Ryan Trauman and Ames Hawkins


CIWIC and DMAC have a long, storied, and decorated history. The institute’s impact on the field of Computers and Writing is immeasurable. It has provided the spark for countless articles in Kairos and Computers and Writing, and it has been one of the major catalysts establishing relationships and and prompting collaborations between scholars from all over the country.

Six of us, each instructors here at Columbia College Chicago, sat down to discuss the impact that CIWIC/DMAC’s has had on each of us and on our institution.

Our generative idea for this project was that CIWIC/DMAC has influenced several of the instructors and professors teaching in this writing department. We wanted to explore and capture the impact that a multiplicity of CIWIC/DMAC alumni might have on their shared institution. As most alumni can attest, a single scholar attending CIWIC/DMAC and returning to her/his writing program with new ideas and stoked enthusiasm can make significant contributions to their home institution (on colleagues, students,  and their own scholarship), as well as the field in general. Having two former CIWIC/DMAC participants at the same site can have a multiplying, rather than additive effect as they can fuel each other’s common enthusiasm as well as compare shared experiences. Instead of a tourist returning with stories from a strange and powerful land, the second participant confirms the first and establishes the beginnings of a dialogue between experienced alumni. As Columbia College Chicago (our shared institution) is lucky enough to have five former CIWIC/DMAC attendees, the summer institute’s influence takes on a different character than what might be found at other institutions.

As a way of structuring our collaborative investigations, recollections, and insights, we chose to frame our text within the context of our discipline’s ongoing engagement with the concept of ecology. Our primary conceit was that while a single CIWIC/DMAC alumnus can certain influence a particular environment, a multiplicity of alumni could not only have a major impact on the direction of a writing program, but such a nexus of scholars, to some degree, might become more than the sum of its parts. In many ways they function as a micro-ecosystem affecting the multiple macro-ecosystems they inhabit.

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. The six individual reflections you find in this piece are bound together as interconnected nodes in a larger network of CIWIC/DMAC’s influence on our local institution as a rhetorical and material ecosystem

Reaction to Cognitive Process Models

For more than thirty years, scholars in computers and writing have been employing ecology-driven metaphors as ways to talk about the processes, products, influences affecting different sorts of writing.

In her foundational work, “The Ecology of Writing,” Marilyn Cooper writes that “language and texts are not simply the means by which individuals discover and communicate information, but are essentially social activities, dependent on social structures and processes not only in their interpretive but also in their constructive phases” (366). Cooper argues that the resources, processes, and products of textual production are embedded in an interdependent network of people, histories, and material resources.

Cooper’s model pushes back against the cognitive processes models dominating composition scholarship for decades prior to her article. Instead of constituting the author as an independent identity with intent to directly and consciously affect the world in particular ways, an ecological model of writing constitutes the author as working and negotiating within a complex network of competing contingencies.

Cooper’s groundbreaking article exploded the scope of influences acting on and within any given text or instance of writing activity. However, scholars such as Margaret Syverson have since pointed out that Cooper’s adoption of an ecological writing model has also at least destabilized, if not outright threatened, Composition’s long-held assumptions and reverence for individual agency and textual autonomy.

In light of the new scholarly opportunities afforded by Cooper’s article, especially in response to the relative simplicity and limitations of Cognitive Processes model, Syverson warns that the text, practices, sites, and tools constituting writing will continue to become ”far more diverse than we have been led to believe by the preponderance of studies in our field” (Syverson 1999, 187).

Recently, more than a two dozen years after Cooper’s article, Ridolfo, Sheridan, and Michel, along with dozens of scholars before them, continue to forward an ecological frame for writing studies. They manage to do so while simultaneously offering a detailed sampling of the increasing rhetorical complexity Syverson predicts. Given that authors enact most contemporary textual production and circulation through digital technologies, Ridolfo, Sheridan, and Michel argue that rhetoric now “emerges from a larger ecology: linguistic, aural, and visual semiotic resources; multiple technologies; multiple humans; multiple compositions and recompositions; multiple channels of reproduction and distribution” (xxvii).

While our text sets out to explore precisely these disciplinary discussions of individual agency within an ecological analytical framework, our approach contributes to these ongoing discussions in three particular ways.

  • Scholar-Teachers instead of Students. First, rather than examining student texts and writing practices, we have instead 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.
  • A Multiplicity of Individual Perspectives. Second, 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.
  • CIWIC-DMAC as a Specific Actor at a Specific Site. Finally, our text offers a relatively bounded landscape within which we employ the ecology metaphor as an analytical lens. While any ecological analysis requires that a scope and context be defined, most of the scholarship addressing this method remains relative abstract in terms of what constitutes a particular or common set of influences forming a writing ecology. Our local institution, given the rare circumstance of five CIWIC-DMAC alumni as faculty, functions as a relatively concrete and bounded particular environment.

Table of Contents

  • "Open," by Ames Hawkins
  • "Doing the Work of CIWIC-DMAC," by Suzanne Blum Malley
  • "CIWIC 2000: Reflections on Being an Early Adopter," by Corrine Calice
  • "Cracks in the Alphabetic Pavement: Resistance and My Own Path Toward Digital Composing," by Jonn Salovaara)
  • "A Mess of Influences," by Ryan Trauman
  • "Welcome to my Home/Page: Radical Hospitality in Program Administration and Course Design," by Pegeen Reichert Powell
  • "Biblopgraphy" Biblography
  • "Transcripts" Transcripts
  • 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.

    Video by Ames Hawkins edited by Charles Hawkins

    Transcript for the Video

    Suzanne Blum Malley

    Doing the Work of CIWIC-DMAC

    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.

    Doing the Work of CIWIC-DMAC from Suzanne Blum Malley on Vimeo.

    Transcript for the Video

    Click here for supplemental text essay PDF

    Corrine Calice

    CICWI 2000:Reflections on Being an Early Adopter

    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.

    Video by Corrine Calice

    Transcript for the Video

    Jonn Salovarra

    Cracks in the Alphabetic Pavement: Resistance and My Own Path Toward Digital Composing

    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.

    Slideshow by Jonn Salovaara

    Ryan Trauman

    A Mess of Influences


    Audio Remix by Ryan Trauman

    Pegeen Reichert Powell

    Welcome to my Home/Page: Radical Hosptitality in Program Administration and Course Design


    All Authors


    All Authors

    Video Transcripts