Summer Colloquium at Georgia State, June 24

On the Circulation and Recirculation of Texts

On June 24, 2011, SCoR was hosted by the Dept of Communication at Georgia State University. Mary Stuckey was the organizer. The topic was the circulation and recirculation of texts and the implications for such circulation and recirculation on our very conception of text.
As presented by the organizer for this colloquium, Mary Stuckey:
The problem of circulation seems to me to have three main components: the problem of theory, the problem of text, and the problem of reception. The text has been reduced to fragments, and the audience is increasingly fragmented, making it difficult to identify a locus for considering reception.

In terms of the text, we can go to the Leff/McGee debate: is there such a thing as text, or is it all about fragments? How do we understand texts when things are now far more fragmented than they were when McGee wrote?

Second, in a related problem, how do we understand the nature of the audience if there isn’t “an audience” or set of audiences? As Biesecker notes, “Studies of dissemination, circulation, and uptake of rhetoric  (now broadly defined) inspired largely but not exclusively by Foucault, register a new attentiveness to ‘what man [sic] as received is [actually] exposed to [over space and time], rather than what man [sic] as a source creates.”

So it’s not (only) about the text but about the circulation, recirculation and translation of texts. And it gets even more complicated when we consider that theories about texts and audiences also circulate, disappear and recirculate.  It was recently pointed out to me, for instance, that at least some of the ideas we now understand through Foucault were also debated and discussed by Renaissance Humanists.

So on the one hand, this set of issues is clearly not new; theories and texts always circulated and were always translated to audiences; classical republican texts were translated into English and circulated during the founding period; 18th and 19th century presidential speeches were written and circulated via newspapers that were read aloud to illiterate audiences, to take just two American examples. But on the other hand, technology has made this infinitely more complicated; there is a difference between a local elite reading a presidential text to the community and the will.

The readings that provided the theoretical grounding for the discussion were:
Leff and McGee debate on circulation of texts and audiences
Lacan, Four Fundamental Concepts*gives us the idea of different sites
of enunciation
Warner, Publics and Counter Publics and Letters of the Republic
Poster, Pedagogy and Bibliography (historical spin)

Our text was Obama's Budget Speech of April 13, 2011.

The colloquium was followed by a cookout at Mary Stuckey’s.