing that verbal communication moves from orality to literacy and on to what he has termed the "secondary orality" of radio and television. The original essays in this volume explore the implications of Ong's work across the diverse fields of cultural history, literary theory, theology, philosophy, and anthropology. These scholars maintain that Ong's view of orality not only changes our readings of ancient and medieval texts, but that it also changes our understanding of the differing epistemologies of oral and literate cultures and of the coexistence of the oral and literate within a given culture.

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