By Jenni Moody
Welcome to the Brew City from your friendly local vegan!
Whenever I go to a conference in another city, I’m always excited to scope out the veg-friendly restaurants in town. But with making travel plans and deciding on which panels to attend, the task of finding places to eat and buy veg supplies usually falls by the wayside. At the end of the day, I find myself scrolling through Google reviews right outside the conference center while my stomach growls.
To help you find the right spot for dinner and a drink, for grabbing supplies to take back to your hotel, or for something sweet, here are some resources and recommendations for plant-focused food in Milwaukee!
Getting Started: Vegan Milwaukee
We’re lucky to have Vegan Milwaukee, an amazing website full of restaurant descriptions and community resources.
If location is your primary concern with finding veg-friendly food, then check out this map of restaurants by location.
If you’d like to go to 100% plant-based or to all-vegetarian restaurants, check out this guide that has great photos and links to each restaurant’s website.
And if you’re staying at a place where you can cook your own food and you’d like to buy some groceries, here’s a helpful list of grocery stores with veg-friendly items. Outpost is our local whole foods-focused store with several locations.
Short on Time
If you need to eat near the conference center, check out the restaurant guide made by our hospitality committee and search the features for “vegan friendly”.
If you’re looking to go a bit further afield, below are some of my favorite places to eat in Milwaukee.
Food. But also, Drinks!
For when you’re looking for dinner and want to wind down from the conference with a drink.
Take It To Go
For when you’re looking to grab some food to take back to your hotel or AirBnB for a night in.
For that point in the conference when all you want is some vegan dessert.
I hope you’ll share your own vegan recommendations by commenting here on the blog or on Twitter @writingmke with hashtag #4c20 and #writingmke!
Jenni Moody is a Distinguished Dissertator in the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Creative Writing PhD program, where she serves as Coordinator of the College Writing and Research composition program and as a mentor to new Graduate Teaching Assistants. She writes fiction that considers kinship with non-human animals, materiality, and image-text intersections. She studied creative writing at the MFA program at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and at the Clarion West Writers Workshop.
By Claire Edwards
Milwaukee is known as the city that beer made famous. Indeed, the history of modern Milwaukee is built on the brewing and selling of beer, and you will see many reminders of that history throughout the city from the Pabst Mansion to the various bars and microbreweries. But, I assure you, despite prominent marketing that might suggest otherwise, there is plenty for a sober Milwaukee visitor to do during their CCCC downtime.
Here, I offer some suggestions for sites to visit and activities to partake in during your visit to Milwaukee that do not showcase alcohol consumption as well as some completely alcohol-free options.
If you have other Milwaukee sober and sober-friendly options, please share them in the comments below or tweet us @writingmke with #4c20 and #writingmke.
-Claire Edwards is a second-year PhD student in Public Rhetorics and Community Engagement at UWM. She spent several years in teaching, tutoring, and administrative positions at community colleges and online universities in Southern California before moving to Milwaukee to pursue her doctorate. She spends her free time watching movies with her husband and cat.
By Kris Purzycki
The crowds. The presentations. The schedules. The events. The city. The scholarship. The posters. The vendors. The swag...
Without a doubt, CCCC is a lot to take in. A conference which draws in thousands of attendees from across the globe challenges the newcomer to navigate a lot of emotions, responsibilities, and intense experiences. All of which can be exhausting when packed into a few short days. Fortunately, the CCCC community is a welcoming one, eager to ensure that a newcomer’s first conference experience is incredible. Before arriving in Milwaukee, here is a sketch of what the newcomer can expect and some general advice for anyone looking forward to their first “Cs.”
“To combat fatigue and expand the content I take away,” describes Megan Mize, “I like to create a Google Doc so that I can divide and conquer with willing colleagues; they get my notes from panels, I get theirs, all in one place. This way, I leave with more information and a diversity of topics since they may hit up panels I might not have thought to, but I don't burn out trying to make it to every single thing.” Twitter feeds can also be good when catching up after the conference itself.
There are a couple of events the newcomer should try and make time for. Be sure to attend the Opening Session and Chair’s address. “It sets the tone for the conference,” shares Lauren Woolbright, “and it often makes a good conversation starter.” Last year’s provocative address by Asao Inoue, for example, has become a touchstone for discussion ever since.
One of the great opportunities provided to the first-timer is also the Newcomer’s Breakfast. Typically held on Thursday morning, this event is a must for the first-time attendee. “Go get free food and coffee,” Woolbright suggests. “The breakfast highlights a number of things happening at the conference and key people.” It’s also where you can learn about Cs the Day.
You should also not feel guilty for taking breaks or otherwise not doing what you’re “supposed to do” at Cs. It’s a long conference. If you have to travel to make the Wednesday workshops and are committed to staying for the entire conference, you might be looking at five or six jam-packed days! Take a break. Explore the city! Once there, prioritize a gathering at one of the publisher parties or elsewhere. As busy as we are, it can be difficult to get to know those in our department. One of the surprisingly unspoken qualities of a conference is that it is a retreat away from those responsibilities that seem to wander past your office door. Plan a meetup then relish setting up that automated email response: “I will be out of town to attend a conference…”
Admittedly, this is so much easier to type and say than it is to actually do. If you wrestle with introductions and small talk, the networking experience can be a challenge of wills: Will I say something inane? Will there be coffee available? Will anyone attend my workshop? If there’s a way to soothe those inner voices, I haven’t found that salve. One way to get around this is to find established organizations and activities.
There are currently three dozen standing groups and caucuses, for example, where one can not only get involved with the CCCC community but also meet others with similar interests. Most of these organizations hold their annual meetings at the conference and are an excellent way to get involved with a group dedicated to the betterment of the field.
Scheduling and What to Attend
Like I hinted at above, people get pretty burnt out at Cs when trying to do too much. There’s this strange notion that we can check out all of our colleagues panels, prepare our own work, put in a few volunteer hours, check out an interesting standing group. Maybe it’s possible for some people but not all of us, myself included.
Prioritize two or three panels that look interesting followed by a couple friends’ panels. For the whole conference.
Chances are, there’ll be other newcomers there as well! After a few quests, you’ve earned yourself the coveted sparkle pony! Designed as a low-barrier way to get involved in the conference, Cs the Day is aimed at CCCC newcomers but has attracted a large crowd of players who regularly attend Cs. Many players become volunteers for the game as it’s become one of the better ways to meet others.
Whether you’re on a budget or not, the vendor room at CCCC cannot be denied. When packing for CCCC, you should make sure to leave plenty of empty space in your luggage for all the books, bags, and tchotchkes. Sarah McGinley suggests to, “bring an extra suitcase for the books you'll buy. Or that are free!” To be sure, unless you have impenetrable willpower, you’ll be going home with an additional 50 pounds of textbooks, collections, and works of fiction.
Most representatives are happy to talk about their offerings. Many will offer a free instructor copy of the book either at the conference or will mail it to you at a later date. A few things that they’ll likely want to know: what’s your position and involvement in making decisions on textbooks. Be honest, of course.
It’s also worth considering your own options for publishing. Several editors and contributors are likely to be in attendance so don’t pass up a chance to discuss potential projects.
Be Prepared to be Unprepared
There is only one way to really be prepared for the Cs: be prepared to be poorly prepared. While there is a certain measure of professionalization and ethos (be sure to prep your mental glossary of rhetorical concepts!) involved, there are many, many newcomers to be found. Find them! Others who have seen their share of Chair’s addresses, lanyards layered in ribbons down to their floor, and calmly tweaking their slides, will be happy to offer guidance in exchange for the opportunity to regale you with their own Cs wanderlusts.
Everyone’s expectations and anticipations for their first Cs is unique of course. Any other advice for the CCCC initiate? Share your experiences in the comments, or if you have additional #newcomer advice, tweet it @writingmke with #4C20 and #writingmke.
Kris Purzycki (UW-Milwaukee) is one of the founding members of the Council for Play and Game Studies at CCCC for which he currently serves as the Associate Chair. He is also currently working with the 2020 Hospitality and Social Media Committees.
By Chloe Smith, Madison Williams, and Danielle Koepke
Greetings from the editorial team!
As many of our fervent and devoted readers may have noticed, there has been a great deal of construction taking place on our blog over the past several months. This March, the 2020 Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC) is being held here in Milwaukee, and Writing & Rhetoric MKE has been chosen to host the local landing page for the conference! Since being alerted of this exciting opportunity last year, we have been hard at work compiling content for the upcoming conference and making a space on our blog for this content. Volunteers through the local arrangements and website teams have collaborated to create the content that we’ve organized here for visitors to Milwaukee.
As the assembly of our CCCC pages comes together, we wanted to take a moment to highlight some of these new pages, and foreshadow what future CCCC content you can expect to view as we lead up to the conference.The newest main tab featured at the top of our blog, #4C20, is the landing page for the wealth of information waiting for you just beyond the horizon. This tab contains all things #4C20, both as static information and as links out to other useful resources.
Plunge into all the things #4C20 has to offer, including overarching categories such as accessibility, land/water acknowledgment, lodging and transportation, local CCCC events, and visitingMKE. Through these tabs, you can find information to help you prepare for the conference, give details about getting around the city, and find some great places for gathering with others during your time here in March.
Because of all the CCCC excitement, we’ll be taking a brief break from our usual content until the conference is over. Instead, we’ll be featuring posts on a range of CCCC related topics like advice for first-time attendees, the best spots for vegan and vegetarian diets, and some of the most offbeat attractions in the city. These posts still tie into our vision as an editorial team. Before, during, and after CCCC, we hope to highlight the opportunities conference attendees have to experience local community events, as well as the wide range of cuisine, culture, and attractions in our city.
If you’re presenting at the upcoming conference, we welcome you to go to our accessibility and land/water acknowledgement pages, where you can find some helpful resources to consider as you prepare your presentation and materials, such as the conference accessibility guide and suggested reflective actions to take in writing a land/water acknowledgement.
We’re so excited to share this content with you and welcome you to Milwaukee! Please keep in touch with us in the comments here on the blog, or on Twitter @writingmke and with #writingmke. Interested in writing a blog post of your own about something CCCC-related? We are looking for individuals to write reflective pieces post-conference about their experiences of CCCC and of Milwaukee.
We’re looking forward to seeing you in March! Here’s hoping it’s not snowing (But seriously, pack a winter jacket just in case).
Chloe, Madison, and Danielle
By Madison Williams
A commonplace recollection of 19th-century America evokes romanticized visions of an era known for dreams of manifest destiny, the ascendance of Jacksonian democracy, and the rise of the Gilded Age. However, this golden age of American expansion might be more accurately characterized by the U.S. government's cruel dispossession of Native Americans across the country through legislation that sustained government sanctioned violence and attempts at assimilation. Today, the enormous suffering felt by Native Americans at the hands of the U.S. government is no secret, yet this torture and enduring pain is thought of as a piece of the past. The problem with this attempt at public forgetting lies in the fact that "these settler ambitions, practices, and assertions" remain present, unchanged, and reproduced through the archival work done at this time.
Archives traditionally consist of a repository of historical documents, personal or scholarly papers, permanent records, and original documentation. They hold a collection of materials providing information about a place, institution, group of people, or individual; materials preserved because of the enduring value in the information they contain. Generally, archives are concerned with preserving primary sources, which is why archives are so often seen as unquestionably accurate and entirely neutral. After all, what could be more reliable, more credible, more true than an authentic artifact, a first-hand account, an original correspondence, or scientifically collected documentation?
Kimberly Christen and Jane Anderson address these issues directly in their article "Toward Slow Archives," asserting that colonial power is more that just present in archival records, in fact, "the history of collection is the history of colonialism" (92). They explore the practices, policies, projects, and technologies responsible for producing the Native American records collected by researchers in the 19th-century, identifying the colonial influence present in the purpose of the information being collected, what they chose to include, and, perhaps most importantly, whose voices they choose to silence.
As the government rapidly advanced its efforts to displace, destruct, and assimilate Native Americans, researchers embarked on a mission to preserve "supposedly dying Native cultures and languages" (94), effectively linking "colonial efforts, territorial displacement, and preservation practices together under the nomenclature of scientific advancement" (94). These records—made possible thanks to new technologies such Thomas Edison's cylinder phonographic recorder—represent Native Americans as objects, void of perspective, and without voices. Pioneered (pun-intended) by anthropologist Jesse Walter Fewkes, the quickly standardized use of the recorder in fieldwork to create "scientific documentation" sustained the colonial view of archival production as inherently un-bias. This silencing of Native American voices is powerfully illustrated by Christen and Anderson as they state: "Fewkes did not, of course, explicitly link the 'vanishing' or 'disappearing' of Native people, languages, and cultural practices to the nation’s policies and practices of displacement, violence, and removal" (96)
Recently, the City of Milwaukee celebrated its first Indigenous Peoples' Day, a statewide officially designated holiday, which will serve as a permanent replacement for the federally recognized Columbus Day. The unveiling of one Milwaukee County Park’s new signage memorialized this day as they proudly displayed the transformation of Columbus Park to Indigenous People's Park. This change is made in an effort to bring to light the often ignored injustice and violence indigenous people suffered at the hands of Christopher Columbus, and, as stated by Milwaukee County Supervisor Felesia Martin, to act as a measure "not to erase but to [create]... a complete narrative of U.S. history." Milwaukee County is home to a number of tribes, including the Menominee, Fox, Mascouten, Sauk, Potawatomi, Ojibwe, and Ho-Chunk; however, the impressive, and ultimately successful, campaign for renaming the park was launched solely by a tenacious group of students at Franklin's Indian Community School.
We can work to decolonialize Indigenous archives by intentionally "keeping colonial structures and practices in our view—as they are manifest in our institutions, policies, practices, and technologies—we can begin the work of tearing them down and building anew" (98). We can construct a new public memory, allowing Native Americans to control their own narrative, and, in turn, dissolving the power possessed by the colonial structures still in place today. Although renaming a local park may seem a small feat in the grand scheme of colonialism's effect on America today, it is a monumental accomplishment toward the effort of Native Americans in Milwaukee to control their own narrative and discontinue the possibility of public forgetting.
By Danielle DeVasto
In the spring of 2019, fourteen undergraduate students from across UWM enrolled in my course on Information Design. We spent the semester together exploring the theories, practices, and technologies involved in the ways we convey information. Amidst a stream of literal blizzards, we grappled with the vortex of data that we live in – a vortex in which we work to extract pertinent information from a swift current of text and visuals while also facing the challenges of getting our own messages to people dealing with information overload.
In response to this information overload, one of my goals was to think with my students about the roles that visuals can play in shaping our experiences and relationships with information and each other. I wanted us to explore the wide range of choices that make up visual compositions, choices that are shaped by and have consequences on audiences. Visuals, for example, can be designed to facilitate efficiency or transparency, an understandable reaction to the problem of information overload. But they might also be designed to encourage us to act or relate in other ways – like slowing down or looking thoughtfully.
Students were challenged to engage these themes through one of their major course projects – developing a static infographic. Infographics are visual displays of information that combine data visualizations, illustrations, text, and images together into a format to tell stories. These stories are often complex, but infographics have the particular potential to make that complexity clear and engaging. Infographics take advantage of the power of visual rhetoric and tap into our brains’ inclination towards the visual. Research shows that we pay more attention to images than text. We understand them better, remember them longer, and are more likely to believe texts that incorporate them. In other words, infographics, like visuals more broadly, do not simply display or show information; they are rhetorical and “perform persuasive work” (Wysocki 124).
We began with many questions and much uncertainty. What stories might we tell? To what ends? And where would that data come from? Given the constraints of the course, I thought we might best serve and be served by staying local. And so, we had the privilege of partnering with the good people of the Encyclopedia of Milwaukee (EMKE) to produce infographics that visually interpreted qualitative, quantitative, and spatial data relating to the past, present, and future of the greater Milwaukee area. As an encyclopedia, the EMKE is information rich and text-heavy; as a digital humanities project, it’s public-facing. The situation seemed prime for “infographic-ing.” In consultation with editors, students’ infographics were considered for publication on EMKE’s social media channels as a way of piquing interest and connecting audiences to encyclopedia entries.
While staying rooted in Milwaukee, students used the EMKE entries as launching points to develop their stories. As they dug into the encyclopedia, I asked students to think about:
As we discovered, the entries are already set up to tell stories. In some cases, students could rely on the entry content to visualize the story already present. But in many cases, students collected and transformed additional local data with the support of data and GIS specialists from the UWM Libraries. From these efforts, we learned a lot about the rise and fall of the Milwaukee ice and flour industries, tailgating, custard, Hmong migration, water, the Filipino-Milwaukee community, energy, waste management, and Milwaukee tourism. In the process and from reading their final deliverables, I saw my students’ changed relationships with the people and places (past and present) of Milwaukee.
We also learned that finding data is hard work. Transforming it into visual stories is even harder. And while it was all harder than maybe any of us anticipated, I hope that the experience of designing (and not just analyzing) has helped them see that visual strategies have real effects, effects that can help shape how we see information, ourselves, our city, and our relationships.
I am grateful to this group of students, Krista Grensavitch and the EMKE staff, Kristin Briney, and Stephen Appel for taking risks and getting messy with Milwaukee and with me.
Danielle DeVasto is an assistant professor in the Department of Writing at Grand Valley State University. Her research takes seriously the pressing need for effective, ethical interaction between experts and non-experts, especially in the contexts of natural hazards and science-policy decision making. She studies questions such as how hazard maps shape user agency, how public-science interactions in lower stakes environments (like planetariums) can support those in higher stakes settings, and how visuals can be designed to meaningfully communicate with patient populations in cross-cultural contexts. She teaches courses that focus on how writing and rhetoric can help shape more livable worlds.
by Danielle Koepke
I’m scrolling through Instagram and it hits me - this is how our generation will be remembered. These seemingly fleeting posts are how many people share the stories that matter in their daily lives. Those Instagram posts could be viewed as artifacts. Decades from now, there will be kids in some sort of school, learning some sort of history. Will social media posts be included? Who will decide what artifacts will become markers of this generations’ history?
What counts as an artifact?
I’m in a seminar this semester titled “The History of Rhetoric and Writing Studies.” So far, we’ve considered how impossible it is to write an accurate history. How can a researcher truly understand not only the events that mark a time period, but also how a person would be feeling as they lived their day-to-day lives during that time period? Every history written is just someone else’s account of a past event, but none are the end-all-be-all by themselves. A feminist lens on the historiography of rhetoric strives to expand what counts as history, and what counts as an artifact of history.
Julie Cruikshank writes about historical artifacts and narratives in her article “Oral History, Narrative Strategies, and Native American Historiography: Perspectives from the Yukon Territory, Canada.” Her research involves long term relational building with two women who over time tell their community histories to Cruikshank through oral narratives and songs. They re-purposed cultural stories with a powerful rhetorical dexterity that was contextually driven. One woman, Sidney, uses the same story four different times over the course of a span of many years, in four different specific ways, for four specific purposes, directed at four different audiences (16).
The narratives these women tell are historical artifacts. They are not recited from a book or recorded anywhere. These women show how “the act of storytelling provides ways of making historical changes understandable” (Cruikshank 5). Later on, these artifacts are discounted merely as beliefs when used in the Supreme Court in the case of Delgamuukw v. British Columbia, reinforcing the idea that “what academics (historians, anthropologists, judges) write is ‘history’ and that local practices are ‘data’ for those official histories” (23). Views such as this are harmful to the valuable local histories that are represented in community practices.
How do we view our own local and day-to-day cultural practices? Would we view our social media creations as just possible ‘data’ for ‘official’ accounts of our own history? Or would we view them as something more valuable?
This leads me back to social media, where I’ve been following Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC)and Greta Thunberg (@GretaThunberg), who have recently met in person! I scroll through tweets on Twitter and tap through through stories on Instagram, and what these women share impacts me. I screenshot one of their posts and share it with my own followers on Instagram.
Like the women Cruikshank learns from, if I share a story in four different ways through four social media platforms, am I also using narrative to achieve different purposes, for different audiences, in different contexts? I would say, yes. As time passes, we re-purpose stories in order to help make meaning in new situations within our local (and online) communities.
The narratives of these women anchored their credibility in their community’s cultural histories, and they use those historical artifacts as a way to be rhetorical within those communities. We just might be doing similar things today, in other spaces. In our day-to-day lives, we create artifacts that reflect ourselves, our values, and our cultures. Certainly, not all Instagram posts carry the cultural and historiographical value Cruikshank is discussing. However, it’s worth considering what counts as a historial artifact and whose stories matter.
by Chloe Smith
This semester, I am teaching two sections of English 102: College Writing and Research with a unique opportunity for community engagement. We are collaborating with a local organization called Learn Deep Milwaukee.
Learn Deep is focused on building a community-wide resource for career exploration for high school students in the area, and providing students the skills they’ll need for a rapidly changing workforce. According to Learn Deep’s website, to achieve this goal, “teachers and schools will need to adopt new methodologies that allow students to work in teams to explore real problems and how to get better at doing so.”
This partnership was a natural fit considering English 102’s emphasis on community-based research. The final project of the course asks students to research a topic or issue related to Milwaukee and produce an information product that could be useful to community members.
To gain more insight on issues facing communities in and around Milwaukee, the students in these 2 sections will be interviewing various professionals from the healthcare field who are associated with Learn Deep. Once the interviews are finished, we will transcribe them and code them to find topics for further research.
To prepare for these interviews, we have focused a lot on oral histories with an emphasis on ways in which they allow the person being interviewed to spend time reflecting on personal experiences and telling stories in their own conversational format. This focus will not only give students a greater chance to gain honest perspectives on issues facing the healthcare field in Milwaukee, but also allow them to foster a deeper connection with their interviewees.
Before choosing their interviewees, students spent time researching and discussing healthcare topics that interested them—with the results ranging from topics like the effects of racism on public health to hospital initiatives to the effects of vaping.
Based on their interests, students chose their interviewees from a list of professionals who volunteered to be interviewed for the project. Students have since been hard at work setting up interviews and drafting questions. We’ll spend the first week of October workshopping questions, practicing interviews, and even working with Pete Reynolds of Learn Deep and Joan Ward of Employ Milwaukee’s Center for Health Care Careers to receive feedback on interview questions and advice on coding the interviews once they’re finished.
I’ll admit that I came into these classes feeling rather nervous. Of course, I was over the moon at the opportunity of leading students through community-engaged research, but I wasn’t sure if they would share my excitement. Luckily, my worry was unfounded.
I’m blown away by how engaged these students have been, and how willing they are to work through a research process that, for most of them, is entirely new. They’re approaching these interviews—and the prospect of the research that will come after—with enthusiasm and creativity.
The interviews will take place during the week of October 7th. To keep up with how they went, the research they inspire, and some student reflections on the process, check back later on in the semester.
By Claire Edwards
PhD Student in Public Rhetorics & Community Engagement
UWM’s English department welcomed a batch of new Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTAs) to the fold last month. As one of this year’s five GTA mentors for English 102, I played a role in the planning and organizing of the orientation festivities. This was a big deal for me as I am still grappling with the fact that my own first year of the PhD is already behind me. I couldn’t have imagined a year ago that I would be one of this year’s mentors, getting a whole new group ready to teach English 102.
This all got me thinking. Grad school is a weird experience as so many, including our new GTAs, will find themselves enacting the roles of both student and teacher. This is a dichotomy all GTAs must simply come to terms with, one way or another. In some ways - and I stress, only some - it is the best job: you are actively learning while capitalizing on expertise. It is a fun apprenticeship of sorts. And, you can appropriate your favorite pedagogical tricks from your own professors. In retrospect, I hope that our orientation process was able to convey that teaching is rewarding and a way of more deeply engaging with your own learning.
Our group this year represents a range of experiences both in terms of prior teaching experience and primary academic disciplines. The mentors and our director, Shevaun Watson, considered these variations as we determined mentor groups. Each group was then assigned to a mentor and will meet for weekly check-ins and will act as a trouble-shooting support group for all-things pedagogy. As mentors, we will also informally observe our mentees in their classrooms once this semester to provide suggestions and encouragement.
TAing was my own first foray into college teaching during my MA program ten years ago. I am ashamed to admit now that I never really sought out the pedagogical advice of the mentor assigned to my cohort of eight GTAs. His felt like more of an honorary position, and I was never quite sure what I could or could not ask him about. Because of that experience, it is now important to me to be available for my own mentees and to continue to encourage them to come to me for guidance and support with any aspect of teaching that proves challenging.
One of the main reasons I have the goal of guiding my mentees this year is that I myself ended up learning so much from my mentor last year. When I came to UWM’s English PhD program in 2018 with several years of college-level teaching under my belt, I assumed I would not need a mentor. But, I quickly realized that because of the hands-off nature of my MA GTA experience and the largely isolated work of adjunct teaching, I never had the opportunity to really interrogate my teaching style. My own mentor, Jenni Moody, taught me a lot about things I had not valued enough in the past: quiet space in the classroom and introversion as a strength, being two huge ones. She also ended up inadvertently teaching me about how to be a supportive and encouraging mentor.
There is a lot we want our new GTAs to go into the year thinking about, not the least of which is the concept of persona. I’ve always thought of teaching as requiring a sort of persona. While I still believe that, my perspective on what the persona can be has changed. I previously saw a persona as inherently different from a person’s “true” self and behaviors, and I was comfortable with this because it provided a sort of barrier between myself and that scary classroom in front of me. After encountering, and continuing to encounter, such varied teaching styles and approaches, I see that the persona I choose to effect can actually be me - introverted, a little weird, sometimes quiet, not at the center.
I hope all of our 2019-2020 ENG102 GTAs will find a persona and a classroom temperament that is just right for them and that allows them to make the most impact on their students, focus on what they value most, and feel comfortable in their dual roles of student and teacher during this weird grad school experience.
The other members of this year’s English 102 Mentor team include ENG102 coordinator Jenni Moody, Julie Kaiser, Joni Hayward Marcum, and Beth Vigoren. The director of composition is Shevaun Watson.
By Rachel Bloom-Pojar
This is the second part of two posts about our new faculty members with the Public Rhetorics and Community Engagement program at UWM: Dr. Derek Handley and Dr. Maria Novotny. You can read Part 1 here.
What experience do you have with community-engaged teaching?
Maria: I have taught many professional writing and technical classes, which naturally lend themselves to community-engaged projects. For example, in my "Digital Rhetoric in Health and Medicine" course at UWO, students worked with the Women’s Center and Student Center on campus to create a series of multimedia, advocacy toolkits to support educating their college peers on the importance of data privacy. We reflected on the learning that occurred through these projects and shared our community-engaged projects on the Sweetland Digital Rhetoric Collaborative’s blog. Also, in my "Grant Writing Foundations" course, my students worked with five Oshkosh community non-profits organizations. While students gained experience researching and writing grant documents, this collaborative partnership also revealed the importance of reciprocity. As the course concluded, students remarked on the interpersonal and rhetorical negotiations they had to make in order to successfully partner with the organization.
Derek: My first year writing courses are focused on place and community. What I mean by that, is that the course focuses on issues directly affecting the local place where the students live. I have students conduct research not only in academic spaces such as the library, but also out in the community. They have to talk with people, organizations, and businesses to get a greater understanding of the various stakeholders' perspectives. For instance, when I taught in Western Pennsylvania, I developed a course around the environmental issue of Marcellus Shale fracking. Many of my students were directly connected to that industry through friends and family.
What do you envision for the future of our Public Rhetorics and Community Engagement program?
Derek: I think it is important for us to develop a program that has a viable option for careers outside of academia. The academic job market is tight and there are other careers in which students should consider. To facilitate this idea, I think we should seek relationships with outside organizations and businesses and educate them on how students in our program can contribute to the goals of that organization. Perhaps we could set up summer internships for our students. The Mellon/ACLS Public Fellows program serves as a perfect example of what some of our students should consider applying for after they complete their degree. The program places recent PhDs in government organizations and non-profit sectors for up two years.
Maria: I am very excited to work on the Public Rhetorics and Community Engagement program. My dissertation drew from my community-engaged work with the ART of Infertility. Engaged in that work, I recall moments of feeling overwhelmed not just by the doing of a dissertation but by the natural messiness of navigating and learning what it means to do community work. I hope to draw on these experiences, as well as the experiences of current graduate students, to think about how the program can be structurally organized and designed to offer mentorship and institutional support. I see my book project with John Gagnon as one scholarly trajectory that assists with this, but I’m also eager to think through the types of experiences and training we offer to our students via our curriculum. It’s an exciting program, and I think will resonate with folks across the field!
What is a graduate course you look forward to teaching?
Maria: I’m really looking forward to teaching Cultural Rhetorics in the spring. I’ve taught this for undergraduate students, but I’m eager to teach approaches to a cultural rhetorics methodology to graduate students. I am hopeful that students will also take interest, as I see cultural rhetorics offering methods useful for individuals who want to do ethical and reciprocal community work. Plus, I’m hoping that I can invite a couple of scholars who do cultural rhetorics work to join our class for some Q&A sessions.
Derek: I look forward to developing and teaching a topics course entitled African American Rhetoric and the Black Freedom Movement. The course is intended as an informed introduction to African American rhetoric, which is defined as the “communicative practices, and persuasive strategies rooted in freedom struggles by people of African ancestry in America” (Jackson and Richardson). The readings and discussions will familiarize students with various contemporary theorists whose ideas broaden contemporary conceptualization of African American Rhetoric. By the end of the course, students will have a richer understanding of how rhetoric is a tool of social change encompassing a variety of written, visual and verbal communication strategies. Readings in particular will include major thinkers like Cornel West, Keith Gilyard, Molefi Asante, and Geneva Smitherman.
What's something you like to do in your free time?
Derek: Exploring Wisconsin. My family and I are still new to the Midwest so we’re looking forward to taking some day-trips to go hiking, kayaking, and canoeing, especially when the leaves start to change colors. Also, we just adopted a 5 year-old Labrador Retriever named Obi, so we want to get him out of the city and get some strenuous exercise.
Maria: I’m a Wisconsin girl at heart. Raised here, in the summer I am an avid musky fisherwoman. I caught a 41 inch one this summer with my dad. In the spring, I help a family friend on their maple syrup farm. Taking walks in the woods, listening to storms roll through, and establishing a connection to the land has helped me stay grounded when the stress of academia can seem intense.
Thanks to Derek and Maria for their time and interest in contributing to Writing & Rhetoric MKE. I’m looking forward to building community with you in our program and around Milwaukee! -RBP