In the past two years, there’s been an explosion of great podcasts by scholars in Rhetoric and Composition. But when you search the iTunes Store for the term rhetoric, you’re likely to get some weird stuff about Star Wars, marijuana, a free audiobook version of Aristotle’s Rhetoric…yeah, basically everything besides what you were looking for.
So what’s a scholar to do? How can folks find these more niche, rhet-compy, scholarly-but-easy-on-the-ear podcasts? Read this blog post, of course! Whether you’re a longtime podcast junkie, nursing a Serial hangover, or just getting started with podcasts, these four podcasts will rhet-comp-ify your audio world. They’re quite different from each other, so if in doubt, try them all.
Rhetoricity takes a playful, experimental approach to rhetoric. Host Eric Detweiler of University of Texas at Austin isn’t afraid to let things get weird. For example, Episode 2 is a twenty-minute, chummy, self-deprecating conversation between Nathaniel Rivers and Jenny Edbauer Rice about the awfulness of small talk and crazy ways to make it better (like asking, “How’s your subconscious today?”). During Episode 3, right after a discussion about rhetorical studies in the late 20th century, Sharon Crowley starts talking about her love affair with the video game Skyrim. During every episode of Rhetoricity, I learn something, laugh at something, and see something from a fresh rhetorical perspective. I do a happy dance every time this podcast lands on my podcatcher.
Plugs, Play, Pedagogy feels like a one-hour, teacher’s-lounge jam session with the most innovative teachers you know. Host Kyle Stedman of Rockford University (@kstedman on Twitter) has a casual, conversational, I’m-totally-geeking-out-about-this persona that seems to infect his guests. Also, since Kyle is a scholar of sound rhetorics, so this podcast includes some top-notch sound editing. If you’re craving new ideas for your teaching, try the episodes “A New Hope for Games in the Classroom” or “Teaching with the Digital Archive of Literacy Narratives.” For a taste of Kyle’s excellent sound editing, try the episode “Locations of Writing,” which features scholars reading their contributions to the “Locations of Writing” special issues for College Composition and Communication in September 2014 and December 2014.
Sometimes, you just need someone to break it down for ya. When that happens, then Mere Rhetoric‘s got your back. In just 10 minutes or less, host Mary Hedengren crash-courses her listeners on a single concept from rhetorical history–everything from “audience addressed/audience invoked” to Pierre Bordieu’s habitus to Wayne Booth’s Modern Dogma and the Rhetoric of Assent. Conveniently, the episode names match up with Mere Rhetoric’s rhetorical concept of the day, which makes it easy to browse the archive of 60+ back episodes. Mary has a real talent for explaining complex ideas in simple language. I’m not sure how she does it, but it’s impressive!
If you’re not sold yet, think of how useful Mere Rhetoric could be for teaching. For example, the next time I teach rhetoric to undergrads, I’m definitely assigning Mere Rhetoric Episode 1, “What is Rhetoric?” during the first week of class.
Fans of National Public Radio will recognize This Rhetorical Life‘s documentary-style format and simple, clean sound editing. “TRL,” as the hosts adorably call it, is produced by graduate students in Syracuse University’s Composition and Cultural Rhetoric program, and episodes tend to come in two flavors: analysis of hot-button issues in rhet-comp, like the rhetoric of closed captioning or ways to address racism in the classroom, and rhet-comp-tastic guests, like Erica Ratliffe discussing her scholarship about the concept of rhetorical listening. If you’re not sure whether a particular episode will strike your fancy, check out TRL’s show notes, which tend to be longer and more comprehensive than most other podcast’s notes. Episodes of TRL vary in length, anywhere from 13 to 50+ minutes, and new episodes debut about once a month.
So how about you: what’s your favorite rhet-comp podcast? What other podcasts or episodes should I profile or review in the future? List them in comments or by tweeting to @JenLMichaels!