The Inciter is the product of my strong belief that rhetoric and composition needs a short-form, networked web publication, written by rhetoric and composition experts, about our research, aimed at the public. The name nods to the way that “gadfly” publications get picked up and spread widely. It also plays on my editorial emphasis on thoughtful and rhetorical citation practices (see the style guide). And, of course, it puns on the word “insider”—because its posts will be written by rhetoric and composition insiders, but not necessarily for insiders.
I envision several types of posts:
- Research notes posts, where writers share findings from recently published work. I intend to have a regular series of posts that highlights various rhetoric and composition research that might spark public interest, with the goal of soon encouraging authors to write their own research notes.
- Short posts connecting findings from their own (or others’) published work to recent news events. Given the academic publishing timeline (~2 years, on average), it’s hard to connect academic work to recent events. But sometimes academics publish something only to discover that they’ve made a strike down a mile-long bowling lane: Something has just happened to make their work seem really timely! The Inciter intends to take advantage of such miracles.
- Posts aimed at sharing research with writers we study without access to (or the inclination to access) rhetoric and composition journals. For example, medical rhetoricians could reach people affected by medical language, as well as the people who use it. Rhetoricians of public policy, political language, and so on, could potentially reach people constructing policy, writing speeches. Compositionists who consider writing in the disciplines and English for special purposes could reach the writers of work instructions, of corporate policy, of websites. Cultural rhetorics researchers could conduct short rhetorical analyses of newspapers and magazines, of television, of movies, of scandals, of the many more obscure kinds of writing that exist.
The Inciter will be a writing-about-writing publication, aimed at the public. It is designed to share our enthusiasm for analyzing and studying the written word—grounded in our theories of process and pedagogy, but not referent to them, not dependent upon them, not assuming understanding of them. It is intended for people who have a developing interest in language. I hope that essays published on the site would be appealing for composition instructors to assign, yes, but it is not intended primarily to be a pedagogical resource. My intention is that all posts will be research-based investigations of language, public or political or otherwise. I am wary of the risk of academic publications turning disciplinarily introspective; one key recommendation of the site’s mission statement will be to avoid references to disciplinary jargon, to disciplinary journals, or to conferences without definition, elaboration, and contextualization.