Tuesday, March 21, 2017
Dissertations & Digital Posters: On My First CCCCs
Despite the fact that I've been teaching College Composition for...10 years?!...I've never been to the Conference on College Composition and Communication, the main conference in the field. For one, very little of my prior research has focused on Composition; plus, attending big national conferences as a grad student is hard. But my dissertation research took place in a composition class, student writing is my main data, and I wanted to start getting a wider range of feedback on my work, so I applied for the Digital Praxis Poster sessions (like a usual poster session but where you digitally display digital work) last year and was a little surprised to be accepted - especially because the application was due so far in advance I had yet to start even teaching the class I would study.
My session was at 8am, so I had little illusions of many people even showing up, but it served as an excellent mini-deadline for myself. I presented on my students' use of Twine (an open source software for creating interactive narratives and simple games) to compose one of their major writing projects and some early observations I've made about the work they did. And though many people did not come by, the conversations I had were excellent, affirming, and very helpful. In talking about the research, I came to new realizations about what may have occurred in the class, about how to think about the work the students did and making meaning of that. I'm embedding the handout I gave outlining what I discussed if you're interested.
Regardless of how my own session went, I found the conference enormously helpful and interesting. The first thing I attended was a workshop for scholars early in their career (which, despite 10 years of teaching, I consider myself since I'm nearing completion of a doctorate and the beginning my first tenure-track job). They had us write about our future goals, let several scholars in different career tracks related to College Composition speak about their experiences, and then let us speak with them in small groups. And while my previous teaching and administrative work in higher ed has given me a good scope of these tracks, hearing about the day-to-day of these scholars really gave me a sense of which areas would and would not allow me to reach my goals. The bonus was that then they asked us to consider how to approach the rest of the conference with this in mind, and I realized I had to do what I like least about conferences, as an introvert - network. So I did! I spent as much time as I could making or cementing connections with scholars who can be resources and allies to me in my career and for whom I can do the same.
I don't really have any criticism other than that by the end I was tired of talking about Composition. Next month, I'm returning to the Pop Culture Association / American Culture Association Conference, which I've always enjoyed because I can go from one panel related to education but then follow it up with a look as Harry Potter fan fiction, or a viewing and critical analysis of Alien, or just an impromptu discussion of World of Warcraft. Both experiences leave me inspired, but I can't help that CCCC leaves me feeling exhausted. Still, it's a good exhausted...