Category Archives: CCR

doctoral work

Approaching the job market: some considerations

Note: I was asked to co-present at a job-seekers colloquium tomorrow within my PhD program at Syracuse, so I gathered some thoughts on the market which you can find below. Looking forward to hearing my colleagues’ thoughts on this as well since everyone experiences this process differently.

I turned 40 right before I accepted my job at Rowan last January — my only offer after a long, difficult search. I’ve worked in high schools, administered a writing center, designed community literacy programming, and despite my scholarly focus on amateurs and DIY publishing, I’ve taught professional writing more than any other college course. Moreover, my wife and I have owned a house in Syracuse since 2007, had 3 kids here, and enjoy a vast network of family and friends all over Upstate. I mention all of this because these things — for better and worse — factored into the emotional and logistical way I experienced the market.

I think factors like these — work/experience, friends and family, geographic preferences, career ambitions and allegiances — lead to significant differences in how we approach the process. There is no one way to summarize how anyone could process it. However, one central, practical manifestation — and one that you might begin thinking about right now if you are about to enter the market — comes through the question of how widely you apply. I opted to go wide (about 65 applications) and although it was a lot of work, I’m mostly glad that I did. I applied for English ed jobs, digital writing jobs, civic/professional writing jobs, writing center jobs, and jobs that were mostly tenure track, but not always.

Although I split childcare duties with my wife this year, I was unemployed and so you should take that into account as you read on. But one of the ways I looked at this decision (thanks in part to a mentor’s advice), is that there’s a strange emotional rhythm to the successes and failures of the market. For me, the game went a little like this: as long as I had other lines cast into the sea, a rejection was never as heavy as it would have felt had I limited my search to, say, 20 jobs. And even if I did, I was just too damn busy to linger on those failures. Aside from these psycho elements, ~65 applications gained me a lot of experience interviewing for different jobs, in different formats, and with committees/institutions that had very different dynamics. And it was a little fun.

On the other hand, had I been a bit more selective, I might have been able to write more institutionally-specific letters and prepared stronger materials. I often felt like my teaching letter was really a thinly-veiled research letter, for example, and it didn’t get me many interviews with teaching-oriented positions. The apply-widely approach also led to a very chaotic November/December where I was preparing for multiple campus visits, interviewing with schools on phone/Skype, and still applying for jobs all at the same time. This was very hard on my family. And in the end, I got a job I would have applied for no matter what criteria I used (in fact, a majority of my campus visit invitations were for positions I would have applied to had I been more selective). And Rowan was my first campus visit. 

But I guess what I’m really saying is this: Do you want to run a writing program? Can you handle living in an area where home ownership is virtually impossible for the professoriate? Do you have actual passion for teaching technical writing day in, day out? What are your loved ones willing to sacrifice for your career? Have you talked about it? How do you feel about it? And how conscious are you about your answers to these questions heading into the market? When I sought advice last year, time and time again folks encouraged me to consider both my professional and personal goals, even in the midst of a process where you seem to have very little control.

If you opt for an apply-widely approach (or maybe even if you don’t), the rumors are true: your first academic job search is a full-time job. It’s not that I did not believe this maxim when my mentors shared it with me over and over again, but it’s a different thing when you actually table your dissertation for 3-4 months and live with that decision. As a result, I thought it might help to spell out how this actually worked for me month-to-month and embed some advice within that arc.

Summer before: Based on the wonderful CCR job-seeker meetings organized by Eileen, I used some of my summer to redesign my professional website and draft app documents: 3 different cover letters (teaching/research/WPA), CV drafts, various philosophies, portfolios, etc. But really, I tried to make the most of my summer by getting as far ahead on my dissertation as possible. Ideally you want to have 80% of your diss (~4 chapters) drafted before Sept 1. I only managed 3 of 5 chapters and now it’s April and I’m scrambling to finish before I leave town in August. It’s not fun. Plus, the more you write, the better you understand your project and that’ll be essential when you give your job talk or discuss your work in interviews. (Although I got the job at Rowan, my job talks got better with practice, too.)

September & October: Jobs come in batches starting as early as August, but because of how I approached them, they seemed to constantly flow from postings on the Rhet/Comp Jobs Wiki, Rhetmap, and the WPA list (I rarely looked at the MLA JIL, to be honest). I used a Google spreadsheet to keep track of the ones I wanted to apply for (noting deadlines, links to job descriptions, teaching loads, specializations, and any other details) and color coded them as the market progressed. As these positions were posted I also found myself writing additional required statements on diversity and ESL, and formatting specific teaching portfolios based on the parameters of the application. Speaking of which, the application interfaces are far from uniform and here you find yourself in the belly of the managed university. Interfolio applications were relatively painless but not common enough, and in the more chaotic moments of the search this actually factored into whether or not I applied. Also: from my experience, hardly any schools held initial interviews at MLA this January. As a result, the market schedule shifted and had earlier deadlines. My phone/Skype interviews started in mid-October, for example — well ahead of the MLA-centered schedule.

Late November & Early December: Because I applied widely, this was the time of the process when my life got pretty crazy. At one point, I had multiple campus visits in a 10-day period and a few interviews with schools in between, so all at once I was trying to research schools, write job talks, plan teaching demos, shop for cheap-but-fancy clothes, and continue to apply for jobs that had later deadlines. Nothing I did felt quite adequate and I had a least one emotional breakdown. Still, I’m not sure this was avoidable— just a symptom of an apply-widely approach.

Winter Break: I had a few more interviews in the middle of December and then things suddenly went quiet. This was the hardest part. I wanted to know how those visits went and I wanted to have more scheduled in case they did not go as well as I hoped. I did not have a holiday filled with cheer and I couldn’t help but think that the more time passed, the worse the news would be. At many of the visits I went on in Nov/Dec search chairs told me that they wanted to make a decision before the break. And yet it was important to remember that the timeline for each institution was different. Some were waiting on deans to authorize an offer, and some places brought 2, 3, or even 4 candidates to campus — all people who might have gotten an offer before me. I thought committees would keep me posted throughout this process but it turned out that I only heard from them once someone else accepted and the search was over. That said, in multiple cases I was encouraged by committees to get in touch if I got another offer. That’s something to keep in mind if you find yourself in the fortunate (rare?) position of getting multiple offers at once.

In hindsight, I can say that it would have been emotionally helpful to talk with people other than my wife and my dissertation advisor about what this whole process felt like. Perhaps it would have been good, like in support groups, to have a “sponsor” to talk with — someone who went through this before and would be willing to listen to my anxieties about real estate costs, the material realities of the job, and my innermost insecurities, such as why in the hell did I choose to do a PhD in the first place?

There’s much more to talk about, of course, but I wanted to end this post with just a few practical resources I returned to time and time again:

Rhet/comp academic jobs wiki. Most of the jobs I found were initially posted on this site. I used an RSS-reader Chrome app and subscribed to the RECENT ACTIVITY link on that site, which helped me manage it all. You can also use this site to get backchannel updates on jobs that have posted, but this info can be unreliable, quickly render you obsessive, and ultimately be counterproductive to your progress.

Rhetmap. This site, run by Jim Ridolfo at Kentucky, is useful not only because it geo-plots MLA JIL data, but includes a number of extras. When things were not looking good, for example, I reminded myself that this was the worst market statistically speaking in at least the last 5 years. I knew that because of tools like this market comparison visualization created by Chris Lindgren:

The Professor Is In by Karen Kelsky. Not everyone is a fan of this book or Kelsky’s approach, but if you can get past the first few chapters where she reminds you of the terribly depressing club you are trying to enter, then there are some helpful pieces of advice. Plus the book is organized chronologically in terms of how most candidates experience the market, making it a manageable read on top of all your other responsibilities. She’s also often funny, direct, and includes memorable stories.

Google Analytics. If you have a professional webpage and want to see when and where users are reading it from, install Google Analytics. Although I’m sure it didn’t help my mental health (see academic jobs wiki above), this feature predicted some of the interviews I got ahead of the call.

Why do youth share so publicly? Or, privacy as a process for agency

Note: This is part of collaborative book review of It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens by danah boyd that I wrote with other HASTAC scholars.  My original post is here. The book is available as a free download on boyd’s site.

Early in her second chapter of It’s Complicated, danah boyd makes one thing perfectly clear: teens want privacy. To illustrate this, she shares a few pithy quotations from “Waffles,”one of many teens she interviews throughout the book:

“Just because teenagers use internet sites to connect to other people doesn’t mean they don’t care about their privacy. We don’t tell everybody every single thing about our lives. . . . So to go ahead and say that teenagers don’t like privacy is pretty ignorant and inconsiderate honestly, I believe, on the adults’ part” (55).

The rest of the chapter goes on to explain why adults —and the media at large —often misunderstand or understate this desire as they see teens negotiate what boyd calls in the introduction networked publics.

Networked publics are both the virtual common spaces arranged by social media (not unlike malls or parks) and the socially-constructed, imagined communities that develop from participating in them. For boyd, such environments are shaped by four specific technological affordances —persistence, visibility, spreadability, and searchability —that have always existed, but are amplified for teens who are using social media. It also serves as a convenient schema for analyzing and making clear the structures at play as teens do what they’ve always done: try to socialize their way into adulthood. In this sense Chapter 2’s focus on teens’desire for privacy stands in as an important metonymy for the ongoing desire to have more agency in their lives —as a way to assert control over their socialization in a network that is complicated by the affordances of persistence, visibility, spreadability, and searchability.

For example, the persistence and visibility of a teen’s Facebook feed allows for snooping parents or siblings to either monitor or even comment on a photo or status update. As spaces where context collapses (mentioned in Chapter 1), friends and family collide making it difficult to achieve any sort of intimacy. As a result, teens often switch between platforms for certain tasks —from Facebook to Snapchat or SMS —or abandon them entirely just to stay one step ahead of their parents. In a less common but more impressive example, one teen deactivated her Facebook account each time she signed off just to exert some control over the platform’s persistence and searchability —so that if anyone wanted to write on her wall, they’d have to catch her when she was actually online (and even then, she would delete it).

Still, boyd makes it clear that the more common situation is that teens control access of their public content through their discourse rather than through the interface. In one of the more interesting-yet-relatable sections of the chapter, boyd explicates the concept of social steganography:“hiding messages in plain sight by leveraging shared knowledge and cues embedded in particular social contexts”(65). This occurs through subtweeting, using pronouns strategically, referencing songs or other pop culture references, or other tactics that use a specific but shared context for its meaning to coalesce with a select few.

Yet a more paradoxical strategy is to overshare —to emote daily, to give a play-by-play on a breakup, or in the case of one LA teen, to post goofy selfies. For this latter teen it was a lot safer to share her images publicly because not only would she be in control of the context instead of her friends (who would likely take an opportunity to embarrass her), but also “her apparent exhibitionism left plenty of room for people to not focus in on the things that were deeply intimate in her life”(75). This is an important point since boyd makes a lucid case that these cases are ultimately about teens controlling privacy “in relation to those who hold power over them”(56) —parents, siblings, teachers, or even other peers.

As boyd puts it, privacy isn’t something to be had but something to be continuously strived for, “a process by which people seek to have control over a social situation by managing impressions, information flows, and context”(76). For teens socializing in networked publics this means doing whatever possible to control those affordances. And for boyd, it’s critically important to their psychosocial development, including their self-efficacy and self-esteem since “[p]rivacy doesn’t just depend on agency; being able to achieve privacy is an expression of agency”(76). Importantly, then, adult surveillance shapes teens’understanding of privacy; when good parenting is defined as striving for omniscience, as is often the case in our culture, it sets up a pernicious cycle of distrust that will haunt teens —and their parents —well into their adult years.

If there’s a limit to boyd’s chapter is that it doesn’t go far enough to explore some of nuances of these problems; although she justifiably harangues adults for homogenizing teens into a bunch of drama-whoring oversharers, as a young parent and longtime teacher, I found myself hungry for some of the more complicated examples where adults and teens were able to negotiate public/private thresholds that didn’t always pin one against the other.  Moreover, as a scholar interested in zines and other forms of alternative media, I became a bit depressed by the implication that the only way to socialize in networked publics is by using the fast capitalist tools of Silicon Valley. By her own admission, boyd “take[s] for granted, and rarely seek[s] to challenge, the capitalist logic that underpins American society and the development of social media.”This statement is indicative of boyd’s honesty in terms of audience, methodology and purpose throughout the book, but when teens are implicated in this logic throughout, it is hardly reassuring. For example, in Chapter 2 she notices that teens struggle to control their identity in the midst of “a media ecosystem designed to publicize every teen fad, moral panic, and new hyped technology”(55).

Despite these limitations, I’m finding It’s Complicated accessible, engaging, and important for parents and teachers as they seek to better understand how technology affects their relationships with teens. This chapter in particular not only paints a vivid picture of several teens negotiating privacy in the digital age, but also shows how timeless that struggle really is.

The embodied search and zine materiality

Every so few weeks Pitchfork runs a funky little feature called 5-10-15-20 that asks artists — folks like Neko Case, Nas, Erykah Badu — to talk about the music they listened to at different points in their lives. I always love these features not only because the artists talk about records I’ve never heard of and/or expected they to list (Badu apparently listened to Nirvana a ton in her 20s), but they show that such eclecticism is arguably necessary to one’s artistry. Anyway, on its most recent feature, Kathleen Hanna talks about taping reggae from the radio, explains how she jogged to Public Enemy, and reminisces about fellow riot grrrl band Bratmobile.

When it comes to her talking about her most recent age — 45 — she shares her adoration for Montreal electro-pop artist Grimes (AKA Claire Boucher), loving that’s although Boucher is 20 years younger than her, she embodies some of the feminist ideals the riot grrrl movement energized in the 90s. And yet, Hanna quickly notes her disgust with how women artists like Grimes are taken up on popular music blogs:

“I read some of the worst shit I’ve ever read in my life about Vivian Girls on BrooklynVegan. I clicked on a link because I wanted to see a show, and I made the mistake of reading the comments, and it made me want to cry. It was like the 90s all over again. But people in the 90s had to take out a piece of paper and write you a letter. It’s taken me a long time to not take that stuff seriously. I feel like people who are younger than me understand better. When Le Tigre started, people felt like they had to respond if someone said something negative about you online. As a political musician you felt obligated to have a dialogue. Now I realize.”

Grimes, ‘Oblivion’ from Somesuch & Co. on Vimeo.

Hanna’s observation about “that stuff” — the negative discourses of the web, specifically the comments section — resonated with me for two reasons. First, with hesitation, I reactivated my Facebook account a few weeks ago. Second, I’ve focused nearly all of my reading time on three recent books on zines. For sure, my decision to come back to Facebook is the result of a variety of forces, but I think my primary reason is one articulated in these books; it’s the same response as Hanna’s in understanding of how certain online spaces work. It’s a kind of letting go — a way of limiting my time on those spaces, but also filtering discourses and refusing certain kinds of dialogue. This is something, it seems, certain makers of zines understand quite well.

In Girl Zines (2009), Alison Piepmeier borrows from Mimi Nguyen’s work in arguing that the Internet is generally still a pretty hostile place for women, a place that “replicates many of the structural inequalities of the nondigital world” (15). In a more recent piece, for example, “Google Search: Hyper-visibility as a Means of Rendering Black Women and Girls Invisible,”  Safiya Umoja Noble shows subtler ways this hostility is perpetuated by critiquing the neoliberal logic undergirding a search engine like Google:

“Commercial search implodes when it comes to providing reliable, credible, and historically contextualized information about women and people of color, especially Black women and girls, which serves as a means of silencing Black women and girls as social and political agents.”

As a result, the materiality of zines — as paper that mediates one body to another — allows them to circulate differently in what Piepmeier calls embodied communities — collectives that activate bodily experiences through paper, string, and the otherwise tactile pleasures of zine making which serve to humanize discourse in ways that are difficult to sustain and control digitally (63).

This isn’t to say, of course, that vibrant feminist spaces don’t exist on the web. Feministing, to give one example, has been going strong for years. However, recent scholarship on zines make a compelling case for the affordances of embodied analogue media. Farmer (mentioned in my last post), for example, argues that the affective qualities of zines create important alternative spaces for dissent that are directly linked to their materiality through bricolage — ““the artful ‘making do’ of the ‘handyman’ who, using only those materials and tools readily available to him, constructs new objects out of worn ones, who imagines new uses for what has been cast aside, discarded” (31). Because zines appropriate literal scraps, often relying on the unpredictability of embodied search — collecting said scraps at thrift shops, garage sales, etc. — they differ from deliberative public discourses that often take place in commercial online spaces using the tools of the commercial search (i.e. Google). In short — “that stuff” Hanna found repulsive on BrooklynVegan.

What Hanna “realizes,” I think, is that when it comes to the political work of the artist, it’s the art itself that makes a difference. In Zines and Third Space, Adela Licona takes this up by examining how zines build coalitions and a coalitional consciousness in their makers — “a practiced articulation or deliberate bringing and coming together around social change that can be witnessed in zines” (3). The difference between coalitional and critical consciousness is that the former implies action. For Farmer and other scholars of zines, it’s the zine’s capacity for “poetic world-making,” its rhetorical goal to inspire making itself, that differentiates it from other forms of public discourse.

I’m interested in the zine’s ability to perform these gestures through their materiality, but I’m equality interested in the ways other pockets of zine activity make use of both embodied material and commercial digital channels to effect change, especially when it comes to their circulation. One example of this is how coalitions build (or fail to build) depending on the type of search one engages. An embodied search — garage sale/sailing for ephemera, for example — is going to yield very different results than Googling a phrase, both materially but also epistemologically. Posting a zine on Etsy is different from selling it at a zine fest. It’s different in terms of how its found, its encounter between the maker and consumer, and how the event itself is figured into future circulations.

Reflections on Farmer’s After the Public Turn

I feel like I’ve mismanaged my very limited professional time these last few weeks, spending too many hours planning and responding to writing in my creative nonfiction course while reading two books on my exam list too closely. For anyone out there who’s ABD, I imagine this is a familiar story: without the weekly exigence of coursework or a scheduled exam, it’s easy to put other tasks in front of it — or to try to understand everything as deeply as possible or to get the writing just right. My saving grace, though, is that two conference proposals I wrote on zines this summer were accepted to both CCCC and RSA, so I do have more granulated goals to work toward as the semester develops and I’m hoping these papers will lead to chapters of the dissertation and/or publishable articles.

The paper for CCCC concerns something I’ve dubbed pedagogies of experiential circulation — the notion that students can distribute their work materially by doing it instead of simply learning about it. My example comes from students from my DIY Publishing class who distributed their zines at their self-organized zine fest last spring — Syracuse’s first. It was one of the best teaching experiences I’ve had, as students shared some very personal, risky work — both in terms of content and form — publicly. Importantly, we didn’t judge their “success” with this event based on traditional rubrics of rhetoric. Thus, in my presentation, I hope to reel in some of the loftier goals that pedagogies that take up rhetorical delivery/circulation/distribution typically engender — namely the idea that we measure rhetorical success on whether a student is able to observably change someone or something in their locale. Of course this begs the question, if rhetorical success cannot be measured by some sort of material, observable change, how can it be measured?

Originally I proposed that a re-articulation of agency — as a more emergent phenomenon — might help reconsider this question and I still think that move is helpful. That said, Frank Farmer’s new book, After the Public Turn: Composition, Counterpublics, and the Citizen Bricoleur (2013), considers how in certain communities, like zines, remaking is the assumed the rhetorical goal — of inspiring and influencing others to also remake or to become what he dubs a citizen bricoleur, “an intellectual activist of the unsung sort, thoroughly committed to, and implicated in, the task of understanding how publics are made, unmade, remade, and better made, often from little more than the discarded scraps of earlier attempts — constructions that, for whatever reason, are no longer legitimate or serviceable” (36). Importantly for public sphere theory, bricolage is figured as multimodal (my words, not Farmer’s), an expressive aspect of communication that resists the traditional notion of public discourse as “rational-critical debate.” As an assemblage of modes, bricolage and other expressive forms of discourse help to form counterpublics, or cultural publics, as Farmer calls them. An important aspect of zines, of course, is their materiality, which in the case of anarcho-punk zines, literally arises out of any remnants of fast-capital print.

Farmer focuses more on composition than distribution with his argument, but his attention to the rhetorical goals of DIY communities and his discussion of zine’s materiality in light of digital distribution channels has important ramifications for teaching circulation. For example, at one moment in the book, Farmer considers counterpublics as “widening gyres” — a term that gets at the paradox of circularity and mutation of social movement discourses. I have previously discussed these as ecologies or fluxes (to borrow from Edbauer), so I’m curious if there might be key differences in the language we use to describe these phenomena and how those differences might affect a methodology that is concerned with the movement of rhetoric. Nevertheless, the idea in introducing these terms to come to terms with the complexity and vastness of circulatory systems so as to almost render ridiculous the idea of agency at the individual level, which is why considering its definition is appealing to me.

It’s also appealing because of embodied and imaginative versions of agency associated with the idea of DIY, which Farmer takes up in the book. Specifically he considers the relationship between DIY practices and ethos and materiality. Obviously materiality is used to differentiate zines from other self-publishing venues on the web. Zines offer intimacy to certain communities, and as ephemera offer traces of its histories, leading Farmer to wonder if a DIY ethos can even exist on the web. This question is important if as Warner and Farmer argue, counterpublics exist as ways of being, not simply as deliberative discourses. As Kristin Arola has written, for example, certain forms of digital writing use templates that feature content — and take away from issues of design. Unless one knows how to code, options for form are limited. Moreover, what gets made in addition to the zine, is an important difference between print and digital self-publishing platforms. The materiality of zines also embodies an important opposition to media conglomeration. Borrowing from Tim Wu’s Master Switch, who argues that info tech is moving into increasing closed patterns — into a “master switch” — Farmer argues that zines show “what a publication looks like when you do not have free access to corporate-owned resources” (80). Farmer also notes how the surveilling features of the net might also sustain zine communities farther into the 21st century.

What seems interesting, then, is that while a DIY ethos might be unique to the composition of zines, it’s difficult to imagine that most zine makers are willing to forgo the internet entirely when its such a practical option for distribution. This has me going back to Trimbur’s work on circulation, as he uses Marx’s definition of commodity (as the contradiction that exists between use and exchange value) to complicate the production/distribution divide. I hope to blog about that complex article soon and rev some momentum back in to the blog this week.

Exigence(s) for the diss

The more I talk about the minor exam with folks in my program, the better I understand how it can lay important groundwork for the dissertation. Although the goal is to produce an annotated bib and publishable article by the end of the year (at the latest!), it’s clear that these can feed at least two chapters of the diss. Needless to say, and as I mentioned last week, this is an exciting and terrifying time, knowing the weight of these choices for future work and scholarly identity. The rub at the moment has to do with considering the exigence of my work. Why exactly would this dissertation matter? Or perhaps, how could it matter? I have a rich, multimodal site worth pursuing, but the exigence and questions for that study are a bit hazy. One faculty member advised me to reflect upon what bothers me about the field and start there. When I do, I think about a few things.

First, I think about the need to explore literacy and writing as an ongoing and complex process — as networked, multimodal, and difficult to predict. We have many theories and tools in place for these conceptions of literacy, but virtually no RAD writing studies of amateur writing cultures doing it. Moreover, like Jody Shipka, I’m bothered by the tendency in the field to equate “technology” with the digital. More explicitly, I wonder how “old media” and its meanings/uses get altered through a particular new media lens. How do codes and spatial templates, for example, constrict the possibilities of form? How do digital technologies assist — as well as limit — the circulation of writing? Again, zine communities, which embrace a variety of modes for production and distribution, provide an interesting space for learning the nuances of our writing tools.

Second, I wonder if we overdetermine our pedagogies; that is, in pursuit of our own relevance/professionalism, we place too much emphasis on curriculum, assessment, and instruction. As a ex-writing center director and continuing consultant and teacher I’ve been more attracted to true studio models of writing, where teachers/consultants create or restrict the conditions for various attempts at writing, but do not micromanage the interactions. How might a more responsive, ongoing syllabi, where readings are curated by students and occasions for writing/heuristics are co-constructed (to give a few examples), open up some of the possibilities for learning? My sense is that zine makers — as self-organizing communities — have a lot to teach us about the autodidactic functions of literacy.

Finally, for many years, when it comes to the way writing works more generally, I’ve been struck by ongoing tensions between structure and agency. That is, I wonder when or in what ways is writing the product of sociocultural forces and when is it the act of our own choosing. In what cases are those acts of our own choosing actually the product of structuring forces? Here I am drawn to the work of Marilyn Cooper, Deb Brandt, Berkenkotter and Huckin, and the theories of Pierre Bourdieu.

Taken together, I imagine a diss that studies the various spaces and moments of zine-making —  individual composers cutting and pasting in their rooms, writers and presses trading at zine fests, and interactions on online spaces like We Make Zines — to consider what a DIY praxis or self-sponsorship might teach us about multimodal composing and pedagogy. Two or the more compelling questions for me include: Why print and why now? What are the affordances of the medium in an era of Tumblr or Twitter? Secondly, how do self-sponsored zine-makers develop and learn multiple literacies? How can these be traced at the level of composition, production, and circulation?

The only problem with this approach is that I don’t quite trust it — yet. That is, depending on what I’m reading, or who I’m talking with, these problems/questions shift. At the same time, this might not be as much of a problem as it feels like at the moment and that these shifts are important for winnowing toward a more consistent prospectus. To come to terms with this, I’m planning to take the approach that another faculty member suggested: to write dissertation chapter maps every few days. That is, spend an hour or so summarizing what I imagine a chapter looking like and to try and generate as many of these as possible as I read through my exam bib. It’s difficult to know what a map might look like before the thing is written, but if I understand this properly, I need to be reading for potential ideas for setting up my study. I’ll start with Shipka’s Toward a Composition Made Whole. More soon…


Passing the major exam: a final reflection on the process

As you could guess from the title, I passed my major exam. After a summer filled with anxious blogging about my studying process and some admittedly uneven discussions of the texts themselves, I have to say that the actual writing of the exams went fairly smoothly. By the time I wrote the final exam, I was truly ready, taking way too many notes on actual and potential source texts. In that sense, the best part of this process is that I now feel prepared to move on to the minor exam, which is essentially a pre-dissertation boot camp — except way more fun. Before I discuss that, at the risk of sounding arrogant, I just want to recapture some of the reasons why I think I got through this phase as smoothly as I did:

  • I minimized my professional obligations. This summer I was lucky to receive a grant to develop a course for Spring 2014, so I didn’t have to leave the house to teach or meet much with anyone regularly on campus. Aside from this, my only true obligation was prepping for exams.
  • As a family, we prioritized my studying. We hired a babysitter for the kids while E. taught Summer Start in the mornings. Although it was really difficult listening to them play around the house and in the yard all morning, this gave me 4-5 hours of (granted, often interrupted) study time per day — which was necessary, but not so much time that I screwed around. I owe so much to E. for making this happen.
  • I was flexible with my reading. I went into the summer thinking I’d try to tackle every piece on the list to some extent, but what ended up happening was more modest. Truthfully, I simply prioritized monographs that I hadn’t read before; I ended up reading those thoroughly and (surprisingly) drawing on them extensively in my actual exams. And when I got bogged down with a really difficult text, like Grammar of Motives, I backed off and reminded myself of the overall goal. I skimmed the anthologies but when it came to actually writing the exam, I searched them carefully for potentially relevant arguments for the task at hand. For example, when my first exam asked me to assess Berlin’s influence on the field, I searched each anthology for instances where Rhetoric and Reality or words like historiography were mentioned.
  • I consistently reflected on my study process. Because time felt like the only enemy this summer, it was crucial that I developed — and then constantly reassessed — strategies for studying. At first I thought print notes made sense, but I quickly realized this was slowing me down too much. I also now feel quite silly for trying to write my own exam questions. The practice exam also showed me how much time a week really provides for the task. I needed to know a few core books really, really well (for me they were Hawk’s Counter-History, Berkenktotter and Huckin’s Genre Knowledge, Berlin’s Rhetoric and Reality, and Horner et al’s recent collection Cross-Language Relations in Composition). Then I needed to be able to map the others. In this way, skimming all the texts and reviews the first week of studying made a lot of sense.

Now that it’s over, I get to focus on Parts Two and Three, which include a annotated bib of 25 books and a publishable article. I met with some potential advisors last week who offered some wonderful, thoughtful and qualified advice on thinking about this important in-between phase. Basically, while I have an article in mind, I’m going to concentrate on balancing the bibliography while prepping for two national conference presentations in the spring, with hopes that the article and one or two diss chapters will organically evolve from that work. So far I have some promising leads on ways of looking at zines and sociocultural theories of process. One of the fundamental questions I’m thinking of asking at this point is: How and where have zine writers learned to do what they do? Where or how did they learn how to compose, participate, and circulate their work? How does their learning continue and what are its implications for importing a DIY ethos in to the composition classroom?

In short, this moment feels as pivotal as it should: full of anxiety, excitement, and all sort of possibility.

Remediating the self, or: Why I left Facebook

155781_125349424193474_1654655_nThe Zimmerman verdict entered my world Saturday night as I peaked at my Twitter TL just after (appropriately enough) watching an episode of The Wire. I was shocked as I refreshed the feed on my phone, reading reports, outrage, and snark; the response was tremendous. But when I switched over to Facebook, my feed looked vacant. Hardly anyone was reacting to the verdict and the two posts that did made me angry. One argued in support of Stand Your Ground — an absurd manifestation of 21st century frontier justice — and another that asked why race had anything to do with the case (to be fair, this person lives in a state worse than Florida, if that can be imagined). Honestly, it wasn’t a totally unfamiliar feeling: I preferred Twitter to FB during the fall election and I felt overwhelmingly disgusted by a lot of what I read on FB after the the Newtown shooting last December. So, I finally did what I’d been thinking about for months: I went to my computer and deactivated my account (deleting it entirely requires more steps, unfortunately).

Dealing with the occasional family troll is something most people have to endure and, like most friends, I’ve endured them throughout two presidential elections. But there were other reasons for my departure none of which are unique. Like many others, I was concerned about my privacy (Instagram pictures, for example, started showing up in public feeds without my consent) and the growing intrusion of ads. But because I use Twitter, Instagram, Google, Yahoo, and others, these couldn’t be my only reasons. Actually, truth told, the primary reason is embarrassing — cliche, even. I had been checking FB incessantly, nay automatically, every time I’d open a browser or my phone, which was distracting me from other possibilities, from reading deeper content from my RSS or Pocket or simply paying more attention to my kids. Simply put, I don’t know if I had the self control to stop looking at it. Which is odd, actually, because it’s been almost a week and I simply do not miss it. At all. And that makes me wonder how it became such a part of my routine in the first place. What I realized over the last few months is that there was a fundamental difference between what I was reading there and what I was finding on Twitter, which is more open, active, and often awesomely weird. In composition terms, Twitter is way more of a happening, even if my interactions there are rare. I was thinking of this especially as I read a prediction by Bob Lefsetz that Twitter will soon be dead:

…there are too many people on the service. As a result, very few are heard. It’s happened over the past six months, tweeting is like a stone in a waterfall, or more accurately, pissing in the wind. In other words, if you tweet and nobody reads it have you wasted your time?

I don’t put too much stock in industry heads like Lefsetz, but the comment is representative of the prevailing critique of Twitter by users who don’t differentiate it much from other kinds of social media. Still, I’m guessing most people (and legal definitions to the contrary, businesses aren’t people) who love Twitter aren’t on it to be heard as much as to experience it, entering and exiting the interface as a moment, not in its totality.

One important difference between the two is who is representing your social reality. I’m not an expert on the technical aspects of either service, but there are fundamentally different ways each network controls your stream. FB uses an EdgeRank algorithm to decide which slice of your feed is relevant, while Twitter engages algorithms on their separate trending topics tab and probably via Promoted tweets. It’s true that I could tinker and manipulate FB to draw content out (starring certain friends, for example), but even at that moment I’m competing with the interface. What I have grown to love about Twitter is its unpredictability.

This week I’ve been reflecting on new media as I’ve been reading Bolter & Grusin’s older-but-fascinating book, Remediation. Their basic argument is that all media contains traces of old media and thus, remediation as a process that operates under a paradox of two logics: the logics of immediacy and hypermediacy. Put most simply, the logic of transparent immediacy seeks to erase media/tion through linear perspective (think virtual reality), erasure, and automaticity (24), while the logic of hypermediacy seeks to make it conspicuous and multiple through multiplicity and heterogeneity (33-34). Depending on the context, these two logics can compete, compliment or coexist — and they are not unique to digital media. The authors provide compelling examples of furniture, dioramas, and stereoscopes as hypermediated. Both logics work to form “the desire to get past the limits of representation and to achieve the real” (53). Transparent immediacy aims to make the users engagement feel natural while hypermediacy aims to create a “a feeling of fullness, a satiety of experience, which can be taken as reality” (53). As a rhetoric, remediation offers us transparency only to mature, which then “offers new opportunities for hypermediacy” (60). So before FB, we had YouTube, which remediated film which remediated photography, which remediated linear perspective paintings and drawings (excuse the reduction). FB and Twitter, in this sense, are both hypermediated, even if my engagement with them has become automated.

Or maybe not. In their discussion of networks of remediation, B&G explain how every medium “participates in a network of technical, social, and economic contexts,” which “constitutes [it] as a technology” (65). Thus, FB and Twitter offer different technical, social, and economic affordances based on their interfaces. Economically speaking, FB offers ads in my stream that other friends have liked (why some of my friends have liked Walmart, I’ll never know) whereas Twitter offers minimally intrusive “Promoted tweets.” And as I mentioned before, they’re technically different. As the Lefsetz quote suggests, many people are turned off by Twitter because of its singularity (not to mention the investment it takes to build more than one social network). But I’ve found Twitter to be tenfold more useful than FB for finding out about emerging scholarship because I can follow — not friend — smart, prolific DHers like Danah Boyd, Bethany Nowviskie, and Brian Croxall. But I believe it’s the social aspect that’s been the final push for me to actually leave FB. The authenticity of a medium is especially important to the social dimension and is, according to B&G, socially constructed through immediacy or hypermediacy. For me, Twitter has overtaken FB as a more authentic space, and I’m not sure why. Perhaps it’s because of the technical affordances; as I’ve turned more in to a scholar,  and as a result value those open social networks more than the mundaneness of FB.

After all in the third and final section of Remediation, B&G talk about remediation and identity:

…we employ media as vehicles for defining both personal and cultural identity. As these media become simultaneously technical analogs and social expressions of our identity, we become simultaneously both the subject and object of contemporary media… Whenever our identity is mediated in this way, it is also remediated, because we always understand a particular medium in relation to other past and present media. (231)

In other words, in moving to other platforms, I remediate myself — as a subject in a PhD program, a dad, a zinester, a collector of material things — and thus/because I cease to identify with/in FB. Likewise, my leaving FB could be a reaction to digital overload, one that I sense some of my closer friends also feel. Many of those like-minded friends — those I ceased to see on the interface — abandoned FB long ago. Meanwhile, others — folks I don’t identify with so much but maintain relations through blood, work, or other ties — were posting more frequently. (Then again, perhaps FB’s algorithm is inaccurate — or worse, corrupt.) The point is, in leaving FB, I’m engaging in a ongoing, never-ending process of remediating myself. There’s much more to reflect upon about this and I don’t know if it’s a permanent move. But for now it’s a good one.

Transformation & Rhetoric

I spent the last few days reading Burke’s Grammar of Motives and Wayne Booth’s Modern Dogma and the Rhetoric of Assent and trying to come to terms, temporarily at least, with the question of transformation.

For Burke, the question is conspicuous enough in the introduction: “What is involved, when we say what people are doing and why they are doing it?” (xv). His method for answering the question, of course is the pentad: “what was done (act), when or where was it done (scene), who did it (agent), how he did it (agency), and why (purpose)” (xv). For Burke, considering the relationships — or ratios — among these terms helps shed light on the why people do and say what they do. If I understand GOM correctly, the pentad can be used in a variety of juxtapositions in situations that have some degree of ambiguity, though various combinations of the pentad require certain considerations. For example, ratios making use of scene (as a container or boundary) are more spatially determined while act-agent ratios are naturally more temporal/sequential: “The agent is an author of his acts, which are descended from him…” (16). This isn’t to say, however, that such authorship is reducible or easy to understand. Motives are always essentially enigmatic and the pentad seems to disregard literal statements in order to embrace and reveal ambiguities, which provide a space in which transformation becomes possible. As a critical tool for drama, GOM seeks to identify the “the resources of ambiguity” (xix), as a lens of interpretation necessary for figuring out why (purpose) in a given setting (scene), a certain character (agent) decided to do X (act) by means of Y (agency). This makes sense for rhetoric too, if the goal of a person or thing’s communication or action is to change something else — a situation, a person, a behavior, or a means. We use rhetoric to transform within spaces of ambiguity. But the question of transformation for what purpose (i.e. motive) is complex.

I don’t claim to have much of an application for Burke’s pentad per se (see Allison Hitt’s smart use of the pentad in analyzing the overcoming narrative in disability studies) and I trust it’s going to be a matter of time before I see how the it functions consistently as a device in the field; however, the relationship between transformation and ambiguity discussed in GOM reminds me of Burke’s discussion of identification in Rhetoric of Motives. In ROM, Burke uses murder narratives (Milton’s Sampson being what I remember most) to frame the desire to transform; for Burke, the desire to kill is a “desire to transform the principle which that person represents” (13). Such transformation “involves the ideas and imagery of identification. That is: the killing of something is the changing of it and the statement of the thing’s nature before and after the change is an identifying of it” (20). In the past I’ve used this passage to explore arguments about the death of print — to understand its essence in the so-called afterlife — but if we tone down the drama and say that by “killing” we mean instead the changing of another’s mind, perhaps this idea can be expanded to broader conversations about the nature of rhetoric. After all, Burke does say this in ROM:

“Terms for identification in general are wider in scope than terms for killing. We are proposing that our rhetoric be reduced to this term of wider scope, with the term of narrower scope being treated as a species of it. We begin with an anecdote of killing, because invective, eristic, polemic, and logomachy are so pronounced an aspect of rhetoric.” (20)

In other words, killing is like rhetoric in that both share transformation as a goal; likewise, such transformation is also a way of identifying — of bringing two things closer together through consubstantiation. Soon after this passage Burke notes that we need rhetoric because we are divided. We need rhetoric for consubstantiation, or for acting together (21). “If men were not apart from one another, there would be no need for the rhetorician to proclaim their unity” (22). Without reducing too much then, an important purpose or motive for rhetoric is identification and consubstantiation — to bring people together in a world divided.

Booth’s argument in Modern Dogma is essentially the same, but his methods and warrants vary from Burke’s. He shifts from a dramatistic inflection to an explicit concern for the state of public rhetoric, asking: “How should men work when they try to change each other’s minds, especially about value questions?” and “When should you and I change our minds?” (12). The questions arrive as he sketches five dogmas created from two schools of thought deriving from 20th century modernism: a positivistic, behaviorist, empirically-driven view called scientism, and a value-ladden, romantic, relative view called irrationalism. Both’s five dogmas align with Burke’s pentad: The first, which is discussed in Chapter 1 is motivism (agency), which reduces all behavior to “non rational conditioning” (32). This dogma relieves people of responsibility since certain actions or behaviors can be explained through grand narratives or personae. The next four are discussed in Chapter 2 through a close reading of texts by 20th century philosopher, Bertrand Russell, who for Booth serves as the patron saint of modernism, embodying both the scientismic and irrationalist perspectives. Russell’s view of “man as an atomic mechanism” (agent) in “a universe that is value-free” (scene) (50) as well as his “principles of knowing” (act) (55), serve as dogmas two, three, and four. Dogma five considers the “the purposes of argument” (purpose) (77). Taken together, these dogmas shove reason aside “slic[ing] the world into two unequal parts, the tiny domain of the provable, about which nobody cares very much, and the great domain of ‘all the rest’ in which anyone can believe or do what he pleases” (85). In other words, Booth divides rhetoric into the proverbial open hand and closed fist and because of our inability to discourse, he worries that in a value-saturated world — where doubt and skepticism is the only means to knowledge — the closed fist has become modus operandi. Rhetoric in this sense is viewed as a means “to trick or sway or condition or force or woo men to believe or do what the persuader desires” (87) and Booth seeks to challenge this perspective an offer alternatives to modern dogma in Chapter 3. In many ways, he seeks to return rhetoric to the classical Roman ideal of “eloquence in the service of wisdom” (89), founded on some kind of stasis or shared agreement, or perhaps in the Augustinian ideal of using rhetoric to teach effectively, where “[t]he process of inquiry through discourse … becomes more important than any possible conclusions, and whatever stultifies such fulfillment becomes demonstrably wrong” (137). Another way of understanding Booth is to say he articulates a mean to transformation through Burke’s identification: to identify with another requires a process of consubstantiation configured through inquiry.

As a teacher, I’ve always hoped for such consubstatiation. As Selber mentions in Chapter 5 of Multiliteracies for a Digital Age, as teachers we should take more (albeit smart) risks with our students and co-learn or co-inquire into emerging technologies. That said, as a rhetorician, a zinester, and an occasional activist, there aspects of Modern Dogma that seem naive. Aside from its methodology, which rests an entire argument on one close (if that) reading of a 20th century logician, I’m uncomfortable with Booth’s cartooning of public demonstrations. Perhaps I’m too far removed from the 60s to know, but the problem seems to lie in the lack of discussion of agency in the Burkean sense: as “the means or instruments [an agent] used” (xv) or “a means by which one gets reports of the world at large” (xx) in a rhetorical act. Considering media conglomeration, for example (a problem even in 1971), only a select few have any control over — or access to —  certain kinds of knowledge. It’s fitting that he uses an underground, anonymous, pro-cannabis zine called Seed in the first pages of Modern Dogma to illustrate the fall of reason, or what he later sketches as the irrationalist perspective. As counter-rhetorics, zines have traditionally served a specific function — providing an alternative voice when none seemed to be available. This leads to another part of Booth that’s unnerving: a lack of properly contextualizing some of these dogmas. Though I agree that one of the fundamental challenges of subcultures is progressing beyond a negative identity (that is, defining one’s self as “over against everyone and everything else” (130), as he mentions of the irrationalists in Chapter 4), such a negative identity begins as a response to a hegemony that always already attempts to subsume (or more accurately, consume) it.

How, for example, would Booth interpret the Trayvon Martin protests happening this week in NYC, LA, Oakland and even in smaller cities like Syracuse? Would he call them part of “a national habit” existing “partly because people seem convinced that they cannot try them out meaningfully in other ways” (146)? Or would he deem them legit because they’re based “in fact (not just personal conviction) supported by good reasons, good reasons shared or potentially sharable by the community that is relevant” (148)?

As with most of the readings I’m plowing through the first time this summer, I need to re-read parts. I understand Booth is trying to theorize a rhetoric that reconciles  reason and value  through a process of identification. In the last chapter he uses art as a potential means for this. And while I agree with this, and agree we need strategies for assent, I still understand the necessity of a collaborative, organized (yet peaceful) closed fist when faced with dense and disgusting forces: laws like Stand Your Ground that are embedded in a scene of creepy American gun culture and a racist  justice system that allows six white jurors to acquit a murderer or expects one in three black men to be jailed in their lifetime. Progress and transformation takes time. Without rhetorical accretion that is public and embodied, such change takes even longer.

Selber’s Multiliteracies for a Digital Age

Stuart Selber’s Multiliteracies for a Digital Age (2004) develops a tripartite approach for teaching computer literacy, drawing from: (1) the functional approaches that treat students as users of tools, (2) critical approaches that treat students as questioners of cultural artifacts, and (3) rhetorical approaches that treat students as producers of hypertextual media (25). A key problem for Selber is reinserting a humanist, or what he calls “post critical” (3), edge into the more positivist orientations of digital work — stances that too often “consider technology to be a self-determining agent” (8). This instrumental view of technology (a term borrowed from Haas and Neuwirth) views technology as neutral and leads two problematic perspectives in English departments (and other depts imbued with liberal humanism): they either jettison everything tech because hermeneutics and close reading is their business, or embrace it but only as a handmaiden to the larger agenda of textual study.

MFDA is broken into five chapters: Chapter 1 outlines the recurring problems with computer literacy as currently articulated and deployed at universities; the middle three chapters sketch functional/critical/rhetorical approaches to literacy; the last chapter, Chapter 5, addresses the implementation of said approaches both across a program (i.e. one class per approach) and within individual courses (i.e. one assignment/unit per approach). Within each of the middle chapters, Selber provides helpful parameters for each approach. For example in Chapter 4, on rhetorical literacy, he considers how persuasion, deliberation, reflection, and social action all might play a role in teaching students how to design interfaces using a “thoughtful integration of functional and critical abilities” (145). In general, this is a praxis-oriented book and a text I’ll go back to when it comes to rethinking and/or developing curricula on digital writing.

I won’t dedicate too much space to my personal connections to the book, but there is one I want to mention. Selber begins Chapter 4 by introducing Johnson-Eiola’s discussion of production/connection from his article “Negative Spaces: From Production to Connection in Composition.” By emphasizing connection in our classes, J-E informs us, writers might “write with fragments,” focusing on “reorganizing and representing existing (and equally intertextualized) texts — their own included — in ways that are meaningful to specific audiences” (135). This reminds me of the difficulty in focusing on both — production and connection, or composition and circulation (see George & Matheiu) — and how important it is to consider shorter forms in curricula that want to do both. For example, in my DIY Publishing course last spring, asking students to produce a zine in 5-6 weeks privileged form(s) and arrangement, but it didn’t leave much time for content and the sort of inventive work that might help with it (actually, the same can be said for other aspects of the course, including our work with new media). Thus, it is important to be open to short forms and visualization, and other ideas of connection and curation so teachers have time to support students who have trouble making objects and texts.

In terms of how this book aligns with others I’ve read from the list, Selber, while critical, is interested in working from within institutions, offering a different approach than someone like Sharon Crowley, for whom the entire institutionalization of universal requirement of FYC is the essence of the discipline’s problem. That said, while Crowley critiques the entire structure, she is also clearly writing from within it. And what I appreciate about MLDA is its ability to use theory to richly qualify the recommendation it makes about practice. This seems necessary since Selber’s audience is broader than the traditional comp/rhet crowd — a strength and a weakness of the book. A strength because it is able to articulate a broad rhetorical vision for computer literacy to a wide camp of folks (English profs, deans, even students); however, at times his “heuristics,” although always carefully qualified, still feel too prescriptive. Certainly someone like Byron Hawk, who argues for a more ontological, vitalist approach to composition would take issue with both the structure and the tone of some of Selber’s recommendations.

Finally, MLDA would be a useful book for approaching exam questions about critical pedagogy/literacy, humanistic approaches to technology, discussions on the role of heuristics in the field, the purpose and function of composition, local v global curricula, self-reflexive methodologies and praxis, or conversations about the view of tech as tools.

Reflecting after the practice exam

Since taking a practice exam last week I’ve (once again) rethought my approach to the process, which is starting to feel more urgent as mid July comes into view. I’m off pace with my reading schedule for multiple reasons, one of which being that I started to get too interested in this stuff. Granted, Bolter and Grusin’s Remediation or Burke’s Rhetoric/Grammar of Motives require more attention at certain points, but I cannot afford to spend three days on something like Selber’s Multiliteracies for the Digital Age, even though my interests justify it. At the end of the day, reading for exams is simple cartography. You don’t necessarily need to know every/body, just where they’re buried (as one prof put it to me last spring).

Exam notes

Exam notes

The practice exam process is really useful, then, for testing out various tactics for planning, reading, and writing toward a response within the span of seven days, but also to see how the accumulation of certain study methods have (or have not) paid off to that point. In terms of methods, I’m thankful for reading everything inspectionally from the start. At least I knew (I admit, very generally), where the bodies were buried. For example, the question I answered was on rhetoric and materiality and because I knew the feminist anthologies were particularly dense, I skimmed through those again to find a piece by Vicki Tolar Collins (Burton) on materialist methodologies. What I need to prioritize now, however, are the remaining 7-8 texts I didn’t read in coursework (there are also handful of texts I haven’t read in years). That’s going to be a challenge and because of time, I’ll have to go back to my method of reading with a stopwatch (e.g. 30 minutes per chapter). I may also have to move from taking printed notes, which helps with retention, back to digital notes, which is speedier, but more automated (e.g. cutting & pasting quotations). Finally, I’ve more or less given up on writing my own exam questions and blogging long posts in favor of focusing on shorter, less perfect summary/responses to individual texts. I think the longer posts are ideal and a better mind exercise, but an impossible goal given how long it took me to write the last one on historiography. Again, this is just a matter of ideal vs pragmatist approaches to overall process.

In terms of what I can now expect of myself during the actual exam, I have a much better sense of how the week should be divided: I spent a day and a half trying to choose which question to answer (the practice exam gave us two choices) by re-reading them, breaking them apart, mapping possibilities, and skimming texts by thumbing through sections I’ve read (or the front and back matter for texts I haven’t). I then read and re-read for four days, leaving me with two days to write. This just wasn’t enough time to write 4-6,000 words. I found that I can reasonably write about 2,000-2,500 words per day, but I hit a wall soon after that.

Arguably most important lesson from the week is that I will need to choose the question faster and give myself no fewer than three days to write. Deciding when to stop re/reading and start writing was difficult because it required the confidence and faith that I had enough of an argument — and thus a cohesive structure — in place to begin drafting. I had done a lot of in-between writing by printing double-entry journal notes — with summary notes in black ink and synthesizing notes in blue — but I didn’t return to these as much as I had hoped. When I do this again, I might try to write more notes directly in Word.

We’ll get faculty responses on the practice exam soon so I’m anxious to see how their feedback will affect all that I’ve said above. But until then, back to Selber…