Letter From the Editor

By Doris Jones

In this issue of Rhetoric Today we celebrate the growing trend of bookstores cropping up all over Cairo.  More bookstores are featuring a variety of texts ranging in Arabic and English language popular titles, along with classics.  Such growth may signal a cultural renaissance for reading. Several of these rather chic stores offer many titles from the AUC Press Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature collection.  Promoting cultures of reading in a diverse world requires the creation of strategic programming that can bolster literacy initiatives. In 2005, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Chair Dana Gioia announced “The Big Read,” program to address what they determined was a “steep decline” in reading among many Americans.  In a press release, Gioia claimed: “No single program can entirely reverse this trend. But if cities nationally unite to adopt The Big Read, our community-wide reading program, together we can restore reading to its essential place in American culture.” Based on results received from several focus groups and surveys involving students and faculty held during the fall 2013 semester, AUC learned that readers are a reflection of a complex social and cultural dynamic, which means they are not a homogeneous group. Catherine Ross, Lynne McKechnie, and Paulette Rothbauer’s review of the NEA study determined when readers are linked to an active social engagement; the results can illicit positive influences for individual readers as a social practice.  These results hold promise for AUC as we move forward with plans to launch our inaugural One Book, One Conversation, One Community common reading program.

In addition to celebrating a culture of reading, we also ask the question: “what more can be explored and implemented in the rhetoric and composition classroom?”  In this issue we have two guest writers, Tracey Bowen and Joan Vinall-Cox, from the University of Toronto Mississauga, whose article “Just listen: Examining the importance of aurality in our multimodal thinking,” focus a critical lens on how sound is changing and promoting new pedagogies for writing in the classroom. Bowen and Vinall-Cox claim that studying and teaching the rhetorical aspects of sound is crucial to understanding how mediated sound changes how producers compose with audio and how audiences listen to sound.  Their article is complemented by “Sounds Write’ – Sonic Rhetoric – A 21st Century Pedagogy,” also examines how oral discourse performed by recording and transmitting voice, offers rich opportunities to advance new spaces for teaching rhetoric and composition.