This year, what I’m working on is broader than it ever has been before. Because I am an Assistant Director in the Writing Center, an instructor for a section of 102, a 2nd year PhD student, and a new mother, I find myself writing more than ever before and juggling SO many more projects. Here are just a few of the roles/projects I’m working on:
1) Research: that big dissertation thing
Last semester I began a pilot study for my dissertation in the hopes of figuring out my research questions and my units of analysis. (FYI my dissertation will be an analysis of the UPS Metropolitan College program with a particular eye toward the experiences and literacy practices of student-workers in the program and the implications/opportunities of programs like this for composition pedagogy.) I interviewed three students, transcribed those interviews, and wrote about them a little bit for my seminar papers. This semester, I plan to continue this pilot study by interviewing some more students and hopefully some instructors as well. I have found this pilot study to be such a great way to get some practice in the methods I’m interested in before the stakes get high. One of the biggest things I have learned is that interviewing is really, really hard.
2) Professional writing: ADWC
For my position in the Writing Center, I find myself writing all the time, but in ways that I didn’t necessarily anticipate. One of the most interesting and challenging things I have worked on so far in this position is the Writing Center’s Accessibility and Accommodations page. It was really cool to write something on behalf of the Writing Center–something that would serve as an official statement/policy and would help shape the identity of the Writing Center. I am so glad that I had the opportunity to work on this. This project really got me thinking about all the individual identities and perspectives that contribute to an institution’s collective identity. In this case, I was writing the Writing Center’s accessibility and accommodations page, and not Layne’s accessibility and accommodations page. Nevertheless, my own perspective, knowledge, and experiences are, of course, nestled in there.
3) Personal writing: my website
The main “non-required” project I’ve been working on is developing my website, which you can check out at http://laynempgordon.weebly.com. Creating a personal/professional website is something that had just been sitting on my to-do list for about a year, and I finally got around to working on it over winter break. I have really enjoyed working on this both as a form of productive procrastination and as an exercise in writing about what I do for a broader audience. Part of why I finally got motivated to work on my website over the break was because I was anxious about family members asking me over the holidays what exactly I’m doing in school and what my dissertation is all about. I find that even after four straight years of rhet/comp-oriented grad school I still struggle to articulate to a general audience what exactly it is that we do in our field, let alone what I want to accomplish in my dissertation. Working on my website has been a great way to practice that a bit more. However, the other audience for my website is of course rhet/comp “insiders,” which will hopefully include potential employers some day. So, this project has ended up being both more complex and more fun than I originally anticipated.
The biggest thing I work on, though, and the thing that shapes everything else I work on, is being mom to my son, David. It’s definitely work, and it’s definitely amazing.
Layne Gordon is a second-year Ph.D. student.