Weekly Roundup: March 26 – April 1

ANNOUNCEMENTS 

Nominate for the EGO Awards 

We are seeking nominations exclusively from graduate students for these awards until April 1. Then, we’ll compile a list of nominees for the Outstanding MA and PhD student awards and invite graduate students to vote for one winner per student award.

Outstanding MA and PhD Students will be announced at the graduate program luncheon on April 21, and presented with a small cash prize. All Faculty Appreciation Award nominees will be given a copy of their full nominations and a written note of our gratitude and appreciation. The form is here.

Survey for the Future of EGO

Your EGO board members have been discussing the future of EGO, because we feel like this is a moment when “what EGO is/does” might change to better serve you. We appreciate your time in taking this brief survey that will hopefully tell us what you think your English Graduate Organization is doing well and what we could be doing better. We want to know how to encourage your active participation and how to get good work done on behalf of all English graduate students at UofL.

This survey is 5 questions, and your responses are both appreciated and anonymous.

Undergraduate Research Participants Needed

Hello EGO! I’m reaching out to see if any instructors are able to help me recruit undergraduate research participants from your courses. My IRB reviewed (17.0045) research project is a user experience/usability study of the Virtual Writing Center. You can help by allowing me to visit your class(es) for 5 minutes to explain the project, or you can forward recruitment information to your classes. This is a paid study; participants will be paid $25 for three hours of time (two 1.5 hours sessions). Please contact me at cabook01@louisville.edu. Thank you! -Cassie Book, Associate Director, University Writing Center

Digital Media Research

Rick Wysocki is the digital media research assistant this year. He will have open hours in the Mac Lab (HUM 204) all semester to help Faculty, Graduate Students, and students with multimodal and digital projects. His hours are Mondays from 1-2 p.m. and Fridays from 203 p.m. From Rick: “I’m happy to help people across the university with their digital/multimodal projects. It is also a good thing for teachers to let their students know about if they need access to a computer or specifically to a Mac.”

UPCOMING EVENTS 

“Open, Engaged, and Humane: The Past and Present of Digital Public History”

  • For a chance to learn more about civic engagement and the digital humanities, we encourage you to attend “Open, Engaged, and Humane: The Past and Present of Digital Public History,” an upcoming talk by Dr. Sharon Leon, free and open to the public
  • March 30, 4:00-5:00 p.m.
  • Chao Auditorium in Ekstrom Library

Hacktheville 2017

  • March 30, 9:00 am-5:00 p.m.
  • HUM 300
  • Calling all amateur and professional designers, developers, creative writers, filmmakers, photographers, activists, and community members! The Digital Humanities Initiative, in collaboration with the UoL Center for GIS, invites you to participate in hacktheville, an 8-hour caffeine- and pizza- fueled hackathon that creates innovative technological solutions to community problems. This year, our goal is to develop a set of digital resources that will strengthen the relationship between the city and its immigrant and refugee residents. hacktheville is open to all students, faculty, and community members. No matter what your skill set, you will be a valuable member of our team as we brainstorm, design, and build the future of technology in Louisville.

SIGS’ Women Faculty of Color Panel

  • Friday, April 7th, 2:00 – 4:00 p.m.
  • Shumaker Research Building Rm. 139
  • UofL has been able to sponsor several graduate students and faculty to attend the Women Faculty of Color conference at Virginia Tech. The conference aims to help current faculty and emerging scholars of color “gain lessons, ideas, tools, and strategies to bring back to their institutions, organizations, and communities; make new contacts and build lasting relationships; [and become more] inspired, motivated, energized, and empowered.” The women who have been sponsored to attend the conference (three from the English department!) will serve as panelists for our annual Women’s Panel. The panelists will share some of the tools and strategies they learn at the conference and share their own stories, including their struggles and successes, as women faculty of color. Graduate students, faculty, and staff interested in attending can register and find more information on the PLAN website or contact Keri Mathis at kemath01@louisville.edu for more information.

SAVE THE DATE – EGO Book Sale

  • Monday through Thursday (April 10-13)
  • 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. on each day
  • Bingham Humanities Foyer
  • Sign up here to volunteer and get free books with your wonderful labor: Sign-Up Sheet

Discourse and Semiotics Workshop: Lisa Björkman of Urban and Public Affairs Leads discussion of The Ethical Life by anthropologist Webb Keane

  • Friday, April 14 from 12:00-1:30 p.m.
  • Ekstrom Library W210

Check out the Writing Center events calendar for upcoming writing events.

Check out the PLAN Workshop series through the School of Interdisciplinary and Graduate Studies for professional development workshop opportunities.

CALLS FOR PAPERS

CFP Database

HIGHLIGHTED BLOG POSTS

What I’m Working On by Ashanka Kumari

What I’m Working On by Patrick Danner

What I’m Working On: Ashanka Kumari

 

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Ashanka Kumari

Last year I was working on navigating what it meant to be in a doctoral program, what I described as messy. This year, I continue to embrace and work in/through/with the mess but with a renewed focus toward balance and self-care. For me, that means finding ways to delegate and say no more to give myself realistic time to brain the expectations and responsibilities I have as a graduate student, teacher, and in leadership roles with those I have as a person, especially as a person who recently made some major life leaps (e.g. getting married, moving into a house in a new city).

Dissertation Foundations

These ideas are what have sparked what I’m currently beginning to pursue for my dissertation project. How do graduate students negotiate and balance the expectations of graduate study in the humanities with their lives? To this end, I’m beginning (IRB-accepted!) a qualitative interview- and document-based study that (this semester, at least) looks at how and what graduate students in composition and rhetoric 1) understand as the goals of their graduate program, 2) balance their professional goals with their personal lives, and 3) professionalize and work towards their degrees. Particularly, I’m hoping to collect organizational documents (e.g. lists, charts, journal writings) and other writing graduate students produce to process and/or “make sense of the mess,” so to speak.

Multimodal Post-9/11 Literature

I’m working on wrapping up coursework this semester and transitioning into exams. This semester, I am taking Andrea Olinger’s Methods class in which I am beginning the study I described above. I am also working toward taking my SLA exam in late April (#PHDOMG) with my SLA-exam committee (Fran McDonald and Bronwyn T. Williams). I am enjoying reading yet often devastated by the texts on my SLA exam reading list themed on Multimodal Post-9/11 Literature. I chose this topic primarily out of personal interest, but knew going in that it wasn’t going to be an easy topic for me, a person who spent the first nine years of her life growing up in Queens, NY, having only moved away less than a year before 9/11. Here, I find this exam project helping me to balance and further comprehend my emotions about 9/11 and post-9/11—a strange catharsis.

Teaching English 102

I balance my coursework and SLA reading with teaching my English 102 course themed on issues in Popular Culture. I have some incredibly bright students and am regularly impressed by their writing. To this end, I am continuing to navigate my own teacher-identity, having only taught versions of 101-courses up until this semester. I am working on revising my teaching philosophy statement as one way to respond to and make sense of this teacher-identity growth.

Watson 2018

I’m also working on laying the groundwork for the 2018 Watson Conference as one of the Assistant Directors with Mary P. Sheridan and Laura Matravers. Right now, we have confirmed the theme of the conference and our 2018 keynote speakers (exciting announcements to come!) as well as beginning to develop what a digital publication out of the future conference might entail. I am eager to engage more as we put together the 2017 Watson Symposium.

Revisions

I try to commit a few hours each week to revising writing towards submitting it to journals this summer. Currently, I’m wrapping up an article on experiences teaching a unit on privilege and identity in a first-year writing classroom in my Master’s (co-authored with Brita Thielen, who I co-designed the unit with); building a piece on the significance of failure in producing digital projects that I will present at Computers & Writing with Erin Kathleen Bahl (and then continue to work on towards submitting to a journal); and, revising my seminar paper from Bruce Horner’s fall Mobility Work in Composition class with hopes to send it off later this summer. Setting regular writing center appointments and Skype meetings with collaborators are what helps me stay on task and continue forward with these projects since I’ve learned that they can often be pushed to the bottom of the to-do list, though some weeks are definitely better research and writing weeks than others.

Balance

To balance all of the above, I read. I’ve read a lot since January partly due to my new one-hour commute to campus (audiobooks are incredible). I read lots of fiction and nonfiction that has nothing yet often so much to do with my research. I’ve renewed my love for reading novels by reading them regularly and almost-daily for the first time since undergrad. It’s sometimes perplexing how much we read for research projects, coursework, teaching prep, but how little we might read for ourselves—that’s something I’m working on. I also cook a lot. I have learned how to make my own pizza dough (need a stress reliever? Knead dough.). This week I’m teaching myself how to make pies from scratch.

More of what I’m working on can be found at my website: ashankakumari.com.

Ashanka Kumari is a 2nd-year PhD Student and an Assistant Director of the Thomas R. Watson Conference. She thinks the KitchenAid Stand Mixer is one of the most magical inventions in the world. 

What I’m Working On: Working on the Thing In Front of Me by Patrick Danner

Two pieces of advice from my M.A. stick with me still. First was a pretty consequential piece from an advisor who said during my first semester, “If you plan on getting a Ph.D. to be a Mark Twain scholar, don’t.” The second, which I find myself saying more and more as I write, was a bit of wisdom from my thesis chair: “It’s like bowling. You set the pins up and knock them down.” Without laboring the metaphor too much, I think what I’m working on is reminding myself to set them up, and learning how to set them up, because bowling without pins probably looks stupid.

With that image, I think my advisor then—as my committee now—recognized that I have a tendency to lob large theoretical claims at objects of study that aren’t fully explained. And being among humanities folk I think it’s fair to say that we sometimes want to latch onto broad claims before truly breaking down what’s in front of us. This past weekend I got a text from an old teaching friend saying that Hail, Caesar! upends Frankfurt School dialectics, or something, and for that reason I should see it, before plots were even mentioned (he then wrote a great piece on it, but the point stands). And now I’m forming dissertation chapters saying things three pages in about how the sub-field of rhetoric of science has neglected data as a thing—as if I’ve earned that claim on page four?

In more zen moments I see this idea—setting them up before knocking them down—at work beyond my writing, too. At ATTW last week entire panels were dedicated to dealing with and conceptualizing the things in front of us: new workplace models, the weird history of technical writing, the lack of ethics as a subject in our curricula, the fact that user manuals are now all on YouTube. And there’s the leg work of doing that conceptualizing (far before the sweeping claims of and therefore everything about [major scholar’s] claims are shortsighted!) that I’m learning to value more.

I’m doing that kind of leg work now. It isn’t glamorous. But as Joanna Wolfe and Susan Youngblood reminded me after my ATTW talk, there’s little that’s glamorous about the mess of writing, the scrapped pages, or the actual monotony of setting up the pins. (I have no qualms in saying some of this research is monotonous—I mean, some of this work is about defining things like “p-value” and “correlation.”)

The project is a workplace observation of a non-profit that allows me to track the life of public policy data in “A Large Midwestern City.” I attend their meetings, get cc’d on their e-mails, track their collaborative work on Google Drive, go to their events, and interview team members and members of other, partner organizations that they interact with regularly. And I’ve been doing this since June. It’s a lot to keep track of, a lot of “pins” to get set up and in order before I toss a 10-lb. theoretical claim at it. I have a “hook” in mind, something like the “life” of data as it’s mined, aggregated, disaggregated, has rhetorical scaffolding built around it, and is sent into the world to be acted on, but neither my observation notes nor the actual practices of this workplace—like most writing practices—are that neat.

So I’m working on making sense of the things in front of me—the circulated drafts, the observation notes, the interview transcripts—and getting it set up and in some sensible written form. I’m working on valuing the richness of the data I collected, the tensions and contradictions in it, so that before I make claims with phrases like “ecologies, not networks!” and “iterative invention!” and “the rhetoric of the algorithm!” I have my evidence lined up. Screenshot 2017-03-22 16.46.40

And if anyone wants to go bowling, let me know.

Patrick Danner is a third-year doctoral candidate in rhetoric and composition. His research interests are all over the place, a result of finding too many things interesting. He has ongoing/under-review projects about (1) the anti-vaccine movement and biopolitical rhetoric, (2) voter data and invention in technical communication, and (3) an on-hold project about 19th century public health. He likes teaching about data visualization and group writing processes, and somehow finds himself involved in digital projects all the time (check out MASH, folks), too. He once bowled a 190, which he thinks is pretty good, and fully embraces “going to protests” and “activism” as legitimate hobbies. Current nightstand books: Mina Loy, a Belgium travel guide, and some Spinuzzi.

Weekly Roundup: March 19 – 25

ANNOUNCEMENTS 

Digital Media Research

Rick Wysocki is the digital media research assistant this year. He will have open hours in the Mac Lab (HUM 204) all semester to help Faculty, Graduate Students, and students with multimodal and digital projects. His hours are Mondays from 1-2 p.m. and Fridays from 203 p.m. From Rick: “I’m happy to help people across the university with their digital/multimodal projects. It is also a good thing for teachers to let their students know about if they need access to a computer or specifically to a Mac.”

UPCOMING EVENTS 

“Teaching the Essay in a Digital Age” by Joseph Harris Talk

  • Wednesday, March 22 at 4 p.m.
  • Chao Auditorium in Ekstrom Library

Graduate Student Research Conference and 3-Minute Thesis Competition

“Open, Engaged, and Humane: The Past and Present of Digital Public History”

  • For a chance to learn more about civic engagement and the digital humanities, we encourage you to attend “Open, Engaged, and Humane: The Past and Present of Digital Public History,” an upcoming talk by Dr. Sharon Leon, free and open to the public
  • March 30, 4:00-5:00 p.m.
  • Chao Auditorium in Ekstrom Library

Hacktheville 2017

  • March 30, 9:00 am-5:00 p.m.
  • HUM 300
  • Calling all amateur and professional designers, developers, creative writers, filmmakers, photographers, activists, and community members! The Digital Humanities Initiative, in collaboration with the UoL Center for GIS, invites you to participate in hacktheville, an 8-hour caffeine- and pizza- fueled hackathon that creates innovative technological solutions to community problems. This year, our goal is to develop a set of digital resources that will strengthen the relationship between the city and its immigrant and refugee residents. hacktheville is open to all students, faculty, and community members. No matter what your skill set, you will be a valuable member of our team as we brainstorm, design, and build the future of technology in Louisville.

SAVE THE DATE – EGO Book Sale

  • Monday through Thursday (April 10-13)
  • 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. on each day
  • Bingham Humanities Foyer

Discourse and Semiotics Workshop: Lisa Björkman of Urban and Public Affairs Leads discussion of The Ethical Life by anthropologist Webb Keane

  • Friday, April 14 from 12:00-1:30 p.m.
  • Ekstrom Library W210

Check out the Writing Center events calendar for upcoming writing events.

Check out the PLAN Workshop series through the School of Interdisciplinary and Graduate Studies for professional development workshop opportunities.

CALLS FOR PAPERS

CFP Database

What I Wish I’d Known in Graduate School by Kristi Maxwell

Be curious. Read widely. Enroll in a class that is outside of your specialization. Generate questions. Host salons and curiosity symposiums. Keep a running list of things you’d like to know.

Foster non-academic areas of your life and find a community that extends beyond classmates and faculty. This was especially important for me in the face of the brutal academic job market because it helped me remember that my life is a lot bigger than a job. Remember your worth doesn’t come from your degree.

Take advantage of opportunities for cross-disciplinary conversations. My PhD work in English was deeply enriched by my graduate certificate work in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, which helped me better understand the ways pedagogy and social justice can intertwine. Go to talks put on by the Commonwealth Center for the Humanities and Society, the Anne Braden Institute, etc. Expose yourself to other people thinking out loud. kristi-maxwell

On a practical level, use a different color pen each time you reread a book. Inside the cover, note which pen corresponds to which date. This will help you keep track of how your questions, interests, and critiques change and develop over the years.

Invest in giant Post-its, cover your office walls, and chart connections between ideas. This visual aid has been enormously useful for me.

Dr. Kristi Maxwell is an Assistant Professor of English. 

Weekly Roundup: March 5 – 12

ANNOUNCEMENTS 

Digital Media Research

Rick Wysocki is the digital media research assistant this year. He will have open hours in the Mac Lab (HUM 204) all semester to help Faculty, Graduate Students, and students with multimodal and digital projects. His hours are Mondays from 1-2 p.m. and Fridays from 203 p.m. From Rick: “I’m happy to help people across the university with their digital/multimodal projects. It is also a good thing for teachers to let their students know about if they need access to a computer or specifically to a Mac.”

UPCOMING EVENTS 

“Teaching the Essay in a Digital Age” by Joseph Harris Talk

  • Wednesday, March 22 at 4 p.m.
  • Chao Auditorium in Ekstrom Library

Graduate Student Research Conference and 3-Minute Thesis Competition

“Open, Engaged, and Humane: The Past and Present of Digital Public History”

  • For a chance to learn more about civic engagement and the digital humanities, we encourage you to attend “Open, Engaged, and Humane: The Past and Present of Digital Public History,” an upcoming talk by Dr. Sharon Leon, free and open to the public
  • March 30, 4:00-5:00 p.m.
  • Chao Auditorium in Ekstrom Library

Hacktheville 2017

  • March 30, 9:00 am-5:00 p.m.
  • HUM 300
  • Calling all amateur and professional designers, developers, creative writers, filmmakers, photographers, activists, and community members! The Digital Humanities Initiative, in collaboration with the UoL Center for GIS, invites you to participate in hacktheville, an 8-hour caffeine- and pizza- fueled hackathon that creates innovative technological solutions to community problems. This year, our goal is to develop a set of digital resources that will strengthen the relationship between the city and its immigrant and refugee residents. hacktheville is open to all students, faculty, and community members. No matter what your skill set, you will be a valuable member of our team as we brainstorm, design, and build the future of technology in Louisville.

Discourse and Semiotics Workshop: Lisa Björkman of Urban and Public Affairs Leads discussion of The Ethical Life by anthropologist Webb Keane

  • Friday, April 14 from 12:00-1:30 p.m.
  • Ekstrom Library W210

Check out the Writing Center events calendar for upcoming writing events.

Check out the PLAN Workshop series through the School of Interdisciplinary and Graduate Studies for professional development workshop opportunities.

CALLS FOR PAPERS

CFP Database

FEATURED BLOG POSTS

What I Wish I’d Known in Graduate School by Paul Griner

What I Learned in Year One by Rachel Gramer

What I’m Working On by Keri Mathis

What I’m Working On by Keri Mathis

In a PLAN workshop on backward design planning, Michelle Rodems always tells a story about rocks — big rocks and small rocks — to help us conceptualize our responsibilities as graduate students and how to effectively plan our research, teaching, and personal lives so that we can find some semblance of “work-life balance.” The idea is something like this: if you have an empty jar that represents all of your time, and you have rocks, pebbles, sand, and water to fill your jar, you need to put the big rocks in first because these are your biggest priorities. The rest can fall into place after and around the big rocks to fill in the empty cracks and spaces.

And importantly, if you don’t put the big rocks in first, the smaller ones won’t fit, and you won’t have the time or energy to devote to those bigger rocks that matter most.

So, Michelle always asks the question: “what are your big rocks?” In other words, what are the things you prioritize or cannot lose? I think about this question quite a bit, and in this post, I’m going to talk about a few of the “big rocks” in my jar (or, what I’m working on right now):

#1: The Dissertation

The dissertation is one of my biggest rocks — currently big, misshapen, and not nearly as stable as most rocks are (I don’t know if “stable” is the right word. I’m not a geologist. Just play along, please).

My dissertation is tentatively titled “Pens, Print, and Pixels: Gendered Writing and The Epistolary Genre in Transitional Eras.” The project is a genre and media analysis of women’s letterwriting in three moments of technological change–from manuscript to print to digital. I am primarily interested in retheorizing the relationships among genre, media, and modalities and making the implications of this relationship, particularly for individuals writing from the margins, more visible. The case studies for my dissertation include women’s letters from the English Renaissance; letters, epistolary novels, and manuals from the 18th century; and finally, from today’s digital age, social media posts that have appropriated epistolary conventions to respond to current cultural exigencies. My ultimate goal is that a narrow, deep dive into these three historical moments will help pave the way for writing studies scholars to more closely consider how genres and media work together to create opportunities for multiple voices to be heard and for intersectional identities to be shared and valued.

#2: Graduate Student Professional Development

My second rock comes from my role as the research assistant to Dean Beth Boehm in the School of Interdisciplinary and Graduate Studies. In this role, I have helped plan and lead multiple professional development workshops, and I have co-created one of SIGS’ newest academies: the Community Engagement Academy. This program has involved a lot of coordinating with multiple stakeholders — administrators, faculty, students, and community partners. Now in its second phase, the Community Engagement Academy started as a partnership with the Parklands of Floyds Fork, and we are now expanding to include projects with other community partners that foster interdisciplinary collaboration.

#3: Teaching

I am currently teaching Business Writing, and after teaching a more traditional business writing course for the past three semesters, I decided to collaborate with Megen Boyett on a “Professional Writing for Non-Profits course” this term. Megen and I have been working diligently to establish partnerships with four organizations that are currently working with the students in our classes: the Backside Learning Center, Americana Community Center, the Council on Developmental Disabilities, and the Center for Women and Families. We used what we have been discussing in the Community Engagement Academy to develop a course and writing projects that will, we hope, be mutually beneficial for the students and the non-profit organizations.

#4 Self-Care

I am currently (and constantly) working on self-care and just being present in other aspects of my life that are not necessarily related to academia (though some of them are). Some of these things include:

  1. Figuring out what “self-care” means for me and how to practice it.
  2. Learning to say No, especially to things that are just “extra” and do not align with my interests and needs, personally and professionally.
  3. Being grateful and showing gratitude daily — to my husband and to all of my friends and family who are constant supporters of this crazy PhD life.
  4. Showing up and being present. The showing up part is easy, but the “presence” part is difficult when we are spread so thin. Going to keep working on that one.
  5. Striving for “Done Well, but not Perfect” in everything I do.

If you’re interested in learning about the productivity rock metaphor, here ya go: https://zenhabits.net/big-rocks-first-double-your-productivity-this-week/

Also, other smaller rocks and pebbles that fall in around these bigger rocks are included on my website: kerimathis.wordpress.comscreenshot-2017-03-03-12-24-47

Keri Mathis is a fourth-year PhD Candidate in Rhetoric and Composition at the University of Louisville. She will be on the academic job market in the fall and will appreciate all kind words and hugs from anyone who wants to share them during that time.