Week of April 3, 2011
1. Follow up to "A Shakespeare Every Decade?": In which Alan Jacobs— an English professor
—feeds Bill James—a baseball statistician
—the business onodorous comparisons
. If I were to go around with a three-ring rationale for the liberal arts, Alan Jacobs would be one of my main elephants. Just saying.
. On the King James Bible, from The Economist's culture magazine.
3. ". . . while one might want to speak differently in different rhetorical situations, might strive to adjust one's language to suit different audiences that have different needs, in practice we do not live in a world with "bounded" rhetorical situations. "Everyone is listening," he said, thanks to the World Wide Web, as it is accurately called, which takes what you say to one audience and broadcasts it—as text, audio, video, or all of the above—to pretty much anyone who's interested in finding it.
"One of the most fundamental principles of rhetoric has always been decorum, that is, suiting one's language to occasion and audience. Those of us who teach writing typically think it vital to get our students to think in these terms—to see that they must adjust style and diction, evidence and argument, to reach the readers they most want to reach.
"Such imperatives will never cease to be important. But it also seems likely that we will have to train students to be aware—and will have to train ourselves to be aware—that much of what we say and write can find audiences we never intended. And the consequences of our words' extended reach will not always be positive ones.
"Increasingly, these will be matters
. But given the intensity of feelings that people have for what Paul Griffiths calls the "home religion," religious believers whose lives have a public dimension should be especially thoughtful, careful—and prayerful."