Sunday, October 4, 2015

Job season! Wabbit season!

I'm trying to frontload as much of the job market work now, so when the applications start coming due in earnest, most of the heavy lifting is already done. To be honest, I've already sent off two applications (!), and there's a decent batch with a 10/15 deadline--so all of this isn't actually all that in advance.

I did revise my job documents pretty substantially this year, to reflect the changes in my teaching that a result of my Brittain Postdoctoral Fellowship, as well as my new position this year as the Assistant Director of the Writing and Communication Program. While I was making this big push for new materials, I bit the bullet and made myself a website to collect all of my job materials. Rather than relying on, which I've been using for several years now, I decided that I wanted my own dedicated web space that I could fully populate the way that I wanted it. has made changes to their website so that it looks more like Facebook. I wanted the content on my primary web presence to be more clearly organized.

Making the website has been quite a learning experience. Not the actual really is user friendly--but in writing introductory text, revising my teaching philosophy, and considering what to include, I had to do some thinking about how I wanted to frame all of the content. Just coming up with a couple of sentences to put on the landing page for my teaching section--it's quite a writing challenge to come up with two sentences with which to introduce my teaching!

I continue to tweak design, alignment, and other small things, and I need more visual elements on the pages, but in general, I'm pretty pleased with the website. I'm very curious to see how much traffic I get, and how useful it ends up being during this job season.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Argument Fallacy Day!

At this point in my teaching career, I have a number of dedicated days I really enjoy. Minor Threat Day, in my maker culture class--especially if I've got an 8am class at which to blast "Straight Edge." Or Play Day, another first year composition fun day.

Both of these days are rather recent additions to my teaching arsenal, added during this past year as a Brittain Fellow, as I've incorporated more multi-modality to my classes. However, there are some activities which I've pretty much consistently relied upon since I began teaching--and among these, Argument Fallacy Day is one of my favorites.

As I explained in the blog post about Play Day, I use Argument Fallacy Day at the beginning of the group project unit in my first year composition class. The major project in this unit is a group manifesto, in which students compose manifestos arguing for the application of maker culture principles to the classroom.* I use Argument Fallacy Day to introduce the students to working in their groups, with the low stakes of a classwork grade to give them practice in working with each other.

For one class period, students are assigned a reading about argument fallacies. In the past, I've relied upon textbook readings for this; this semester, I assigned this reading from the Purdue OWL site. We go over a basic set of fallacies, and then each group is assigned a fallacy. (I start by asking for volunteers--there are usually a couple of people or groups who have a strong preference, and then the others take what's left.) They spend the rest of the class period coming up with a 3-5 minute skit that demonstrates the fallacy.

The next class period they perform the skits. They're so much fun! Even the reluctant performers usually get into the spirit of the day--and the relaxed class period is a nice change of pace. Other than the time parameters, I don't give any other restrictions, other than the work should be appropriate for the classroom. I've had some wonderfully memorable skits--from a Charlie Sheen Twitter feed announcing his run for President, Miley Cyrus lecturing on the environment, and a slippery slope argument that legalized marijuana will lead to both the Zombie Apocalypse as well as Donald Trump winning the Presidency (both presented as equally terrifying).

My current teaching interest is on the role of play in the college classroom. Incorporating these fun, low-stakes assignments as part of larger projects encourages students to be more open to creative solutions in their work. By beginning a major group project with a fun assignment, my intention is to make group projects--loathed by many students and instructors alike--a less onerous prospect. Group projects and committee work is nearly unavoidable in almost any line of work, and it's important to me that students have positive group experiences. With Argument Fallacy Day, I try to not only teach about argument and logic, but also how to work well with others.

*I'll say more about this assignment in a future blog post.

Monday, September 14, 2015

In Defense of the Irritated Young Woman

Check out my new post on the Flannery O'Connor Society's webpage--what teaching Flannery O'Connor's works at a tech school has taught me about her characters as role models.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

I'm back!

The realization which led to this new tagline is what finally made me dig in and get this blog unlocked (I was having all sorts of password issues). Watch for new blog posts about post-doc life, Flannery O'Connor, and my newly discovered pedagogy of cake.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Do the next thing versus Make it new.

So, here’s a brief recap of what the year has been like:

*January: I attended (and presented at) MLA conference, no interviews
*March: I had a phone interview for a TT job. Invited to a campus visit; didn’t get the job
*April: I was invited to Skype interview for a post-doc at Georgia Tech
*May: I was offered a postdoctoral fellowship at Georgia Tech
*June 24: I defended my dissertation
*June 25: My partner and I got in the car and drove to Atlanta to find a place to live
*July 1: He dropped me off in Milledgeville, Georgia, for a month-long NEH seminar on Flannery O’Connor
*July 30: I flew back to Baton Rouge
*August 9: Picked up and loaded rental truck—the rental truck we got several hours later than we had requested—and a truck six feet shorter than we had reserved
*August 10: Drove to Alabama, where we spent the night
*August 11: Drove to Atlanta, where some lovely people we hired got the truck and car unloaded (and the truck swept out) in half the time it took to load it. That part was fabulous
*August 14: Fly back to Baton Rouge
*August 15: Hooding
*August 16: Fly back to Atlanta
*August 18: First day of week-long orientation
*August 25: First day of classes

And at this point, having just finished grading 72 first year composition papers, I’m really wanting to spend about a month lying in a hammock in the woods.

All of the boxes are unpacked—even the drum kit!—but nothing’s on the walls yet. Getting everything unpacked was a big accomplishment—once clothes and kitchen stuff are unpacked, it’s awfully tempting to keep passing by the boxes. And admittedly, my sewing stuff is kind of in a number of big stacks in baskets; it really needs some order put to it. However, it feels a bit more settled now, rather than temporary.

Which brings me to what I want to think about here, about turning the corner from what, for the last six months or so, has been a lifestyle of “do the next thing.” Dissertation revision; pack; dissertation; move; orientation; class prep. There’s so much new to adjust to that’s it’s been really easy to just do the next thing—class on Tuesday prep. Pay rent. Read articles for Digital Pedagogy seminar this week. This lifestyle, though, of just keeping up, has made me feel awfully unsatisfied. Crazed and crazy, at times. 

After having a pretty intense jazzercise routine in Baton Rouge—I went four or five times a week, at least, and even twice some days—part of my craziness has been due to losing this workout routine. I finally made it up to the fitness center in my new apartment complex a couple of weeks ago, and that first workout was like a drug. I was high from the chemical release. I’ve been trying to get into a new habit of going up to the fitness center (which, admittedly, is little more than some cardio and weight equipment in a room—similar to a hotel fitness center), but it’s difficult to figure out when that fits into my day, now that I’ve got seventy-two students’ work to deal with, new class prep, new seminar readings, and a new schedule that requires I be on the train at 7AM. 

Thinking about this, about how difficult new habits are to break in (at the same time that I was planning a unit on writing manifestos in my multimodal composition class), I found myself contemplating Ezra Pound’s famous exhortation to “Make it new!” Making it new is exhausting, but just doing the next thing is depressing. My goal now is to find some sort of balance between the two. I expect this to be the theme of the rest of this semester, at least. Any suggestions? I may start to post more here, to track my adventures in finding the balance between these two themes.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Threats to Freedom of Speech at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville

Actually, all Tennessee state schools. As Tennessee lawmakers have proposed a bill which would essentially end speakers on college campuses, many Tennesseans are outraged and trying to make their own voices heard. Professor Misty Anderson exchanged emails with Tennessee State Senator Stacey Campfield over her concerns about the proposed legislation--the correspondence is a fun read, even as it lowers my opinion of the senator even further, if that was possible. It's fun to watch an actual scholar of the eighteenth century respond to wingnutty misuses of the words of Thomas Jefferson.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

CFP: Feminists Co-Opting Media

This panel examines the ways media can further feminism rather than co-opt it, such as Pussy Riot, Women Under Siege, Goldieblox, and UN Women. Please send 250 word abstracts to Monica Miller at by March 15.