WIDE-EMU 12 (or 2?): (post)post-(un)conference

Last Saturday (October 20) was the second happening of WIDE-EMU – an (un)conference on writing in digital environments. I attended and presented last year when it took place at EMU, and presented again this year at MSU. The framing question for the talk, make, do sessions was What is composing today? How do people learn (and teach) it?

My presentations:

Do with Derek Mueller and Joe Torok: “Clocking Composition: Exploring Chronography with Timeline JS”

We explored/experimented with Timeline JS in a workshop like session and had an idea exchange of (pedagogical) use of such a tool. We were coming up with cool ideas, including playing with the units of time and leaving time signifiers, which makes more available/possible/potential. I’m not sure what that is yet, but i know I want to use this way of composing/(re)presenting a text.

Do with Joe Torok: “Composition’s Objects: Taking Stock Through Tiny Ontology”

We had a smaller session that was more of a conversation, which fit well with what we planned. We didn’t necessarily want to pinpoint ontology, especially in relation to OOO, but to explore what it makes available when brought into composition (more akin to OOR). We each came with an idea/activity we had worked with in our classes that we designed to help students think about things. Joe’s was creating a list with what is used to compose/what makes up the composing space for this attention to small things we neglect to see within the larger and assembled process of composition. Mine was more of tracing of materials/things associated with the (un)conference:

conference (de)compositions: creating lists/tracings for how far we can (de)compose the things of this conference.

  • Into what can some thing be broken apart?
  • To what connections/relations can some thing be traced?

There are plenty of things around us here (and our paths to here). Select a thing to appreciate in its thingness – the things of which it is composed.

  • words from the session titles/program
  • landmarks/things you passed coming to Bessey Hall
  • the highway/road you traveled here by
  • what you are going to eat for lunch
  • what you consumed/used already today
  • things in this room
  • things in your pocket or bag
  • the history of WIDE-EMU
  • people/schools presenting today


Plenary Session by Bump Halbritter: “Teaching/Learning/Knowing Writing as Symbolic Action”

I find Bump’s work with video a motivation to make more with video and to implement its process/potential into the classroom. It works really well not only for a metaphor for composing, but for working through composing – planning/story boarding, filming mass amounts of footage, reviewing and selecting small portions from the footage, assembling/arranging the footage, adding transitions and effects and sound/music, publishing. I have/continue to think that visual composition, from video or imagetexts, makes more space for awareness of/attention to rhetoric and design than alphanumeric text; so, a note for myself to read more about composing with video/sound.


Talk with Becky Morrison and Chelsea Lonsdale: “Student Writing Made Visible: Questions About Publication” and we were joined by Cheryl Ball “Editorial Pedagogies: Who’s bringing publications into the classroom?”

Becky, Chelsea, and I made zines (need to scan one and post as a PDF) that were filled with our questions; our talk session was more of a forum. We were/are really proud of our zines, our DIY publication of scholarship, that interactors (audience) could add to and take away with them. More questions were raised, which is exactly what we hoped for, and Geoffrey Carter and Cheryl Ball, and our/EMU’s Steve Benninghoff made contributions to our work that we are all still discussing/working with/through/from. Our session transitioned into Cheryl’s session of her creation/implementation of editorial pedagogy, which sounds incredible/exactly like a class I would like to teach. Her vibrant attitude/personality and knowledge of the field and the publication/circulation of its scholarship was incredibly illuminating. Now, to make sense of my scribbled notes and make this type of approach/methodology in my own way.


I presented in three of the four sessions, and actually spent the fourth session talking with my comrades Becky and Chelsea with Cheryl Ball as an: extension of our session, a trail of breadcrumbs to return to, a perspective on what’s going on in the field in digital spaces, a confidence and morale boost, rallying cry/cheer to try things on our own terms. The three of us left that conversation with her on the verge of skipping/fighting the urge to dismantle (politely, of course) some of the constraints we work within. I didn’t realize it until talking with her that I have lost connection to some of the ideas and scholarship that got me excited to make/do this work in the first place. She was an (un)expected catalyst, a happening I did not anticipate happening. spark. take/make a happening.

The (un)conference was followed by #beerrhetorics at Beggar’s Banquet, which was a delightful opportunity to talk over beer (or through beer?). Aside from enjoying the company of my EMU comrades, I had the pleasure of talking with Alex Myers, an Assistant Professor of Game Studies at Bellevue University. He had my attention at his casual mention of Bruno Latour, and while I don’t have much of a connection to game studies beyond reading Ian Bogost’s piece on procedural rhetoric, what he is doing/creating is captivating (as can be seen on his site). Cheryl was kind enough to let us continue picking her brain/ask her an assault of questions because she is a wonderful human being, and I had a chance to somewhat re-connect with Geoffrey Carter, who presented in the same session as I did at the (un)conference last year, who is doing/making scholarship with YouTube that I want to know/experience more about. Among others! The (un)structure of the (un)conference makes these opportunities for engaging in conversation/exchange available, something I value tremendously as a doe-eyed novice to the field of rhetoric and composition.

Things I’m taking/carrying/absorbing/connecting with(in or to) me:

  • I need to get subscriptions to Computers and Composition and the Rhetoric Society Quarterly
  • I am lucky to have such supportive faculty at EMU that are happy to/make a point to let us grad students try/explore. My work wouldn’t be possible/visible without them; which makes me think about how important connections within scholarship are – to whom, from where, to where, from whom. This is where I am situated.
  • Check out in greater depth the work of Cheryl Ball and Geoffrey V. Carter (both of which I graciously thank for their attention and conversation).
  • Read more. And then more: Jeff Rice, Jenny Rice, Victor Vitanza, Thomas Rickert, Cynthia Selfe, Anne Wysocki, William Burroughs, Gregory Ulmer (and then…)
  • I want to make more (of) myself. Let this be a part of my scholarship. craft/connect/compose myself into an identity I want to circulate/connect.
  • Sound. Make noise within composition. soundtext to accompany my library of imagetext.
  • Perhaps a PhD is possible.
  • Find time. Use time. Make time. Create time.
  • Shake the static. I have become docile.

I left feeling like a conductor of energy. Now, where am I going to transfer this energy? For every action, there is an equal but opposite reaction. Push/Pull.

This second (un)conference was made possible by: Derek Mueller, Steve Krause, and Bill Hart-Davidson. Thanks!

Clocking Composition: Exploring Chronography with Timeline JS (WIDE-EMU 12)

For the upcoming WIDE-EMU Unconference, I am working with Joe Torok and Derek Mueller on an exploration of the conceptual use of Timeline JS, a timeline tool that permits/encourages the moving in time/space/place of events through the incorporation of images, video, maps, web pages, tweets, and so on. It can be constructed within a Google spreadsheet, or can be built by programming, giving it some dexterity in design/degree. We are taking an interest in the visualization of an event through a lens that moves focus from the more framed rhetorical situation to the more unframed rhetorical ecology. This shifts rhetorical perspective from kairos, the opportunity fitted to a situation, to chronos, time/situation as unfolding, and potentially to metanoia, missed opportunity fitted to a situation that is given the possibility to reposition itself in time(line) as part of the network that rhetorical ecologies make traceable.

Pedagogically, this type of viewing appeals to my interests in visualization of the otherwise un(available). Our focus shifts; works cited become networks cited, or better still worknets sited/traced; attention to detail of texts moves beyond front/center to the back, the edges, and outward (in space/place-time); close looking moves from analysis to invention. Seeing in/through time permits composition beyond snapshots or stitches of singularity.

tiny composition ontology: a heterogeneous history for WIDE-EMU 12

I am working with my colleague, Joe Torok, to take stock of composition’s objects, its materiality, in order to illuminate possibilities otherwise in the shadow of capital W Writing or out of focus to our too set gaze (blink. look again. look outward). What happens when composition is viewed as an exploded diagram? Sources as assemblages of composites? As worknets of objects both material and semiotic? Flatten our ontologies; see composition not as woods, or even trees, but roots, leaves, temperature, increases in the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, excess of nitrogen in the soil that year, the growth is insect populations that fancy this tree in particular, or the rise in demand of IKEA wooden furniture. What happens when composition is produced through carpentry, juxtaposed with geography, illuminated based on its materials and not the human hand that created them? What happens when composition is a field, a scrapyard, a breathing timeline?

This is thinking of composites in and as such. This is composing as such. This will be teaching as such: heterogeneity, to compose as to assemble,

This conference presentation didn’t start as such; it began as a reading done in a class over a year ago through Anne Wysocki’s awaywithwords: On the possibilities in unavailable designs (2005) from Computers and Composition.

awaywithwords: from Notes, “Oh heck, let’s see: see almost anything by Donna Haraway or by Derrida, for starts.” Count Gunther Kress ten times . Keywords: Affordances; Available design; Image; New media; Space; Visual representation; Visual rhetoric. “unavailable designs” comes from the New London Group’s “available designs”…

…Computers and Composition online “Theory Into Practice” : “Composition as a discipline is constantly evolving, changing its teaching practices in keeping with innovations in theory and technology. Therefore, Theory into Practice strives to illuminate these evolving connections between theories, computer technologies, and pedagogical practices” (Kerri Hauman)…

…Anne Wysocki–new media studies–Geoffrey Sirc’s “Box-Logic”–small t truths–the material of the everyday–Ian Bogost “the alien everyday”–wonder in the wondering about–composites of compositon–Bruno Latour “compositionism”–seeing–tracing–worknets…

And not lastly nor leastly, scholarship through scholarship on scholarship (thinking thoughts about thoughts thinking about thinking thoughts), from Reassembling the Social (Bruno Latour) through the selection of Toward a Composition Made Whole (Jody Shipka):

“If action is limited a priori to what ‘intentional’, ‘meaningful’ humans do, it is hard to see how a hammer, a basket, a door closer, a cat, a rug, a mug, a list, or a tag could act” (71) but nonhumans play a role in shaping and determining action (Shipka 119) because they “might authorize, allow, afford, encourage, permit, suggest, influence, block, render possible, forbid, and so on” (Latour 72) certain actions and outcomes over others (Shipka 119).

These are only part of the looking, of the attention to things.

Student Writing Made Visible: Questions About Publication (WIDE-EMU 12)

(mis)conceptions of (un)expected student writing

enter: chorus of trepidation, consideration, and action. sing from the homogeneity of what writing is. listen closer, the notes hum discord. breaking from the chorus, we can hear a line: what does it mean to publish student writing?

Breaking from the chorus,  Chelsea Lonsdale, Becky Morrison , and I, graduate students and instructors invested in the teaching of composition, desire to amplify this, gain volume with the addition of voices. We question, what does it mean to publish student writing, pulling threads to follow in inquiry: audience, what  (student) writing (what it can(not) look like/sound like) is, and what publishing is/isn’t/can/can’t be.

I am unraveling what it means to publish (verb. action?):

1. prepare and issue for public sale

2. print in a book or journal so as to make it generally known

3. prepare and issue the works of a particular writer

4. formally announce or read

There are further threads, to publish as an adjective (descriptor?) too: publishable, from the stem of Old French puplier; from Latin publicare, to ‘make public’; from publicus, a blend of Latin poplicus ‘of the people’ and pubes ‘adult’. At a public university, how is the action of publishing envisioned? And where does that definition come from? HowWhy does(n’t) student writing become published?















How can we negotiate the spaces of dichotomy in what is (un)/expected?

exeunt: notions of singularity, static frames, and temples of paper

enter (not to exit): questioning our ideologies, methodologies, (in)actions