Stasis Symposium

October 12, 2018
9:00 - 5:00 PM
2115 Tawes Hall and various locations throughout Tawes Hall

2018.10.12: Stasis SymposiumPlease join us for a conversation about stasis theory.

From its origins in Graeco-Roman rhetorical education to the twentieth century, stasis theory has served as a powerful tool for analyzing controversial issues and locating the exact point of disagreement in a debate by means of dialogic exchange.

The goal of the symposium is to present new research as well as help faculty, graduate students, and teachers to think through the many applications of stasis theory in practice; therefore, we have set aside the morning for scholarly talks, and the afternoon for small-group workshops.

Registration is free but required by 5 October 2018. Registration is now closed.

Tentative Schedule

9:00. Coffee service. Registration. Second Floor Lobby, Tawes Hall.

9:30-9:50. Debra Hawhee/Vessela Valiavitcharska: Welcome Remarks & Introduction. 2115 Tawes Hall

9:50-10:30. Bé Breij, “Status Theory in Roman Declamation.” 2115 Tawes Hall

(Moderator: Debra Hawhee).

Status theory was of course fundamental to the teaching of rhetoric. But how to make that terribly dry matter attractive to adolescent students? Roman teachers of rhetoric, like their Greek colleagues, found the answer in controversiae: forensic speeches in bizarre and lurid fictitious cases. War heroes ask the senate permission to kill their profligate sons, prostitutes give their besotted but poor lovers hate potions and are accused of poisoning, sons are suspected of conducting incestuous affairs with their mothers…

My presentation begins with a brief tour of Sophistopolis, as Donald Russell brilliantly called the fictitious world of declamation. Then I will discuss the ancient status system as it was taught in the schools, devoting attention to status legales and rationales, also their substatus. I will illustrate some of their treatments with fragments from extant declamations, so that we can look not only at the types of argument that occurred, but also at diction and style. By way of a mini-exercise I will set the participants a few themes and they will try and determine their (main) status.

10:30-11:10. Martin Camper, “The Interpretive Stases: A Theory of How We Argue Over Texts.” 2115 Tawes Hall

The interpretive (legal) stases—a part of classical to Early Modern stasis theory that modern scholars have largely ignored— could become a heuristic for understanding and analyzing debates over the meaning of virtually any type of a text. Historical and contemporary examples of hermeneutical controversies from a variety of spheres (literary criticism, politics, law, religion, history) will illustrate the wide applicability as well as the utility of the theory.

11:10-11:20. Coffee break. Second Floor Lobby, Tawes Hall

11:20-12:00. Jeanne Fahnestock, "Revising Stasis Theory: The Roots and the Results." 2115 Tawes Hall

The textbook A Rhetoric of Argument uses an expanded version of stasis theory: Fact/Definition, Cause, Value, Action. The rhetorical tradition generally considers questions of cause as part of conjecture; however, there are precedents for separating it out, and these offer insights into lines of argument for a new stasis of cause as well as others.

12:00-12:40. Wayne Slater, “Scaffolding the Reading and Writing of Persuasive Text Using the Stases.” 2115 Tawes Hall

(Moderator: Debra Hawhee).

Using case study research methods, we investigated the effectiveness of a dialogic tutoring model informed by cognitive strategy instruction to implement the stases as a problem-solving strategy during the prewriting stage of writing a persuasive essay. Eight minority tenth-graders participated because of their difficulties in identifying and constructing claims and supports in the writing of their papers. Compared to baseline scores derived from their previous persuasive papers, the eight participants scored higher on the dimensions of development, organization, focus and clarity; and voice, but at almost the same level on the dimension of conventions. Based on interactions with the participants, we are convinced that the stases used as a reading and writing strategy offered a potentially powerful heuristic in bridging the gap between the more abstract Toulmin model and the practical and strategic challenge of filling the slots in that model.

12:40-13:00. General Discussion. 2115 Tawes Hall

13:00-14:30. Lunch. On Own.

14:30-17:20. Small Group Sessions. 3250, 3132, 3134, 3136 Tawes

Jeanne Fahnestock: "Applying Stasis Theory: Examples and Interventions." 3136 Tawes Hall.

This workshop will look at sample controversies in science and at recursion in the use of the stases.

Martin Camper: "Helping Students Write Better Arguments about Texts with the Interpretive Stases." 3250 Tawes Hall.

Participants will brainstorm and discuss pedagogical applications of the interpretive stases to help students write and engage in arguments over textual meaning in a range of courses, including composition, literary criticism, and legal argumentation.

Preparation: Participants are encouraged to bring exercises, assignments, and syllabi that they would like to revise by incorporating the interpretive stases.

Bé Breij” “The Blind Mother’s Hands.” 3134 Tawes Hall

Preparation: read the translation of the Manus Caecae / "The Blind Mother’s Hands" (also known as "The Case of the Beached Corpse") and make notes of the main lines of argument. Bring your notes, and bring the survey of the Roman status system that was handed out during the morning presentation.

During the group session we will analyse the argumentatio of "The Blind Mother’s Hands." We will try to determine its main status and any supplementary status, and try to assess the accompanying arguments. Finally, we will try to come up with cogent counter-arguments.

Wayne Slater, Workshop. "Teaching Reading and Writing with Stasis Theory." 3132 Tawes Hall.

In this workshop we will focus on current theory and best practice in implementing a dialogic tutoring model grounded in constructivist cognitive strategy instruction to implement a problem-solving strategy, the stases, using a gradual release of responsibility model of instruction. Theoretical and practical issues will be considered.

17:30 Closing Reception. 2115 Tawes Hall.

For more information contact: Vessela Valiavitcharksa (