By Rachel Bloom-Pojar
Greetings from a socially-distant Milwaukee. Our city and lives have taken quite a different turn since our last post. By now we had hoped to welcome so many teachers, students, writers, and researchers to our wonderful city of Milwaukee for the 2020 Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC). We all have experienced a huge shift in our daily lives since the start of March, and we hope you are staying home, healthy, and safe amid these uncertain times. While everyone on our local arrangements’ team agreed that cancelling the conference was for the best, it still was quite a disappointment that we couldn’t see this experience come to fruition—one that we started preparing for last summer. For a few weeks now, I have wanted to write a post about all of the amazing local work that went into preparing for Cs because my students, colleagues, and our community partners did so much to make this conference one that would have been truly special. Today, I write to share a small snapshot of that local work along with a note for moving forward here at Writing & Rhetoric MKE.
A Note of Thanks and an Invitation
There are many people to thank for all of the work that went on behind the scenes locally for this great conference-that-never-was. I want to take a moment to thank some of those people and to invite you to spend time with the webpages and resources that were put together with a deep attention to access, inclusion, and local communities. I want to first thank my colleague and friend, Maria Novotny, for everything she did as the Local Arrangements Committee (LAC) chair to plan and coordinate an excellent conference that would have highlighted the diverse community organizations and initiatives happening around our city. I also want to thank my fellow LAC sub-committee chairs, Lilly Campbell, Margaret Fink, and Heidi Rosenberg, and all of their volunteers for putting in the time and effort to prepare for this conference. We are especially grateful to Margaret, the Accessibility Committee, and the members of the CCCC Committee on Disability Issues in College Composition for their fantastic accessibility guide. Please read through that if you haven’t already done so. It is full of great advice and details that, while specific to what 4C20 would have been in Milwaukee, anyone attending or planning for a conference should be familiar with to make their gatherings more accessible. It can also serve as a set of resources for navigating accessibility around downtown Milwaukee. I hope you have had the chance to browse all of the detailed content on our VisitingMKE pages that were put together thanks to the tireless time and efforts of Lilly’s Information, Hospitality, and Special Events/Services committee. Finally, I want to thank the CCCC American Indian Caucus, Andrea Riley Mukavetz, Margaret Noodin, and Chloe Smith for putting together our Land/Water Acknowledgement and best practices for utilizing that.
I also want to express my deepest gratitude to the editorial team for this blog: Danielle Koepke, Chloe Smith, and Madison Williams. The time and labor they poured into planning, designing, writing, and editing the 4C20 pages went above and beyond what was asked of them as LAC volunteers. Meeting on a weekly basis since summer 2019, coordinating with other LAC sub-committees to assemble content, and responding to requests from various stakeholders each week on top of the demands of their own graduate coursework and family lives leaves me incredibly proud and grateful for their dedication to this project.
Where do we go from here?
Right before our hiatus on blog posts, we had started rolling out a series of posts written by LAC members for CCCC visitors: a Newcomer’s Guide to CCCC, sober options for socializing around the city, vegan-friendly dining options, new features and events for 4C20, the Milwaukee Public Library and local bookstores, and brewery tours. The editorial team kicked off this series by sharing highlights from the resources and webpages they worked on with other local arrangements’ volunteers over the past year to help visitors navigate the city and conference. We had a few more blog posts on local dining, community spaces, and LGBTQ+ friendly establishments that we hope to post once we are on the other side of Wisconsin’s safer-at-home order and people are able to visit these businesses and organizations again. These web pages and blog posts were always one part of a larger project and blog: Writing & Rhetoric MKE. So, as we had planned to do after the conference, we now look forward to returning to the work of #writingmke.
What does a website dedicated to highlighting community spaces and practices do while we are in a time of a global pandemic and “social distancing?” We hope to highlight how community practices of writing, rhetoric, and care are still happening in this uncertain and challenging time. If you would like to submit a blog post about how you’re connecting with others across Milwaukee, how your organization is using writing and/or rhetoric to bring people together, and/or what challenges have surfaced for everyday writing, rhetoric, and literacy practices, please consider submitting a blog post. You can read more about submission details here. This includes a special call for UWM graduate teaching assistants to share stories of adjusting to remote instruction, homeschooling children, navigating “quarantine” and social distancing in the city, and more.
As we move forward with this blog amid an ever-changing landscape with Covid-19, we hope to highlight stories of people, places, and organizations that demonstrate what has defined Milwaukee for many years: resilience in challenging times. We have already seen multiple examples of peoples’ resilience and determination, from showing up to vote and voicing concerns for public health in our recent primary election to translating Coronavirus information and addressing food insecurity on the South Side with Ayuda Mutua MKE. We will continue to see how writing (social media, texts, news reports, and more) and rhetoric (i.e. demands to “reopen” the economy or persuading people to support local food banks) remain central to navigating daily life amid this pandemic. Whether local in Milwaukee or across the country, we will only get through this by recognizing our interdependence, making connections with others, and continuing to care for our communities.
Rachel Bloom-Pojar is an Assistant Professor with the Public Rhetorics and Community Engagement program at UW-Milwaukee. She is also the faculty advisor for Writing & Rhetoric MKE.
No town in America is as closely associated with beer as Milwaukee. Did beer make Milwaukee famous, or was it the other way around? Our brewing history extends to the mid-19th century, as does beer’s indelible effect on the city and its residents, culture, and image. Despite the vast and constant changes that have defined Milwaukee over that time, one thing remains consistent: Milwaukee makes beer! It’s no surprise, then, that the craft brewery explosion of the last three decades has breathed new life into that old tradition, and that Milwaukee now has a lot of breweries of all sizes. Touring one is a great way to engage with the essential Milwaukee as any other, and it’s a lot of fun to boot.
Now, you won’t learn all there is to know about brewing from a tour, or even much about it at all, so don’t go expecting a lot of technical detail (I’m a home-brewer, and I’m afraid I made that mistake). Instead, expect to be entertained while getting a little local history, a slice of Milwaukee culture, a few tasty samples, and a little knowledge about beer, anyway. Below I’ve provided a few links with many options and details, but I’ve selected a few options that are closer to CCCC and have weekday tours available. For those who prefer spirits, there’s also a local distillery tour listed below. Don’t drink but still interested? They all serve soft drinks as well. Most of these tours do not require reservations, but it’s a good idea, and most offer discounted group tours also.
Miller Brewery (Biggest Brewery)
Starting with the biggest, not the closest, there is of course Milwaukee’s most famous beer. Miller’s daily public tour (they offer a longer, more detailed one on Tuesdays) starts every 30 minutes and runs 80 minutes. This is an indoor/outdoor walking tour with 46 mandatory steps (and even more optional ones – this tour includes the cave seen above), so this isn’t the most accessible, but they do offer special needs tours if given 24 hours’ notice. The Tours run all week but take a weekday one to see the brewery in action.
Lakefront Brewery (Biggest Restaurant)
Though actually located on a riverbank, not a lakefront, this is one of my favorite local breweries, and the one tour on this list that I’ve attended. Lakefront is closer to CCCC, and they actually have many tour options available, so you’ll want to check out the site linked to above. Weekday tours are shorter than Friday-Saturday tours because they cannot go through some portions of the brewery during production. They even offer tours en Español! (If you’re around on Sunday and want those aforementioned technical details, they now offer that as well.)
Their tours are 45 minutes, and include 4 6-oz samples, a souvenir pint glass, and a rousing rendition of the Laverne and Shirley theme song. They also have a full-service restaurant that seats billions and a pretty good fish fry (the local staple food).
Milwaukee Brewing Co. (Closest to CCCC)
This brewery is even closer to CCCC and has a few great beers as well! MKE, as they are called locally, runs tours from Friday to Sunday. They’re pretty new, so while I can say they make some tasty beer, there’s not much history to relate. Tours last “about an hour” and include unspecified (one site said “unlimited”) beer samples, a souvenir pint glass, and a token for a free beer at a local participating tavern.
Pabst MKE (Quickest Tour)
While not the brewing powerhouse they once were, Pabst is still a big name in Milwaukee, so they should be included. They’re a little more remote and a shorter tour at 25 minutes, and starting at 4 pm on weekdays makes for a short diversion before hitting the tap room. They’re just down the road from a more historically-oriented tour, however, so you might combine them.
Best Place Beer History Tour (No Actual Brewery Tour)
Another Pabst option that could be coupled, if you like, with the previous one just down the street, this is the tour for those who want to learn about Milwaukee’s beer history in greater detail. By focusing on the founding and growth of the Pabst Brewery, this tour engages the most with the early history of Milwaukee and the importance of brewing to that history. Tours run throughout every day.
Great Lakes Distillery (Least Hoppy)
Maybe beer isn’t your thing, or you’ve already toured a brewery? Great Lakes Distillery produces vodka, gin, rum, absinthe, whiskey, brandy, and liqueurs! Their one-hour tour explains how they do that, and includes a flight of six samples. Reservations are recommended for this fully accessible tour.
More information and options are available at these links:
Visit Milwaukee – Brewery Tours
Milwaukee Brewery Tours
OnMilwaukee Tour Guide
Milwaukee Magazine – 9 Unique Tours
Joe Serio is a PhD candidate in Rhetoric and Composition at UWM and presenter at CCCC. His work focuses on classroom play, community building, Technical Communication, and Media Studies. His dissertation involves analysis of emergent genres in tactical technical documentation created by members of online underground music collectors. He brewed his first beer – an Amber Ale – in 1990 and has been exploring beer styles and history while making his own beer, cider, and mead ever since.
By Jenna Green
As this year’s conference asks us to consider commonplaces, it seems serendipitous that the Milwaukee Public Library’s Central Branch, an essential Milwaukee commonplace, is just three blocks from the convention center. An architectural, historical, and cultural jewel, Central Library is a place for learning, reading, exploring, connection, and contemplation.
Opened to the public in 1898, the French and Italian Renaissance architectural-style building features a stunning rotunda and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Friends of the Milwaukee Public Library nonprofit organization offers free docent tours highlighting the building’s architectural and historical significance. Tours begin at 11:00 a.m. each Saturday morning in the rotunda. Private tours at other times and sign language interpretation are available by appointment by calling (414) 286-TOUR.
In addition to the extensive paper and digital collections, Central Library also boasts a 33,000 square foot Green Roof, Betty Brinn Children’s Room featuring a Hans Christian Andersen stained glass window, community events and the Richard E. and Lucille Krug rare books room. Learn more about the extensive rare books collection here.
Book lovers (i.e. CCCC attendees!) will want to visit The Bookseller, located on the first floor of Central Library. Find recent bestsellers, newly published and unique nonfiction and fiction alike for a fraction of the price of any other book store in town. Most children’s books are 25 cents, paperbacks 50 cents, and hardcovers one dollar. Operated by the Friends of the Milwaukee Public Library and staffed almost entirely by volunteers, The Bookseller generates revenue to support the library and its literacy initiatives in Milwaukee.
The Bookseller is also home to R Café, a woman of color-owned business offering coffee, breakfast, sandwiches, and sweet treats. Watch for special displays and offerings for CCCC attendees.
Looking for other opportunities to learn about Milwaukee’s literary scene? Consider a visit to these neighborhood independent bookstores:
Boswell Book Company
A treasure among Milwaukee bibliophiles, Boswell offers a charming, intimate environment to browse, read, and shop on Milwaukee’s East Side. Owner Daniel Goldin and his knowledgeable staff will help you find your next favorite book. Boswell is also known for hosting many author events and supporting local writers.
For poetry lovers, a visit to Woodland Pattern is a must. It’s a staple Milwaukee’s Riverwest neighborhood with a longstanding history and commitment to community engagement. The nonprofit bookstore is a haven for poets, small presses, and local authors, while offering events, readings, workshops and art exhibitions.
Half a mile from the Wisconsin Center, this abundant and quirky used book shop is perfect for finding a unique souvenir.
Voyageur Book Shop
Located in the heart of Milwaukee’s Bayview neighborhood, Voyageur is a used bookstore with an emphasis on rare books.
Jenna Green is Visiting Assistant Professor of English at Marquette University. Her teaching and research focuses on digital and multimodal composing, literacy studies, and multilingual writers.
By Dr. Lucy Johnson
I had the opportunity to sit down with this year’s conference chair, Julie Lindquist, and her research assistant, Bree Gannon via Skype to learn about what’s new this year at 4C20. Our focus was not only to inform new attendees of the conference about all the wonderful opportunities for networking, community building, and professionalizing, but also to specifically highlight what makes this year unique.
In reflecting on past iterations of the conference, what sets this year apart from others?
Julie: I think there are several things that we’re hoping to carry forward from prior years, but there are a few things that make MKE 2020 distinctive. One is the emphasis on the conference as an experience and an event oriented to attendees as learners. We’re seeing the conference as a space where folks have several opportunities for new learning, not exclusive to panels—that is, intentionally designed places of and occasions for conversation, connection, and reflection.
How can the conference be an experience that cannot be had other ways? What experience does the conference offer that might not be available in other times and places?
Julie: We think a conference makes a provisional community for people that may not exist in other spaces. It gets people out of their local contexts, and it builds relationships across disciplines, geographical locations, and communities. More than anything, it really embodies the professional community in ways that can’t be replicated.
Bree: As a PhD student, it’s always interesting for me to remember that a lot of people work in isolation. Conferences are an opportunity to connect with others in ways that might not be available to people locally. It also gives people the chance to discover how the field is changing and transforming. We read articles and books, but conferences give us the opportunity to experience the work of others in more intimate and embodied ways.
In cultivating that sense of community for conference attendees, what are the spaces at 4C20 for people to connect and develop new relationships?
Julie: When we were planning the conference, we began asking questions at our own institution like, “What do you expect from a conference?” and “what do you hope to get out of attending a conference?” The thing that kept surfacing was the accidental conversations that manifest. We began thinking about how we might make those “elevator conversations” more intentional in the design of the conference itself. One thing we developed is called Common Grounds coffee houses, which are pop up coffee stations that are set up at various times and places throughout the conference. You can go in and get a cup of coffee and it costs you the price of a conversation. In other words, it’s not coffee to go, it’s coffee to stay. It’s a place and space to have these organic conversations.
Another element that is still in the planning phase are the Think Mobs, which are on- and off-site opportunities for conversation. We want to provide an experience where people have a place to meet others and connect. The Friday night event is also very exciting this year. In the past, it’s most often been a band in a ballroom. This year, we’re really striving to embody the summer festival vibe that Milwaukee is so famous for, so we’ll have food trucks lined up just outside of the Wisconsin Center Atrium. Inside, there’s going to be a local music act called SistaStrings, spoken word poetry by Milwaukee poet laureate Dasha Hamilton, cash bars, and games.
Bree: We’ve also developed Documentarian roles for this year’s conference. The Documentarian role seeks to capture how people connect with one another and with the experience of the conference itself. Documentarians are charged with capturing those moments of connection, experience, and movement, and documenting them so that these stories are available to the wider 4C20 community. We hope to surface and listen to those stories and perspectives that are sometimes overlooked or unheard.
How have you worked with the Local Arrangements Committee (LAC) to ensure that the conference is about Milwaukee?
Julie: We’ve worked very closely with the LAC chair, Maria Novotny, and her team. The LAC, in turn, has worked in collaboration with SJAC, the Social Justice Action Committee. Maria has been organizing with local community members to plan experiences like narrated bus tours of the North and South Side communities, which will provide a more embodied experience of local stories. Our close collaboration with the LAC has been motivated by the goal of creating a more situated conference experience within Milwaukee, so that we’re all encouraged to recognize the place we are in and attend to its history.
Bree: We both read the book Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond, which is based in Milwaukee, and we became really passionate about incorporating that text into some of the conversations at the conference. For example, SJAC put together an activist panel that engages the stories and issues the book describes. For us, the story told in Evictedbecame a sort of central component to weaving Milwaukee and its history into the conference.
Another thing we’re working with the LAC on is the land/water acknowledgements. At the conference, there’s going to be a table set up for people who want to learn more about land/water acknowledgements and how to incorporate them into their teaching, presentations, and academic identities in a way that honors the indigenous communities, land/water, and histories. Maria has been a central figure in working with the American Indian Caucus and working with local indigenous communities to offer Native vendors and exhibits at the conference.
We’ve talked a lot about community building for conference attendees. On the other end, how has the planning of this conference been a collaborative experience?
Julie: The planning has truly been a collaborative experience since the beginning. From the CFP to the vision to the execution, we’ve been working together every step of the way, seeing the conference experience as a pedagogical space, and working towards ways to express that vision. I serve as Bree’s research mentor, and we have worked together in many other capacities, so a lot of the things we believe as teachers and administrators are showing up in the planning of this conference. These explicitly collaborative experiences, and also the everyday moments in our lives as teachers and scholars, have shaped the planning process for us.
Bree: One of the things we wanted to do this year as part of the reflective process was create a zine-style planner for conference participants. This zine is a creative journal with an artistic element to it. We collaborated with designer and academic Lauren Brentnell on the creation of this zine. It has many reflection sections to allow a space for attendees to reflect and record their experiences and takeaways. We’re excited about the zine being a collaborative experience for attendees across the conference.
We realized early on that Julie and I are just one perspective, both from MSU, and so we brought in other perspectives. We’ve been collaborating with stakeholders such as Maria, Michael Pemberton of the SJAC, and members of NCTE. We’ve also learned a lot from the work of those who have done the conference planning before us.
On that note, how does the conference participate in an ongoing narrative? What has it carried forward from prior years, and what likely to be carried forward into 2021?
Julie and Bree: There are a lot of conference events and experiences that are ongoing. Even with all the things that are new, we’ve still tried to maintain and honor the work that past chairs—Vershawn, Asao, and Caroline, most recently—have done. In recent years, there’s been a lot of concern about social justice and diversity, inclusion, and what it means to have access. These are important goals of the conference and we think what we’re doing is not anything radically different but rather continuing this focus and work in new ways. Holly Hassel, the incoming chair, has expressed that she’d like to carry forward the Documentarian idea, so that may become a component of the conference that will continue to carry momentum in the years to come. In many ways, It feels like there has been, and will be, an ongoing story for the conference.
In thinking about all that’s going into the conference planning, what have you learned--about the conference itself, and about the wider profession--through conceiving and planning a conference? What has been most surprising?
Bree: I’ve been going to 4Cs throughout my time as a student presenting my work. However, I don’t think I really understood the conference until I began this role as a research assistant. Prior to my work with 4C20, I had imagined that some kind of inaccessible executive board of people made these decisions behind closed doors. However, the people who are involved are just that—people. All of this work is service-driven. People are volunteering their time and labor, and I’ve learned that you can play an influential role in the conference in a way I didn’t realize until now.
Julie: There’s a lot of goodwill behind this conference—and the organization itself—that people don’t always get to see. Like Bree, I also found this experience to be supportive and communal, but I think there are ways we can work in the future to make this planning a bit more transparent to the the larger 4C20 community. This shouldn’t be an invisible process, and both of us had the experience of not knowing much about the process until we were in it. We’re hoping the work of the Documentarians can showcase some of that “behind the scenes” collaboration that is vital to the success of the conference.
Dr. Lucy Johnson is an assistant professor of digital literacies at UW-Eau Claire, where she teaches courses in rhetoric, technology, and culture. Her research examines ethical communication design and human-centered (as opposed to machine-based) digital literacy initiatives and outcomes within higher ed.
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.