Archive by Author

Southwest Popular/American Culture Association Conference Roundup

I’m returning from the Southwest Popular/American Culture Association (SWPACA) conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico. It’s my first time to this conference, the first time to New Mexico, and the first time to present a paper since my master’s degree days. I’m pleased to report that my paper presentation went well, although I think I excelled more as a panel chair than as a paper presenter. Never mind. I’m fortunate to have skill sets for both.

My paper, Boundary Crossings: (T)here Lies the Trickster, proposed the mythological trickster construct as a contemporary boundary object, synthesizing the boundary object definitions of Star and Griesemer (1989), Popham (2005), and Wilson & Herndl (2007). I used a class I proposed and taught called “Tracking Contemporary Trickster” as a case study demonstrating the benefit that using a trickster lens as boundary object has on the way students see the world.

In a sense this was a remarkably interdisciplinary paper. Although I presented it in one of the Myth and Fairy Tales panels, my topic connected to mythology only in that it used the trickster, a character that appears in many mythologies, as my object of study. My critical approach was application of professional and technical composition theory (the boundary object), while my case study involved pedagogy.

My experience suggests that this interdisciplinarity is the conference’s strength. The conference ethos is deeply accepting and encouraging, and represents, with few exceptions, an invitational rather than persuasive rhetoric. Presentations were not about presenting claims and theories as fact, but were instead aimed at capturing ideas and sharing them with others for consideration and feedback. Post-presentation comments were not about tearing down or critiquing arguments, but about praising areas of strength and offering suggestions for continued, further, or parallel research work. Interdisciplinarity appeared to be encouraged and appreciated, with a range of critical approaches and methods accepted and valued. More importantly, individual presenters were valued, an ethos handed down in large part, as I observed by the panel chairs.

That said, I didn’t actually find my research niche during the conference. I guess I wasn’t really looking for a niche, but I found several of my ODU colleagues gravitating toward areas of study and consecutive panels in the same areas. Game studies was a very popular strand throughout the conference, and the networking and collegiality of the group was obvious and warm, even inviting to non-games people who were willing to listen and observe. As I seek to further refine my research agenda, particularly in the realm of the intersection of technology and rhetoric, I found the games studies researchers and scholars the most akin to my imagined future work. Digital games are spaces where technology and rhetoric intersect deeply and successfully, as are, perhaps to a lesser extent, classrooms. The parallels between classroom and game are striking and intriguing; there’s potentially a case to be made (one that I think Megan McKittrick is working toward) that the classroom itself is game space, or can be conceived of as game space.

A brief chat with Marc Ouellette about indexical signs and algorithmic rhetoric was intriguing. Ouellette shared that he is interested in questions surrounding the practice, current and future, of indexical signs subsuming the human sign — of identity becoming indexed as data points rather than human or lived. We talked very briefly about the use of so-called small data in medical practices for diagnostic and health maintenance purposes, along with the use of health product purchasing data by pharmaceutical companies to target advertising toward those who are depressed or under stress, based on their buying habits. He was quite open to the idea of algorithmic rhetoric. And he offered two pieces of advice: talk to the librarians and follow the content. Librarians use algorithms regularly and are well aware of the impact that algorithms have in providing search results. The content I think is about what people are seeking for, although I’m not entirely sure what that means or how it relates. It likely has to do with the materials that pass through our bandwidth, characterizing and beginning to develop algorithmic modeling that can start predicting search results. Maybe. I’ll need to think and read around this topic.

I also met briefly Stephanie Vie and Dawn Armfield, both rhetoric or composition/rhetoric or digital rhetoric and communications scholars that I follow on either Facebook or Twitter. It’s delightful to connect faces to Twitter handles.

I’m already asking myself if I intend to return next year, and I can’t yet answer that. I find the ethos useful and supportive, inviting, even — but I’m not sure that’s going to be enough. I think it will depend on what I believe I can propose in terms of algorithmic rhetoric or technical literacy at the conference, and whether I can find the right group of people with whom to network. Right now games studies, somewhat to my surprise, feels relatively comfortable, even though I myself neither play the games nor think about or theorize their development. But given the way game studies theory addresses agency and rhetorical choices, along with the digital component and the advanced use of technology to code and play games, the intersection of rhetoric and technology appears, at the moment, to include games studies. Perhaps games studies is a boundary object that will enable me to pull together disparate disciplines in a pedagogically sound way that focuses on the technical writing, rhetorical agency, and user-designed interface.

A final note, about being a panel chair. The Myth and Fairy Tales area chair was originally the panel chair for each of the three Myth and Fairy Tale sessions. However, she fell ill and asked each panel if one member would take on the role of chair for the session. I agreed to do so, which explains how I found myself both chairing and presenting in the same panel. I appreciated the opportunity to chair; as a result, I intend to volunteer to chair additional panels in the future, as appropriate and capable, both as valuable experience and as an opportunity to include the experience on my CV.

Southwest Popular/American Culture Association Conference Roundup

I’m returning from the Southwest Popular/American Culture Association (SWPACA) conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico. It’s my first time to this conference, the first time to New Mexico, and the first time to present a paper since my master’s degree days. I’m pleased to report that my paper presentation went well, although I think I excelled more as a panel chair than as a paper presenter. Never mind. I’m fortunate to have skill sets for both.

My paper, Boundary Crossings: (T)here Lies the Trickster, proposed the mythological trickster construct as a contemporary boundary object, synthesizing the boundary object definitions of Star and Griesemer (1989), Popham (2005), and Wilson & Herndl (2007). I used a class I proposed and taught called “Tracking Contemporary Trickster” as a case study demonstrating the benefit that using a trickster lens as boundary object has on the way students see the world.

In a sense this was a remarkably interdisciplinary paper. Although I presented it in one of the Myth and Fairy Tales panels, my topic connected to mythology only in that it used the trickster, a character that appears in many mythologies, as my object of study. My critical approach was application of professional and technical composition theory (the boundary object), while my case study involved pedagogy.

My experience suggests that this interdisciplinarity is the conference’s strength. The conference ethos is deeply accepting and encouraging, and represents, with few exceptions, an invitational rather than persuasive rhetoric. Presentations were not about presenting claims and theories as fact, but were instead aimed at capturing ideas and sharing them with others for consideration and feedback. Post-presentation comments were not about tearing down or critiquing arguments, but about praising areas of strength and offering suggestions for continued, further, or parallel research work. Interdisciplinarity appeared to be encouraged and appreciated, with a range of critical approaches and methods accepted and valued. More importantly, individual presenters were valued, an ethos handed down in large part, as I observed, by the panel chairs.

That said, I didn’t actually find my research niche during the conference. I guess I wasn’t really looking for a niche, but I found several of my ODU colleagues gravitating toward areas of study and consecutive panels in the same areas. Game studies was a very popular strand throughout the conference, and the networking and collegiality of the group was obvious and warm, even inviting to non-games people who were willing to listen and observe. As I seek to further refine my research agenda, particularly in the realm of the intersection of technology and rhetoric, I found the games studies researchers and scholars the most akin to my imagined future work. Digital games are spaces where technology and rhetoric intersect deeply and successfully, as are, perhaps to a lesser extent, classrooms. The parallels between classroom and game are striking and intriguing; there’s a strong case to be made (by Maury Brown or Megan McKittrick and other ODU games scholars, I think) that the classroom itself is game space, or can be conceived of as game space.

A brief chat with Marc Ouellette about indexical signs and algorithmic rhetoric was intriguing. Ouellette shared that he is interested in questions surrounding the practice, current and future, of indexical signs subsuming the human sign — of identity becoming indexed as data points rather than human or lived. We talked very briefly about the use of so-called small data in medical practices for diagnostic and health maintenance purposes, along with the use of health product purchasing data by pharmaceutical companies to target advertising toward those who are depressed or under stress, based on their buying habits. He was quite open to the idea of algorithmic rhetoric. And he offered two pieces of advice: talk to the librarians and follow the content. Librarians use algorithms regularly and are well aware of the impact that algorithms have in providing search results. The content I think is about what people are seeking for, although I’m not entirely sure what that means or how it relates. It likely has to do with the materials that pass through our bandwidth, characterizing and beginning to develop algorithmic modeling that can start predicting search results. Maybe. I’ll need to think and read around this topic.

I also met briefly Stephanie Vie and Dawn Armfield, both rhetoric or composition/rhetoric or digital rhetoric and communications scholars that I follow on either Facebook or Twitter. It’s delightful to connect faces to Twitter handles.

I’m already asking myself if I intend to return next year, and I can’t yet answer that. I find the ethos useful and supportive, inviting, even — but I’m not sure that’s going to be enough. I think it will depend on what I believe I can propose in terms of algorithmic rhetoric or technical literacy at the conference, and whether I can find the right group of people with whom to network. Right now games studies, somewhat to my surprise, feels relatively comfortable, even though I myself neither play the games nor think about or theorize their development. But given the way game studies theory addresses agency and rhetorical choices, along with the digital component and the advanced use of technology to code and play games, the intersection of rhetoric and technology appears, at the moment, to include games studies. Perhaps games studies is a boundary object that will enable me to pull together disparate disciplines in a pedagogically sound way that focuses on the technical writing, rhetorical agency, and user-designed interface.

A final note, about being a panel chair. The Myth and Fairy Tales area chair was originally the panel chair for each of the three Myth and Fairy Tale sessions. However, she fell ill and asked each panel if one member would take on the role of chair for the session. I agreed to do so, which explains how I found myself both chairing and presenting in the same panel. I appreciated the opportunity to chair; as a result, I intend to volunteer to chair additional panels in the future, as appropriate and capable, both as valuable experience and as an opportunity to include the experience on my CV.

Southwest Popular/American Culture Association Conference Roundup

I’m returning from the Southwest Popular/American Culture Association (SWPACA) conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico. It’s my first time to this conference, the first time to New Mexico, and the first time to present a paper since my master’s degree days. I’m pleased to report that my paper presentation went well, although I think I excelled more as a panel chair than as a paper presenter. Never mind. I’m fortunate to have skill sets for both.

My paper, Boundary Crossings: (T)here Lies the Trickster, proposed the mythological trickster construct as a contemporary boundary object, synthesizing the boundary object definitions of Star and Griesemer (1989), Popham (2005), and Wilson & Herndl (2007). I used a class I proposed and taught called “Tracking Contemporary Trickster” as a case study demonstrating the benefit that using a trickster lens as boundary object has on the way students see the world.

In a sense this was a remarkably interdisciplinary paper. Although I presented it in one of the Myth and Fairy Tales panels, my topic connected to mythology only in that it used the trickster, a character that appears in many mythologies, as my object of study. My critical approach was application of professional and technical composition theory (the boundary object), while my case study involved pedagogy.

My experience suggests that this interdisciplinarity is the conference’s strength. The conference ethos is deeply accepting and encouraging, and represents, with few exceptions, an invitational rather than persuasive rhetoric. Presentations were not about presenting claims and theories as fact, but were instead aimed at capturing ideas and sharing them with others for consideration and feedback. Post-presentation comments were not about tearing down or critiquing arguments, but about praising areas of strength and offering suggestions for continued, further, or parallel research work. Interdisciplinarity appeared to be encouraged and appreciated, with a range of critical approaches and methods accepted and valued. More importantly, individual presenters were valued, an ethos handed down in large part, as I observed, by the panel chairs.

That said, I didn’t actually find my research niche during the conference. I guess I wasn’t really looking for a niche, but I found several of my ODU colleagues gravitating toward areas of study and consecutive panels in the same areas. Game studies was a very popular strand throughout the conference, and the networking and collegiality of the group was obvious and warm, even inviting to non-games people who were willing to listen and observe. As I seek to further refine my research agenda, particularly in the realm of the intersection of technology and rhetoric, I found the games studies researchers and scholars the most akin to my imagined future work. Digital games are spaces where technology and rhetoric intersect deeply and successfully, as are, perhaps to a lesser extent, classrooms. The parallels between classroom and game are striking and intriguing; there’s a strong case to be made (by Maury Brown or Megan McKittrick and other ODU games scholars, I think) that the classroom itself is game space, or can be conceived of as game space.

A brief chat with Marc Ouellette about indexical signs and algorithmic rhetoric was intriguing. Ouellette shared that he is interested in questions surrounding the practice, current and future, of indexical signs subsuming the human sign — of identity becoming indexed as data points rather than human or lived. We talked very briefly about the use of so-called small data in medical practices for diagnostic and health maintenance purposes, along with the use of health product purchasing data by pharmaceutical companies to target advertising toward those who are depressed or under stress, based on their buying habits. He was quite open to the idea of algorithmic rhetoric. And he offered two pieces of advice: talk to the librarians and follow the content. Librarians use algorithms regularly and are well aware of the impact that algorithms have in providing search results. The content I think is about what people are seeking for, although I’m not entirely sure what that means or how it relates. It likely has to do with the materials that pass through our bandwidth, characterizing and beginning to develop algorithmic modeling that can start predicting search results. Maybe. I’ll need to think and read around this topic.

I also met briefly Stephanie Vie and Dawn Armfield, both rhetoric or composition/rhetoric or digital rhetoric and communications scholars that I follow on either Facebook or Twitter. It’s delightful to connect faces to Twitter handles.

I’m already asking myself if I intend to return next year, and I can’t yet answer that. I find the ethos useful and supportive, inviting, even — but I’m not sure that’s going to be enough. I think it will depend on what I believe I can propose in terms of algorithmic rhetoric or technical literacy at the conference, and whether I can find the right group of people with whom to network. Right now games studies, somewhat to my surprise, feels relatively comfortable, even though I myself neither play the games nor think about or theorize their development. But given the way game studies theory addresses agency and rhetorical choices, along with the digital component and the advanced use of technology to code and play games, the intersection of rhetoric and technology appears, at the moment, to include games studies. Perhaps games studies is a boundary object that will enable me to pull together disparate disciplines in a pedagogically sound way that focuses on the technical writing, rhetorical agency, and user-designed interface.

A final note, about being a panel chair. The Myth and Fairy Tales area chair was originally the panel chair for each of the three Myth and Fairy Tale sessions. However, she fell ill and asked each panel if one member would take on the role of chair for the session. I agreed to do so, which explains how I found myself both chairing and presenting in the same panel. I appreciated the opportunity to chair; as a result, I intend to volunteer to chair additional panels in the future, as appropriate and capable, both as valuable experience and as an opportunity to include the experience on my CV.

#MakeItHappy and Algorithmic Rhetoric

Check out this Gawker article on its attempts to reveal the insipidity of the nifty algorithm Coca Cola developed as part of its #MakeItHappy Twitter campaign. Several aspects of the story interest me, which I plan to address in upcoming posts. For now, consider this irony: Coke’s algorithm got called out by Gawker’s algorithm.

#MakeItHappy and Algorithmic Rhetoric

Check out this Gawker article on its attempts to reveal the insipidity of the nifty algorithm Coca Cola developed as part of its #MakeItHappy Twitter campaign. Several aspects of the story interest me, which I plan to address in upcoming posts. For now, consider this irony: Coke’s algorithm got called out by Gawker’s algorithm.

MediaCommons Survey Response: ‘How has reblogging and reblogging culture on sites like Tumblr and Twitter complicated the notion of authorship?’

I proposed to respond, and was invited this week to post a response, to the MediaCommons frontpage survey question and video interview with Max Marshall: How has reblogging and reblogging culture on sites like Tumblr and Twitter complicated the notion of authorship?

Here’s the interview with Max Marshall that, along with the survey question, prompted my response.

My response, “Laminated Identity: Author(iz)ed Sharing on Facebook” and the conversation that follows, is posted on MediaCommons.

MediaCommons Survey Response: ‘How has reblogging and reblogging culture on sites like Tumblr and Twitter complicated the notion of authorship?’

I proposed to respond, and was invited this week to post a response, to the MediaCommons frontpage survey question and video interview with Max Marshall: How has reblogging and reblogging culture on sites like Tumblr and Twitter complicated the notion of authorship?

Here’s the interview with Max Marshall that, along with the survey question, prompted my response.

My response, “Laminated Identity: Author(iz)ed Sharing on Facebook” and the conversation that follows, is posted on MediaCommons.

Outlining a CV in Composition & Rhetoric

Composition and rhetoric is a little bit of an intimidating field to write one’s CV into, because we study and have expertise on the rhetoricity of things. Applying those same guidelines and standards to my own work can be intimidating. Nevertheless, here’s a beginning outline.

  1. Personal Information
    1. Include meaningful contact information: where I live is useful, but email and mobile phone are probably most meaningful.
    2. Include social media links (but be sure those included and those not included are up to snuff and entirely presentable). The identity we allow others to see who are not our friends is as important to readers of the CV as the identity we create for those who follow or like our social media presences.
    3. Include professional-oriented social media like LinkedIn and Academia.edu. One’s openness and willingness to be identified on social media is part of the rhetorical identity portrayed through the CV.
  2. Education
    1. In reverse chronological order, most current/recent first.
    2. Don’t bother with GPA at this point (I’m 22 years into my professional career). What matters is that I earned degrees from accredited colleges.
    3. Be sure to include thesis and dissertation title, but not abstract.
  3. Publications: Group these in several categories, depending on what’s applicable. I’ll probably go with something like this:
    1. Peer Reviewed
      1. Published
      2. Accepted and Forthcoming
      3. Proposed
    2. Online
      1. Solicited or Responses to Calls
      2. Unsolicited
      3. Guest Posts
    3. Popular
  4. Presentations
    1. Conference
    2. Invited
    3. Informal (not sure what this is going to mean…)
  5. Teaching Experience
    1. Higher Education: Term-by-term summary statement of each class outcome and professional development undertaken as a result, if applicable. [Note: here’s where I wonder if it’s useful to specify anything about student evaluations, because mine are regularly quite strong.]
    2. Secondary: Quick listing of classes
    3. Noncredit or Others: Include guest lectures, church teaching experiences, other non-traditional instructional opportunities. <– This is probably a way to demonstrate a career-long dedication to pedagogy, perhaps a differentiator when applying to a school with strong instructional requirements.
  6. Service: I think I’ll present this as pedagogical and community. As a composition teacher, my work is often in service to all other disciplines; as a professional and as a person, I give back to my professional, personal, and religious communities and want it known that I do so.
    1. Pedagogical (Just a mention that I teach composition)
    2. Professional
    3. Personal
  7. Grants: I have little to show here, but I don’t see much benefit of grouping these with granularity.
  8. Professional: This is an area unique to my experience: I have LOADS of professional experience in higher education and nonprofits that is not “academic” or “scholarly.” As a result, I want to be able to highlight my work history in several categories.
    1. Web Development
    2. IT Management
    3. Educational Leadership
  9. Professional Development
    1. Webinars
    2. Conferences
    3. Classes
  10. Honors and Awards
    1. Offices held/Appointments received
    2. Awards and honors received (I think I’ll go back to undergraduate, but probably don’t need to. Only if appropriate to Comp/Rhet experience.)
    3. Other ways of being honored (honorary degrees, employee of the month, etc.)
  11. Interests: A way to reach beyond the scholarly and point to areas of intersection between personal, professional, community, and service. In my case, my interests are in technologies, especially new technologies.
  12. References

Outlines: CC-licensed Flickr image courtesy mkorsakov

Outlining a CV in Composition & Rhetoric

Composition and rhetoric is a little bit of an intimidating field to write one’s CV into, because we study and have expertise on the rhetoricity of things. Applying those same guidelines and standards to my own work can be intimidating. Nevertheless, here’s a beginning outline.

  1. Personal Information
    1. Include meaningful contact information: where I live is useful, but email and mobile phone are probably most meaningful.
    2. Include social media links (but be sure those included and those not included are up to snuff and entirely presentable). The identity we allow others to see who are not our friends is as important to readers of the CV as the identity we create for those who follow or like our social media presences.
    3. Include professional-oriented social media like LinkedIn and Academia.edu. One’s openness and willingness to be identified on social media is part of the rhetorical identity portrayed through the CV.
  2. Education
    1. In reverse chronological order, most current/recent first.
    2. Don’t bother with GPA at this point (I’m 22 years into my professional career). What matters is that I earned degrees from accredited colleges.
    3. Be sure to include thesis and dissertation title, but not abstract.
  3. Publications: Group these in several categories, depending on what’s applicable. I’ll probably go with something like this:
    1. Peer Reviewed
      1. Published
      2. Accepted and Forthcoming
      3. Proposed
    2. Online
      1. Solicited or Responses to Calls
      2. Unsolicited
      3. Guest Posts
    3. Popular
  4. Presentations
    1. Conference
    2. Invited
    3. Informal (not sure what this is going to mean…)
  5. Teaching Experience
    1. Higher Education: Term-by-term summary statement of each class outcome and professional development undertaken as a result, if applicable. [Note: here’s where I wonder if it’s useful to specify anything about student evaluations, because mine are regularly quite strong.]
    2. Secondary: Quick listing of classes
    3. Noncredit or Others: Include guest lectures, church teaching experiences, other non-traditional instructional opportunities. <– This is probably a way to demonstrate a career-long dedication to pedagogy, perhaps a differentiator when applying to a school with strong instructional requirements.
  6. Service: I think I’ll present this as pedagogical and community. As a composition teacher, my work is often in service to all other disciplines; as a professional and as a person, I give back to my professional, personal, and religious communities and want it known that I do so.
    1. Pedagogical (Just a mention that I teach composition)
    2. Professional
    3. Personal
  7. Grants: I have little to show here, but I don’t see much benefit of grouping these with granularity.
  8. Professional: This is an area unique to my experience: I have LOADS of professional experience in higher education and nonprofits that is not “academic” or “scholarly.” As a result, I want to be able to highlight my work history in several categories.
    1. Web Development
    2. IT Management
    3. Educational Leadership
  9. Professional Development
    1. Webinars
    2. Conferences
    3. Classes
  10. Honors and Awards
    1. Offices held/Appointments received
    2. Awards and honors received (I think I’ll go back to undergraduate, but probably don’t need to. Only if appropriate to Comp/Rhet experience.)
    3. Other ways of being honored (honorary degrees, employee of the month, etc.)
  11. Interests: A way to reach beyond the scholarly and point to areas of intersection between personal, professional, community, and service. In my case, my interests are in technologies, especially new technologies.
  12. References

Outlines: CC-licensed Flickr image courtesy mkorsakov

Learning about CVs

As I sought CVs, I started seeking those for luminaries who I respect a great deal, like Paul Prior and Charles Bazerman. But I quickly discovered that luminaries like these teach at similar kinds of schools, and the requirement to include three Carnegie classifications among the four CVs required that I find more than luminaries. As a result, Academia.edu became my friend. Turns out, if you’re not considered a luminary, your CV won’t appear top of list in Google search or even in a search on an institutional webpage. So I ended up finding Anthony Lee, chair of the UMUC English department, through Academia.edu rather than a Google search or a search on the UMUC website.

What surprised me were the different CV types. Prior and Bazerman maintain web-based CVs, Bazerman’s on the UCSB website and Prior’s on his own website. Both designs appear dated, but the contents are at least as up-to-date as 2013. James A. Herrick at Hope College maintains a more traditional PDF version of his CV on the Hope College website, while Lee maintains a traditional (print-based) CV in a Word document on his Academia.edu site.

I’ve chosen to host my CV on Google Docs, which poses its own set of challenges. First, it’s a hybrid platform: entirely online with print capabilities, based on a print design and visual metaphor (i.e. the traditional “page” appears on a WYSIWYG platform). This flexibility is useful, giving me the ability to post to a website or submit as a print-ready document; but it also reflects a certain expectation of users that they will be familiar with Google Drive and able to access the file. Second, it’s not something that’s easily embedded on a platform like WordPress or Academia.edu. While it’s quite easy to link to the document, it’s much more difficult to embed a print-ready version in a webpage like WordPress or Academia.edu can do. Lee’s .doc CV is quite legible embedded on the Academia.edu page.

As I continue scholarship and professional development, it’s clear that I need to provide more granular detail to publication and presentation sections. I don’t have many published print pieces, but I can talk about chapters in progress, presentations accepted, chapters accepted for publication, and the like. Using subheadings and chunking in my CV design, I can make it more readable and much easier to quickly glean the important details about me: I’m educated, I’m publishing and interested in publishing, and I have loads of professional communications and teaching experience at all levels that represent my dedication to secondary and post-secondary pedagogy. These are abilities I need to highlight more clearly and directly in my CV redesign.

Curriculum Vitae: CC-licensed Flickr image courtesy Desi Italy

Carnegie Classification

The fall 2010 census led to significant changes at my institution. We discovered that the 2010 realignment of Carnegie Classification categories affected the ability of our division, a professional and continuing education unit, to grow beyond boundaries strictly defined and regulated by the Carnegie Classification system. For an entrepreneurial continuing education unit, this realignment significantly affected the programs we could offer and the number of students we could recruit. The result has altered our business process and models. We are careful about recruitment, careful about the number of FTEs we have each fall (the time of the census), and careful to keep the number of graduate students within set limits. Our division was not the only unit affected by the realignment; all divisions of the university ultimately were affected, if only by the setting of a maximum number of FTEs that each division can enroll as of the census date. The connection of the Carnegie Classification to other measurement and ranking tools, like US News & World Reports rankings, is fraught with concerns about power politics, monetary influence, and manipulation of rankings based on Carnegie Classification.

Library of Congress Card Catalog: CC-licensed image from Flickr user Glyn Lowe

PFF Goals

I have to admit that I’m taking this class, at least in part, because I was asked to take it! However, I’m becoming keenly aware on a daily basis that the life of a scholar and faculty member is more than just teaching and research. The focus on service, the expectations for committee membership and activity, the advising responsibilities, and publication and presentation responsibilities — all of these are relatively new to me, despite spending by entire professional career in academic settings (public high school and university). As an adjunct professor, have the benefit of being able to teach without being required to publish — but the flip side is that I receive little support and few funds to pursue real and significant professional development.

As a result, I am seeking to improve my professional development plan, develop a clearer philosophy of teaching, and focus on specific skills and abilities that will help me contribute to whatever department I join — even if that department remains the marketing team here at the School of Professional and Continuing Studies!

About Me for Preparing Future Faculty

Photo of Daniel HocuttI’m Daniel Hocutt. I’m a part-time distance student in the English PhD program at Old Dominion University, where I’m entering my second year of study. My focus areas in the program are technology and media studies and writing, rhetoric, and discourse studies. My research interests broadly include professional and technical writing — the use of technology, and especially Google Drive, in transparent pedagogy and collaborative composing; the use of Google Drive in developing a community of inquiry; the use of collaborative composition to solve social problem — along with the relationship between game design and instructional design in composition pedagogy.

I work full time as the web manager on a four-person marketing and communications team for the School of Professional and Continuing Studies at the University of Richmond. My responsibilities include managing web content on the school’s website; managing social media strategy and posts on our Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn platforms; writing, editing, and proofreading web and print copy; managing production schedules for several online course schedules and the school’s academic catalog; and sharing communications best practices with colleagues and staff of the school.

I am an adjunct professor of liberal arts for the School of Professional and Continuing Studies as well. I teach undergraduate English, generally composition or writing-intensive classes. Our student body is made up of working professionals, so I am keenly interested in the intersection of academic and professional composing. I was trained as a high school English teacher, and I have taught English in public high school in addition to my experience as an adjunct. I’ve also directed a summer residential governor’s school for gifted high school juniors and seniors focused on the humanities and visual & performing arts.

I grew up in Montana (10 years), Alabama (2 years), and Israel (5 years), and I’m now a Virginian. I earned my undergraduate and graduate degrees in English here at the University of Richmond. I’m married; my wife and I have two daughters, both adopted (at different times and from different provinces) from China. My favorite pastime, aside from academic study and scholarship, is international travel.

At this point, I have not decided for sure that I’m seeking a full-time professorship. I am content, but not always satisfied, in my current position. However, I remain open to the prospect of full-time scholarship, as long as there are clear and specific ways that my scholarship results in some kind of common good.

Slack, Miller & Doak: Technical Communicator as Author

Slack, J. D., Miller, J. M., and Doak, J. (1993). The technical communicator as author: Meaning, power, authority. Journal of Business and Technical Communication, 7(1), 12-36. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1050651993007001002

While this article could feel dated (it was published over 20 years ago), its message is as relevant and meaningful today as it was when it was released. And I can only imagine the ripples this article likely started throughout the technical and professional communications community when it was released in 1993.

Summary. Technical communicators need to rethink their role as authors by advocating and adhering to an articulation view of their work, in which meaning is articulated and re-articulated across and through the entire context of the movement of meaning from and among sender and receiver. The goals is to the recognize the ethical responsibilities that technical communicators have and, in doing so, to equip them to make decisions about articulated meanings in ways that recognize, understand, and respond appropriately to the power structures and differentials working in all communications.

In short, this article assigns to technical communicators authority as authors and ethical responsibilities as articulators of meaning among senders, receivers, and stakeholders in communications. More importantly, the article defines meaning as inherently connected to power and power differentials. Technical communicators are tasked with continually (for the job is never complete) articulating meaning in ethical ways to reveal and respond to power politics and differentials that inevitably emerge as meaning is generated and communicated.

My favorite quote from the article:

“In a sense, technical communicators need to be shaken from the somnambulistic faith that their work is linguistically neutral” (p. 33).

Today I lived the ideas from this article. As a web writer, I write quite a lot of unattributed content. Recently we launched a new graduate degree program, and I was tasked with composing copy for web and print to introduce this new program. This morning, I received a note from my dean asking me to “re-read” and “revise accordingly” the pages for this new graduate degree program in light of a particularly limited way an acquaintance, who also happened to be the president of a local institution of higher education, interpreted the audience of this program based on our website description.

I immediately understood the power politics of the message: a dean and a college president had conversed, and the result was that those who answer to the dean must make right an issue whether we believe the issue is, in fact, valid. Responding that the copy was fine and clear as written was simply not an option, even if it were true.

As it turns out, it was possible to read the copy as the college president indicated. There was not a real problem with the language, but we had implied what should have been explicit. We discussed the copy in our weekly team meeting and developed a quick fix to address the issue.

We articulated meaning between two powerful people. That others had not noticed any problem with the copy — that the program chair had approved the copy and the target audience implied by the language — was no longer part of the articulation of meaning because of the power differential. I am a manager, my boss is a director, but the dean and a college president were involved. There was no question about our response; it was simply a matter of whether a quick fix or a lengthy repair was required.

Abundantly clear in this experience is that the copy I wrote was in no way “linguistically neutral.” No less than a president of a local college found the language linguistically exclusionary, and my dean appeared to tacitly agree with that conclusion. Their language, in turn, left little choice to me as author. I wrote the copy and was implicitly to blame for the misunderstanding; my boss and the program chair approved the copy, so they, too, were complicit in the misunderstanding. When we collaborated to implement a quick fix to the language, we were not perceived as authors, but as workers simply applying a patch to an imperfect product that we had created. The power differential drove home that perspective of authorship as simply a transmission function.

Barton & Barton: Ideology and the Map

Barton B. F., & Barton, M. S. (2004). Ideology and the map: Toward a postmodern visual design practice. In J. Johnson-Eilola & S. A. Selber (eds.), Central works in technical communication (pp. 232-252). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Textbook cover

Central Works in Technical Communications. Published by Oxford University Press

Summary: Maps have ideology. This is hardly news at this point. However, the authors’ focus in different ways that inclusion and exclusion reinforce and reify hegemonic power positions is illuminating and remains powerfully valid in today’s info graphic-loving culture. Visualizations have a responsibility to reveal and make explicit their ideological inclusions and exclusions, and to seek new visual representations that reflect lived experience’s complexity and apparent chaos.

Response: Our recent Theory of Networks class took to heart parts of this article’s position. One of those positions is the effort to establish and develop visual representations that reflect the complexity and chaotic organicism of lived experience. As we sought to visualize connections among the various theorists and theories we encountered, the complexity of our visualizations grew and grew. Complexity is part of our lived experience, and our maps should represent that complexity in meaningful ways.

That maps have embedded in them ideological decisions is refreshing, as is the call to make explicit the ideological inclusions and exclusions. I’m reminded of contested mappings of Israel, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip. And even these terms, much less their mappings, are contested. The West Bank is an indigenous, Palestinian term taken from a Jordanian perspective: to Jordanians, the area west of the Jordan River is, in fact, the West Bank of the Jordan. To Israelis, the area represents the east, not the west; it’s east of Israel proper. Harkening to historical biblical roots, the “Territories” (as they were called when I lived in Israel) are called Judea and Samaria — thus representing, when combined with Israel, the complete territory of the Jewish state. The Gaza Strip has been a less contested term.

Mapping Judea and Samaria/the West Bank/Palestine (as it is unofficially officially known today — more contested names) is hotly contested. Does the “Wall” that Israel has erected along much of the border with Palestine represent the political and territorial border of a future Palestinian state? Does the 1967 armistice line represent the historically accurate borders of the two states, assuming two states eventually emerge? As for Gaza, to what extent is it connected, if at all, to Egypt or to the West Bank Palestinian borders? How does one represent, visually, the political connection between the two Palestinian land masses, separated by Israel?

One interesting outcome of the agonizingly slow birth of the Palestinian state is the decision to call the emerging state “Palestine.” Doing so creates an interesting vacuum among some Palestinians, who have often called what I call the state of Israel “Palestine.” The result is that Israel receives an unofficial official recognition as the name of the country between Palestine and the Mediterranean Sea, regardless of whether it’s been accepted as a Jewish state or homeland.

Maps contain ideology, and one simply can’t map this area of the Middle East without taking sides in the ideological struggle between Palestinians and Israelis, between Arabs and Jews, and between foreign policies of UN Security Council member nations. Taking sides — and even revealing this level of the ideological background of mapping the region — can be professionally dangerous. There are no objective choices; if nothing else, the ideological struggle of mapping the Middle East demonstrates the lack of objectivity in postmodernism. All mapping is subjective and ideological. Accepting this fact makes mapping much easier and reveals — and revels in — the complexity of lived experience.