Congrats, Profgrrrrl!

Congratulations to Profgrrrrl for winning the Technorati competition for the trip to BlogHer. Profgrrrrl won for her entry on How Blogging Has Changed My Life. I know, I should have entered the contest too; I didn't find out about it until the day before the deadline, but still I should have given it a shot. Oh well, I'm glad Profgrrrrl is getting to go. She'll blog about all the sessions, that's for sure.

Memorial Service for Allison Crews

A little while ago, I got back from the Minneapolis memorial service for Allison Crews, who passed away recently. It was absolutely lovely. I've got pictures if you'd like to see, but to describe what happened, most of the people there, if not all, were parents, and most had met Crews in person. They had a spread of food and a selection of drinks, and we chatted for a little while before gathering in a big circle and speaking. One woman had written a spoken word piece and did an impassioned, heartfelt reading, after which were some tears. Several other women spoke, and one woman sang; she was wonderful. Lots of children were there, and they wandered freely throughout the circle. I hadn't prepared anything to say myself, but while others were talking I thought of something. I was too shy to say it at the memorial (I didn't know anyone there), but I'll say it here.

Most of the people who spoke mentioned the importance of carrying on the work Crews started, the feminist work of helping young mothers (and by extension, all mothers, all women, all children, and all men). What I was too chicken to say was basically that I hope to help effect change in higher education, specifically to make it more child- and mother-friendly. These changes include putting changing tables in bathrooms on campus, implementing free on-site day care for the children of both students and faculty, and a host of other measures. I can only imagine how hard it is for young women with children to get through high school and get into college, and often when they get there, they're some of the most intelligent and dedicated students in the classroom. I want to help make sure the attrition rates of student parents, especially single mothers, are monitored and if they're high, that they're attended to appropriately. I don't have the numbers to support this, but my suspicion is that young parents in college are an "at-risk" population in some ways, and another suspicion I have is that the needs of student parents could be met with accommodations that university administration could make fairly easily.

After the informal eulogies, one woman brought out a PDA on which she had loaded Crews' well-known essay When I Was Garbage. She read the first paragraph, then passed the PDA along. Each person read a paragraph, and I actually got to read my favorite paragraph, the epiphanic one:

I grew during those weeks, not only physically (60 pounds!) but emotionally and spiritually. I meditated, prayed, screamed, cried, slept, wrote, read and thought. I realized I was more capable than I was being led to believe. I made my decision, 38 weeks into my pregnancy. I informed my boyfriend of this decision. "I am keeping the baby. I don't care what anyone says or feels. I WILL NOT lose my son. They want any baby, and I only want mine!" My boyfriend and I were going to tell my parents the next evening at dinner. I fell asleep quickly, not sobbing into my pillow like I had grown used to doing during those pain and growth-filled three months. I was keeping my baby.

It was a simple, powerful memorial service, one of the best ones I've attended.

Other essays by Crews:

And So I Choose (You've GOT TO read this one)

The Reproductive Rights of Minors

Your Government, Your Rights

Ten Things You Can Do To Protect Reproductive Freedom

Culling. How I love it.

Today I did something I'd been meaning to do for a while now: start the culling process for my dissertation. I knew when I first started the program here that I wanted my dissertation to be a feminist rhetorical analysis of blogging, so I wrote most of my seminar papers as well as a couple of my essays for my prelims with the intention that they'd be part of my dissertation.

As you might remember, I've been stressing about finishing on time, being ready to go on the market, and all that, but as of today I'm much less stressed. Just as an exercise, I pasted all the seminar papers and other essays I've written in preparation for my dissertation into one document, and it ended up being one hundred and eighty-five pages double-spaced. Of course not all that is usable, probably not even most of it, and I certainly have an enormous amount of research and writing still to do, but I do intend to use as much of the work I've already done as possible; after all, that the material would be in my dissertation was the whole point of my writing those papers. It just calms me down a lot to know that I'm not starting from nothing.

Edited to add: I forgot to mention that my next dissertation exercise is a document with two headings: "What my dissertation is..." and "What my dissertation is not...[.]" I plan to write about half a page or so under each heading. I hope it will help me clarify and crystallize the scope of my project to myself and to others. What I'm hearing from everyone I know who has finished a dissertation or who is almost finished with one is that I should keep the project small and not try to do too much.

Another grab bag

Cool! Someone has put photos of my knitting on Wikimedia Commons. On another knitting note, I taught Tiana, daughter of Rachel, to knit last night! I hope I did an okay job.

In the latest issue of Genders, there's an analysis of "Extreme Makeover": Beauty, Desire, and Anxiety: The Economy of Sameness in ABC's Extreme Makeover. Interesting stuff, well worth the read.

There's a special aggregation of bloggers who are posting about iLaw 2005. Not all the posts are about iLaw, but at least it's an attempt to put all the weblogs that might have iLaw notes in one place. Of course, in a perfect world, they'd all use Drupal and create an iLaw 2005 category, and then we could have category-specific feeds. :-) Nevertheless, I'll be reading. I wish I could be there; it looks fascinating.

But if I were at iLaw, I wouldn't get to go to the memorial for Allison Crews this evening. By the way, it now appears as though the cause of death is uncertain, but who knows if "a friend" is a reliable source. I guess we'll know more later.

Around the Web

It's my own little Inside Higher Ed over here. First:

Ulysses is public domain in the U.S. now. Artists and writers can use passages of it freely, create derivative works, etc. Don't miss Logie's post on it.

Arnold Lee, creator of, emailed me to tell me about his short film, Social Security: The Real Connections. I watched it, and while overall, I think his use of shapes, arrows, and animation is a good way to make his argument about Social Security, I don't yet find it to be credible. The whole time I was watching it, I was thinking, where do these numbers come from? It's a problem I have with most new media compositions, to be honest -- and I know this won't be a popular opinion -- but I am still an old fart stickler for full bibliographical citations of all data, especially numbers and statistics. In the ones I've seen, and I'll admit I haven't seen hundreds of them or anything, the sources are not well-documented. I'm going to be very skeptical of any argument that doesn't cite the evidence it uses. I want to know who wrote the sources, what their political advocacy angle is, when the studies were done, and where the sources were published so that I can investigate the research design of the sources, and all that. If Lee puts a bibliography on the site, though, and I find the sources to be credible, I'll be sending the link to everyone I know with my highest recommendation. I know it's difficult to integrate source citations gracefully into multi or new media compositions.

Please go and read New Kid's systematic criticism of an article in the Chronicle on educational technology. My thanks to her for writing it.

Good thread over at Prof. B.'s about childrearing. (Sorry, I couldn't resist.)

Best soup ever

Pretty hearty soup, huh? It's the best I've ever made. Oven-roasted chicken (thigh meat), roasted garlic, diced tomatoes, pinto beans, steamed baby carrots, chicken broth, and brown rice pasta noodles, seasoned with cayenne pepper and Cavender's Greek seasoning. It's filling and delicious, like somebody's grandmother made it. I am, of course, going to freeze it in containers, and maybe next time I eat it, I'll make some cornbread. Perhaps on Wednesday when Jonathan gets here. I'm excited!

Comfort food

Remembering John Lovas

I want to join Cindy, Samantha, Mike, Jenny, Collin, Joanna, Derek, and Jeff in expressing my sorrow at the passing of John Lovas. I plan on reading and contributing to the festschrift, but for now, I don't know what to say. Too soon. He did what he loved -- taught writing -- until the very end. He cared so much about all of us. About his students. They kept in touch with him after they took his classes. He was proud of them; you could tell by the way he wrote about them on his blog and the way he talked about them in person. I only met him once, last March at CCCC. I'm glad I did.

At the beginning of his CCCC presentation, he made some remarks about his reasons for starting blogging. From my notes on his session:

John's presentation was titled "A Writing Teacher's Blog: New Knowledge and New Colleagues." In it, he talked about his motivations for starting his weblog. He said he was hearing "time's wingèd chariot hurrying near" and was worried that his words wouldn't end up having an impact. He has a wealth of accumulated knowledge about teaching writing, having done it for forty (!) years now, and he was concerned that what we as writing teachers do isn't understood well by the public (he referenced the "Well, I'd better watch my grammar around you!" joke we all know). So he decided to start a blog.

They did have an impact. I'm so grateful that he started and maintained his blog. I am a better teacher for having read his words, for having known him. I'm sure I'm not the only one. One time one of my students wrote something on the class blog that alarmed me, and I was afraid it would have a negative effect on the class morale. John was the person I emailed in panic, the person I trusted to give me the best, fairest, most caring advice, and he wrote right back and made me feel much better.

He will be missed. He already is.

Computers and Writing 2005 Link Roundup

For my own and others' reference, links to posts about the 2005 on-site (as opposed to online) Computers and Writing conference.

  • Part 1 and Part 2 of Mike's plans for his presentation
  • Notes from Mike, Charlie, and pictures from Bradley on the Drupal workshop
  • Collin wins the 2005 Best Academic Weblog award and accepts humbly and gracefully
  • Notes from Bradley and Mike on "Politics of Digital Literacy: Cases for Institutional Critique"
  • Notes from Mike on "Copyright Anxiety"
  • Notes from Bradley on "Self Representation and Agency in a Web of Commercialization"
  • Notes from John on Todd Taylor's keynote multimedia presentation, "The End of Composition"
  • Notes from Bradley on "Community Building through Weblogs"
  • Notes from Bradley on "Assessing Students' New Media Projects"
  • Notes from Bradley on "Databases and Collaborative Spaces in First Year Composition
  • Notes from Bradley on "Rhetoric, Writing and Hypertext"
  • Notes from Bradley on "Teaching Visual Literacy"
  • Photos from the conference
  • Fashion commentary from Matt Barton
  • Kim White's notes on the conference

If you blogged the conference and aren't listed, do let me know!

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