Verum Factum Redux

Vico inserted this frontispiece into the second edition of his New Science as a visual aid to the reader–but perhaps also to himself. He explicates the picture and in doing so offers his introduction to the content of the book, its purpose and structure and assumptions.

Although I'll surely return to this image again, what I'm attempting to do now is simply gather and mark the basic components of and influences upon my work. The intellectual and material readymades I'm choosing to employ as I attempt to do something about this persistent itch to stop musing about material rhetoric and instead make something tangible of it.

I intend to use these sources literally–that is, tangibly as well as conceptually. The objects I'm assembling will contain or feature artifacts that represent or even replicate the symbols, words, illustrations, and principles about which I've been reading and ruminating.


Some of the Works Cited in this Blog


Dewey, John. Art as Experience. New York: Penguin, 1934.
Doctorow, Cory, “Love the Machine, Hate the Factory.” Make: Technology On Your Time. 17 (Mar 2009). 14.
Greene, Maxine. Variations on a Blue Guitar: The Lincoln Center Institute Lectures on Aesthetic Education. New York: Teachers College P, 2001.
Leonard, Joanne. Being in Pictures:  An Intimate Photo Memoir. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, 2007.
Ong, Walter J. Orality and Literacy: The Technologizing of the Word. New York: Methuen, 1982.
Schon, Donald A. Educating the Reflective Practitioner. 4th ed. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1990.
Thoreau, Henry David. Walden, Or, Life in the Woods. Reprint. Forgotten Books, 1924.
Vico, Giambattista. On the Most Ancient Wisdom of the Italians Unearthed from the Origins of the Latin Language. Trans, L.M. Palmer. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1988.
  • Verum and Factum” (45-47) – Verum esse ipsum factum = “The true is the thing made [or done] itself.” In other words, the ultimate knowledge of the thing is inherent in the making of it. Vico claims this level of truth is God’s truth, perhaps understood as his transcendent knowledge of the thing. Pg 46: “But to know (scire) is to put together the elements of things. Hence, discursive thought (cogitatio) is what is proper to the human mind, whereas intelligence (intelligentia) is proper to God’s mind. For God reads all the elements of things whether inner or outer, because He contains and disposes them in order, whereas the human mind, because it is limited and external to everything else that is not itself, is confined to the outside edges of things only and, hence, can never gather them all together. For this very reason it can indeed think about reality, but it can not understand it fully.” Although Vico claims that cogitatio is “proper to the human mind”, he is not arguing that humans should be satisfied with that way of knowing. Rather, educators should view God’s way of knowing–creativity–as a model for human learning for (as Palmer says in her Introduction): “it is only when we produce that we become like God” (34). 

Vico, Giambattista Vico. The New Science. 3rd ed. (1744). Trans., Thomas Goddard Bergin and Max Harold Fisch. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1994.

Yancey, Kathleen Blake. Reflection in the Writing Classroom. Logan: Utah State UP, 1998.

Verum Factum

I’m starting this new blog on my sabbatical. Seems like a good time for a clean slate. 

What I want most from this new space is a place to assemble the not-at-all (yet seemingly so) disparate projects I’ve taken up and set aside during my early career as a professor of writing and rhetoric. 

Not all of them–just the ones that genuinely interest me.

I’m returning to the nagging questions and intriguing ideas that animated my early work as a researcher, and I’m at last committing to the mode of exploration that has been lurking at the margins of my scholarship all along: assemblage art.

Giambattista Vico said you can only truly come to know that which you make yourself. It’s his verum factum principle, making is knowing.

Let’s see what I can make of that.