In a TedTalk filmed this summer, Kirby Ferguson challenges us to think of remix as “a better way to conceive of creativity.” He uses the repertoire of Bob Dylan to point out the clearly remixed melodies and lyrics that Dylan uses from folk singers, which he reminds us is actually typical of folk musicians, a remix culture maintained by building on one another’s works.
In this video Ferguson is arguing that “everything is remix.” He then boils remix down to three steps – copy, transform, and combine. He calls on Woody Guthrie and Henry Ford to show not just that everything is remix, but that remix has always existed. He says, ”Our creativity comes from without, not from within. We are not self-made, we are dependent on one another.”
Considering the explosion of remix in the writing classroom, Ferguson’s invitation is a call to engaging this creativity in our students, our colleagues, and ourselves.
John Paul Titlow over at ReadWriteWeb has a four-part series on how journalists are using social media – Instagram, Pinterest, Google+, and SoundCloud. This series offers insight into how teachers can engage student writers in multimodal writing, remix projects, and much more. For example, Titlow found that journalists are using SoundCloud’s mobile audio editing feature to record and edit podcasts and stories for radio while in the field. Imagine this in the hands of writing students!
Rhetoric & Writing graduate students Andrea Riley Mukavetz, Daisy Levy, Doug Schraufnagle, Jennifer Fisch-Feurgson, Marilee Brooks-Gillies, and with faculty adviser, Dr. Malea Powell, have used the research cluster structure to form a collective lab-space looking to reach two main objectives: to start and sustain a humanities theory lab and, and to elucidate cultural rhetorics as an interdisciplinary field.
Cultural Rhetorics Theory Lab Wordle
The lab’s mission is focused on promoting, informing, and theorizing about what cultural rhetorics is. This year’s multitude of activities included planning two forums for individuals interested in gaining hands-on experience with cultural theory and rhetorics, collectively authoring an article entitled “What is Cultural Rhetorics?,” designing sustainability documents for the lab, and networking here at MSU and beyond.
Recently, various members of the lab participated in a variety workshops at the CCCC’s conference, and will also be attending the upcoming Rhetoric Society of America conference in May.
Over the summer, the lab plans to build its web-presences and its major projects for the next year are to begin working on a digital Cultural Rhetorics journal and a Cultural Rhetorics textbook as well.
The Queer Rhetorics cluster is looking to use the methodology of play to explore and examine queer identity, bodies, and practices in various communities. Overall, its members (Casey Miles, Katie Livingston, and Simone West), along with their faculty adviser, Dr. Trixie Smith, are looking to contribute to the queer rhetoric field as a whole.
Aside from group research and authorship, each member is also taking this opportunity to progress forward research they’ve already started independently. Miles’ work this semester focused on butch pedagogy; Livingston’s research is centered around exploring consent as a community-based methodology; West is interested in television censorship and cultural practices through a queer lens; Smith’s work is concerned with coming-out stories.
This past year, cluster members presented at CCCC on this work; likewise, members have proposed sessions and panels for next year’s CCCC as well as the PCAS/ACAS conference.
For more information about this specific cluster, contact Trixie Smith at email@example.com
Steve Lessner, a graduate teaching assistant for WRAC and a PHD candidate in the Rhetoric & Writing program, was recently awarded a 2012-2013 Excellence-In-Teaching Citation for his outstanding efforts teaching First-Year Writing. While several citations were awarded, Lessner was the only individual from the College of Arts and Letters to receive the award.
This specific award is given to six graduate teaching assistants who have distinguished themselves in the classroom, and all were honored at the annual Awards Convocation, which was held on Tuesday, February 12, 2012 at the Wharton Center’s Pasant Theater.
A committee reviewed Lessner on a cumulative and diverse set of teaching materials including his teaching philosophy, course syllabi, curriculum vita, faculty letters of recommendations, Student Instructional Rating System forms (SIRS), and most importantly, letters of recommendation written by previous students.
“Mr. Steven Lessner is the definition of a truly excellent counselor, guider, teacher, and friend,” said a previous student in support of Lessner. “I wholeheartedly believe that [he] helped improve my writing, my thought process, as well as my ability to interpret and understand other scholars’ work,” the writer finished.
Lessner’s teaching philosophy primarily focuses on encouraging undergraduate students to “consider how their diverse literacy practices outside the academy can beneficially impact their writing in high education.”
Lessner draws upon his teaching experiences to enrich his own research. He recently co-authored a chapter with R&W alum Collin Craig entitled “Finding Your Way In: Invention as Inquiry Based Learning In First Year Writing,” published in Writing Spaces: Readings on Writing: Volume 1 (Parlor Press, WAC Clearinghouse, 2010).
This year, the Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC) was held in St. Louis from March 21-24, and it was there that Dr. Malea Powell delivered a CCCC chair’s address unlike any previous — and half the time, she wasn’t even speaking.
Traditionally, the address is a 40-minute talk in which the chair speaks about his or her research and scholarship, or about the current state of the discipline, but Powell says that while she was terrified to step away from that convention, she knew that she wanted to do something vastly different. She said, “I wanted to make it hard for people to discount what was said.”
The address was a storytelling performance, in which 10 individuals stood up and narrated their own story, and seven others read quotes. “I wanted [the address] to say something about the organization — have a vision — and I wanted to give a talk that demonstrated and shared that vision.”
Those who spoke were broadly representative of the organization, spanning from tenured professors to graduate students; Powell said she feels that by structuring the speech as she did, she was able to express the organization’s values regarding collaboration and diversity.
Social media tools such as Twitter hashtags (#4C12) were also used to document how the talk circulated throughout the entire convention.
Aside from her address, Powell is also working with CCCC officers and EC members to craft a strategic vision for the organization, something that has never been created in the history of CCCC. “We have a mission statement, but that’s pretty abstract. Now, we are trying to craft a vision for the next decade to guide our governance actions.”
Powell also went on to express how important she feels it is that someone from WRAC was elected to the as chair, saying, “Here we are forward thinking, a little edgy, and a little risky in the work that we do, and we’re bringing that to an organization that’s not always been that way.”
Among many other tasks, the remainder of Powell’s appointment will involve working to finish the vision statement, moving forward with other important governance work (like creating a Committee on the Status of Graduate Students), and helping to rethink what it means to be a member of the organization in general. Powell hopes that by taking these important steps, the organization will begin to have more than a professional voice, but also a public voice that can position itself at the forefront of conversations about writing, rhetoric, and literacy.
The WRAC department had the pleasure of putting on the first conference for First-Year Writing (FYW). It was held from 1 PM to 5 PM at the MSU Business Complex this past Saturday, April 21st.
Dr. Julie Lindquist, Director of First-Year Writing, gave the keynote speech, in which she presented an overview of the program (the number of FYW students, course options, assignment sequences, and shared learning outcomes). Lindquist also discussed how the FYW courses at Michigan State highlight both inquiry (asking questions as a key move toward learning and discovery) and rhetoric (understanding how writing, reading and research are connected to specific situations, audiences, and purposes).
The 2012 FYW conference showcased students’ presentations from the classes of Stephanie Amada, Kate Fedewa, and Steve Lessner. It also offered opportunities for presenters and attendees to participate in roundtable conversations to discuss teaching and writing.
The big party is set for Friday April 27th, from 3 – 4:30 PM in the Atrium of Agricultural Hall. At the end of every year, WRAC throws a reception to celebrate the accomplishments of Professional Writing students, and especially to celebrate the graduating seniors. All students, faculty, community partners, friends, parents,and administrators are invited. There’s great food, Sparty will be there, and there will be videos of all the incredible accomplishments of PWers this past year. Thanks to Danielle DeVoss for once again designing a gorgeous invitation, which has been sent to PW community partners and friends.