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watson 2014: day 2

Today went much faster than yesterday. I’m not quite sure why. I can’t believe the conference is already over. My presentation went relatively well — I feel like I channeled Miss Teen South Carolina during my answers to the questions I was asked, but besides that, I think it was fine. I’ll try not to be too self-critical. At least not now.

My takeaways today are less coherent. I’m inspired by Jonathan Alexander’s talk to think about the ways in which rhetoric should touch what nobody else wants to touch, and the ways in which we are called to investigate new radical spaces. I’m also thinking a lot about labor, particularly how labor issues (past, present and future) shape our decisions that we make at our institutions about how to teach first-year writing (hybrid, online, face-to-face). We need to make the labor element of those discussions visible. 

The final panel I went to is the one that is probably going to stick with me the most. One scholar raised important ideas about the neoliberal rhetoric of mobility in our school system — that we push students to become workers, to do everything they can so that they can get to college and then get a job. I bet you can think of a charter school or two that does this — that militarizes students and focuses on college above all else. The scholar had some alarming quotes about students seeing their earlier work in narrative or any kind of affective subject as something to “get out of your system” before you do the writing that matters. What does that do to their conceptions of literacy when it’s only “writing to get in college”? “writing to get a job”? 

I also walked another 6 miles, including a meandering stroll through campus close to sunset. This was after I watched the Louisville homecoming parade at a grilled cheese shop. I am now seriously regretting the visit to that grilled cheese shop, mostly because of the noises my stomach is making. It wasn’t even that tasty. Sorry, undergrad self… 

watson 2014: day 1

I am back in the Kentucky room at the cutest little farmhouse in Louisville, and all I really want to do is watch Hulu, specifically terrible sitcoms that are probably going to get cancelled this season. My brain can’t even handle streaming Shonda Rhimes #TGIT right now. It was my first full day at a major conference, and wow, just wow

But I know I need to get out some ideas. That’s why I typed a lot of notes and essentially livetweeted most of the conference. These are good ideas and I need them to stick. 

So here is my main takeaway from the roughly 15 people I heard speaking today — because you do see connections, because your brain wants to do that and/or the field has a pulse at any given moment: We cannot divorce affect from teaching or from rhetoric. Emotion plays a role in both. And it perhaps SHOULD play an even bigger role as a response (or backlash) to our current move toward standardization. 

I also walked 6 miles, met people in the field, ate a lot of free food (well, $70 conference registration free) and took my second all-by-myself taxi ride. 

weekend snapshots, vol. 2

I woke up at 4:15 this morning to grade before class. I led six group conferences, met with a student to discuss his paper, then headed home to grade, iron, pack, edit my conference presentation, rehearse my conference presentation, put on some crocs (yes, crocs), hit up the ATM, and drive back to campus, where I’ve been fairly useless in my seminar tonight.

It’s been busy, but my spirits are good. I think I’m going to book weekend getaway with Andrew when I get home. We’ll have a silver lining to look forward to when the chaos that is our respective months of October is over.

But this weekend I listened to some really good bluegrass (they covered “Santeria,” “Single Ladies” and “Someday ” by the Strokes) on a patio while drinking an Abita with one of my oldest friends. And that was really good. So was the beach, where we soaked up the last bit of summer. And the patio at Murdoch’s, reading critical theory and later drinking pina coladas. And drinking wine looking at art on Post Office street.

Okay, and I watched a lot of college football.

There is something to be said for fullness. There is also something to be said against busyness. The two are overlapping in my life, and I’m okay with that. 

"Recently, a young woman asked me how we can make feminism more accessible to men. I told her that I don’t care about making feminism more accessible to men. In truth, I don’t care about making feminism more accessible to anyone. I care about making the liberties that men enjoy so freely fully accessible to women, and if men or celebrities claiming feminism for themselves has become the spoon full of sugar to make that medicine go down, so be it."

— Read the rest here: Jennifer Lawrence? Emma Watson? These aren’t the feminists you’re looking for | Roxane Gay | Comment is free | The Guardian (via roxanegay)

Yellowcard, Lift a Sail | The Griswolds, Be Impressive | Banks, Goddess | Hozier, Hozier 

Even if you aren’t on an all-out grading binge, watching a cold front slowly blow into your city (it was 80 degrees two hours ago, and now it’s 65), I think these albums are good picks for today. I’m particularly surprised by Hozier. 

(Don’t worry, I have a really exciting Target run for almond butter squeeze packs scheduled at the end of this grading marathon — what a wonderful reward!)

Crushing self-doubt and other things

A couple weeks ago, I was perusing the #gradlife hashtag on tumblr and I came across someone describing their graduate school journey as an experience oscillating between excitement and self-confidence over their burgeoning expertise, where they were making a place for themselves, AND crushing self-doubt. 

And I was like hell. yes. PREACH.

I was really pumped when I get accepted to this conference. The first big conference in my field. And then I got accepted to the REALLY BIG one. And I was excited about that. Look at me! I have a place!

Then I wrote my conference presentation yesterday and it was a terrible day. I thought everything I was writing was dumb. This is so obvious. It’s not theorized enough. It’s just what I teach. WHY DID THEY EVEN ACCEPT ME I AM AN IDIOT!

But I read it this morning, aloud, in my compassionate, scholarly, teacher voice, and I didn’t think it was so bad. I think I’m going to be okay. I think some people might even find this interesting. I don’t think anyone will throw rotten fruit at me.

I’m not out of the woods. When I think about writing a dissertation in, oh, 14 months, my chest tightens in an alarming way. When I think about getting off the plane in Louisville in less than a week, I get a little nervous. When I think about looking for jobs in 2017, oh geez.

But I think I’m going to be okay.