Rice, “Writing About Cool”

Rice, Jeff.
"Writing About Cool: Teaching Hypertexts as Juxtaposition."
Computers and Composition. 20 (2003) 221-236.

Rice refers to two courses he taught at UF called "Writing about Cool" to
present a pedagogy of cool, rooted in composition, hypertext, cultural studies,
and juxtaposition. The courses traces cool through McLuhan, Baraka and
Robert Farris Thompson; the pedagogical model advocates juxtaposition as an
electrate strategy for the production of hypertext (a making/doing project
rather than interpreting or coming to awareness/appreciation). Using the locus
of a single moment, 1963, Rice puts Berlin, Miller and Faigley in conversation
and considers the significance of the ’63 CCCC in L.A. relative to cultural
studies in composition, including Kitzhaber’s reservations about the writing
machine’s mechanistic orientation. He also refers to Landow on students’
writing from scraps using juxtaposition (26).

The pedagogical approach, then, is combinatory, drawing together cultural
studies, hypertext and juxtaposition. Their combination is demonstrated in
the pursuit of cool writing. It is located in a particular moment and
proceeds, in the courses Rice explains, by considering cultural forces and by
contrasting the idyllic and iconic set against the turbulent and detached (230).
Mindful of two cools (one technological, the other social), students in the
courses develop online handbooks of cool (how to write cool, not how to be

Terms: Ulmer’s chorography (226), Nelson’s hypertext (228)

"In addition, these sites [Netscape, Yahoo, etc.] proposed cool as long
listings of out-of-the-ordinary web sites because of either design or content.
Usually, the more bizarre or eclectic, the cooler the site"

"The lesson of corporate usage of cool, then, it is a rhetorical
one. The pedagogical challenge is to resituate the popular application of cool
as an electronic and cultural phenomenon (TV and Web usage) into a curriculum
that teaches electronic rhetorical strategies" (223).

"The attempt by composition studies to include cultural studies
in its curriculum often concentrated on the questions or representation,
ideology, and power" (225).

"What this brief survey of the field tells me, then, is that while
cultural studies
and hypertext have been thought of as
interconnected, and while hypertext and juxtaposition have been
considered interrelated, there still exists a need to bring all of these
items together
" (226).

"Engelbart’s writing machine resembled McLuhan’s cool mosaic, a
technologically shaped writing system where disciplines juxtapose with one
another" (228).

"The icon motivates a form of discourse determined by juxtaposition.
Celebrity images become appropriated and reentered into cultural expression by
way of unlikely arrangements" (230).

"The writer of the handbook [Ars], then, acted as a compiler.
Any original writing found itself lost amid quoted texts" (231).

"Borrowing from McLuhan’s 1963 musings on cool, Baudrillard deemed current
discourse cool because of its emphasis on commutation rather than
. In cool discourse, Baudrillard claimed, ‘signs are
exchanged against each other rather than against the real
‘ (7). (233)"

"With cool writing, the notion that the computer-networked classroom is a
place for looking outward to cyberspace and its threatening, challenging,
different ways of expression for purposes of evaluation and
analysis becomes instead the idea that we are already in such a place and
that we bring to those situations cultural events, transformations, and
strategies. (234)

Related sources:
Benjamin, Walter. The Arcades Project. Trans. Howard Eiland and
Kevin McLaughlin. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 2002.
Faigley, Lester. Fragments of Rationality. Pittsburgh: U of
Pittsburgh P, 1992.
McLuhan, Marshall. The Gutenberg Galaxy. Toronto: U of Toronto P,