T-Rex is a favorite of mine, specifically, this T-Rex (in my opinion, the T-Rex). Because I love this T-Rex, I do, in fact, own one of these. Why am I telling you this? Well, I like to keep this little T-Rex dry erase board in my office, and students love to laugh at it–and sometimes I even let them write the comic. I like to change the comic up every once in a while, and it always relates to my teaching and/or research (both, when I’m feeling like an especially talented writer). What’s the comic that’s on the board right now, you ask? Right now, it’s a comic about the End of Days. Well, it isn’t the End of Days. As Utahraptor points out, it’s actually the beginning of days!
That’s right: it’s the start of the semester. This week, all the first years move in. Thursday is the pre-College Conference, complete with banquets and more meet-and-greets, followed by the Convocation on Sunday. Then, Tuesday, classes begin! Well, my courses won’t begin til Wednesday, which is ok by me.
I’m almost ready to start. Three courses: 1 section of FYC; 2 sections of Workplace Writing.
I’ve been reading, as part of the Initium Program here at Hope College, On Course by Lang. Over all, it’s a great text if you’ve never taught or had any training in teaching college. For others who have been teaching college for 6+ years; however, it’s a little redundant. What I do find refreshing about the book is that Lang includes multiple activities that any teacher would find refreshing. I’m planning on testing one or two of them myself this semester.
I have two other books that I’ll be reading this semester in order to become a better faculty member here, and more importantly, a stronger teacher. The other two books are Susan VanZanten’s Joining the Mission and Emmanuel Katongole & Chris Rice’s Reconciling All Things. The first is a book about entering into the small liberal arts college. The second is the center piece of this year’s Symposium on Critical Issues. The main topic is reconciliation.
I’m very interested to see how the Symposium plays out. The first year students all have to read the book as part of the first year experience program here, and everyone in the school is encouraged to read the book. Free copies are given out, even! All of the faculty are expected to be a part of the Symposium and participation–encouraging their students to do the same.
I’ll post about these books as I get through. I’m not doing as much reading this semester as I’d like to be, but I will be working on some new (and old) projects. I’ll try to keep you posted.
Well, the day is almost upon me. Tomorrow it is. May, 2012. The day my last 10 years of education pays off, or the day it ends quite badly. Everyone keeps telling me, “Remember, it’s only a conversation.” The people who don’t tell me this ask, “You’re parents and Brendan will be there, right?”
What a shame. My responses to both of these so-called reassuring statements/questions is negative. I am terrified. I love my committee, and I know that I am the expert of this project. It doesn’t make it less intimidating or more of a “conversation” when you know what each of your committee members’ “thinking faces” looks like. Additionally, the question that is meant to remind me that people I love will be in the audience is not helpful. My parents will not come. They don’t care that much, after all. What is this but the last hoop in a long, unending series of educational hoops that impedes me from currently having a “real job.” As for Brendan, well, he has a fellowship that I am very proud of. Unfortunately, this coveted fellowship does not allow for a Monday off–he is required by contract to be on campus all 5 work days for about 6 hours a day.
To prepare and reassure myself, I’ve gone through my powerpoint several times. I am re-reading some of the things I’ve written, particularly in the introduction and the conclusion. Refreshing my remembrance of semiotics and historiography. Looking at my “intentionality” and my ideas of “historical inquiry.”
I sit and wonder just how flushed I will get as I respond to questions, just how shaky my hands will be. I will remember to wear my hair up. I will remember not to bring out a “clicky” pen or pencil of any kind. I will wear the broach Megan gave me for Christmas so at least I will have someone who really does feel like family there with me. After all, she’s the one who helped me start this journey years ago. What would I do without my roommate? She’s the second sister I never had.
Any my real sister? Sometime this week she’s having a baby. She won’t be coming to defense or graduation.
I know that no matter what happens, I will survive this. It will not kill me. It might embarrass me, but it will not kill me. And then? Then I can get back to telling you about all of the really cool (and not-so-cool) things I’ve been (and will be) reading.
Wish me luck!
My reading and writing has been a little sparse lately–well, my writing here has been, anyway. I’ve been reading quite a few things as I work on revising my dissertation. The preliminary defense will be soon–the week of the 23rd. So, in the mean time, I’ve been reading a little more here and there, and I’ve come across quite a few things I wish I had read early in the fall 2011 semester. I’ve read some work by Crowley, Vitanza, Piche, and Pennycook, for example, that I find quite intriguing, as well as some things by Kruse, Mike Rose, and more pieces by Laura Wilder. I kind of want to email Prof. Wilder and ask if she’d be interested in collaborating. And there’s a project with CompPile that I’d like to become a part of–professional service in my future, perhaps. We shall see.
For now, back to dissertating. Perhaps soon I’ll be able to update you on the exciting texts I’ve been reading this semester.
How very odd that I should be looking up definitions of non-English, commonly used phrases (vis-a-vis, tete-tete, i.e., e.g., etc….) in order to be most effective in a chapter about definitions.
I’m highly amused, actually. It struck me as I was reading Dictionary.com that these definitions are the definitional facts of essence Schiappa (2003) describes, because they certainly are not facts of usage…
I have come upon Daly Goggin’s (2009) Authoring a Discipline: Scholarly Journals and the Post-World War II Emergence of Rhetoric and Composition. Somehow, this slipped by my notice while collecting sources on disciplinarity for my exams list. Unfortunately, my advisers forgot to mention it as well, which is why I’m reading it now!
I’m also thankful that my loving parents gave me a Kindle Fire for Christmas–it is a wonderful, wonderful machine. Even better is the fact that Daly Goggin’s book is a little less expensive for the Kindle than it is for my physical (non-new media) bookshelf.
Well, I’m currently reading it: honestly enjoying the experience so much that I’m not simply skimming for relevant information. Daly Goggin has quite a way with words. Her literature reviews, for example, are impressive. Concise, poignant, insightful, exciting. I found myself telling Brendan, “She’s writing about everything I’m writing about! Her prose is so beautiful. I hope when I’ve had as many years of experience as she has, my literature reviews will be as beautiful.” He reminded me that she has an editor and a publisher; I have my own revisions and an adviser on sabbatical.
The piece is interesting and useful, but I haven’t yet gotten to anything new. I did look ahead to a section on the history of the discipline as seen through the lens of editors. Daly Goggin analyzes the editors of the journals she reviews–CCC, WC, RTE, RR, RSQ–to see what types of programs they came from, what their dissertations were written on, and what areas of the country they are from. All of this is interesting to me, except that I’m also a bit irritated by her methods. Mostly because I’ve been so immersed in trying to understand methodology (on a conceptual, theoretical level) lately. For example, she briefly discusses her methodology and methods, claiming to have reviewed her data for salient patterns.
At this point in my dissertation and my career, I’m frustrated and pained by this sort of pin drop. Yes, this is an expected method to utilize; yes, this is the type of methods discussion the discipline often uses. However, it is enough to send me over the edge.
What does it mean?
I’m thinking of Peter Smagorinsky (2008), who says:
“I have only the vaguest sense of what the author is doing with the data in order to render it into results. If I don’t know pretty clearly how the researcher is conducting the study, then it doesn’t matter much to me what the results are because I have no idea of how they were produced” (p. 393).
These are the same sorts of thoughts I have every time I pick up an article or a book. I certainly would like to stop seeing vague descriptions of studies I could never possibly replicate even though I’d be quite interested to replicate them. I’m especially prone to perturbance because various editors have instructed me to be more specific about my methods for replicability’s sake. Yet, I see this is not across the board, but dependent on a great many things.
Although I think her initial discussion of her methods is flawed, Daly Goggin still has interesting information to present. She also has what I would call a compelling argument. She argues for journals as being a major force in the creation and development of rhetoric and composition as an academic discipline. This is definitely an argument I can and will draw on, and one with which I and numerous sociology of science experts agree.
Well, the new year has started, and so has my next round of work. Yes, I’m plugging away at all of the things I should be plugging away at. I’m having a great time writing and thinking. Doing a little bit of new reading here and there, adding some things here and there, nearing final revisions here and there.
Lots of here and there right now. And we’re gearing up for CCCC! Today, Dee and I were working on it, re-reading some old favorites and finding some new things. Our research involves relating tutor speak and netspeak, so we’re looking specifically at definitions and theories like those presented by David Crystal. We’re having fun working on it, and are looking forward to presenting in March. All of the writing center work I’ve been doing this semester has been very refreshing. I’m really getting to integrate all of my research interests in projects like this, which is so rare for scholars with a wide spectrum of interests (new media, history of rhetoric, writing center studies, science fiction, rhetorical theory, etc).
Anyway, that’s just a brief update. I’ll have more as the semester progresses.