CWS Fall 2020: End-of-Semester Recap

Date

12/18/20

Here's a rundown of what the Center for Writing Studies has been up to this past fall term.

Even as CWS made the jump to online events and community-building this semester, we’re very glad to turn the page on what’s been a challenging term—programming-wise and beyond. Here’s a rundown of what we’ve been up to this past fall.

CWS Website:

The long-anticipated re-designed CWS website launched this semester. We’re excited to join you all in the 21st century! You can check out the new space here.

Graduate Research Forum Talks:

This semester, four (four!) CWS PhD candidates presented their Graduate Research Forum (GRF) talks based on their dissertation research. As a reminder, CWS graduate students are required to deliver GRF talks, longer-form talks based upon dissertation research, as a means of fulfilling their writing studies graduate concentrations.

While we usually look forward to attending and engaging in GRF talks in person, holding these events online opened them up to attendees—family, friends, mentors, and colleagues—from all around the country. Presenters included:

You can find closed captioned recordings of these talks on the CWS Mediaspace page here. And to access the flyers for these presentations—each of which contains a talk abstract and presenter bio—feel free to check out their corresponding flyers, linked above.

CWS Brownbags:

We conducted two virtual brownbag events this semester. Our topics included:

In addition to our brownbag events, CWS hosted two virtual “Connect with CWS” events which allowed CWS grads and faculty to check in with CWS colleagues and informally talk about their research, teaching, coursework, writing, and/or learning. 

Writing Across the Curriculum:

CWS hosted our annual Fall Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC) TA Seminar in a virtual format for the first time in August. For this two-day event, we created asynchronous WAC videos for participants to view and engage with on their own time. We also held synchronous, online sessions throughout the day for participants to discuss and work through ideas about writing and teaching.

Our WAC efforts will continue with another TA seminar in January 2021, again online. For more information, contact Bri Lafond (blafond2@illinois.edu) or Megan Mericle (mericle2@illinois.edu).

Writing Across Media:

Writing Across Media (WAM) staff meetings this semester focused on learning about various digital multimodal composing tools such as Audacity, Miro, and Padlet; in these conversations, we discussed the potential pedagogical applications of these tools. We also spent a bit of time composing multimodal texts ourselves—in various forms such as kinetic typography, mixed media art, videos, and collages—in order to reflect on the kinds of composing students are asked to do in WAM.

We want to thank outgoing WAM instructors Carrie James and Megan Mericle who have each taught WAM for three semesters. Current WAM instructors Bruce Kovanen and Lesley Owens will continue teaching the course next semester and will be joined by new instructors, CWS grads Andy Bowman and Finola McMahon, who will begin teaching WAM in the Spring. Onward!

Reading/Working Groups:

CWS reading and working groups continued to meet virtually this semester. These ongoing affinity groups continue to be cherished spaces for critical engagement with theory and practice among colleagues. 

If you’d like to be involved in any of CWS’s working groups, or if you’d like more information, feel free to contact Bri Lafond (blafond2@illinois.edu) or Megan Mericle (mericle2@illinois.edu).

CHAT Chat

CHAT Chat, or Cultural Historical Activity Theory (CHAT) Chat,  continues to meet regularly with a handful of participants working on co-writing a paper centered around perezhivanie, a cultural psychology term that roughly translates to “experiencing.” Members have also spent this term exploring journals related to CHAT topics and discussing their findings with each other.

Social Justice Praxis Working Group

CWS’s Social Justice Pedagogy Group officially changed its name this past semester to the Social Justice Praxis Working Group in order to represent the group’s focus on social justice issues both within and beyond the space of the classroom (administrative, research, and other departmental contexts). Group members met this semester to discuss Sara Ahmed’s On Being Included and Aurora Levins Morales’ Medicine Stories: Essays for Radicals

Data Workshop Group

The Data Workshop Group serves as a way for post-coursework grads to share data excerpts and methodological instruments from their dissertation research. These meetings provide a supportive, low-stakes environment for grads to work through—and provide feedback on—each other’s research-in-progress. 

This semester, CWS grads talked through excerpts of interview data as well as worked through questions of qualitative research design. While the focus for this semester’s data workshop sessions was more qualitative in nature, past participants have shared archival, ethnographic, and semiotically focused data.

Celebrations/Announcements:

Congratulations to CWS graduate students Bri Lafond and Dan Zhang for passing their special fields examinations this semester. Great job, Bri and Dan!

CWS Administrative Team Update:

Last but not least, we’re pleased to announce that Megan Mericle will be joining the CWS administrative team as an Assistant Director (AD) in Spring 2021. Megan is a PhD student in English, and we look forward to the contributions she will make in the position. That means Logan Middleton, who has served as AD for three semesters, will be cycling out of this role. Bri Lafond will return for a final semester as AD, and Paul Prior will continue as director of CWS. 

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If you have comments or suggestions for programming, please let Bri Lafond (blafond2@illinois.edu) or Megan Mericle (mericle2@illinois.edu) know. In the meantime, be sure to keep an eye out for announcements on our social media pages (Facebook and Twitter), website, and our listservs.

Wishing each and every one of you best wishes for a safe and healthy holiday season. Thanks for reading and being a part of our community; we couldn’t do it without you!

All the best,
CWS Admin Team