I have a variety of things I want to blog about– some reading on competing networks of assessment, a bunch of links I need to put someplace– and I have a variety of other things I need to do/stop procrastinating from– I’m talking to you, Written Communication web site– but I had to post about the mystery package from yesterday first.
I always love mystery packages. One of my favorite (still) unpublished stories (but not really a story because it does more or less recount something that happened) was about the time that Annette and I received a package addressed to us in our Richmond apartment but that was clearly meant for someone else. So I was intrigued with yesterday’s package, one which was delivered to EMU and was addressed to me.
At first, I didn’t recognize the name on the outside. Here’s what I found on the inside:
On the right is the package’s main contents, a copy of a journal called Readerly/Writerly Texts. I had an article published in a special issu of it back in 1999, an article titled “Teacher Learning (Not Teaching) HTML with Students: An Experimental Lesson Plan for Introducing Web Authoring into Writing Classes,” an article I’m tempted to give to a couple of my colleagues even though it is really ancient history.
Here’s a close-up on the front of the card:
Very nice. And the inside of the card:
After reading the note, I finally put it all together: as the handwritten part of this very clever card from Archelaus Fine Cards explained, this is from my former MA student Sheri France (I directed her project many moons ago). As she explains in the card, Sheri was moving offices from one place of employment to another and she thought it would be best to return her long ago borrowed copy of the journal I loaned her.
Ha! And they say there are no rewards in academia!
On the off-chance you are reading this, Sheri: you’re welcome, no worries about returning that journal so late, and if you get a chance to drop me an email to update me on your professional life to share on the writing program web site, let me know.
This is kind of scattered because I started it over a cup of coffee Monday morning and finished it Wednesday morning before meeting meeting meeting/grading grading grading. I’m super DUPER busy with wrapping up the winter term. The last day of classes was yesterday, and I’ve got at least four stacks of things I need to/want to assign grades to by the end of the day a week ago. I know.
But before I get to more detail than you want to know, I thought I’d make four general comments:
Partly in response to Derek and Alex and Kyle and I am sure others: I’m not particularly grumpy about the quality (or not) of the panels or anything else at this year’s conference. Yeah, the hotel was too expensive, but that’s why I didn’t stay at the conference hotel. Yeah, there was no decent wifi and I think that should indeed be addressed, but most major conference hotels have the same problem and I always plan ahead and assume I won’t have decent wifi anyway. Yeah, I kept running into the same people, but I kind of like that and I always have the odd experience of running into the same people at a particular year of the CCCC and not others– for example, last year I ran into Brian McNely everywhere, but this year, I didn’t see him once. Etc., etc. I think I preferred the Louisville location to Atlanta for a variety of reasons (though I had a lot of fun in Georgia), but Atlanta was a lot more reasonably priced than New York or San Francisco. And I don’t want to be too critical because….
… I don’t want to get involved. While I do have some complaints about how the CCCC and the NCTE do business in all sorts of ways (its conferences and a lack of willingness to offer alternative formatted presentations like poster sessions, its publications and its confusion about the paperless publishing world, its view of what an organization is and how it ought to fund itself, its dumb as a bag of rocks view of anything resembling the internets, etc., etc.), I feel like I more or less give up my right to complain too loudly when I am unwilling to do anything about it by getting involved in the organizations’ governance. I’m not willing to run for the Executive Committee of the CCCC or anything else involving the NCTE. I thought about it at one point, but it just isn’t the sort of administrative/service work that interests me– at least not now. So if I’m not willing to pitch and and “make a difference,” so to speak, then I can’t complain too much about the people who are willing to do that.
I don’t know if the conference has changed that much or not, but I know I’ve changed. The first CCCC I went to was (I think?) in 1995, and I attended and presented at the conference pretty consistently through about 2005 or so. When I was a graduate student and first starting my career down the tenure-track, listening to what people had to say at the CCCC was part of my education and presenting at the conference was real scholarship. But this year wasn’t my first rodeo, and I’m all tenured/promoted -out. I still learn some things from panels; but mostly, it’s variations on things I’ve heard before, simply by virtue of the fact that I’ve been around long enough to have heard a lot of stuff before. I still propose to the CCCC so I can get on the program (and thus some funding for the trip), but I need another CCCC presentation on my CV like another hole in the head. So sure, the conference isn’t as “new” and as “exciting” as it once was; but neither am I.
Having said that, I do think there’s more that the CCCC could do to reorganize itself (more like– dare I say it?– MLA by having subject areas organize panels instead of assuming that we’re all there to talk about freshman comp in some variety; have a wider variety of presentation-types; have published proceedings; etc.); and, in an era in which I can communicate with like-minded scholars all over the world via email and the blogosphere and I can publish a media-rich version of my presentation for free, I think the fundamental purpose of the “academic conference” has to be questioned. Why do we spend the time and resources to do this anymore? The answer to me is not panels; it’s being in meet/meat -space with other scholars in the field.
The biggest thing I get out of the CCCC at this point is the incidental contact. So, along with the actual and direct activities, here’s more or less the order of things as I remember it:
I’m getting ready for what is setting up to be a somewhat unusual CCCCs in Atlanta this year. My connection to the conference this year is not through a regular presentation, but through a couple of what i guess I would call “group projects.”
One of the folks who organize the CCCC IP caucus contacted me after my presentation on RiP! a Remix Manifesto last year and asked me I’d like participate in the event for 2011. How can I turn down an invitation? I don’t completely know how this will go, but I’m on a roundtable on RiP! during this session. Here’s a link to a web site I put together for it– it includes a little info on the movie and my notes. It might ultimately include some links/information from my co-roundtable-ish folks, one of whom is a former MA student here at EMU. So we’ll see how that goes.
The other thing I’m doing is a roundtable with some of my EMU colleagues, “A Department in Exile: The Challenges of Contested Spaces and Roles.” It’s an interesting story– at least to me– about how this all came about. When the theme of the conference was announced– “contested spaces”– I immediately thought about the literal contested space that we’ve been put in here at EMU, being displaced out of our building while it is being remodeled.
Anyway, I put together a roundtable with a bunch of my EMU colleagues and we sent it in. It ended up being rejected initially, which I found odd. I mean, I realize that the theme of the conference is supposed to be metaphorical notion of “contested spaces,” but you’d think that there would be room on the program for a literal discussion of contested space. So I appealed, and the good news was we were ultimately accepted into the program. The bad news is we are near the very very end of the program, the last session on Saturday. I am assuming we will be a group talking amongst ourselves.
So, in part to make the talk actually usable and to help my colleagues figure out what to do, I put together this video:
We’ll see how it goes. My assumption is that this will be a presentation like one I gave on a Saturday at the CCCCs in New York a few years ago, one where I put together a comic book of sorts, assuming (correctly!) that not a lot of people are willing to turn out for a Saturday presentation.
Part the “adventure” for this conference is Bill H-D and I are driving down on Monday and then coming back (with Derek M) on Sunday. Part of the problem for me with this version of the CCCCs is the IP thing is on Wednesday and the roundtable thing is on Saturday. It’s potentially not a good idea for all sorts of obvious reasons, but I didn’t like the idea of being in Atlanta the whole week without any transportation. Once again, we’ll see how it works out. The adventure starts Monday morning.