R&W PHD Students on the Job Market: Part One

This is part one of a two-part feature about the 2012 R&W PHD cohort. 

Les Loncharich

Photo by Les Loncharich, http://www.lesloncharich.com

Les Loncharich’s passion for drawing has been an incredible influence on his writing, teaching, and research as a PHD student, and he describes drawing as, “an important part of my life; it seems as though there has never been a time when I wasn’t interested in making marks on surfaces.” Loncharich’s dissertation reflects his interest in “everyday practices and the visual artifacts produced [by them].” His study is focused on understanding how social action is expressed visually and analyzing visual artifacts as tools for identity building, group formation, and problem solving. Loncharich says, “In my dissertation, I look at what people do and the things people make, and I consider the intersection of visual knowledge and semantic meaning in everyday, visual things.” As he continues to finish his dissertation, Loncharich has applied to 60 jobs so far, and that’s just the beginning. He hopes that he will find an opportunity where he can implement “the unique training I received at MSU” and apply his passion for and interest in digital humanities and visual rhetoric.

Daisy Levy

Photo by Daisy Levy

Daisy Levy describes her dissertation, This Book Called My Body: An Embodied Rhetoric as, “a methodologically diverse project, locating the literal body in Rhetoric Studies.” It synthesizes her interest and experiences with dance, movement education, and writing,. In it, she details how the body is not only important as the main element of dance and movement education but is also crucial to the “articulation of meaning.” She seeks to demonstrate through her own experiences and research that the body and its expression is a source of knowledge that is much more complex than a rhetorical “text” to be analyzed. Levy has applied to about 35 jobs so far and hopes to find a position that appreciates “the interdisciplinary nature of my work – that I’m familiar with Rhetoric Studies, Writing Pedagogy, but also Performance Studies, [and] Cultural Studies/Theory.” Even though Levy has just begun the job application process,  she describes what she’s learned so far: “the sooner and smoother you can transition how you think of yourself (as a colleague, rather than as a graduate student) the better.”

Matt Cox

Photo by Matt Cox

Matt Cox has spent his graduate school research focusing on how “rhetorical practices (such as storytelling) help us negotiate and form identity(ies),” which calls for new understandings about “identity-builiding practices in the workplace.” His research focuses mainly on LGBTQ professional identities and seeks to answer the overall question: is queer identity being professionalized or is professional identity being queered? Based on this question, Cox intends to analyze the rhetorical definitions and contexts of the term professional and how this impacts LGBTQ professionals in the workplace. This interest and experience has led Cox to apply to many academic job positions, focusing on jobs he can truly be passionate about . He says the key to a successful job search “has been about organization and chipping away a little at a time.” He concludes, “Being a successful academic isn’t really about being smart — we’re all smart or we wouldn’t be [in academia] — it’s about being the kind of colleague that can contribute [to a team of professionals].”

Conversations in Cultural Rhetorics: A Brown Bag Series

Conversations in Cultural Rhetorics
A Brown Bag Workshop Series

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 26TH
1 – 3 p.m.
MSU WRITING CENTER, 300 BESSEY HALL

Anyone interested in Cultural Rhetorics is invited!
This workshop will:
o Share ideas about cultural rhetorics theories and methodologies
o Suggest ways to collaborate on projects grounded in cultural rhetorics
o Build a network of faculty and students doing cultural rhetorics work

Featured speakers include:
o Dr. Malea Powell, Associate Professor, WRAC
o Daisy Levy, Doctoral Candidate, WRAC
o Donnie Johnson Sackey, Doctoral Candidate, WRAC
o Jennifer Sano-Franchini, Doctoral Candidate, WRAC

Want more information?
Contact: Madhu Narayan (narayanm@msu.edu) or
Andrea Riley-Mukavetz (rileyan1@msu.edu)

Conversations in Cultural Rhetorics: A Brown Bag Series

Conversations in Cultural Rhetorics
A Brown Bag Workshop Series

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 26TH
1 – 3 p.m.
MSU WRITING CENTER, 300 BESSEY HALL

Anyone interested in Cultural Rhetorics is invited!
This workshop will:
o Share ideas about cultural rhetorics theories and methodologies
o Suggest ways to collaborate on projects grounded in cultural rhetorics
o Build a network of faculty and students doing cultural rhetorics work

Featured speakers include:
o Dr. Malea Powell, Associate Professor, WRAC
o Daisy Levy, Doctoral Candidate, WRAC
o Donnie Johnson Sackey, Doctoral Candidate, WRAC
o Jennifer Sano-Franchini, Doctoral Candidate, WRAC

Want more information?
Contact: Madhu Narayan (narayanm@msu.edu) or
Andrea Riley-Mukavetz (rileyan1@msu.edu)

CCCC: Creating the Schedule

This is part 2 of a series on the College Conference on Composition and Communication. Part 1, a conversation with CCCC Program chair Dr. Malea Powell, is available on the WRAC blog.

In April 2011, the 61st annual Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC) will take place in Atlanta, Georgia. Fifty rooms will be open from April 6th to the 9th in order to let hundreds of people present their research in front of colleagues and students.  However, a gathering this large doesn’t organize itself. The organization elects a program chair to do that; for 2011, Dr. Malea Powell was elected to said position. Organizing is a daunting task to say the least, requiring months of planning, meetings, and hard work. The planning stages started in December of 2009, a year and a half before the conference will actually occur.  Daisy Levy, R&W graduate student, began assisting Dr. Powell at the end of last semester and will carry out her role until May 15th, 2011.

The most essential pieces of the CCCC are presentations by faculty in higher education, graduate students, and other members of the scholarly community. Malea issued a call for proposals which presents the context for the choice of theme and what types of work she is interested in featuring at the conference. Proposals are submitted online, as individual or as panels with up to four speakers. Proposals are then sent to reviewers across the country, with names removed for blind reviewing, then ranked by quality. Malea and Daisy do not read the papers personally, but instead go to “Stage Two Review” with NCTE convention manager Eileen Maley, who hands them a printout of the number of submissions in each category. The group then collectively decides how many papers will be accepted into each category based on a percentage to ensure fair representation. After the numbers have been decided on, they read the reviewers’ comments and select the pieces.

Once each of the pieces have been selected, it is up to Malea and Daisy to organize the entire event including who presents in what room and at which time. In order to best delegate which presentation should go in which room, they traveled to Atlanta for a site visit and stayed in the conference hotel. This helped them determine which rooms are bigger, which have hookups for LCD projectors and other technology, and how rooms are located in relation to one another.

After they scouted the venue, Eileen Maley sent a packet of materials including note cards and stickers to help with organizing the schedule. Program chairs have been organizing the conference this way since its inception. The schedule is announced to the presenters, and some email Malea with scheduling conflicts. “There’s not a lot of wiggle room for people. Requests that have something substantial behind them, I generally say yes to,” said Malea. “Otherwise, I tell them that I’m going to try as hard as I can but it’s going to be a couple of months before I know whether that can happen.”

A lot of planning and precision goes in to making this four-day conference happen. Not only have Malea and Daisy organized the conference presenters, but they are also responsible for pre-convention workshops, night-time activities, and post-convention events. The impending deadline constantly looms, but Malea and Daisy are very eager for April to arrive. “It’s just exciting. It’s kind of like Rhet-Comp Prom,” said Daisy. “Everyone gets all gussied up, flies in from all over the country, and shows off and does their little thing. It’s really exciting to feel like you’re such an integral part of putting it together.”

This is part 2 of a series on the CCCC. In March, look for a complete report of WRAC’s presence at the conference.
Visit the CCCC website

The CCCC: Malea Powell Brings Big Change as Program Chair

This is Part 1 of a series on the Conference on College Composition and Communication.

In late March or early April of each year, a large portion of the WRAC faculty members and graduate students disappear for several days for something they call the “CCCC”.  The Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC, or 4Cs) is a professional organization dedicated to the field of collegiate writing. For many, including WRAC faculty and students, the CCCC is the defining conference in their field and many go out of their way to attend every year. The conference is a venue where scholars of rhetoric and writing gather to learn about the work of their colleagues and to present their own work to the community. Each conference has a different theme, selected by the program chair, which is intended to serve as a frame for all of the presentations.

This year’s program chair for the CCCC is WRAC’s very own Dr. Malea Powell. Her responsibilities as chair include organizing the conference, acting as assistant chair of the organization, and having a seat on the executive board of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).  To help her try to manage the daunting task of organizing the conference, she enlisted Rhetoric & Writing PHD student Daisy Levy to assist her.

This year, the CCCC is being held in Atlanta, GA, from April 6th to April 9th of 2011.  The theme of the conference is “All Our Relations: Contested Space, Contested Knowledge,” which is inspired by Native American philosophy and meant to reflect an interconnectedness between relationships of humans and all living things – that all living things are important and should be treated as relatives.  This philosophy encourages an understanding of an individual’s place in the “larger web of meaning.”  For this conference, Malea asks “all our relations” to come and learn how to balance knowledge and space, which are often disputed; in addition, she hopes it will bring the organization together to encourage greater connections outside of higher education, connections constantly affecting the work being done by members on all levels.

Malea had been approached several times to run for election for program chair of the CCCC. She turned down the offer repeatedly, busy with directing the graduate program at Michigan State and with her other scholarly obligations. After being approached by the previous program chair, she finally agreed to run and was subsequently elected.  Her election provided her with opportunities to make major changes within the organization, changes based on her belief that scholars in composition and communication work within multiple spaces:

“No one works in those categories that they [the CCCC] ask us to submit to. People work at intersections. A lot of people whose work is really important to folks who are in the classroom teaching writing every day weren’t being seen at the convention because they felt like the conference wasn’t a place for them, a place for their work to be seen or heard. They felt unwelcome, so they stopped coming. My goal has been to get those people back and to also raise some excitement among new scholars, graduate students, and beginning assistant professors about the possibility of what the field could be, instead of what it has always been.”

Malea Powell

A call for proposals went out last spring designed as an attempt to address these concerns. Malea created a new category–113 Contesting Boundaries–to solicit proposals that don’t fit within traditional categories. Some disagreed with the creation of this new section because of the broad range of topics it invited into the conference. However, the call produced the highest number of submissions to one category ever in the history of the CCCC and was the second highest number of submitted proposals in the past ten years. Malea is enthusiastic about the tremendous response to this new category and hopes that the changes she has implemented will help the CCCC better meet the needs of the entire field.

Other changes made in the conference include having those she calls “emerging scholars” present as featured speakers and in featured sessions, rather than having only those famous in the world of college composition. These “emerging scholars” may be advanced graduate students, beginning assistant professors, or may not even work within a university. This allows people who have not had the chance to speak at such a major event to play prominent role in shaping the learning environment of the conference.

This year, there will be panels on current studies such as the definition of digital humanities and the impact of Arizona’s immigration laws on ethnic studies education.  The conference will also feature men and women of Cherokee descent in featured sessions and demonstrations in the exhibit area. All of these sessions and panels work to reflect the conference theme, an attempt to “connect the past and present to really push people to think about the future of the discipline, in a really different, more complicated way.”

Malea’s overall goal is for this conference to be a reconsideration of what defines college composition and communication. She hopes to inspire educators and learners to think outside the box of how writing is currently thought of and to work together, across boundaries, to inspire the best work possible.

This is Part 1 of a series on the CCCC. Part 2, a behind-the-scenes look at the planning of the conference, will be coming in early December. In March, look for a complete report of WRAC’s presence at the conference.

WRAC Goes to the NonfictioNow 2010 Conference

The biennial NonfictionNow Conference, also known as The Bedell Nonfiction Conference, was held at the University of Iowa last week. Representing WRAC was Dr. Laura Julier and Rhetoric & Writing PhD student Daisy Levy. The conference featured panels and readings which highlight the many different forms of nonfiction, from video essays, documentaries, and graphic essays to memoirs, lyric essays, and literary journalism. Dr. Julier presented two panels: on Thursday afternoon, “Read This: The Writer as Reader,” with MSU English Professor Marcia Aldrich as well as E.J. Levy, Robert Root, and Ned Stuckey-French. On Friday afternoon, “Further On and Deeper Still: The Land as Character in Narrative Nonfiction” with Will Jennings, Julene Blair, and Linda Tate. This conference is sponsored by the University of Iowa’s Nonfiction Writing Program.