Saturday, July 21, 2018

do your best ...

I'm starting a new job as a Visiting Assistant Professor at Northern Illinois University this fall! I'll be teaching Digital Storytelling for undergraduate students, along with Technical Writing at both UG and graduate levels.

This is my cheery schematic for Things That Matter (takeaways, course deliverables), skills students can expect to develop in the course. I'm also inviting students to generate alternative versions of the schematic. I can't wait to see where and how they integrate "sobbing" and "ennui." ✨

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, December 11, 2016

euphorically tweeting


Today, I begin writing about the euphoria of Twitter, the quick hit rush of blurting, the joy of sensing that I might be heard when my voice seems so small, especially in light of the emergence of this new political disaster.

Things I expect to find:
  1. Immediate references to the 2016 election and that one guy who can't stop endangering our country with his tweets.
  2. Lots more of #1.
  3. Warnings about "your brain on Twitter."
  4. Neurobiological analysis of how Twitter rewards (yum!) circulate within our limbic system.
And this should be interesting. I'm maybe more interested in:
  1. Theorizing the neural turn and how our renewed attentiveness to neurobiological systems and rhetoric help us to both understand, and maybs to alter our social media practices, especially 
  2. in Twitter. Because brevity. The ease of the "quick hit," the endorphin rush, the euphoria that feeds our feeds (clev/not clev, but this is part of it, the shift in our desire toward clever shortform articulation).
And then, the exigence for my writing about any of this:
  1. Exploring how Election 2016 has meant more tweeting for me. And not only more tweeting, ...
  2. ... but tweeting without shame, with far fewer retractions (i am a serial deleter because of some of the things i have written about -- and presented at the conference of the 2016 Rhetoric Society of America -- shaming in social media, especially for academic rhetoricians, who are "supposed to know better" (than to post THIS or THAT).

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 about myself at the conference(s)

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

why selfies?

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.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

status updates r good for writers & readers (even academics!)

image source
Inspired by an update i read this morning, one that reverbs familiar advice about how to write (as an academic), i have been reading about a FB recall study that's linked to the relevance and persistence of status updates. It's Dr. Laura Mickes, et al (2013) but new to me. i was inspired to read it after reading a claim suggesting that, in part, FB updating too frequently could be damaging our abilities as (academic writers), or at least our daily productivity. i almost always resist such advice because my experience has been that without FB i may have left academia altogether. More conceptually, i think about how in an attention economy, being read and remembered seems nearly as important as that project you've been developing with care over time. Maybe *too* much, by some writers' standards, but perhaps it's simply *in time*; and, given the social connectedness emerging from FB participation -- a gift difficult to generate in some life situations -- the timeline is less relevant than the balance of sociality and productivity. In many ways, i'm relieved by the study for how it frames my understanding of the value of FB and spending time here, especially because, as the FB memory study reveals, according to Mickes, "The gaps in performance between Facebook recall and literature recall are on a scale similar to the difference between amnesiacs and people with healthy memory." To me, this does not suggest that updating is superfluous, silly, or irrelevant to my development as a writer, academic or otherwise. It validates updating as a potentially valuable aspect of our writerly lives. In earlier parlance, we might have called it "invention," posthumanist thinking might consider our updates as representations of lived experience that interface importantly with our teaching and scholarship (Hendry, 2011, ctd in Snaza & Weaver, 2014), and digital media scholars might suggest an "interface effect" (Galloway 2014) that reveals interfaces as neither simplistically good or evil but instead as *what is*, as thresholds, doors, and apertures that invite these very sorts of critiques. Finally, to be clear, the update that started me on this path was *fine* ... very pragmatic advice from a very prolific academic writer whom i admire. The interface experience this morning encouraged me to dig in to the feeling of shame (i doubt was an intended effect of the original update) i associated with the familiar admonition. I am relieved of shame, I'm writing, and I've discovered a few new texts that aid my thinking about social media, writing, and acceptance.

Note: The Mickes quote above is from a Fast Company​ article by Jennifer Miller. The piece contains a link to the study, as well.

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!!


do your best ...

I'm starting a new job as a Visiting Assistant Professor at Northern Illinois University this fall! I'll be teaching Digital Stor...