Academic Cypher

In hip hop culture, the cypher is a circle of MCs, B-boys/B-girls, beatboxers, etc who freestyle and/or battle one after the other without interruption, exchanging rhymes and flows back and forth or around. The cypher is where training takes place and skills are tested, where people collaborate, and where people create "off the top" or written/choreographed, tapping into the place where thought and action come together to share energy and advance the craft...the Academy should aim to do the same.

MindMap #1: Rhetorical Situaion


My first mindmap built upon what was started in class on Tuesday. Since the course used the Rhetorical Situation as a jumping off point, I decided to use it as a jumping off point for my exploration into Snapchat. I began with trying to make a connection, for myself, between Bitzer and Vatz. I decided to focus solely on Bitzer. I wanted to break his definition down into audience, exigence, and constraints. I was drawn to the idea that rhetoric alters reality. I was also drawn to the idea of a rhetorical audience being one that is capable of acting or choosing not to act. I thought this was interesting because an inactive audience or one that chooses not to act seems to come across as a constraint. I realized that I was unsure of what a constraint was exactly. From here the mindmap ventures into random questions and thoughts that I had in regards to audience, exigences, and constraints.

The majority of my pondering was centered around the idea that rhetoric alters reality. This made me think of Snapchat, specifically the emphasis they place on changing/altering the way people communicate and the focus improving friendships/connections through fleeting messages. Snapchat places a lot of emphasis on the author of the snaps and their connection to the receiver. The tagline on their Google Play webpage reads: “the allure of fleeting messages reminds us about the beauty of friendship — we don’t need a reason to stay in touch.” For me this provides a mental bridge between Bitzer and Vatz. Bitzer places agency with the rhetor. In Snapchat, the rhetor does have agency when choosing what images to snap and what text/drawing to layer on the image. However, the image is not important/significant until it is sent/viewed by the receivers. On the other hand, I wonder if the meaning in snaps are intrinsic [meaning is the “result of a creative act” (Vatz 161)].

This exercise helped me to see Snapchat in a different way. It also helped me to realize that I agree with Vatz, but as a composition instructor, I utilize Bitzer. I wonder if I am doing my students a disservice. Hopefully, continued mindmapping will help me to craft a new approach to teaching the rhetorical situation and a new approach to Snapchat.

1 Comment

  1. I like the idea of focusing on one author/theorists; however, you might want to consider getting them all in here so you’ll have a master map/chart at the end. You might also want to be more concise because this will fill up quickly once you’ve added content over a few weeks.

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