Back on the Blog II

Writing here feels much to me like the work I do in my garden. It’s often generative, certainly intermittent, and sometimes I feel like I’ve left it so long I should just give up and let the weeds take over. Still, I do find writing in here, when I feel compelled to do it, useful and lately I’ve had the bug.

The main thing that has drawn me back to the blog is my current graduate seminar on “Composing Identities: Exploring Literacy, Culture, and Agency.” The conversations we have been having in there have done a great deal to sharpen my thinking on the book project of the same name I’m working on. It is such a sharp, smart group of people who have taken the texts I’ve assigned and run with them in ways that keep challenging all of us to think more carefully and deeply about how agency and identity are shaped by forces of culture, emotion, rhetoric, technology, and material conditions. I’ll have more to say about this in coming entries.

Along with the class the other event that drew me back here was the recent Watson Conference on Rhetoric and Composition at the University of Louisville. I found many conversations there coming back to the relationships we have with our students and others when we write. In particular, the talks by John Duffy, Paula Mathieu, and Jennifer Rowsell gave me different ways to think about how agency and identity are constructed through the relationships we construct and sustain, both in and out of school John’s exploration of the implicit ethical underpinnings of our project in teaching writing and Paula’s essay on mindfulness and teaching are reminders that we’re doing more than teach skills when we walk into a classroom, we are engaged in human relationships that have implications and repercussions far beyond the writing students produce (regardless of whether we want to admit that to ourselves.) I highly recommend their articles in the special Watson Conference issue of JAC that explore these ideas in more depth.

It was an amazing conference, not just for the content but for the genuine and generous dialogue that took place throughout the three days. Mary P. Sheridan and her co-planners planned and facilitated as good a conference as I have ever attended.

That’s is for now, but more soon before the weeds grow up again.

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