The first few “pages” of this blog contribution constitute a kind of primer for performing a rhetorical analysis. It is standard as far as such primers go. Following the primer will be five exploratory “sketches” of some of the rhetorical strategies that have been employed by Realist, a blogger on The Harold Lounge.
In many ways Realist emerged as the dominant voice on the Lounge – particularly in 2012 – via sheer number of posts and apparent popularity among other Lounge authors and readers. Although readers have been told at https://haroldlounge.com/2010/10/17/chicagorealistpalooza/ that “s/he is a faculty member at Harold Washington College,” these exploratory sketches focus on the rhetorically constructed author or the “I” that Realist’s posts create – all in an effort to explore a few possible explanations for Realist’s popularity. To be clear: while it is undeniable that some immediate context here at HWC informs Realist’s writing, the primary focus of these five sketches is the text itself. The primer should prove informative, while the sketches should provide an opportunity to apply lessons learned from the primer. The findings of this analysis may be firm, but as with any responsible rhetorical analysis/argument, the sketches ultimately provide an opportunity for understanding how a text works.
In the end – as the title of this post/blog contribution states – these sketches form only one reading of Realist’s work. Other readings are possible, which is as it should be.
The sketches focus on posts and replies selected across several months in 2012. For the sake of concision, not every post or reply was read when preparing these sketches. For example, most social posts – such as those related to sports/gambling, music, or social gatherings – were set aside and taken at face value as social activities intended to foster feelings of sameness and friendship between Realist and others with similar preferences. Occasional reference is made to posts outside of 2012 and to other authors/bloggers but mostly this is limited to tracking Realist’s rhetorical strategies, descriptors of self (i.e. “autobiographical” details) or “habits of mind” (if not a genealogy of ideas). Due to space constraints here on the Lounge and time constraints in the real world, the projected pace for completion of these sketches is one or two typed pages posted once or twice a week until all five sketches have been posted. Now and then an “interlude” or two may break into the flow of the sketches. A conclusion will follow.
Of course, intentions change as time and topics pass, especially in this age of electronic social media, but three quotes – two displayed on the Lounge homepage and one taken from a blogger’s post – will serve as starting points for this particular blog contribution. You might choose to think of the quotes as fixed points on the shore that recede as a ship sets sail. The first quote reads, “A Space for HWC (& CCC) Faculty to Congregate.” The second quote from the HWFC Constitution reads, “[W]here faculty are committed to teaching and serving students; where enthusiasm and morale are high; and where faculty professionalism and dedication find full expression, working in harmony with students, staff, and administration to fulfill the mission of the college.” Finally, Lounge founder PhiloDave declares his early hopes at https://haroldlounge.com/2010/02/24/the-future/: “This site, as the opening post suggests, is not going to be a one-man show. It is a collaborative space for HWC faculty members, full time and part time, and a resource to keep each other informed, seek and provide information, and discuss the things that need discussing…. The Harold can be a community or an echo chamber. Which it becomes is, in the end, in your hands.”
(Note: Interestingly, it looks like another such exploration is being offered to the Lounge. Hopefull, this will provide good reading all around.)