TCC HawaiiAN "Virtual Odyssey":                         presenter: gloria mcmillan

global literary salon at du moo

[Abstract][Plain text for printing]

    The way global literature has been traditionally taught leaves a bit to be desired. Students have a difficult time relating to texts and places far removed from their daily experiences and local culture. One participant in the 1996 TCC conference quoted a common position regarding literature, saying,

Would it not make more sense, some now ask, to replace the upper division undergraduate emphasis on foreign language or even English literature with the reading of newspapers and magazines, or with a social sciences course, in which juniors and seniors engage in the quantitative analysis of demographics, geography, or economics while using the target language? David Caldwell challenges those who use literary works in any fashion to justify this learning activity in terms of the needs of students of the '90s and beyond into the 21st century.
Caldwell paper

Using the MOO for a synchronous session on haiku.  .  .
led by a host in Kanazawa, Japan.
    One of our most successful Global Literature sessions was a session on the haiku led by "Miyan" at Diversity University MOO. A look at the log from this MOO session presents some questions to consider when using international hosts for literature sessions: When we make a rhetorical analysis of the May 3, 1997 haiku session led by "Miyan," we will be considering the above questions and adding more to them.

    My hypothesis is that cross-cultural sharing may be kept to a minimum in the traditional literary analysis of global literature.   If the literature of others may be reduced to a few universals ("That haiku is just about love") or Western literary theories, the opportunity has been lost to encounter Derrida's  "differance."  For the purpose of this presentation, I will create some cross-cultural discursive categories.  Once the categories are set up, instances may be studied in future for occurrences of these rhetorical behaviors with a controlled-group study or survey of how engaged and motivated students felt in either a traditional discussion or the "global host" discussion. The problematics of measuring "empathy" alone open aporia far beyond the scope of this presentation, but students' self-measures may, at least, give one valuable indicator of their level of motivation in these different types of conversations.

    David Caldwell suggests that there are values not found in the essence of business relationships that are the medium of communications in literature. "Good corporate citizenship" is not the single goal for liberal arts students, claims Caldwell. But if this be the case, then what is the goal? And how is this goal furthered by using international hosts for global literature sessions at a MOO? Caldwell claims that "the liberal arts encourage linkage, bridge-building, and a search for interconnection between differing bases of knowledge and experience."

    To assess what societal values emerge in global literature sessions, the models of teaching literature must, themselves, be assessed.  For instance, the  Arnoldian model  that literature is "the best that has been known and thought" might be examined to see how the subjective position of an "impartial observer," calmly sifting through formal values measures up to the requirements of today's society, which calls into question the objectivity and impartiality of any subject position.  Whose "best" is "the best"?  Is "the best" only the Western European model?  And how is "the best" arrived at?

    The pragmatic values of concern to the global business community may also may not find "the best" that has been thought and written of great interest.  Or only certain aspects of "the best" may interest our "corporate global citizenry" as these become pragmatic and can be commodified.  Further research may need to be done about the "commodification" of canonical literature for a global readership.  Is "commodification" the only possible outcome for meetings between people of cultures widely separated in space and in power?

    Linkage involving openness, sharing, and mutual exploration may require students to adopt a mindset not totally committed to pragmatism, because Caldwell's definition of the literary experience as "a willingness to see through the eyes of another" may require us to relinquish some of that Darwinian ideal of control of the situation. The idea that there is more than one point-of-view is a struggle for every person. In using the MOO to show that the unexpected can emerge in discussions that truly cross cultural boundaries, there may be some element of risk as well as a sense of fun in discovery.  Meaghan Roberts defines the opposite of the overdetermining patriarchal ideology that operates in the world and classroom we have known.  She cites Paul Ricoeur's formulation of utopia as "a metaphoric nowhere which offers the possibility not of escaping ideology in favor of some regressive perfect moment, but of creating tension/pressure between/on what we live/think/write and what we might"   Meaghan Roberts paper .

    If, as Caldwell claims in his 1996 TCC presentation, other values emerge from the study of literature (linking, bridge-building, and a search for interconnection), then how can we use the technology at hand to promote the broadest array of values in our discipline?

    This study will attempt to show how using a MOO to discuss global literature can further goals that may include, but also extend beyond, the corporation's type of global relating.
rhetorical analysis of transcripts

What is our data?
The data for this presentation is highlights of a DU MOO Global Literature session.
        These sessions were entirely voluntary, sporadic, and lightly populated.  The data is
         intended to illustrate some potentially useful categories, not prove any trends.
What is different about such sessions?
The log may show some rhetorical features that mark off a MOO-based discussion from a traditional teacher centered discussion of a cross-cultural text. Each MOO-based discussion has as a resource a person who has experiential knowledge of the locale and culture of the author, genre, or period that the class is reading.
What difference does live international discourse make for learning?
Rhetorical analysis of primary texts.
        How a session at the MOO differs from a traditionally taught class
session might best be studied via key concepts such as:
  Experiential knowledge
    What might a host know from experience of a   local author, poet, genre that never would appear in a biography or critical text?
  Cross cultural commentsCorss-cultural comments
    How might a form of peer mentoring go on in which the local host might augment the more academic knowledge of the instructor  and students (where the instructor and students jointly construct knowledge of the subject)?  Note participants' spontaneous invention of haikai in session logs.ow might a form of peer tutoring go o
  Empathic comments
  Empathy is the ability to feel, to a certain degree, what others are feeling.  Do our sessions involve empathy with the host and host's milieu? Eis the ability to feel, to a certain degreempathy is the ability
  Linguistic-sharing comments
  Comments in which host and students share discoveries about each other's languages.  More of a peer-tutoring and informal situation than a formal language tutorial.  Do we share linguistically?C
omments where host and students share
  Humor in context
   Comments regarding both intentional humor in the text and humor in the MOO learning situation.  Do comments deal with unintended humor such as similarity of words, misunderstood words, or just the situation of studying haiku on a MOO?CommentComments indic
     The model for teaching literature to further intergroup communication is derived from cultural studies theory and Burkean theory.  Kenneth Burke's "interest in structure came from his conviction that the aims of any discourse are embedded in its formal principles, and his focus on power came from his interest  in the effect of cultural discourses as they seek to change individual attitudes and behavior" Kenneth Burke's theory .  While sensitive teaching of global literature may move individuals to a better understanding of other peoples and cultures, there is also value in socially constructive models of literature, such as Raymond Williams' pedagogical theory.  Williams describes a wide area of potential meeting places of societies, and in Communications,  he outlines a broader basis for a culture than merely the relationships of property, power, and production.  Williams finds these relationships no more fundamental to a society than relationships in describing, learning, modifying, exchanging, and preserving experiences"  Raymond Williams' theory .

     Burke proposed in his A Grammar of Motives, not a direct and painless route to global understanding via language, but only the more modest hope that people would increasingly fight with language rather than with guns and bombs.  In looking at how the new MOO-based discourse may add to the cooperative side of Burke's theory, we might consider the model of non-biological evolution that Martin Keegan presents for MUDs.  He states that our choices of participation nudge the evolution one way or another: towards the destructively competitive (limited resources and killing to gain them, gaming model) or towards the socially cooperative (object-building MOO model).  The act of choosing causes a replication and proliferation of MUDS with activities of the one sort or the other, thus our choices are part of the process of causing a sort of non-biological evolution.
Martin Keegan's MUD tree model .  Keegan makes abundantly clear that online choices determine future options, noting that,

          The origin of the "social versus combat" distinction may be seen in the figure - muds  where
          resources are consumed through battle and plunder (and which hence require resetting)
          attract  a different sort of person from that attracted by muds which revolve around creation
          of  complex scenarios, either through programming and building, or role-playing. The
          Socialisers and Explorers in Bartle (1996) are attracted to muds in the TinyMUD mould, and that
         the Achievers and Killers are drawn to Dikus and AberMUDs.

session transcipts

           Below are excerpts from the MOO tape of "Miyan's" haiku session illustrating the categories listed above:

institutional constraints
Some initial questions for further consideration might include:
    1) How may the qualitative differences of MOO literary salons be demonstrated?
    2) What research models are sensitive to such things as 'empathy,' for instance?
    3) What methods can secure a steady source of global hosts?
    4) Is a system of accreditation helpful?  Note Burke's position on voluntary attendance.
    5) Should MOO "global lit."  be dovetailed within the currently existing system?
Discussion of these questions will be added to this text after the presentation.
Suggestions for future research in the area of Global Literary sessions:
    1) More research needed on specific character of MOO literary discussions.
    2) More research needed on value(s) of literature in the classroom.
    3) Research a MOO or web sign-up for international hosts.
    4) Research various systems of external rewards for participation for hosts.
    5) Research ways to make course an Honors course or a part of WRT 102.
Discussion of these conclusions and suggestions will be added to text after the presentation.

FINAL NOTE: The author wishes to thank "Miyan" for a stimulating and motivating global
literary session.
works cited

"Arnold, Matthew." The Johns Hopkins Guide to Literary Theory and Criticism       <>

"Burke, Kenneth." The Johns Hopkins Guide to Literary Theory and Criticism      <>

---.    A Grammar of Motives. New York: Prentice-Hall, 1945.

Caldwell, David.  "The Changing Role of Literature in the Curriculum: Teaching and Learning  in the    '90s." Teaching in the Community Colleges Conference  April 2,     1996<>

"Derrida, Jacques."   The Johns Hopkins Guide to Literary Theory and Criticism.

Keegan. Martin.  "A Classification of MUDS" The Journal of Virtual Environments  2.2 (July 1997)

Lu, Min Zhan, and Bruce Horner.  "The Problematic of Experience."  College English 60.3 (mar  1998): 257-77.

Roberts, Meaghan. "Poetic Subjectivity, Its Imagination and Others: Toward an Ethical     Postmodern Imagination" Enculturation 1.2 (Fall 1997)     <>

"Williams, Raymond."  The Johns Hopkins Guide to Literary Theory and Criticism.     <>

    Comment on any of the suggestions for future development of this style of
discussing global literature by clicking on the mailto button below.

 Gloria's mail.

    My academic and other links are at:

 Gloria's homepage.MY FACE :-)

Gloria McMillan is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Rhetoric and Composition Program of the English
Department at the University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ.  Her dissertation work is on the uses of
literacy among Chicago immigrants from 1890 to the 1930s.  She was an "early adopter" of the
use of MOOs in her community college classroom, seeing the potential for lower income people to
make truly global, cross-cultural contacts.

   Date is: 

  Last modified on:  17 Feb. 2000