CFP: Emerging Genres, Forms, and Narratives in New Media Environments

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The CRDM program at NCSU is pleased to announce the CFP for our 4th annual research symposium, organized by Carolyn R. Miller, Ashley R. Kelly, and myself.  We hope you’ll join us in Raleigh for the event this spring!

Call for Papers
Emerging Genres, Forms, Narratives—in New Media Environments
Research Symposium
19–20 April 2013
Program in Communication, Rhetoric, and Digital Media (CRDM)
North Carolina State University

Submission deadline: 1 February 2013

Digital media have enabled what impresses most observers as a dizzying proliferation of new forms of communicative interaction and cultural production, provoking all manner of multimodal experimentation, artistic and entrepreneurial innovation, adaptive construction and reconstruction, and a good deal of just plain play. Hyperlinking, interactivity, and crowdsourcing change our narrative strategies and structures. Some of these new forms go viral, some persist, some adjust incrementally, others languish or are rapidly replaced by something else. Scholars in multiple fields have begun to explore these processes of emergence, innovation, and stabilization, many of them working with the concept of genre, which has become newly important in rhetoric, literature, game studies, library and information science, film and media studies, applied linguistics, and elsewhere. As social recognitions that embed histories, ideologies, contradictions—as sites of inventive potential—as recurrent social actions—genres are constitutive of culture, in Giddens’s sense. Genre systems can tell us a great deal about social values and cultural configurations; narratives tell us who we are and who we want to be; rhetorical and poetic form offers recurrence, recognition, satisfaction.

The 2013 CRDM Research Symposium will explore through both theoretical inquiry and case studies these processes of emergence, innovation, and stabilization as rhetorical energy meets the affordances and constraints of new technologies. Issues of interest include the relationship(s) between medium (or technological affordances) and the evolution and stabilization of genre conventions; historical examples of genre emergence when old media were new (print, film, phonography, radio, television, etc.); the re-mediation or adaptation of familiar forms and narratives in new media; the potentialities of new combinations of modalities, of sound and text, image and word; the processes of global distribution, uptake, and modification of historically and culturally situated forms and narratives; the emergence and assimilation of new forms and genres in education, science, religion, and politics.

Sponsored by NC State’s doctoral program in Communication, Rhetoric, and Digital Media, the annual CRDM Research Symposium brings together faculty, graduate students, invited speakers, and other participants to engage in collective inquiry and dialogue on a topic of interdisciplinary interest.

Keynote speakers for 2013 include Janet Giltrow (University of British Columbia), Lisa Gitelman (New York University), David Herman (Ohio State University), and Neil Randall (University of Waterloo Games Institute). For a full list of our keynote and featured speakers, please see the Speakers page.

We invite participation from CRDM faculty and graduate students; from other departments and programs across NC State University; from other universities and colleges, and from corporate, governmental, and academic institutions throughout the Research Triangle and at the national and international levels. We welcome two main types of submissions: (1) traditional paper presentations, and (2) digital projects or installations. To present a paper, please submit a 250 word proposal by 1 February 2013 through the submission portal on the conference website (Please note: you must have an account with the site to submit a proposal). To present a digital project, demonstration, or installation, please submit a 250 word proposal/description of the installation. Additionally, please include as much detail as possible about your space and technology requirements. Notifications will be sent on 15 February 2013.

Joint Event with Carolina Rhetoric Conference
The 2013 CRDM Research Symposium will be held jointly with the annual Carolina Rhetoric Conference (CRC), a graduate student conference organized cooperatively by students in rhetoric at Clemson University, the University of South Carolina, and NC State University, and hosted this year by CRDM students and the NC State chapter of the Rhetoric Society of America. The CRC is open to any graduate students interested in rhetorical studies. Several events will be held jointly by the CRC and the CRDM Symposium on Friday, and participants in each event will be able to attend sessions at the other.

Publications and Media Archives
We plan to publish selected papers from the Symposium as an edited volume and/or special journal issue related to the theme and to make videos of Symposium presentations available on the CRDM website. The CRC plans to create a podcast series. More details will be available later.

Graduate Research Symposium accolodes

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This March, just before CCCC, Ashley R. Kelly and I presented our research on the proposed Duke Energy and Progress Energy Merger at the 7th annual NCSU Graduate Research Symposium. Our poster focused on our analysis of the public response to the merger on social media sites – particularly Twitter – and the change in public response over time. To read more about our project, you can check out the full abstract in the symposium poster here.

Our poster was awarded third place honors in the Humanities and Design division! We are excited that this project has been fruitful thus far, and we have more events upcoming from this project – stay tuned for more updates from me as they happen.

Here is a photo of Ashley and me with our poster at the conclusion of the awards presentation:

Me (l) and Ashley (r) with our award winning poster. Photo courtesy of NCSU.

Why I teach digital literacy

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This past weekend, I gave a presentation with Susan Miller-Cochran at the Southeast Missouri State University blended learning conference on critically adopting technology in a hybrid writing classroom. The presentation was well-received and I’ve even gotten some follow-up correspondence based on our discussion. But what I want to talk about here, though, is an idea that came up in a conversation I had after our presentation with some of the those in attendance.

One of the comments made raised the issue of, “Yes, technology is there, but – why should I be teaching it in my course? A student getting an education at a university should be capable of using those tools of his/her own accord, not through me teaching it.” There are a few assumptions here: that course time should be solely focused on course content, not skill development; that if a faculty member learned on his/her own time, the student should be capable of doing so too; and that students these days are “digital natives” and probably know a lot of this anyway. I think the first two could be easily countered, so I’d like to focus on the last, and more complex idea – the one of “digital natives” in the university system.

Many educators question the assertion that students now are “digital natives,” that they grew up with this technology and thus are well-versed in it and can use it in ways that educators and/or older generations cannot. A recent post on Digital Media and Learning Central debunks four key myths in the “digital native” discussion: that digital natives are always young, that they were “born digital,” that they live digital lives (and thus have a hard time living/communicating without a screen or device) and that being connected = being digital. The best point made is that being a digital native means being more than having access – it means being able to critique, evaluate, produce, amplify, respond, and so much more. And this is what educators are not seeing students do with their access.

Case in point: a critical component of digital literacy is sifting through an evaluating the content that is produced on a daily basis and can potentially be used in research and writing. There’s much out there on the web that is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. A good example of a lack of critique came in a debate about technology in education in my PhD class a few weeks ago. In playing an anti-technology role, a student cited from The John William Pope Foundation’s website. The point made drew immediate laughter and dismissal, with a quick reference made to the real mission of the organization and its founder. However, that brief comment also raised a more important issue. Much content on the web is disguised as something it is not, and without having students participate in analysis and critique of sites, we miss an important opportunity to teach them that not everything on the web is genuine, truthful, worthwhile, or credible for citing. (And this Pope Foundation example may be as good as any).

Using word processors is another simple example from my own experience. After teaching students how to use our LMS (Moodle), a word processor is the next tool that I focus on in the class, showing them how to use rulers, change styles, create a hanging indent, save as a different file type, and insert comments. I generally have one or two students every semester who know how to insert a comment, but for every other student, it’s magic, and all of them need time to get the hang of using the rulers and styles. Another critical literacy for word processors? Naming files. That’s more of a rhetorical literacy for technology – how do you name a file so that your instructor knows it’s yours amongst the 22 others in the queue? How do you name it so that you know which project it is when you go back to revise? We need to teach students not only to use the tools adeptly, but also to think critically and rhetorically about how and why they are using them (and this isn’t a new idea; it comes from Stuart Selber several years ago).

Being native in a language means having fluency, and we’d all agree that simply having access to a language everyday does not equal having fluency – so why do we conflate this idea when it comes to technology? We must for now call our students something other than digital natives. Digitally naive (while catchy) doesn’t seem all that appropriate. Must we call them anything? My parents’ and grandparents’ generations were literacy natives, but I don’t think anybody called them that. If we don’t label them as digital anything, then we may be more apt to think of them simply as students we have to teach and prepare for the world that awaits them, and all of the skill sets that they need to do well when they get there.

Latest academic adventure: Guest editor for Enculturation

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I am very excited to announce today that my fellow CRDM student Ashley R. Kelly and I will be guest editors for an upcoming special issue of Enculturation, based on the Computers and Writing Conference that will be held at NCSU next May!

Here’s the official call for manuscripts. Please share widely. Computers and Writing 2012 will be a great conference, and this special issue will highlight the best work!

Call for Papers: Special Computers and Writing Special Issue of Enculturation

ArchiTEXTure: Composing and Constructing in Digital Spaces
Guest Editors
Meagan Kittle Autry, North Carolina State University
Ashley R. Kelly, North Carolina State University 

We welcome manuscript submissions for a special issue of Enculturation: A Journal of Rhetoric, Writing, and Culture. For this issue, we invite papers originating from presentations given at Computers and Writing 2012, “ArchiTEXTure: Composing and Constructing in Digital Spaces.” Under this theme, conference organizers encourage submitters to consider issues, challenges, and benefits specifically related to the production of digital texts. Additionally, submissions are encouraged to consider questions that both address “archiTEXTure” in the classroom and as part of a scholarly agenda. If your presentation is accepted for the C&W conference, we encourage you to submit your manuscript for publication in this special issue.  
The goal of this conference is to move beyond traditional, print-based examinations of new media objects as texts. Thus, we are interested in how digital spaces and new media objects interact with and influence the ways that we compose ourselves, our classrooms and our scholarly work. The archiTEXTure of new media can be the media object itself, but can also be the the contexts, spaces, bodies, materials, ideas, and histories of media. The TEXTure of the media could be the screen, but it could also be the differing surfaces and materials of media. In the space between the competing materialities of classroom and text, we can ask questions about construction, process, movement, and change.

Media & Genres

We welcome a mix of media and genres to reflect the various presentation types featured at Computers and Writing 2012: individual presentations, interactive installations, CREATE! sessions, or ConstrucTEXT presentations. Traditional essays, hypertexts, videos, and multimedia projects are all suitable for publication in Enculturation

Inquiries from authors to guest editors begin: September 25, 2011 (Not all submissions must be queried first, but authors are welcome to correspond about their ideas)
Conference proposals due by: October 22, 2011
Notifications to presenters sent: December 15, 2011
Manuscript submissions due by: Final day of C&W conference, May 20, 2012
Notifications to authors sent: July 15, 2012
Revised manuscripts due by: September 1, 2012
Publication date: October 1, 2012

Submission Guidelines

Please send queries and submissions to guest editors at cwspecialissue[at]gmail[dot]com. 

Email should include author name(s), email address(es), and title of submission within the body. Please ensure no identifying information is contained within your file submission. Submissions should be attached as .doc or .rtf formats. If you are submitting a non-print text, please email the guest editors to inquire regarding appropriate formats for your submission. 

A wild time at Wildacres: Carolina WPA Conference recap

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For two and a half days this week, I got to escape my tethered technological lifestyle and escape to the mountains of North Carolina to Wildacres, a conference center and retreat in Little Switzerland, NC. There, I attended the Carolinas Writing Program Administrators’ fall conference with fellow administrators at North Carolina State. It was my first year attending the conference, and I am glad for the opportunity to meet other WPAs from institutions around the Carolinas – it was an excellent networking opportunity.

The entrance to Wildacres. Source:

We arrived late Monday afternoon, weaving up the top of a mountain. The conference center is a quaint assemblage of wooden cabins and larger buildings, some residential, some with open conference space, and one large mess hall. Yes, a mess hall – we were commanded to each meal by the ringing of a bell. (I didn’t know anyone still did that!) The mission of Wildacres is to provide a retreat and conference space for non-profit organizations, particularly in the arts, and to give attendees a chance to reconnect with nature. There are no TVs in the rooms at Wildacres, nor phones nor clocks, and our group quickly ate up the limited wifi bandwidth available – and crashed it for the remaining time that we were there!

This year’s conference theme was grant writing and funding, an increasingly important component of a WPA job. Our own Susan Miller-Cochran spoke the first evening about national WPA council grants that are available, providing insight from her years of experience on the council. Tuesday was a full day of workshops, including discussion from Tim Peeples at Elon, who spoke from his experience as an Associate Provost about how to apply for and win internal grant funding. Meg Morgan at UNC-Charlotte talked about finding national funding sources, and Michelle Eble from East Carolina University gave an overview of researching and writing grant proposals. The sessions combined informative discussion and writing (hey, we are WPAs, after all) that left us all feeling a little more confident about applying for grant money for our own programs.

Our two day mini-retreat was not all work, though – there was plenty of time for socializing, games, and and bonfire. While I certainly learned a lot about grants, the best part for me was the social time, talking to other WPAs from the Carolinas and making important connections for when I’m on the job market in two years (still such a long ways away!). Groups members are clearly close friends, and were open and welcoming to newbies/grad students in attendance. On the first night, we had an informal ping pong (table tennis for all the serious players out there) tournament, which yours truly is proud to say she is the champion of. Guess I’ll have to go next year to defend my title! Our final night, the staff at Wildacres held a bonfire for us, and we enjoyed more socialization, roasting marshmallows, and some banjo and guitar entertainment provided by a couple of members. We awoke Wednesday morning to a dreary, rainy day at the top of the mountain, and after a quick breakfast and “beat you in ping pong next year!” we were on the road back to Raleigh.

The rocking chairs were a popular spot for socializing. Source:

It was truly a good time had by all, and I got the sense that the writing program administrators’ community is not just a professional group, but a community in the true sense of the word, where members look out for one another and are working together to achieve their goals and to improve writing programs at all institutions. This was also a good time for me to get to know my fellow NCSU administrators better, too. Special thanks to the First Year Writing Program at NCSU and director Susan Miller-Cochran for the opportunity to participate!

Back the grind

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And so it begins – year two of my PhD, year eight of my post-secondary career. What’s slated for this fall? Here’s what I’m up to:

I’m taking four classes this semester: one core CRDM course, Technology and Pedagogy in Communication Arts; two electives, Rhetoric of Science & Technology and Environmental Communication; and one professional development class, CRDM Colloquium.

For the first time in my graduate career, I’m not teaching this semester. Instead, I’m serving two administrative roles, with my time split between them each semester. This fall, I’m the primary Graduate Assistant Director of NCSU’s Campus Writing and Speaking Program, directed by Chris Anson and Deanna Dannels, and in the spring, I’ll be the primary Graduate Assistant Director of the First Year Writing Program, directed by Susan Miller-Cochran. I’ll be assisting each program during both semesters, but taking on a larger role for one each semester (with another graduate student filling in for each).

I’ve got to tackle several important milestones toward earning my PhD, including deciding on my doctoral exam areas, beginning to form (or completely forming) a dissertation committee, starting to create reading lists for my doctoral exams, and figuring out my Plan of Work for the Graduate School. It would be great if I could finalize a dissertation topic, too.

I’ll also be presenting some research on discussions of nuclear technology post-Fukushiima at the 4S (Society for the Social Studies of Science) conference in Cleveland, November 2-5.

What are your plans for the semester? Will I be seeing you at 4S? Or missing out on your presentation at NCA? Let me know!

A tardy semester wrap-up

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Like in the fall, I completely fell off the blogging bandwagon at the end of the semester. I guess that’s just the nature of the beast – writing so much for your courses that there’s not much desire (or anything interesting to talk about) to blog. What I was up to (scholastically) this April & May:

  • Attending CCCC (which I posted about here and here)
  • Presenting at the 2nd annual CRDM Research Symposium, “Environments, Risks, and Digital Media
  • Completing research for my three graduate seminars (which I will talk about in a separate post) – 
    • “Big Power, Big Controversy: Duke-Progress Energy Merger and Environmental Controversy in the Carolinas”: An analysis of discourse about an upcoming local utilities merger completed with Ashley R. Kelly for a course about communication in a networked society
    • A methods theory paper about studying social media in the humanities, also completed with Ashley R. Kelly, for a course in communication and social change
    • The WPA’s Guide to the Hybrid Writing Classroom, a website designed for writing program administrators to help them think through the process of adopting hybrid writing courses in their first year composition program, for a class on being a WPA
  • Grading three course projects for my ENG 101 class and holding their final research presentations
  • Submitting research presentation proposals to next year’s CCCC and this fall’s SIGDOC (in Italy!)
  • Starting my research assistantship with Carolyn R. Miller 
  • Completely re-designing my online portfolio

I’m going to blog more specifically about a couple of these things – particularly about doing collaborative research, which you can see I did for two of my projects this semester. It was a highly rewarding experience and worth sharing (or at least, I think so). I enjoyed the end of this semester in terms of teaching. I had some really bright students this spring, and they tackled some great final projects (for which their task was to identify a problem within a social issue and propose a solution). Many students discussed environmental issues in some aspects, whether it was clean energy, greenhouse gases, preserving marine life, etc. I am very pleased at how much environmental issues seem to be on the radar of freshman students this year (in both classes I taught).

Finally, the first “summer” project that I tackled was redesigning my online portfolio. I had initially completed the portfolio last spring for a course in online information design. When I got my new Macbook Pro last Christmas, complete with the whole Adobe Suite, my plan was to completely redo the look. Redesign accomplished! (Though I still have to update some of the information.) But overall, I’m quite pleased with the look – fresh, simple, easy to navigate. To me, minimal still rules in site design, and I wanted my portfolio to reflect that.

My revamped online portfolio

Hopefully I will be back before long talking about my web project (the WPA guide) and my collaborative research. What was the end of the semester like for you?

CCCC Brilliance: “We are 113!”

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The featured session Friday from 12:30 – 1:45 was a curiously titled one: “We are 113!” The program abstract indicated that “The purpose of this panel is to embrace the call of cluster 113 by breaking traditional boundaries.” Submitted to the #113 category, newly created this year by Malea Powell to encourage outside-the-box thinking, this panel wowed the crowd and might just be the best panel of the conference. The format: 10 speakers, 5 minutes each, 20 slides per person. Rapid fire delivery. Boundary-breaking topics. Each speaker detailed parts of his or her personal life to connect to how they have transcended boundaries and not conformed to traditional rules of the discipline.

Shelley Rodrigo opened the panel with an introduction to the concept: Rhet/comp, as a field, has rules. We are placed into categories based on our research interests, admin duties, and aspirations. But we need to break these rules and transcend boundaries to be truly successful. We should embrace collaboration, or as she and Susan Miller-Cochran call it, be partners in academic crime. We are more than we study, and it is time we embrace blurring boundaries. This panel – We are 113! – is a call to do so.

Next up: Paul Kei Matsuda, who discussed how his scholarship in second language studies and writing has transcended boundaries and created new boundaries, the field of second language writing. The field also encompasses/considers many others: technical writing, global professional writing, rhetoric, basic writing, and writing program administration. His takeaway: at this point, we have enthusiasm and experience with the field, but now we need expertise that can truly transcend boundaries. And that we are 113!

Cynthia Selfe held the crowd captive with her discussion of identity and how we relate to each other. She says we can only know ourselves through relating to others, and that discourse is a central way in which we do so. We need to be open to transcending boundaries to relate to people in news ways and new people in new ways. By doing so, we are 113!

Greg Glau, known for his work in basic writing, brought in his previous work in sales to talk about how teachers are really in the business of selling, and that teachers make good salespeople. We sell our students how much our class is going to benefit their studies and life. His work traces across all three public universities in Arizona, and he has now come full circle with both his sales and teaching work, saying that he is now in the business of helping his teachers learn how to sell what they are teaching. We need to transcend the boundary of teaching and see it in new ways. If we do this, we are 113!

Jay Dolmage presented a science fiction of sorts, asking us to imagine what the 4Cs would look like in 2020. He began by offering several possible – yet scary – scenarios: at the Palin Presidential Conference Center in Alaska, on a cruise ship in Hawaii, the SS CCCC, hosted by Pearson-MacMillan-Bedford-Cengage-McGraw-Hill-et al. publishing company, with a conference so large and disparate that many could neither afford to go nor get accepted. A place for the select few. These scary scenarios contrast with what Dolmage says we can do instead: have an inclusive, increasingly affordable, and infinitely accessible conference for all involved. As our discipline grows, we have the opportunity to make this a truly great professional conference by emphasizing access. We can do this by putting more and more content online, choosing affordable locations for the conference, and encouraging more contact and interaction, not less. His vision for CCCC 2020 is one that we can achieve – and we can all be 113!

Kathy Yancey followed with a discussion of her path to rhet/comp scholarship. As a young girl, she wanted to be an actress, then an architect, and went to school and became a teacher. She reckons that if she had attended school at another time, she would have studied weather, fascinated by use of patterns and the unpredictability of it. Instead, she’s now in the business of big ideas and always trying to come up with the next great one. This has led to many projects over the years, too many for her presentation or me to list here, but most recently the Center for Everyday Writing, a new initiative at Florida State. By tackling academic projects and thinking of big ideas, we are 113!

Chris Anson brought down the house by telling the narrative of his childhood, a mix of identities: a nature and animal lover, a writer, a wannabe veterinarian, an English child living in France and then the United States. His identity broke boundaries and he struggled to transcend them in school, resisting his American teachers’ desire for conformity to American spelling. In moments of brilliant openness and hilarity, he showed us how we all have mixed identity that transcends boundaries – that we are all 113.

Lamiyah Bahrainwala also told a narrative of the experiences that led her to study at Michigan State University. Born in India, she migrated to Dubai as a child, going to an all-girl’s private Catholic school until she went to the American University in the Middle East. It was there that some of her friends, whose L1 was Arabic, but who wrote predominantly in English, created a new language in order to reconcile their desire to write in Arabic but having to conform to English coding/writing online. Fascinated by the language, she now studies it at MSU, asking questions about how people are reclaiming their language while also contesting boundaries. They are 113!

Finally, Kati Fargo and Kevin Brock, both of NCSU’s CRDM program, introduced how their work and our program contests boundaries every day. Interdisciplinary in nature, CRDM brings together communication and rhetoric scholarship while asking questions through the lens of digital media and technology. We are fostering collaboration across topics and fields. They are writing program administrators, grant writers, graduate students, teachers, and friends. Our program blurs and transcends boundaries. WE ARE 113!

The panel ended with smart questions exploring how we can apply 113 to our work. The panelists are making a call for us to break, blur, transcend, and collaborate across boundaries to improve their field and make our scholarship even better. The panelists report struggling with the concept of first, unsure of how exactly to break boundaries and call for change. Their message was clear: we are 113!