How To: Choosing the Best Personal Website Platform


Thinking about starting a personal website? Then you probably know that there are countless options of website platforms to choose from. There’s WordPress, Tumblr, and Wix, Weebly, and many more. With so many choices, it can be daunting to commit to a platform. You want the best option, but how do you know which one is best?

There are many different facets to choosing the right host for you, and Mashable provides a quick guide of a few website platforms to help ease the process, including pros and cons lists! Definitely check it out if you’re thinking about starting a personal website.

How To Use Pinterest To Get A Job


Who would have thought that Pinterest could help you find a job? I sure didn’t. Apparently Pinterest is no longer explicitly used for looking at pictures of kittens, clothes or planning your next vacation, house, and dinner. It’s also becoming an interesting platform for job seekers. Now, on Pinterest, you can share your visual resume, get connected with companies and so much more.

For more details, check out this mind blowing infographic by Giraffecvs. It explains why you should use Pinterest for your job search, who you should follow and what you should pin on Pinterest to get noticed by a potential employer.

Meet WRAC’s Newest Professors!


The WRAC department would like to formally introduce three of our newest professors: Dr. April Baker-Bell, Dr. Kate Birdsall, and Dr. Ben Lauren! To learn a little more about each of them, read the following introductions to learn about their teaching, their research, and more.

April Baker-Bell 
Professor  Baker-Bell was born and raised in Detroit, and from the third grade knew that she wanted to teach. She received her Bachelor’s in Education from Eastern Michigan April-Baker-Bell.300x300University in 2003, and stayed there to complete her master’s in Teaching of Writing, which is a blend English education, rhetoric, and composition.

Professor Baker-Bell has previously taught in Detroit Public Schools, Wayne State University, and Oakland Community College. This fall she taught English 302: Other People’s Englishes: A (Re)Introduction to the English Language.

“The course [ENG 302] is designed to expose students to stigmatized languages that are usually not deemed a language, such as African American Language (AAL), which is the focus of this class,” explains  Professor Baker-Bell.

Professor Baker-Bell’s obtained her PhD in Rhetoric and  Writing in May 2014 from Michigan State University. Professor Baker-Bell  is married with two children.

Kate Birdsall
Professor Birdsall received her bachelor’s degree in English, with minors in art and French, KateB_ProfilePicfrom Akron Ohio. Birdsall continued her education at Akron, and it was there that she earned her masters in English, with a certificate in rhetoric and composition. After Akron, Birdsall came to Michigan State University to obtain a PhD in English.

When asked why she decided to pursue a PhD, her answer was simple, “to sum up, I could not imagine doing anything else and that was the motivation.”

Professor Birdsall’s dissertation was on memoirs, and how this brand of writing isn’t always what it seems.

“I’m really interested in “authenticity.” It’s this word, in popular culture, that seems to be synonymous with factuality; but that’s not the case,” she said.

Besides researching the “Oprafication” of culture, Kate taught WRA 150, Evolution of American Thought, this past semester and is also interested in creative writing.

“Like a lot of people in this department, I have a lot of interests, and one thing I think I’m really good at is balancing teaching, and scholarship, and creative writing. And so, I feel like I can talk about all three of those things equally,” she said.

Ben Lauren
Professor Lauren‘s bachelor’s and masters are both in creative writing from Florida State IMG_0322University, however his first career was actually in music! He was the singer/songwriter for a band called No Address that was on Atlantic Records. They had a 2005 hits called “When I’m Gone” and the band was active from around 2000-2007.

“I had a long history in music that began in the 90s, but turned to education instead. A better fit for me, though the experiences managing that sort of work has certainly informed by interests today,” said Professor Ben.

After teaching as an instructor for some time, he realized that teaching wasn’t going to be enough. He was truly interested in research, which is what ultimately led him to get his PhD in technical communication and rhetoric from Texas Tech. His main interests of research include project management, rhetorical theory, workplace environments, organizational communication, sound and sound design, and user experience. This semester, Professor Lauren taught Visual Rhetoric (WRA 360) and Introduction to Experience Architecture (AL 242). Next semester you can find him instructing WRA 360 again and Managing Experience Architecture Projects (AL 366).

Broadening Horizons: The Broad Art Museum Writing Residency

broad residency

Every wonder what happens at the Broad Art Museum during the spring? One event for both Digital Rhetoric and Professional Writing, and English graduate students is the Broad Art Museum Writing Residency here on campus. This program underwent its first year spring 2014, and was a great success. The residency involved both workshops and a final symposium at the end of the residency where the residents spoke of their experiences.

The 2014 residents were a combination of graduate students from the English and WRAC departments. These students were Laura McGrath, Steven Ambrose, Shewonda Leger, Rebecca Hayes, Elizabeth Floyd and Anna Green.

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The director of the residency, Tammy Fortin, described The Broad Art Museum Writing Residency at Michigan State University having one simple purpose: to offer writers a chance to explore their own creative process through visual art. As a writer, Tammy often looks to the visual culture as a way to create multiple layers of meaning, associations and references in her work. The integration of visual art into writing is a natural union and the result of this program. Six graduate students, called residents as part of the program, were selected through an application process. Each month the residents were asked to respond to a piece of art in the Broad galleries using five-core themes: appropriation (using someone else’s work for your own purposes), redaction (deleting, obscuring, removing, and moving a piece from its original form), translation (translating words across multiple languages), transcription (transcribing speech into the written word), and constraint (the restriction of certain things or to impose a pattern). In doing this, they were then instructed to pick one art piece in the Broad as well as a corresponding theme(s) to create a new style of presentation that was more performance than lecture.

MSU Digital Rhetoric and Professional Writing MA student Shewonda Leger said the following about her personal experience at the Broad Museum.


This fellowship has offered me ways to fuse conceptual, creative, and professional writing together and break the norms of writing. Overall, “Conceptual writing” has helped me engage in a provocative dialogue with the field of contemporary art, producing new insights into the meaning of both literature, literacy, professional writing and art. I usually visited the museum several times before choosing a work. Color and creativity is what usually catches my attention first, and then the structure of my poem/performance is developed. Overall, this was a great learning experience, anyone interested in jolting his or her creativity and writing The Broad Art Museum Residency would be a great option.

Anna Green PhD student, studying Feminism occurring within Modernist Literature particularly in the deployment of avant-garde vocabularies for the assertion of the woman artist, explained the following about her residency experience.

My overall experience with the Broad residency was positive; I enjoyed working with graduate students from the WRAC department and enjoyed the opportunity to integrate an element of creativity with my scholarly activity. Take aways: I think I came away feeling that I really pushed myself to experiment with different performances that made me feel uncomfortable. I began with a kind of pedagogical performance– a role that I’m familiar with and one in which I feel comfortable– and ended with a collaborative manifesto, which challenged me to integrate my ideas with Steven’s and also took on a much more controversial tone.

Michigan State University MA student, studying 20th century literature with an emphasis in British modernism and post-modernism, Elizabeth Floyd said the following about her residency with the Broad Museum.

This experience was a great way to combine my creative interests with my scholarly ones. I have written poetry for many years, so I greatly appreciate the ability to have a creative outlet for new work, in which I was pushed to think about presentation and content in a new way. As for my scholarly work, I am interested in the intersection of art and literature and this was a great way to explore that more. I’m used to presenting in front of an academic audience, so this experience made me think about different aspects of presentation. I also liked being able to pursue a conversation in regards to a certain artwork. I tried really hard to take a non-critical lens in my approach to choosing work. A lot of the pieces were not ones I’d necessarily write on as a scholar and instead were the ones that made the biggest impact on my when first viewing them. For example, I really like the Lebbeus Woods exhibit and I was fascinated by the model of his Light Pavilion. While this isn’t the most impressive work in the exhibit, it was one I was drawn to for it’s application of design and functionality. I usually visited the museum several times before choosing a work and then thought about the structure of my poem/performance. From there I filled in the content, trying to draw from sources around me.

These raving testaments speak to positive influence of the residency program on the students involved, however, they do not mention the program’s impact on the surrounding community itself. The final projects of the residency consisted of four live readings in response to artworks from January 2014 – April 2014. Community members were encouraged to attend and learn not only about art and writing but also about the five themes the residents incorporated into their exceptionally moving presentations.

The following video contains clips from the live readings as well as further explanation of the program from its directors.


This program is one of the first of its kind and is making waves in the Professional Writing, English, and Studio Art spheres. The Broad program encourages its residents to use the museum as a laboratory for exploring their own questions, and rather than coming up with answers, to conjure up more and more questions. Ultimately, establishing a new and unique space for connecting ideas.

For more details and information on 2015 residency, please contact Dean of the Graduate School and Professor of English at CAL, Judith Stoddart:

For more info on the residency itself as well as the digital archives for the 2014 residency, check out the Broad Blog.

For more details on last year’s residents and their projects go to the Broad Tumblr.

The Broad Art Museum Writing Residency will happen again this upcoming Spring 2015. Look out for future readings/performances from a new set of graduate students.