18th Biennial Rhetoric Society of America Conference, May 2018
"Listening to Ourselves: Conducting An Institutional Ethnography"
As higher education budgets continue to be slashed and scrutinized, it is imperative that we make an effort to understand the effects of these cuts on our departments and, even further, the effects on our teaching. Institutional Ethnography is a method of inquiry created by feminist sociologist Dorothy Smith that allows us to examine power structures and material constraints within an institution, beginning in the everyday work experience of employees within an institution-- in this case, an institution’s teaching assistants. With institutional ethnography’s commitment to valuing the everyday experience of the individual, it is an inherently feminist endeavor. However, the grounding in feminist ideals does not necessarily mean that the research will be conducted with a sound feminist methodology. Further, it does not always save the project from essentializing individual experience, a strong critique for the feminist standpoint theory from which institutional ethnography was built. As a point of intervention, I suggest an intersectional feminist methodological approach. Feminist methodology has been theorized by many scholars including Mary Hawkesworth and Alison M. Jaggar, and in this presentation, I will draw from these scholars and others while providing a first person account of a reflexive and intersectional methodology in the approach and design of my dissertation research: an institutional ethnography of a large southwestern university’s writing program.
Computers & Writing, June 2017
"Feminist Techné for Encouraging Wonder in the Online FYC Classroom"
Part of encouraging wonder is encouraging students to see themselves as learners. While this can be difficult in any classroom, it can be especially difficult in the online classroom, where students have little ability to manipulate learning management systems such as Blackboard for identity construction work, and often students have difficulty expressing themselves (Symeonides and Childs). Compounding this difficulty are the additional complications of the, at times, isolating nature of online classrooms and the stilted nature of communication in the online classroom (Fuller and Yu; Symeonides and Childs). As a point of intervention, and following Rentschler and Thrift’s definition of feminist activist techné as “the technical practices and practical knowledge feminists come to embody” (2), and the further explanation that “[t]echné signals more than technical skill; it constitutes embodied habits for acting and doing” (4), I suggest the feminist pedagogical techné of self-reflexivity and valuation of student experience as ways to help encourage students to see themselves as knowers and learners in the online classroom. In this presentation, I will discuss using the feminist techné of self-reflexivity and valuing student experience as a strategy for helping students to, as Selfe suggests, explore the agency that comes with composing multimodal texts in multimodal environments. I argue that incorporating the techné of self-reflexivity and valuing student experience both in course design and teaching praxis may help students to better articulate their own learning and subsequently encourage wonder in the online classroom.
Rhetoric Society of America Summer Institute, May 2017
Digital Rhetoric Behind & Beyond the Screen Seminar
Academic Publishing in Rhetorical Studies Workshop
Conference on College Composition and Communication, March 2017
Research Network Form
17th Biennial Rhetoric Society of America Conference, 2016
"LGBTQIA Tumblr Blogger Identity Formation as Ethos Building"
Out of the many social media platforms, Tumblr is perhaps best known for its ties to social justice and marginalized communities. More specifically, LGBTQIA communities thrive using Tumblr's distinct affordances. This presentation focuses on a rhetorical analysis of LGBTQIA Tumblr blogger practices in order to examine identity construction and its relation to blogger ethos. Building on a critical Foucauldian lens of discourse and power, I examine the discursive practices of public gender and sexuality identity formation that takes place through public response to anonymous asks (user-submitted questions) and "About Me" blog components on LGBTQIA Tumblr blogs. These identity-forming practices are situated within a narrative of authenticity shown by researchers such as Katrin Tiidenberg and Paul de Laat to be an integral part of blogger identity. I have collected and thematically coded data from LGBTQIA Tumblr bloggers to examine how they construct their identities in that space. Bloggers sometimes seek to help others who may be on a similar journey, an action that both supports and gives back to the LGBTQIA community. The process of public identity work 1) helps the blogger to establish their ethos as an NBG&S authority, and 2) subverts the hegemonic binarial discourse; although, as Foucault argues, it is nearly impossible to fully break away from the dominant discourse, this public identity work is useful for opening conversations about nonbinary genders and sexualities that may help to bring about change in individual consideration of the hegemonic gender binary.
CWSHRC Feminisms and Rhetorics 2015
Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ
"Knitting: Not Just for Old Ladies"
With a rich history that has roots in naalbinding dating back to fourth-century Egypt (Rutt), knitting has been a staple of the crafting world for centuries. Although it has, in the past couple of decades, gotten the reputation as a hobby for grandmothers, knitting was historically viewed as more gender-neutral than it is today (Rutt). Today’s perception of knitting as a highly-gendered activity is problematic for many such as factions of men promoting their love for the craft (ex: www.menwhoknit.com). As I show, today’s knitting community has a significant online presence primarily in blogs and a social-networking site called Ravelry. This online presence shows, among other things, the community that knitters have built with the binding element of their love for knitting; a community strong enough to elicit an apology from the U.S. Olympic committee for a cease and desist letter received for the Ravelympics (Memmott), a community event on Ravelry that happens alongside the Olympics. A knitting demonstration will accompany a slide show of images and a critical commentary covering an overview of the history of knitting and how its status within society has shifted over the years with a focus on the Ravelympics event to highlight the strength of the knitting community.
Internet Research 16 (2015)
“I am a Genderfluid Biromantic Cupiosexual: LGBTQIA Tumblr Blogger Identity Construction Through Labeling”
Identity construction is a multi-faceted practice that is complex both in real world and online situations. In both cases, “authenticity” is often a concern, and this concern for “authenticity” or “truthfulness” about one’s identity is magnified in the disembodied space of the internet. Situated within a body of scholarship that has already examined the narratives of authenticity or truthfulness in online situations, this presentation will examine identity construction through the sophisticated public labeling practices of LGBTQIA Tumblr bloggers’ genders and sexualities in their bios and “About me” pages. Gender and sexuality labeling as a form of identity construction is a notable practice because it allows people who identify outside of the female/male binary a way to have an accurate, nuanced description of their feelings and desires, and, as a platform, Tumblr fosters the type of environment that makes it possible for labeling practices to not only take place, but to thrive (Tiidenberg, 2012, 2013, 2014; Renninger, 2014). Taking into consideration Foucault's notions of discourse and power, it can be seen that nonbinary terms of gender, romantic desire, and sexual desire are framed and described by the female/male binary and so both subvert and rest within binarial norms. However, far from sophisticated labeling being a futile attempt to subvert the binary, these labeling practices represent a useful starting point for conversations about genders and sexualities that lie outside of the female/male binary.
Computers & Writing 2015
University of Washington, Stout, WI
"Twitter as a Collaborative Writing and Learning Environment"
Co-presenter: Rebecca Robinson
Using metrics based on Chickering and Gamson’s seven principles of good practice in undergraduate education, this paper discusses how Twitter can boost student engagement in course materials, encourage self-motivated learning practices, and provide opportunities for collaborative learning across multiple writing courses and learning axes—that is, Twitter, as a class discussion platform, represents a point where formal, informal, and collaborative learning may converge. This ultimately enables Twitter, as a platform, to facilitate student-to-student interaction in addition to student-to-instructor interaction in order to have a more customized, dynamic, and, possibly, more effective curriculum.
PCA/ACA 2015 Annual National Conference
New Orleans, LA
"Social Justice Warriors: LGBTQIA Tumblr Blogger Identity Construction"
This essay focuses on the LGBTQIA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender/transsexual, queer/questioning, intersex, and agender/asexual) identity construction and audience education that takes place on the blogging website, Tumblr. An exploration and framework is set up to examine the ways that LGBTQIA Tumblr bloggers construct their gender and sexual identities within the public of Tumblr, specifically focusing on responses to anonymous asks and gender and sexuality labeling practices. Using a rhetorical analysis of a LGBTQIA blogger’s posts, I argue that they construct their ethos as an educator through the practices of responding to anonymous asks and public labeling in order to be an authority to speak on LGBTQIA issues and subsequently educate receptive Tumblr audiences.
Social Media & Society International Conference 2014
Ryerson University, Toronto, Ontario
"You 'Have Flabby Arms, Fat Legs, and a Gross Ass:' A Look at Social Ties and Online Discourse"
The analysis of online social interactions provides an insight to how online discourse functions across different social media platforms and in different online social situations. A critique of online rational-critical debate (as first defined by Jürgen Habermas) and the psychological concept of innergroup and outergroup social ties provide the basis for the analysis of what I term unconstructive discourse. A case study of discourse regarding body policing of a plus size fashion blogger—who had the audacity to post pictures from her swimsuit photo shoot—across two forms of social media was selected in order to examine ways in which unconstructive discourse takes place. The psychological concepts of inner- and outergroup ties were applied to the relationships between users engaging in discourse in order to categorize the social interactions. Additionally, the management of different types of social media was considered in order to establish how that might affect unconstructive discourse. Analysis showed that unconstructive discourse was more likely to happen when users perceived weaker social ties (outergroup). Whereas when social ties were thought to be stronger, or a continuous personal relationship was assumed (innergroup), discourse was largely positive or constructive in nature.
18th Southwest English Symposium 2013
Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ
"Jargon and Elitism, Interdisciplinary Gatekeepers"
Jargon as an interdisciplinary gatekeeper has been around for centuries. It was not, for example, uncommon for particularly unchaste sections of Latin texts to remain in the original language in order to prevent future readers, usually women, from being able to read what the translator decided was inappropriate for readers who were not adequately educated. This type of elitism is carried into modern graduate studies. As many graduate students could attest, graduate school is a black pit of knowledge into which the student is thrown without a light source. Consistently across disciplines such as English and Communications, the student is expected to create their own light and their own path through the darkness generally without a strong guiding light. This is not to say that teachers are at fault for not guiding their students, but rather the expectations within the discipline reflect the elitism exemplified by the Latin translators. This essay discusses elitism within the English disciplines of Communication, Rhetoric, and English Literature/Linguistics, the role that jargon plays, and perhaps suggest a way in which we might work towards a more effective disciplinary and interdisciplinary communication.