Thursday, 28 March 2019

The Ide[a]s of March

March is here, and it brought some sunshine and warmer weather along with it!

At Olivet, we celebrated moving into the second half the semester the first week of March, and then we had our spring break the second week. All four of my classes were ready to have a little time off, as they have all been working hard on various writing projects. My College Writing I students completed a critical review of an episode of a food show on Netflix just before the break. My Fiction and Poetry students have been working through drafts of chapters, short stories, and poems as we examine the five rhetorical canons of composition. My Business Communication and Technical Writing students had a busy first half of the semester jumping into writing practicums, writing documentation for an online process, and starting a group proposal project. As always, there have been some ups and downs, but the students have been working hard towards these projects goals.

My Fiction and Poetry class have had a special treat of having two guest authors come speak to them during class time to share about drafting, invention, and the composing process as a whole. The first is my friend, Thomas Hunt, who I studied with in Oxford almost ten years ago now. Quite a bit of time has passed, but Tom was so kindly willing and quick to schedule a time to chat with my class from a quiet corner at Cambridge University where he is currently earning his second master's degree! Tom and I lived in the same house and were in the food group together during our time in Oxford, which means we're forever bonded. He shared about his writing and publishing of his two published books: Winter With God, which I love and read at the beginning of every class this semester, as well as The Way of Faith, which I am excited to get my hands on! My students were enamored and learned so much.



As a second guest, my friend Ian Matthews also came to speak to our class. Ian and I were English majors at the same time at Olivet, and we actually took Fiction and Poetry together about nine years ago. Since then, he actually taught the class for a few years after completing his MFA. He recently took a new position at the university in instructional development, but he was kind enough to come back to speak to our class about his process specifically composing, editing, and publishing poetry, including his poem "Glad" published in The Badlands. He shared quite a bit of his own poetry, as well as the poetry from poets he is inspired by. It was a wonderful glimpse into this specific type of composing, and as the previous professor of the course, Ian had a lot of great advice to share with these six creative writing students.


As I mentioned in the last post, I spent my spring break in Pittsburgh, PA at CCCC 2019. Wade traveled with me this time, and it was nice to be able to see him in the morning and hang out together at night. As we live apart during the work week, it was especially great to be able to have dinner together and just chat about our day in person instead of over the phone or FaceTime. At the conference, I served as a co-chair of the feminist workshop, which this year was titled "Living Feminist Lives: Materialities, Methodologies, and Practices." In this 9:00 AM- 5:00 PM workshop we got to hear from a variety of wonderful speakers, including both graduate students and foundational scholars in the field. My very favorite feminist theorists, Jaqueline Jones Royster and Gesa Kirsch, spoke as the keynote speakers. I am always so excited and so inspired when I get to hear them speak. My dissertation and the majority of my subsequent scholarly work has been based off of their 2012 text, Feminist Rhetorical Practices, which is sometimes referred to affectionately as "the feminist Bible." Their work emphasizes the importance of ethical communication and research practices, particularly with members of the community outside of the academy.

I attended some other panels on the two main days of the conference. This year I attended panels exclusively focused on feminist teaching and scholarship, and I loved it. I don't know if I will be able to attend my very favorite conference in the fall-- Feminisms & Rhetorics-- so I had to soak up all the feminist research and discussion I could now! I also presented my own work on the Saturday morning of the conference. My two co-panelists and I talked about food scholarship. My presentation (surprise surprise) was based on two of Royster and Kirsch's feminist rhetorical practices. We even had eight attendees who contributed to discussions and questions following our panel. Wade and I flew out a few hours after my presentation, so it was a great end to my CCCC 2019 experience!

I got to spend time with my wonderful friend and writing group colleague, Dr. Casie Moreland, as well as other graduate school and conference friends, which is one of the best parts of attending these conferences every year. We were also lucky enough to get to see our college friend Jerry Scheller and get a personalized tour of Pittsburgh!







Since returning home we've been hanging out with our dogs, working on buying a house, and I've of course, been back in IL at work. This week is ending with a two day departmental workshop focusing on adjusting our major offerings, outcomes, and course structure. It's a lot to work on, but we have a solid group of nine, dedicated, hard working English professors and instructors coming together to discuss these changes and work towards a, hopefully, better program for our students. It is a lot of hard work, but I am energized by the sharing of these ideas, proposals of changes, and overall shifts in some of the ways we've been working and thinking.

On a personal note, about seven days after arriving home from Thailand we found out that I am pregnant! We are expecting a little bundle in mid to late September. This little one already been on ten airline rides with us on our trip to and from Asia, as well as back and forth from PA. I didn't feel great on the trips to and from Pittsburgh, so I'm thinking we might stay grounded for the next six months or so. We were shocked, to say the least, but we are getting very excited to welcome this new little life. Our family, friends, and coworkers have been the MOST excited and loving, and it's made me appreciate our strong support system more than ever. We believe the best is yet to come!




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