Wednesday 24 August 2016

Midwestern Musings

The summer of change has come to an end and the fall semester of 2016 is here! It definitely feels different this year, though, as I work, teach, and write from Madison, WI instead of Chandler and Tempe, AZ. In my previous post, I listed the top five aspects that I loved most about living in Arizona, and I can say that those are the top five things that I most deeply miss and have thought about probably every day in the three months that we have been away from Arizona.

Turns out, though, that the responsibilities and expectations of a teaching assistantship and earning a Ph.D. do not decrease with a cross-country move. Instead, they must be configured and met without the accountability of a community. I do miss my ASU academic community as I work to meet my deadlines, and I can certainly say that it is different to have started teaching two online sections of ENG 301: Writing for the Professions through ASU having never seen or heard a single one of my students! I am encouraging video conferencing, and I do hope that some of them take me up on that offer. I will be teaching a face to face section of Written Communication at Madison College starting next week. I'm excited to be in the classroom and to actually see and talk to my students. Teaching is what energizes me and keeps me motivated to do the research and work that I do, and I'm sure that seeing my students in person will be a boost.

Today, I received some disappointing news regarding a manuscript about writing assessment and feminism that I was hoping to have included in an edited collection. It stings because I have been working on the manuscript drafts for well over a year, but I know this isn't the end for this work. While I was honored to have been asked to draft a chapter for this book, and I would have been excited to have had that chapter included in the final version of the collection, I also respect the editors' decision and trust their judgement that my manuscript probably was not ready for publication. In the introduction of the 1982 edited collection All the Women Are White, All the Blacks Are Men, But Some of Us Are Brave, recommended to me by my writing partner and friend Casie Moreland, the authors write: "it is important to consider also that although much research about these issues needs to be done, much insight about them can be arrived at through studying the literary and historical documents that already exist" (Hull and Smith xxii). I think that this quote identifies my error in writing and revising my manuscript. I was just not familiar enough with what is already out there for my contribution to the conversation to be clear or distinct. It is not fun to share less than great news, but I do think it is important to share the "downs" as well as the "ups." An ASU colleague studying Creative Writing posted a Facebook status today, saying:

"I wasn't sure if I should share this, but maybe sometimes it is okay to share 
not-so-great-still-cool news. I'm very proud, even as I'm disappointed, and that's a big part, I think, of being a writer."

This academic life is a journey! I'm learning that now more than ever in my: third year of my Ph.D., fifth year of grad school, ninth year of higher education, and 21st year of school. Yikes! 

The rest of this fall will consist of the following:  
  • Continuing to prepare, code, write, and revise dissertation work
  • Presenting at the 2016 Cultural Rhetorics Conference 
  • Flying to AZ to meet with my chair, committee members, and, perhaps, some students
  • Teaching and assessing my three course sections 
  • Revising a manuscript for another publication opportunity 

While I miss the Southwest, Midwestern summers and falls do have their advantages. Namely, being able to go outside and enjoy the weather! I will conclude this post with two images of some of the loveliness here.

I wish you peace, rest, and joy. 

Lake Mendota // Downtown Madison, WI

Wild Field // Cottage Grove, WI

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