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Published by Patricia Sullivan
talk about Ong's processes, as scholar, teacher, and researcher using changing media
talk about Ong's processes, as scholar, teacher, and researcher using changing media

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Categories:Types, Speeches
Published by: Patricia Sullivan on May 05, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Practice and Performance of Scholarship: On Media Technologyin the Trans[4]mission of Walter Ong’s World
Patricia SullivanTalk at College Composition and Communication Conference, St. Louis, March 2012I’m departing from my normal helter skelter CCCC talking from a set of ppt slidesmode today, as I’m here to honor Fr. Walter Ong of the Society of Jesus in the citythat was his home base for many years of his life.I will read a portion from a larger project on the knowledge-making processesevidenced through Ong work, one which focuses -- because his corpus is so vast--on an area of keen interest to us here at CCCC. Indeed, Ong himself considered the“study of the evolution of communications media and forms of communication”central to his scholarly identity as a cultural historian. So, We’ll take him at hisword.As a reward for your patience with my clumsy reading, I’ll seed in a couple treats.[your handout includes a list of takeaways related to the larger paper, today’s talkfocuses on 1 and 3]
Because early on he was aware that the late print culturewould not sustain itself (at least in the ways it had been handed down to the 20
Ong actively experimented with knowledge transmission technologies (seeking newmediations for the work of making knowledge)
Thus, I work with Ong’s scholarly processes as a way to better understand howknowledge was made in his world. Walter Ong was a sensible Missouri boy at heart,never straying from the state’s motto – “Show me.” Yet, he also was an erudite globalscholar who wrote in multiple languages and could have posed for a poster of what itmeant to be a renaissance twentieth century scholar. How did he make sense of thoseidentities. . . I contend that his processes helped him. . . . they accommodated both Ongthe scholar and Ong a practical person who found himself thinking about how theseismic changes to
we communicate impact how and what we come to know. . .The second Ong was fed by a healthy thirst for experimentation with mediatechnologies. . . the former drew on centuries of Jesuitical scholarly discipline.[play media audio :40] this one from an exchange about the process of an interviewInterestingly in the larger interview, Ong rather than the interviewer, is ever alert tothe technical details of the recording which itself was to be the basis of a printed piece.He asks about the questions had he received before the meeting, and mic levels at thestart. After the first set of questions, Ong has the interviewer check to see if the tape isrecording properly, and you heard the exchange that would deliver a copy(Transcription) to Ong for review.. At that time, April of 1975, everyone who was using
recording technology had a working knowledge of it because it was difficult to record atall, and to produce a recording of quality without a studio was quite hard.Ong’s interest in the HOW of emerging publication processes that lean on newertechnologies than print and capture the attention of more senses than sight are reflectedin this exchange. Unsurprisingly,As early as 1960, Ong had featured this interest in “Wired for Sound” when hewrote : “Probably a great many things are stirring; but it is certain that many of them can be summed up by saying we are leaving the Gutenberg era behind us. .. HE ALSO SAID THERE.. . .The present swing is to oral forms incommunication, with radio, television (oral in its commitments as compared totypography). public address and inter-com systems, or voice recordings (toreplace or supplement shorthand, longhand, typing, and print). As a result of thisswing, older relationships are undergoing a profound, if not often perceptible,realignment” (246).]And he, throughout his career, was atuned to this realignment. ever on alert for HOWsuch realignments would be happening.So, in a number of his later interviews that resulted in printed pieces, he deployedelectronic recording at an early stage (and forged for himself) a process for achieving amore WITH IT voice. In this general time Rolling Stone was popularizing a magazineformat that had both interviewer/ee to sound informal and “off the cuff”. Intrigued, Ong

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