New Art for the WRAC Library

Dr. Laura Julier and Dr. Nancy DeJoy discuss how to arrange the artwork. Photo by Kristel Klank

Faculty and students working, studying, or just hanging out in the WRAC library located in Bessey Hall are fortunate enough to enjoy a space that’s now home to the work of a local artist.

When first asked by Professor Nancy DeJoy if she’d be interested in creating something for the space, MSU alumna and Lansing-based artist Kate Cosgrove didn’t hesitate. “As a working artist and graduated Spartan, of course I was interested.  I’m really excited to have some of my work hanging in the school that taught me to be an artist,” Cosgrove said.

Last week, the department installed four original pieces created by Cosgrove, who describes herself as someone who will continue creating art — and messes — until the day she dies. Cosgrove’s pieces entitled The Means, The Focus, The Collaboration, and The Awareness were all inspired by the mission of the department, and by the words, ideas, and culture that help define WRAC.

Photo by Kate Cosgrove

“The results were well worth the wait,” said Kathleen Geissler, chair of WRAC. “The department has been looking to enhance the space for some time. It’s the last step in the library’s renovation, and it’s fantastic that a local artist and alumna was able to create it.”

Cosgrove was named a 2011 Individual Artist Grant Recipient by Arts Council of Greater Lansing, and has exhibited in galleries and online. She has collectors across the United States, Canada, Australia, Colombia, France, England, and Switzerland.

For more information regarding her work, visit www.katecosgrove.com or follow her on Twitter.

Bruce Ballenger Visits FYW Faculty

Bruce Ballenger, professor at Boise State University and author of the textbook The Curious Researcher, came to MSU on March 13th and 14th to speak to WRAC First-Year Writing faculty. He also spoke to librarians, instructors from the English Language Center, and Tier II Writing faculty from the College of Arts and Letters. Ballenger came to speak about inquiry-based learning, which First-Year Writing professor Nancy DeJoy describes as “the idea that you start from really good motivating questions, then you go through inquiry processes, looking not just to find answers but to learn new things.”

The Curious Researcher is currently used by a number of First-Year Writing (FYW) instructors in their classes. Several FYW students were able to attend Prof. Ballenger’s presentation at Erickson Kiva, where he signed books, took questions, and invited people to do some writing exercises. He conducted small group sessions, one of which took place in WRAC’s Hal Currie conference room in Bessey Hall.

Cheryl Caesar, a FYW instructor in WRAC, said she really enjoyed the event: “I thought it was reinvigorating at this point in the term. It gave me some new ideas for getting students interested in research papers and inquiry-based learning in general.”

Both Cheryl and the other FYW faculty attending Ballenger’s presentation and workshops came away with some great ideas for their future students. One of her favorite parts was an exercise Ballenger designed: “He had us pass a banana around the room and each person that held the banana had to come up with a question about that banana. About 70 people participated. It started with really basic questions like ‘I wonder how many people touched this banana before I did?’ and then it morphed into questions such as ‘I wonder how many people have touched this banana from when it was harvested to when I bought it in a grocery store?’ I definitely want to try a similar exercise with my students.”

“Bruce is a really fun guy,” Nancy said. “People laughed and shared different stories and ways to talk about his book with students. I was very pleased with how the events turned out.”

FYW Program Customizes Handbook and Reader

 

Recently, Michigan State’s First-Year Writing Program (FYW) has embarked on the task of designing a custom handbook and reader for the 6,000+ students who complete this requirement every year. Nancy DeJoy, in collaboration with her peers Deb Carmichael, Joyce Meier, and Christie Daniels, chose the Little Brown Handbook by Longman/Pearson as the basis for their customized MSU handbook. They chose this one for a variety of reasons: it emphasizes culture and language issues throughout, which is an important quality when considering the FYW audience. The number of international students at MSU has been increasing each year, providing interesting opportunities for teaching about the transition to writing for academic purposes within a global context.

DeJoy noted that MSU’s FYW program is considered innovative in its approach, emphasizing inquiry, creative thinking, and decision-making: “We start by asking questions, rich open-ended questions. We aren’t searching for ‘right’ answers, but exploring the process of discovery by asking good questions and generating responses via reflection and research. . . . We start with the assumption that incoming students can participate and contribute.”

So although the Little Brown Handbook fit the program well, there was room for improvement. For instance, the handbook is now designed to complement The Curious Researcher by Bruce Ballenger, a text used in all Tier I Writing courses. In collaboration with librarian consultants Ben Oberdick and Sarah Miller, DeJoy and her team have added a guide to MSU’s library and its resources. Another useful addition to the handbook is the “Resources for Teachers” section, which contains information about how the program exists in relationship to the MSU mission statement and gives background for the order and purpose of the course assignments.

New additions have also been made to Reading and Writing Literacies, the reader that DeJoy and another team designed for the teachers and students of First-Year Writing at MSU. All instructors in the FYW Program were invited to suggest readings that they would like to see included in the new reader. Graduate students Bonnie Williams and Steven Lessner, R&W alum Dr. Collin Craig, and undergraduate Anna Kalkman helped select readings. These additions will have proven a worthy investment in the long term. Now that the content is hand-picked by faculty and students, the reader can be edited more easily to reflect the needs and interests of the teachers and students. New readings can be added each year via an e-portal that is accessed on the web, decreasing the cost of book manufacturing. And the best part is MSU will not be raising the prices of its handbook and reader for student purchase.

Throughout the customization process, the FYW Program has made an effort to involve the entire department. Prof. DeJoy even proposed that the publishers fund a contest for design elements in the custom books. A recent graduate of the Professional Writing Program, Ben Rubinstein, won the rights to the job. Ben noted that in his Professional Writing courses, the importance of audience was emphasized heavily, and he claims that he won because instead of showing off all his Photoshop skills, he kept a simple, academic look. Another valuable lesson was how to deal with the dilemma of the middleman, which designers often are: “You might hear that every project is going to take you twice as long as you think. That’s a lie. Every project is going to take you three times as long as you think. And that’s only a slight exaggeration.” DeJoy hopes this will be the first of many collaborations between and among FYW instructors and PW students.

Summer Seminar in Rhetoric & Composition 2011

The Summer Seminar in Rhetoric & Composition will be held at MSU the week of June 5-10, 2011. The SSRC focuses on contemporary movements in composition pedagogies and practices in ways that allow participants to apply these ideas at their home institutions, according to SSRC director, Nancy DeJoy. To this end, the program includes both formal presentations and workshop sessions facilitated by prominent scholars who represent a variety of approaches and issues.

Purdue University’s Patricia Sullivan will offer the keynote address on Sunday June 5, at 7 PM in Snyder-Phillips RCAH Auditorium. The talk is free and open to the public. Participants may register for a single workshop or the entire week, and this year, graduate credit for Composition Pedagogies is available. More information can be found here.

Faculty and Students Present at the 2010 Watson Conference

This weekend, many WRAC faculty and graduate students will be attending and presenting at the Thomas R. Watson Conference held at the University of Louisville.  This year’s conference is titled “Working English,” aiming to explore the many meanings of the terms “work” and “English” as they appear in American rhetoric and composition.  The questions the conference plans on addressing include: “How might we work English (that is, employ, construct, and redesign it) in the process of learning and using it?  How might rhetoric and composition disrupt binaries such as language/parole, global/local, native/foreign, standard/dialect, spoken/written, official/vernacular, private/public, and functional/critical literacy?”

WRAC faculty and students will be presenting many panels and individual sessions over the course of the weekend:

Individual Sessions

  • Elizabeth Keller, How to Establish Student Ownership Within the Composition Classroom
  • Marilee Brooks-Gillies, Creative Contexts of Learning & Writing: Developing Student Agency
  • Ann Lawrence, Knowledge Work, Affect Work: Teachers’ Becoming Education Researchers
  • Douglas Walls, Work Space in NonWork Places: Intersections of Cultural Rhetoric and Professional Writing

Panels

  • Bump Halbritter and Julie Lindquist, Learning How to Know Them: Videotape and the Patient Work of Literacy Research
  • Collin Craig, Nancy DeJoy, and Steven Lessner, Workin’ It: Breaking Down Literacy Boundaries

Faculty and Students Present at the 2010 Watson Conference

This weekend, many WRAC faculty and graduate students will be attending and presenting at the Thomas R. Watson Conference held at the University of Louisville.  This year’s conference is titled “Working English,” aiming to explore the many meanings of the terms “work” and “English” as they appear in American rhetoric and composition.  The questions the conference plans on addressing include: “How might we work English (that is, employ, construct, and redesign it) in the process of learning and using it?  How might rhetoric and composition disrupt binaries such as language/parole, global/local, native/foreign, standard/dialect, spoken/written, official/vernacular, private/public, and functional/critical literacy?”

WRAC faculty and students will be presenting many panels and individual sessions over the course of the weekend:

Individual Sessions

  • Elizabeth Keller, How to Establish Student Ownership Within the Composition Classroom
  • Marilee Brooks-Gillies, Creative Contexts of Learning & Writing: Developing Student Agency
  • Ann Lawrence, Knowledge Work, Affect Work: Teachers’ Becoming Education Researchers
  • Douglas Walls, Work Space in NonWork Places: Intersections of Cultural Rhetoric and Professional Writing

Panels

  • Bump Halbritter and Julie Lindquist, Learning How to Know Them: Videotape and the Patient Work of Literacy Research
  • Collin Craig, Nancy DeJoy, and Steven Lessner, Workin’ It: Breaking Down Literacy Boundaries