Sidewalk (1999) and Method

Mitchell Duneier’s Sidewalk is a multi-year ethnographic study of the
informal mercantile and social activity covering a three-block zone in Greenwich
Village.  Duneier, now a professor of sociology at Princeton, overhauled
his study after his initial project focused too heavily on a singular "public
character"–Hakim, a respected book vendor who often acted as a leader, an "old
head" who mentored others, who advocated for GED completion, and who eventually
co-taught a course at UCSB with Duneier.  Although Sidewalk reads
easily as a sociological research project unto itself, we could view it as an
update to Jane Jacobs’s 1961 project on the complex social, spatial, economic
and architectural dynamics of the street in New York City,

The Death and the Life of Great American Cities
.

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Banal Features Analysis

Alt. title: "Dull Feature Analysis."  Today I’m working on a small-time
application of discourse analysis for Method~ologies.  We’re looking at a
corpus of eight student essays.  Initially, I considered how I would graph
Bazerman’s concept of "intertextual reach," which he defines as "how far a text
travels for its intertextual relations" (89).  How far is that?  How
do we account for the span of these traces–meters, leagues, years, decibels,
lumens?  Maybe referential density could draw on network studies. 
How?  We could establish a near intertextual reach as
reference-gestures that share another source.  This would involve a
triangulation of citations: Bazerman–let’s say–cites Porter and Prior. 
But Porter also cites Prior.  Porter is intertextually nearer than Prior
(who does not cite any other source in common with Bazerman).  I’m making
this up.  The far reach would describe the solitary reference–the
singular text-trace that is not shared by any other source cited in the primary
text (the text whose traces and reaches we are surveying).  But I wanted to
think about intertextual reach as a quality that could be determined by
triangulating citations.  Applied to a batch of student essays where
works-to-cite are predefined, intertextual reach seems wobbly–a stretch,
as in…look at how they reach alike.

I’ll need something else. 

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Methodography

I haven’t looked very far into this, but I wanted to register this first
entry under EWM’s newest category: Method.  Method: what a fine
category label, eh?  That’ll put a Full Nielson on Unsuspecting’s
attention, was my thought.  Beats Mothoi…Methodoosies…Meth(odd)inks….

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“We Are Coming” – Logan (1999)

In 691 (Method~ologies) this week we’re considering historical methods and
reading for such methods specifically through the Shirley Wilson Logan’s work in
"We Are Coming": The
Persuasive Discourse of Nineteenth-Century Black Women
.  In the
preface, Logan speaks briefly to her method: "Since rhetorical analysis requires
an understanding of the formal features of a text in conjunction with its
historical context, I consider pertinent historical details–biographical,
social, political and cultural.  Moving from the historical, I address
various characteristics of a chosen text in the light of these details. 
The selection of characteristics is informed by classical rhetoric and its
twentieth-century reconstructions.  My hope is that these discussions might
also add to a clearer understanding of nineteenth-century culture and of the
ways in which the persuasive discourse of nineteenth-century black women adapted
itself to its multiple audiences and multilayered exigencies" (xvi).  As
well as any passage I could locate, these few sentences give a fairly complete,
succinct overview of the project.

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How to do things with boxes

Rather than diving into John Austin’s How To Do Things With Words
tonight, I’m refueling.  Presented on Foucault–again–tonight; that
went well.  Tomorrow I carry on about Ways of Reading in an online
distance curric. for FYC–talk and talk until folks are yawning or fifteen
minutes passes, whichever comes first.

And to restore my creative groove tonight, I knew what I’d do at the moment
D. pulled the last Puffs tissue from the box here in the office: box
bot
.  I’m ashamed to say I can’t remember the sequence of links that
led me to this the other day (Metafilter?  Slashdot?  Some kind,
unattributed blogger on my roll or one degree removed?).  Shameful, but I’m
filled with gratitude if it’s worth anything.

Here’s the bot.  Unremarkable, perhaps, but carved, scissor notch by
scissor notch, from a drab, empty Puffs box–a box pulled empty of its puffy
softness by the whole family’s first cold in Syracuse. 

Box bot

You really should try one–even especially if it
turns into something you never imagined.