Friday, July 07, 2006

Moving Time

I know I just moved this blog here a few months ago, but I've decided to move it one last time (hopefully). You'll be able to find my blog at: Please update your bookmarks and pass the word on.


Thursday, July 06, 2006

Day Two at UCSD

Some more pics from UCSD. I spent Friday morning on the 7th floor of the library again and then moved to the Grove Caffe for the afternoon--75 degrees, surrounded by eucalyptus trees, with a slight ocean breeze and wireless! I love my alma mater!

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Does it get better than this?

I've come home to San Diego for a few days to see family and friends, but with that looming market search this Fall, I can't afford to take the whole time off from writing. So I decided to spend today at the Geisel Library at UC San Diego. It's been a long time since I've been back and it was very nostalgic: walking across Muir campus to the Grove for some tea; sitting in the shade of eucalyptus trees as I sipped my tea and enjoyed the morning; and now sitting at a table on the 7th floor of the library (a designated "extra quiet study" area) I look to my right get a glimpse of the beautiful Pacific Ocean, to the left I see groves of eucalyptus trees, and in the distance the San Diego Temple. I can just feel the contentment and inspiration wash over me.

It doesn't get any better than this--academically speaking!

Saturday, June 24, 2006

A Fond Farewell

Earlier this week I had one of those bittersweet grad student experiences: I had to say goodbye to a very good friend. The bitter came with the realization that I'll probably only see JP a few times a year at various conferences; the sweet was giving him a big hug on his way to a great and well deserved tenure-track job. JP and I started grad school together and he's been there for me through academic highs and melt-downs and both he and his family were a tremendous support during a year chock full of severe health problems.

This whole experience has just had me ruminating on how strange the grad school experience truly is. In my case, I moved over 3000 miles to a small mid-west town from the metropolis of Los Angeles, experienced culture shock in a huge way, began classes with 5 strangers who quickly became friends and colleagues, and have been living in a bubble--sometimes great, sometimes hellish--ever since. And now, as I get ready to go on the market this Fall, I find myself looking around my great townhouse and my gardens and realizing hoping that this time next year I'll be departing for parts unknown myself. What a strange little time this has been!

So farewell JP! See you at Watson in the Fall!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

We are what we own?

So, this is a first for me. A presentation I participated in has been invited to be re-presented at the Watson Conference in Louisville, KY in October. I'm feeling very flattered that some people obviously feel the work is interesting enough to be seen again, but I'm also feeling a bit flustered about fitting a trip to Louisville in during the prime dissertation polishing/sending out applications period in the beginning of October. Should make for an interesting time!

The presenation that Carrie Lamanna, Jim Purdy and I gave at C+W this year is the beginning of a research project we've been working on looking at identity and infrastructure. We were all really impressed by the work done be DeVoss, et al. on the When of Infrastructure and loved the idea of it. But the more we talked about it, and the more we participated in several interdisciplinary projects, we realized that the idea of the when was just the beginning for us. The moment(s) that De Voss et al. describe are important, but we wanted to look beyond that point because one of the things we were finding in our work was that the when ultimately affected the who. In a nutshell, it’s not what we do with technology but who we are with technology.

Using the argument that many in the C+W community have made that multimodal activity is the future of composing as a jumping-off point, we proposed that this vision may require us to rethink how we define our discipline and possibly how we define the university. In short, we argued that the identities of writing studies programs at individual institutions are not only or primarily shaped by the scholarship they produce, but by the courses, rooms, buildings, and equipment they control. We looked at three technology-rich interdisciplinary projects in which our Center for Writing Studies is involved and how the identity of the Center and it’s faculty and students were shaped (and changed) through these projects. The three projects were: the Writers’ Workshop, our campus-wide writing center; Writing with Video, a new advanced comp course; and the Learning Commons, a re-envisioning of the undergraduate library on our campus. We interviewed key stake holders in each of these initiatives from the Associate Dean in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences to graduate students who are involved in each project.

Our interviews provided us with excellent data, only a fraction of which we were able to talk about in our presentation. Although we are still working on this project, one of the key points that has begun to emerge is that as writing studies programs expand the frontiers of multimodal composing through interdisciplinary and campus-wide partnerships, we need to be mindful of how these partnerships will alter the borders of our own disciplinary identity. Whether these moves will be beneficial or detrimental to the discipline remains to be seen. However, understanding and addressing these infrastructural implications is vital to the future identity of our discipline.*

*Much of this can be found in our panel description in the C+W 2006 program.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Memory is more than just recall!

One of the sessions I attended at C+W was C8 with Amber Lancaster and Corinne Arraez. I was disappointed Corinne wasn’t able to make it since I was especially looking forward to her talk about the required multimedia composing class at Stanford. However, I did find Amber’s talk about the use of video in the workplace and the lack of video courses in tech comm. majors very interesting. But, part way through her presentation, Amber had a slide about how she saw the five canons of rhetoric applying to video. For memory she had the following statement:

Memory—How well the information meets the rhetorical situation and aids memory: contextual, retrievable, retainable.

OK, yes, this is my soap box, but after over hearing quite a few similar comments at CCCCs this year I feel like getting up and shouting: MEMORY IS MORE THAN RECALL! As Reynolds says in his introductory chapter to Rhetorical Memory and Delivery,

Corbett’s Classical Rhetoric for the Modern Student (1965) marked the beginning of renewed interest in classical rhetoric and , consequently, renewed interest in all of its rhetorical canons, including memory and delivery. Ironically, in all editions of his influential book (1965, 1971, 1991) Corbett revived the canon of memory only long enough to dismiss it, to define it as “memorizing,” and then to exclude it from further analysis and consideration… (4)

Quite a bit of work has been done by several influential scholars in our field to rebut this dismissal (i.e., Bolter, Crowley, Welch, and Crowley and Hawhee in their Ancient Rhetorics for Contemporary Students), but this idea that memory is no more than memorization still persists in our field. Mary Carruthers’ said it best in her book The Book of Memory, “How greatly we misunderstand when we reduce ancient and medieval memoria to our word ‘memorization.’” And yet, “memorization” is still the most used definition for the canon of memory.

However, as I argued in my Master’s thesis, memory is and can be so much more. In my conclusion, I wrote the following:

In the introduction to Rhetorical Memory and Delivery, Winifred Horner writes that there can be no complete rhetoric without the study of all five of its canons: invention, arrangement, style, memory, and delivery. In particular, she says, "In order to look at the new electronic media, we need to reinterpret the canon of memory in the historical documents. At best we have misinterpreted that history; at worst, we have ignored it" (xi). Many scholars are now beginning to take up that investigation and are finding that as a means of producing and understanding electronic discourse, memory is again becoming "the noblest" of all the canons, "the basis for the rest" (Carruthers 9); memory can now be seen as being an integral part of all the canons.

I know the idea is getting out there about memory. Mary Carruthers now has 3 books on the subject, Anne Wysocki has used some of Mary’s work in a recent class on New Media, and there are several scholars doing very interesting work in memory. (I was excited to put together a roundtable proposal for CCCC07 with Angela Haas, John Walter, Stewart Whittemore, Matt Weiss, and Julia Romberger specifically on current work being done on the canon of memory.) With all this work being done I hope memory will begin to get a better rap.

C+W Lubbock Recap

Well, I've been back from Lubbock, TX for a while, which means this post is long over due. I love the C+W conference and look forward to it every year; however, that also means that when it's over I mourn a bit because I won't see my friends and colleagues with whom I most closely identify until next year. So mourning over, it's time to [take a break from dissertating and] post a bit of a recap.

Thursday's GRN and Job Search seminar were both awesome. For the GRN I was at a table with my friend John Walters and Dene Grigar, who I'd never met before. Both John and Dene had some wonderful suggestions about directions my dissertation chapter could take and some readings that I should do. (Thanks to Dene for the wonderful notes on Kate Hayles' work!) The afternoon job search session was done in a "speed dating" style--two faculty members (one tenured and one jr.) sat at 8 tables and every 20 minutes us job seekers would switch tables and get to ask all new questions. I especially appreciated the great advice I received from Jim Kalambach ("Do whatever Gail tells you!" :-)) and Heidi McKee. The only low point was my unfortunate luck to sit at the same table more than once with a gentleman who is currently unhappy at his job and felt the need to ask very unpolitic questions (IMHO) that just seemed--I don't know--whinny. And he didn't like a lot of the answers he got and became a bit confrontational. Later that evening, several of us ended up going out to Mexican and then drink. It was great to see some old friends.

Friday started great with a trip to the Koffee Haus with Joseph Squier and Maria Lovett. I ended up having some time during the first session so I headed down to the V2 room and did one of their interviews. (Later I was mortified to realize that I'd misnamed one of my professors from CSU Hayward, but I sent an email to Amy Kimme-Hae and she assured me that the name would be corrected in the transcript of the interview. Thanks, Amy!). I attended Joseph and Maria's session on Writing with Video and thought the presentation and the discussion were excellent. Maria, Joseph, Carrie, Jim and I are co-authoring a chapter for Jim and Cheryl's book about the course, so we were all furiously taking notes about discussion points we needed to get into the chapter. I especially like Cyndi's comment that we need to start thing of ourselves more as artists rather than word-smiths. I attended session C8 with Amber Lancaster and Corinne Arraez, which I'll blog about in another post. The banquet that evening was . . . interesting. Ryan made a quite accurate observation that the wine table got distinctly busier after the speaker started and between our table and several others around us we were hard pressed to keep straight faces. Carrie and I spent the later part of the evening in the hot tub at our hotel, but were eventually driven out by the lightening that seemed to park right over us.

Saturday started bright and early with our 8:15 AM session—note to future organizers of C+W: 8:15 is WAY TOO EARLY to be doing anything besides eating breakfast! I thought our presentation went well. We had a small, loyal following of UIUC grads, alums, and friends. Gail made the only notable objection—our placing of the Center for Writing Studies under English--where we all thought it was. However, we now know that CWS reports directly to the Dean of the College (and all images were forthwith edited!). After our presentation I attended a very interesting session on what one doesn't learn in grad school but needs to know to be a successful new assistant professor. Sometime during that session I discovered that a sore spot on my foot had actually turned into a blister and there was no way I could continue to wear the shoes I had on. So, after the session I tracked Joyce down and got the keys to the car and went back to the hotel to change shoes. Realizing I had about an hour before I needed to be back for a session I was supposed to chair, I thought I'd lay down for a few minutes and rest my very blurry eyes. However, I woke up in a panic realizing I had been sleeping far longer than the 45 minutes I'd given myself. Yep—it was 3 hours later. I missed the session with Tracy, Samantha, and Jennifer that I was supposed to chair. How absolutely embarrassing. Then of course, I tore up to campus (since I had the car everyone needed to get back to the hotel) and who should I run into as I step into the building but Tracy. Yep, I'm definitely going to be in the dog house for a while on that one. Damn! Saturday evening we had a nice get together with a big group in our hotel room—real Texas wine, apples, Triscuts, and chips and salsa. It was impromptu but great. We then headed to the evening banquet.

[OK, I'm just going to break out into a small aside/rant here. On our way back to Illinois, Carrie, Jim and I saw a funny shirt in the Austin airport that read, "I didn't make it to the top of the food chain to become a vegetarian!" While I am a long way from claiming vegetarianism, I actually do like vegetables. And I have to say, the food at the conference was decidedly anti-vegetables. I think I ate more red meat at this conference than I usually do in an entire year. Another note to future C+W conference planners: variety is good for banquets!]

OK, now back to Saturday. After a bit of a stramash after the banquet, a group of us decided to go bowling a bit early. We had loads of fun. After about 2 hours the last car that left the banquet with us finally showed up, complete with harrowing tails of looping around Lubbock and drive-through strip joints. Hmm. There’s definitely a story there! At about midnight, most of us turned into pumpkins, since several of us were either driving or flying early the next morning.

So, there you have it—C+W in a nutshell. See everyone in Detroit next year!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Book Meme

OK, so following the lead of my friend John at Machina Memorialis, I'm going to contribute to the book meme trend started on Debbie Hawhee's blog Blogos (see blog roll for link). Here are the directions:

1. Grab the nearest book
2. Open it to page 123
3. Find the fifth sentence
4. Copy it onlto your blog/journal along with these instructions

The book is Martin Castell's The Power of Identity. Here is the fifth full sentence:

On the one hand, there is a profound distrust of the goodness of advanced technology, leading in some extreme manifestions to neo-Luddite ideologies, as represented by Kirpatrick Sale.