While any ecological analysis requires that a scope and context be defined, most of the scholarship addressing this method remains relatively abstract in terms of what constitutes a particular or common set of influences forming a writing ecology. Notably, our text offers a relatively bounded landscape within which we employ the ecology metaphor as an analytical lens. Our local institution then, given the rare circumstance of five CIWIC-DMAC alumni as faculty, functions as a relatively concrete and bounded particular environment, enabling us to begin to comprehend not only the relevance and impact of CIWIC-DMAC on a program or school, but to also begin to consider how it is we might map, track, and understand what we might identify as rheto-technodiversity.
Anyone who has been to CIWIC-DMAC knows that much of the conversation considers the student as focus for the implementation of technopedagogies in the classroom. Examining student texts and writing, then, would be a valid way of considering the impact of CIWIC-DMAC beyond the summer institute. We have, however, chosen to focus on CIWIC-DMAC’s influence on our own scholarly production and teaching praxes, as well as how those influences have impacted our local institution as a way to feature/foreground our relationship to our experience at CIWIC-DMAC and, by extension, or relationships between and among each other via our longitudinal connection with the summer institute.The way we’ve designed our collaborative process foregrounds experience from the individual’s point of view. Rather than working together to forward a singular, cohesive argument, each of us first created a text commenting on our own personal experiences of CIWIC-DMAC and the institute’s subsequent influence on us as individuals. One of the key aspects of our group’s writing and production process is that we wanted to maintain a balance between two types of perspectives, persepctives that might better be understood as micro and macro ecological concerns. First, following, among others, Morey’s notion of de-ecologizing, we wanted to acknowledge and consider the fragmented and idiosyncratic individual perspectives of our group members who have first hand experiences of CIWIC-DMAC and who have felt its effect on their own personal professional practices. Morey, forwarding Deleuze and Guattari’s “Three Ecologies,” argues for a “schizoanalysis of ecology, taking the parts to form new wholes […] The schizo, as a coder, is a writer, a rewriter, and she rewrites using the method of cut-and-paste, taking parts of would-be analog productions and creating a digital collage” (117). We see each of our authors as performing something akin to this schizoanalysis, each reflecting on her/his unique set of lessons, skills, experiments, best practices, and stories as a rewritten collage of CIWIC-DMAC’s legacy. Morey refers to these DIY collage perspectives as “mecologies,” which we construct as “our own collection of totemic allegiances through which we are affected” (119). Not only do we focus on multiple, single-point perspectives, but we also, following Fleckenstein’s notion of “somatic mind,” hope to have captured a sense of CIWIC-DMAC’s influence on our larger institution as a dynamic, responsive, and complex system. Fleckenstein stressed the importance of grounding scholarly observation in individual experience, or “‘being-in-a-material-place,’ whose fluid and permeable boundaries are (re)constituted through the mutual play of discursive and corporeal coding” (282). In other words, whereas Morey describes how any single actor in a larger ecology must “de/re/code” her/his own particular understanding of how the system functions, so we argue for a similar process from the perspective not of a single actor, nor a perception of the system as a whole, but somewhere in between. We are working towards a group understanding of a relatively particular catalyst (CIWIC-DMAC) on our local institutional culture (117). Instead of Fleckestein’s “view from somewhere” resulting in something akin to Morey’s mecologies,” we have constructed our own text in pursuit of a constellation of perspectives—a view from here, there, now, then—in order to form what we playfully refer to as a “wecology.” In order to investigate, enact, and capture some semblance of this ecology of CIWIC/DMAC’s influence on our institution, the authors gathered around a dining room table and, at the prompting of our Writing Program Director (Pegeen Reichert Powell), compared recollections, insights, and best practices we have adopted since each of us attended the institute. As Pegeen was the only one of the six of us to have not yet attended the institute, she would serve not only as the discussion’s moderator, but she would also contribute more of an “outsider’s” perspective as someone who hasn’t yet attended the institute. We recorded the conversation and made it available to group members for reference. Following this two-hour conversation, each of us was tasked with producing a text conveying our individual insights either from our first-hand experiences at CIWIC/DMAC or take-aways from our common conversation. Once each author submitted her/his individual contribution, we put together an introduction framing CIWIC/DMAC’s influence on our local institution as a rhetorical and material ecosystem.
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To build this site, Suzanne Blum Malley forked Jentery Sayers' GitHub
repository for the wonderful
HTML5 site he created for "Hacking the Classroom: Eight Perspectives" in
Computers and Composition Online, Spring 2014 . The source files
for this page are
available at GitHub. Both sites build from the Boostrap
and Treble Theme.
Image below by Ames Hawkins.
This video essay presents Ames Hawkins’ scholarly-creative interpretation of open/openness, an oft-repeated term during the six-person conversation this past Spring. Because of the multi modal experimentation included here, in the same way a reader might need to slow down, and reread sentences or paragraphs in order to fully understand a complicated idea in an alphabetic text, hitting pause and rewinding the piece, in order to fully read quotations, or perhaps reconsider the different layers of text, sound and image, is encouraged. Imagined, conceived, and written by Ames Hawkins, the piece was edited by her sixteen year old son, Charles Hawkins, opening here also, a space for the practice and possibility of collaboration.
Image below by Suzanne Blum Malley
This video/text essay presents Suzanne Blum Malley’s reflection on the the value of the hands-on work of the CIWIC and DMAC institutes as models of particularly effective forms of attention to our affective rhetorical ecologies through “thinking/doing” (Edbauer “Reframing” 23). Using a frequency analysis of of keywords from the Columbia College CIWIC/DMAC alumni recorded conversation and video footage produced as part of the "finger-exercises" of DMAC 2009 as the foundation of this piece, Blum Malley explores the discomfort and resistance that form a natural part of decision-making associated with risk and the ways in which CIWIC/DMAC productively ameliorates those responses.
Image below by Corrine Calice
This short whiteboard animation reflects on the experience of being an early adopter of computer-infused pedagogies who has played the role of an invasive species, spurring the slow evolution and diversification of an institutional ecology after attending CIWIC in 2000. Using the concept of micro-aggression, a term typically reserved to explain small, interpersonal gestures of rejection, the author explores complex power dynamics in simple, easy to visualize examples of institutional anxiety such as obstructionism and benign neglect that eventually grow toward faculty empowerment and collaboration across the institution. The presentation suggests that persistent individual faculty innovation has the capacity to contribute to institutional culture change over time. As a part-time faculty member who crossed the water from academia into the corporate training sector just after starting to teach at Columbia College Chicago in 2004, Corrine chose to compose her presentation as a white board animation to help illustrate the range of professional and pedagogical practices among the CCC faculty. Simply hit play to view.
Image below by Jonn Salovaara
Jonn Salovaara’s hypothesis is that, for multi-modal teaching to flourish, writing programs need to promote multi-modal publishing possibilities, both intramural and extramural, for all levels of faculty. His personal narrative of resistance and DMAC flows in and out of pure text slides and image/text slides. On the latter, readers are invited to spend more time than it takes to read the brief texts, considering the relationship between the text and the image. Inspired by an assignment he gives his students, Salovaara began thinking of these particular photos of sidewalk cracks in terms of “What might grow, given a little space?” This was really a variant of Cindy Selfe’s question about why not widen the bandwidth for composition. But his piece turned into an exploration of words suggested by the images and a display of printed text up against a slightly more multi-modal format, all within one piece.
Image below by Ryan Trauman
One of the most important legacies of CIWIC-DMAC is that the institute challenges digital writing scholars to embrace messiness (and by extension unpredictability, risk, and revision) in their own practices, as well as forwarding these attitudes by creating communities and physical spaces where messiness is an acceptable, if not essential, component of the creative process. The six of us gathered around a dining room table to compare recollections and insights we have adopted since attending the institute. An audio recording of this two-hour conversation was made available to group members for reference. Each of us was then tasked with producing a text conveying our individual insights either from our first-hand experiences at CIWIC-DMAC or our common conversation. The audio text which follows might be a remix, mashup, audio collage, bricolage, etc. What it is not is a straightforward argument commenting on the legacy of CIWIC-DMAC. Instead, it enacts the CIWIC-DMAC-influenced “ecology” within which we find ourselves working at our local institution.
Image below by Ryan Trauman
In Fall 2005, the Writing in Digital Environments (or WIDE) Research Center Collective published an article in Kairos titled “Why teach digital writing?” Just by their participation in CIWIC or DMAC, my colleagues (and co-authors here) have already responded to this question with conviction, and what’s more, have gone on to answer “How do we teach digital writing?” and even “What is digital writing?” As the only contributor to this piece not to have participated in CIWIC or DMAC, at times I envy their conviction, not to mention, their exciting, thoughtful, substantial responses to the questions. On the other hand, it may be useful in my role as the Director of the Program in Writing and Rhetoric where we all teach that I am still asking the questions. In fact, I like that WIDE titled their article as an interrogative. It’s tempting to think that almost a decade later, our field has answered the question, the WIDE collective offered the article itself as a kind of answer, but the title—in bibliographies and indexes—will forever remain a question, and I argue that’s as it should be.As a program, the questions we ask, the questions themselves—not just why teach digital writing, but also how, and even more fundamentally, what is digital writing—should remain at the center of our work. And I suggest that we might use the metaphor of hospitality as a guide for our work in this era of questions.
The foreigner is first of all foreign to the legal language in which the duty of hospitality is formulated. . . .He has to ask for hospitality in a language which by definition is not his own, the one imposed on him by the master of the house, the host, the king, the lord, the authorities, the nation, the State, the father, etc. [We can hear in this list the idea that the language is imposed on him by the teacher, too.] This personage imposes on him translation into their own language, and that’s the first act of violence. . . If he was already speaking our language, with all that that implies, if we already shared everything that is shared with a language, would the foreigner still be a foreigner and could we speak of asylum or hospitality in regard to him? (15-17)And that is the paradox of hospitality, that we must exert violence in order to generously extend hospitality. So Derrida elaborates an absolute or unconditional hospitality. He argues that
Absolute hospitality requires that I open up my home and that I give not only to the foreigner. . .but to the absolute, unknown, anonymous other, and that I give place to them, that I let them come, that I let them arrive, and take place in the place I offer them, without asking of them either reciprocity (entering into a pact) or even their names. (25)Unconditional hospitality radically decenters the host, and hospitality is no longer about the social conventions of welcoming, but about new arrivals confronting the host with otherness. It is hospitality on the terms established by the guest. Borders are crossed with impunity.
When weighing decisions about what to do about digital underlife, we must take on a more receptive [more hospitable?] attitude to the plausibility of its productive dimensions. That is, rather than reducing digital underlife into the dyad of contained and disruptive, we might add productive as a positive third term—particularly where we understand such underlife to enable meaningful discursive practices beyond the schoolroom.In other words, the very nature of the writing and reading that our students are already doing, in our classroom if not always of our classroom, demands an absolute hospitality on our part.
Image below by Suzanne Blum Malley
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Willmarth, Cindy. Dragonfly Image. Used with Permission. 2014.
Image below by Suzanne Blum Malley