Sunday, March 4, 2018

Stand Up Straight & Let Me Get a Look at You

It's awards show Sunday, so i'm giving Margot. I'm through with the wishfulness and angst and regret, and Margot, more than anyone gives this good ennui.

I'm mad for Guillermo's brilliant, faceshredding tearmaker The Shape of Water, loved underrated genius Greta Gerwig's Lady Bird (didn't want it to end!! ... Saorise Ronan's flared jeans!), and worshipped the blinding, teacup tapping brilliance of Jordan Peele's Get Out.  My work at Sundance & day job at the university kept my schedule too busy to see all of the films. I'm working on finding a way of supporting myself that will accommodate my heavy film spectation desires and practices.

Other films I'm excited for include Bryan Fogel's brilliant and mindblowingly fierce documentary Icarus. It's the companion text to the whole post-2016 election nightmare and the intricacies of the Mueller investigation (especially its gruesome findings!). It's Awards Show Sunday! I am here for the drama. (you can't see me smoking, but i'm very cinematic with it right now ...)

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Social Media is People!

Not a selfie, but so very much about
self, self-identity, choice. There's
a great story about my determined 
choice to be photographed in THIS
dress. MINE! 
Messy, icky, less-than-ideally *curated* people. Following my interest in conceptions of "self" that have shifted through time*, on into our selfie loving cultures, I am currently collecting resources on the contemporary ability to "curate" selves through social media. Of course, we have always been curators (of selves). What I am interested in exploring is the emergence and uptake of seemingly helpful discourses reiterating the everyday claim that we choose to be in certain ways; we choose to represent ourselves strategically. Cue Goffman, but wow ... there are many fine voices articulating this by-now quite obvious reality.

What gets me is how we in Rhetoric and Composition (and in Writing Studies, Digital Media Studies, Digital Humanities, etc., etc.) are exploring and teaching curatorial practices as forms of sound rhetorical knowledge that we should possess, that we should be wise enough to obediently practice. I am interested in these helpful discourses even as I find many reasons to resist their pedagogical desire.

All of this is to mark the beginning of my work on the next book, C'est Mwah! I am referring to my book on selfies and the constellating images, films, screen moments, and discourses that help shape our investments in taking selfies, sharing selfies, and dissing selfies. Me? I'm pro-selfie, but it's complicated. More in the book. 

*it was Diane Davis who finally helped clarify my thinking. Her work on rhetoricity has been generously instructive in ways words cannot describe. 

Monday, May 30, 2016

Things I Learned at the Conference

I love conferences. I have always loved performing. People often say that they enjoy my performances, so I like to think it's time well spent, and, lucky me, getting to do this thing I love! Also, I like people. I enjoy my professional relationships; however, I am a trained extrovert, so it doesn't always come easy. That's what this post is about.

Over the last 2 weeks, I've presented 3 times in 2 different cities. It was a lot of travel, bingewriting and freakout editing, and it was all jammed togeth in a tough schedule. These are not ideal conditions for anyone, but for a trained extrovert on the tail end of some difficult personal losses (both parents, both very recently) and in the midst of career uncertainty, it was extra tough. I learned quite a bit during this tough time. Rather, I re-learned many things about who I am, how I am, and just what I think I'm doing as a social, professional being. Because this is about the learned/re-learned stuff, please know that these lessons have been a long time coming, have a long history, and may have nothing at all to do with these particular conferences and the lovely people in attendance; it's more about me in social/professional life, in general. So, what did I learn?

1.) I learned that I really, really care - a lot - about what I present, and how. I love live performances, and I want to move my audience. I read often the social media posts of colleagues who are "writing it on the plane," and my head explodes. I mean, that is really so nice for you if you can do that, but ME? Impossible. It's true that as a university professor (and actor), I can "think on my feet," but there are limits. Knowing my limits is good. So no shame. No shame if you can't dash off a brilliant performance script. Also, not everyone wants to hear about my process of composing. I too share on social media the nature and status of my projects, but, again, 

 2.) I learned that I have some particularly awkward relationships. When in proximity with the person(s) with whom I experience strained co-existence, silence is my best friend. See, I'm a person who can't stand to think that I've wronged, annoyed, or upset you. I also want to be liked. This sometimes translates into MY DUMB VOICE filling a void between us that really, really, really just wants to be a void. I can do silence. It's not easy because of all that longing and, well, once a hairdresser (see "trained extrovert") ... But yeah, silence. More silence. Because, like weirdly gushing to a celebrity you happen to meet, this strange bleating is never well met. If it's weird, just zip it. 

 3.) I learned that if I am seemingly neglected in some group situation, I am still amazing. I enjoy a cocktail or a meal, even alone; I can step out of the flow (and demands) of embodied sociality for a bit. Chill. And if, in that moment of feeling/being so alone, someone or a small group invites me to their thing, I have learned to give it serious consideration. I may, in some momentary bout of sadness-distancing bravado think, "Sure! Yes! ... Let's do this!" and it may go well, but if I am very deeply troubled by the current state of affairs, I may end up whining rather than being my lovely and amazing self. So, be amazing, alone or with others; if I'm too troubled, solitude is the answer. Hopefully, I can go and be amazing (hint: I can*).

These are just a few of the things I've learned. I think that if I am able to internalize this learning, I will do better socially and professionally. Yes, I'm unhappy to have to re-learn this stuff at all, but when your life throws you around for a while and you're generally untethered due to chance operations that leave you not quite yourself, you will have to re-learn, as well. I'll be here. I want to close with some hip, podcasty-slash-oldtimey radio voice of wisdom, to tell you that you will be okay. I hope I will. I hope you will. And remember:  

1.) Limits are good. 
2.) If it's gonna be weird, just zip it. 
3.) You are amazing. 

* originally drafted with an exclamation point but bonnie.
image source

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Just Because

I begin with this trailer because YES. It serves as an absurdist vision for the notion that this work I'm doing is relevant, important, interesting. It is, mind you, but the notion of it is absurd in ways I recognize in light of life and death, dreams of the good life, all the aspirational hopes of seeking (or avoiding) love and partnerships. Generally, absurd is how I've been feeling, and some of this, yes, involves the recent (and ongoing) job market season. But so absurd.

By now, I have gushed a bit about having a contract for my book. Finally! You can read a bit more about it, here. I love the title's most recent iteration for how it accurately reflects the ethnographically derived meanings the book shares. Cruel Auteurism: Affective Digital Mediations Toward Film-Composition. It's a mouthful, and I could honestly drop the post-colon stuff. I may do that and will plan to initiate that conversation with my editor very soon.

I have many conference presentations upcoming, so in addition to completing the book (it's 3/4 drafted), I'll be working on a talk about new citation practices for the Modern Language Association's (MLA) sponsored panel at the 2016 Conference on College Composition and Communication. My title? "How Do I Cite the Stephen Hawking Hologram?" Can't wait.

I have had the great fortune of seeing 2 proposals for the competitive 2016 Rhetoric Society of America (RSA) conference. I will be exploring a.) Selfies as feminist reclamation of image-power *and* more!, and b.) Shaming in social media as a function of commonly held myths about "luck" (think positive!). I worry the shaming of those who articulate -- in the fullest sense of the term -- within social media their various struggles, from the mundane to the collectively political. I worry that many teaching rhetoric teach that we should be "above" what many see as "whining" and instead pretty much stick to constantly shaping "the brand."

I've been busy with many other life pursuits. I had talks with colleagues about revising that long languishing screenplay (and have taken real steps toward reanimating that project), and I have a friend helping design a web presence for my alt-ac cinematic pursuits. 

More on all this very soon. In the meantime, can't wait for House of Cards, can't look at anything at all involving the actual political events of the moment (debates, weird media tricks to support this or that candidate), and so on. Yeah no. I'm in for indie films (The Lobster (!) ... Rams (sublime) ... Swiss Army Man ("the farting corpse movie")), and popular culture (House of Cards, Game of Thrones, ...).

I end with 2 final clips. First is a an interview featuring "the" Daniels, Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert about their whimsical first feature, Swiss Army Man ("the farting corpse movie,"), this year's Sundance Film Festival delightful surprise. Just because.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015


In the midst of attempting to complete my book, review a film for publication, produce 2 new documentaries, apply for a prestigious award, prep my syllabi for the upcoming academic semester, and host a visit from my in-laws, I have been keeping pace with my selfie practices and even recently bought an inexpensive selfie stick in the small-bin kid's toy section at the local superstore (!). i'm still okay with selfies, still love them. I also love myself and even sometimes my image, my self(ies). 

I have been taking selfies for some time now. I share them, as well, usually on FacebookInstagram, occasionally @ Twitter. I find the practice empowering and not at all silly; or, if silly, silly for rhetorically strategic purposes (even if only to cheer myself or others). 

For me (and many others), selfies are serious business. The practice is both indulgent and bold, a kind of feminist reclamation of agency and a tool for reshaping our sense of self through our framings, alterations (filtrz!), and captioning. And then, art. Think Cindy Sherman (for a sense of the long history of selfies as feminist practice). Increasingly, we see digital feminist practices that argue for reclaiming the body through the (re)presentations that selfies enable (for an overview, see this ArtSlant piece by Char Jansen). 

Selfies take hits from many directions, and while I understand many of the critiques for their intellectual and especially psychological merits, I continue. Why? Okay, something happened last night (not at all for the first time) that inspired me to begin my selfie research in earnest. I was at a dinner with family, and someone took a photo of me. I had posed, but apparently I hadn't arranged myself just so, and wow. There it was, instantly, in the moment. I had been feeling lovely, but there it was, a flatly terrible photo of me, taken* by another (so, not a selfie). It was mortifying in its unflattering angles, revealing many truths of which I am not unaware but which I tend to de-emphasize in my own selfie practices. The slippage between the revelations of the other-directed photo and my own is important. I want to imagine it's not even there, that my own imagistic declarations obtain as the primary frames for [contemplating] m'visage, m'self. But the experience reminds me that this is not so, and I need to think about that fact. (Revising this post, I read that last line and see that even the writing is a reframing that firms up my sense of selfies as simply one -- very, if not the most powerful -- form of self-fashioning that has a long and quite obvious history of doing good things for those who take up reflective practice). 

I am writing to declare my intention to begin to engage more rigorously with selfie research. In many ways, the theoretical works I've long admired on the nature of the self, writing the personal, and the power of reflection have always resonated with my selfie practices. More obviously and recently, I've joined a Facebook selfies group, and I've begun reading Jill Walker Rettberg's work on selfies (in my awareness, hers is one of the first full-length, single-authored works on the matter). Her book's title suggests a desire to explore the liminal spaces between our self image as determined and maintained by our selfies, our selves and alternative versions of our projected self-images. Walker-Rettberg's Seeing Ourselves Through Technology: How We Use Selfies, Blogs and Wearable Devices to See and Shape Ourselves may help me navigate my personal disappointments even as it encourages a more clearly rational approach to self-knowledge and awareness of what I am taking, and what I am projecting. This awareness seems critical, for it seems true that we may function with a slightly delusional sense of self when we imagine or contemplate our lives through our filtered and overly edited images of our faces, bodies, body parts, etc. And while I have stubbornly clung to a belief in a sort of feminist power, here -- we are now afforded a professional crew for managing our images, just as are the famously beautiful people against whom we have historically judged our own imagistic value, the contours of our faces, the body shapes that don't always seem to fit normative ideals -- I'm aware that the delusion is problematic, to say the least.

Finally, I will admit that I am a woman who has suffered her fair share of tragically disordered body-shaming practices. This, too, compels my desire to think more rigorously about my selfie practice. I am inspired to push on by scholars in my field of Rhetoric & Composition, particularly those working in the Computers & Writing area and Digital Rhetorics, scholars like Kristin Arola, Angela Haas, Michelle F. Eble, Kate Manthey, and others who are openly exploring rhetorics of the body in promising and clearly productive ways. 

Wish me luck. This isn't easy. 

rhetorics of capturation profoundly shape my thinking about the feminist value of selfies.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Trauma Dot Com

"memory" by Stanley Yuu
A friend's FB post prompted me to look up some old posts I'd shared about "the boatwreck." I have enjoyed reading them again, though their content is always somewhat provocative, releasing additional forms of trauma that attach to my current situation, about which I won't be writing publicly for some time but which involves my mother's still fairly recent passing and my father's relocation to a facility very near my new condo in "my new life."

So but the recollections seem to want to inspire additional writing and reflection. I had been in therapy with the brilliant Salt Lake City professional, LaDonna Moore. I owe her letters of gratitude on unicorn fur-spun pages for helping me get past not only the immediate trauma attached to Mom's death but also years of pretty ridiculous thinking, ironically the very thinking that helped me survive my upbringing's troubles.

Since Mom's passing, and when the situation evolved here in "my new life," I had to go find a new therapist. Thankfully, her office is only a 5 minute drive (!). She too is helping, in similar ways with very different approaches. I don't want to say much more about it (see how that worked out for me at end of paragraph 1?!).

I'm grateful for how social media enables me to find the traces we share, the interests that motivate us, and the frail tissues of affective memory that linger, fade, and reilluminate our lives. But today, I've got many other forms of writing to take on. My book *does* deal in affect, and so maybs this detour into a state of solemn and potentially embarrassing affect will be inspiring. Either way, I am motivated to find that old article that nearly-made-it-but-didn't-quite publication. It may be time to reanimate and try again, as with all things

Friday, January 16, 2015

Puppets! Performance! Projectors!!

After last night's opening performance at Chicago's Museum of Contemporary Art, a member of the core ensemble said, "The show is very seamful." True. Also, brilliant. The use of old OVERHEAD PROJECTORS (!), puppets, digital tech, and live performers projected onto 2 screens, digitally captured and reprojected onto a center screen, created an enchanting, visceral film noir experience.

MEMENTOS MORI offers a thrilling reminder of the networks of agents, technologies, materials, and labor that produces critical storytelling objects such as a film. Their unique methods --  sharing the visual presence of the whole production team onstage and at work while synchronously projecting film itself --created breathtaking effects.
Form and content, the story pitts digital against analog via the character "DEATH" who works an app called "Reapr." The app features the silhouetted head of a certain character we are also discovering in other scenes. Beneath the image is a timeline note: "OVERDUE" (with a "swipe right" icon, urging DEATH to click, her dutiful move), or "NOT YET READY" with a note, "22 years to go," and so on. Eventually, [SPOILER!!] DEATH grows something of a conscience and gives up her device, passing it on to the ghost of a character she'd earlier clicked off. There is a suggestion regarding the phasic nature of our engagements with various technologies.

What was most exciting, intellectually and viscerally (so many things to watch!!) was the persistent sense of physicality. We got a palpable sense of the materiality of performance and performance-based objects. I see room to read with the performance through Alexander Galloway's concern for potential slippages of interface effects. I see that the performance sort of enacted the possibility that threshold experiences are perceivable; the performance wants us to attend to these experiences rather than to unwittingly perform (within) them, absent our attentiveness. That "the truth of social life is incompatible with its own expression" (viii) was at the heart of the matter, but there was a kind of transcendent sensibility driving the scene, just so. I am still thinking about (and loving) it. Brilliant!! Catch this performance from this thrilling ensemble!!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

updating ...

Screening Rhetorics: Affective Mediations Toward Film-Composition performs a take on the emergence and state of film-composition, an area within the larger field of Rhetoric and Composition. The book argues for film-composition as a vital scene for rhetorical inquiry and practice. Through a judicious use of anecdotal reflection from my experience as rhetorician, compositionist, actor, Sundance volunteer, digital filmmaker, and installation artist, I situate my authorial investment onto a timeline. Each chapter of Screening Rhetorics draws upon theories of affect that engage critically with various scholarly indications of affective intensity (i.e., hope) found in our discipline’s scholarly record. The chapters of Screening Rhetorics are structured to explore affective registers of meaning associated with early and ongoing scholarship by responding with contemporary discourses that gesture toward fulfillment of or perhaps distancing from the promises made by earlier claims. So, whereas an earlier scholar expressed hope for using film in the classroom, contemporary film-compositionists are doing just that, supported by certain theories of affect (many of which also resonate with prominent theories on film, rhetorical, and composition theories). Screening Rhetorics reframes historical hopes with methodologically generous moves to argue for the rhetorically valid creative vision of these earlier scholars. 

The chapters of Screening Rhetorics are designed via themes discovered in the historical review. These themes obtain in the present, particularly in the context of the revitalized scholarly attention to and performance of multimodal composing, and they include: Hope, Desire, Part I, Desire, Part II, and Pleasure. More specifically, my use of affect terms (hope, desire, etc.)  as structuring agents link past and present. The conceptual affect terms articulate disciplinary trends and practices that have been taken up by scholars working in Rhetoric and Composition. Affect — “visceral forces” (Gregg and Seigworth 2010, p. 1)— structures this book because of our immersive, embodied experiences of shifting literacies, pedagogies, and creative and scholarly dispositions. We are (many of us) digital scholars because of the ubiquity of digital textuality in the present. Thus, the book reasonably draws upon these dynamic affects to characterize film-composition’s vital emergence. And while affective intensities resonate throughout the discourses on film in our scholarly record, they also support a great deal of pedagogical effort in the present. Thus, using theories on affect to provide frameworks for exploring the evolution of film-composition makes sense as a tool for surfacing a history and highlighting current practices even as it also enables me to articulate my own hard-earned knowledge and skill, hopefully in ways that suggest a suitable ethos for the work of articulating this vital area in our field. As I see it, we’re critically (re)appropriating “felt-sense” (Perl 1980), a desire toward production, immersion, critical making, remixing, and remaking. It’s about a nearly inarticulable desire toward participatory culture through the production of moving texts. If we continue struggling against our hopes and desires in our efforts to perfect our technical knowledge, our abilities to frame and assess assignments, and generally to bypass or transcend them (because they are, as we imagine — wrongfully, as Deleuze would have it — a-critical), we foreclose opportunities for rhetorical ethics and sensitivity that may more appropriately guide us in film-composition. Thus, this book is essential, now.

The project is heading into Stage 2 proposal reviews with the #writing series and WVU press.


Gregg, M., and Seigworth, G. J. (Eds.) The affect theory reader. (Introduction). Durham & London: Duke University Press. 1-51.

Saturday, August 23, 2014


Writing about risk. That's the theme of the 2015 Conference on College Composition & Communication, which will take place in Tampa, Florida, the very home of my doctoral program (USF). Last week, I learned that my proposal had been accepted. My performance explores the rhetoric of "DIY" (do it yourself) composing projects as a kind of "optimistic failure." Upon reading the acceptance email, I had a moment of gratitude and joy, and I shared the news with 2 of my immediate supervisors (as we are encouraged to do and as may be rhetorically wise, though it always *always* feels creepy, the same kinda creepy that keeps me from applying for awards. i think that if you'd like to give me an award, great. but to compete for one isn't in my nature. i'm hardwired, perhaps, for failure, and as i am thinking about it, accepting this truth and all that it may mean about my private definition of "failure," i'm okay with that). So the C's talk -- the work will draw upon Lauren Berlant's concept of Cruel Optimism, and I'm excited about taking up her work to think about my own, as I did at the 2014 CCCC in "Open Aesthetics."

For Berlant, optimism is "“the force that moves you out of yourself and into the world in order to bring closer the satisfying something that you cannot generate on your own but sense in the wake of a person, a way of life, an object, project, concept, or scene” (1-2). Optimism "becomes cruel only when the object that draws your attachment actively impedes the aim that brought you to it initially" (1). Surely, we think of our work, our attractions and attachments, the desires that brought us to teaching writing at the university level -- the creativity, the drama, empowerment (!), the rewards of having served, social justice (!), and more. And then, the impediments (...).

We've all heard that we should treat work as only part of a full and happy life. Doing so has always seemed difficult. My attachments to the promises of my teaching life have perhaps been out of balance, but even with my profound career missteps and disappointments, I've remained. After the dark mood that greeted me upon waking today, I'm writing it out, wondering why. I'm writing this entry as an optimistic approach to contemplating my attachments to my work as a form of cruel optimism, where I both gain ego points and crushing anxiety, both at the same time. 

Tenure provided some sense of security, though it was never terrifically fortifying. But despite the research, reflection, soul-searching, and other work I did to prepare to leave it, I could not have anticipated how much giving it up would undo me (my therapist has helped me to forgive myself for being "so stupid!"). I wake feeling threatened nearly every day. I suppose many of my NTT compadres will say, "Welcome, bonnie." I wake nearly every day sensing that the "aim that brought me to it [teaching, but especially this new move] initially" is "actively impeding" [sic] my ability to not only thrive but to feel even a measure of sanity about my choices, my situation, my future and present happiness. Sure sure, life is suffering, but this is suffering from the privilege of even having a job in this economy, so let's say we just heap on a few dollops of guilt, shall we? Is this helping?

It may help to explain that I am not a gamer. I don't play video games because of the throbbing proximity of these two experiences (ego grat/crushing anxiety) and the crescendo of FAIL they escalate in the process. But through Berlant's "cruel optimism," I get at least a sense of the integrity of my choices. Sure, romantic. Also sure, motivated by love. We'll see where this goes. Happy Saturday. I'm going to my niece's soccer game. Aoife (5) is playing for Matilda (6), who fell out of a tree and had to get stitches this week. My time in the ER motivated at least one of the threatening emails, as I missed an opening speaker, oh, and here is Tilda offering to let me move one of her cupcakes for a WIN. You kids play nice.