Making Theories Practical and Practicable: Towards a Circulation-Based Pedagogy
Since my time in the Master’s program at the University of Louisville, a central research interest for me has been the intersection of theories of circulation and composition pedagogy. This interest grew out of two seminars I took in the spring semester of my first year as an MA student—one with Dr. Bruce Horner in which I considered the Marxist connotations of circulation and its relationship to the corporatization of the US higher education institution, and one with Dr. Bronwyn Williams in which I considered how circulation describes the way that texts function in digital spaces and through digital media. Together, these two theories coalesced into my Culminating Project for the Master’s program.
Since then, I have found myself unable to let go of these ideas. They just keep morphing into new and different avenues for research, and I still have so many unanswered questions. I guess that’s what this whole academic life/thing is about, eh? This semester specifically, I am working on formulating a more practical area of this research—an assignment sequence for a first-year composition course that would be grounded in a circulation-based pedagogy. This will be the subject of my CCCCs presentation in April, and I am hoping to submit something along these lines for publication by the end of the semester. Right now, that work is primarily taking the form of gathering ideas, sifting through old notes, re-reading drafts of my culminating project, and thinking. A lot of thinking. Which will eventually turn into writing.
One of the things that has surprised me in this process is how much help I have needed to get to this point, and how much help I will need in the future if I continue to work on these ideas past this semester. For example, in October 2015 I attended the Feminisms and Rhetorics conference. At that conference, the CWSHRC (Coalition of Women Scholars in the History of Rhetoric and Composition) offers a publication mentorship program where graduate students are able to meet with scholars in the field during the conference to get feedback on a manuscript they’re working on. When I met with my mentor, he gave me great advice about how to turn my one manuscript into two—one that was primarily theoretical and one that was more practical. He then gave me several ideas for journals I could submit either version to. Having someone look at my work who is outside of my institution, and whose research interests are slightly peripheral to my own, was a really valuable experience for me in this process. Hopefully after about two years of working on this project, I will have a version of it by the end of the semester that is productive and publishable.
Layne Gordon in a 1st-year student in the Ph.D. program and currently serves as the Faculty Liaison for the English Graduate Organization.