Computers and Writing

Whoo hoo! They accepted my proposal.

Your proposal “Ensuring Information Literacy and Sustainable Learning across Socioeconomic Backgrounds” has been accepted for the Computers and Writing 2009 Conference. As you know, the theme of the 2009 conference is Ubiquitous and Sustainable Computing @ school @ work @ play. The conference will be held at the University of California, Davis, June 18 – June 21, 2009. the conference website

It promises to be an outstanding 3 1/2 days of workshops and panels. I am also happy to announce our keynote speakers–Bill Cope (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign) and Barbara Ganley (Centers for Community Digital Learning / Middlebury College). Friday night will feature the annual Computers and Writing Awards ceremony. Saturday night will include an exhibit of digital artworks/multimedia narrative projects. Following a long standing C&W tradition, bowling will be available for those interested (We have an alley on campus, and have already reserved lanes!).

In keeping with the theme of ubiquitous computing, I would like to encourage you to consider presenting a working version of your project at the online portion of Computers and Writing 2009. The online portion of C&W ’09 runs Feb. 16 – Mar. 2, 2009. Potential venues for online presentations include:
* synchronous sessions in Second Life,
* synchronous sessions using Adobe Connect Pro,
* 2-day list-serv discussions,
* week-long forum topics in Sakai,
* week-long wiki building activities in Sakai,
* podcasts played through Sakai, or
* other innovative online formats.

The CFP for the online conference is at The online portion of C&W 09 is being hosted by a group of California universities (University of California, Irvine; San Jose State (CSU San Jose); University of Southern California; University of California, Santa Barbara; Sacramento State (CSU Sacramento); and University of California, Davis). The online submission form will be available at the conference website following Thanksgiving.

I’d love to submit a working version of my paper. But what venue should I use?

Are you getting enough presentations and papers published?

If not, this UPenn site may have what you need. It has regularly updated CFPs and essay solicitations.

Both of my essay proposals for publication which have been accepted came from there. I hope to also be writing an encyclopedia article, which was okayed but not formally accepted, from that list as well.

In addition, I found a national conference which I have good credentials and papers for which I had never heard of and I applied there.

Part of what makes an instructor marketable is the presenting and publishing. (If you aren’t sure of that, check out my response to an interview discussion. Or look at this conversation on publishing and job offers.)

Working on a paper and finding other things to do

I am working on a paper for CCTE’s State of the Profession. I’ve worked on it from a lot of angles and I am not happy with it yet. I know it is going somewhere, and I know where I want it to go, but the paths I’m taking to get there are not right yet.

While I was searching my hard drive for some quotes I took note of, I found an old paper that I worked on twenty years ago. I had started updating it and realized that one of the Call For Papers would be perfect for it, if I revise it just a little. So I am going to do that.

And I found another CFP that is for an online journal. One of the papers I have just begun working on would be perfect for that. So I need to flesh out the proposal a bit and send it on.

The Pen and the Byte Offer Different Benefits in Teaching, Training, and Scholarship

As teachers of English, we are used to creating learning environments that emphasize reading and writing. These days the learning environment can be physical or digital.

The pen and paper method is a positive one because we have ample experience with it, we have strong pedagogical models for it, and there are plenty of practitioners to offer guidance in it.

The digital environment, on the other hand, is more recent, we have less experience with it, and, while pedagogical models are coming into existence, the models are presently being formed by practice and not informing it. The pen remains mightier than the byte, yet scholarship, training, and teaching are migrating to the web at a rapid pace. What does the internet offer that traditional methodology does not?

The strength of tradition in English is strong and so reliance on pen and paper remains, but the shift toward an internet presence is increasing, because of real-world rewards.

There are non-classroom audiences on the net, when we or our students are posting and blogging.

The physical, time, and geographic constraints for in-place training or teaching are minimized through the adaptation of courses to the internet.

In addition, the immediate access to scholarship offered by its placement on the web has led many, including Harvard University, to move towards a net model.

Does this mean that the byte is mightier than the pen? No, it does not. But it does offer teachers additional tools for creating learning environments and facilitating learning, as well as a chance to remember what it is like to be a novice rather than an expert. A thoughtful use of both would best benefit schools, students, and teachers.

This is my proposal for CCTE’s State of the Profession.

Conference Questions

How many conferences should I apply to?

It sounds like I am being stuck up, and I certainly don’t mean it that way. But I don’t want to apply to more conferences than I can reasonably attend.

I can write the papers easily. I have found that the more papers I write, the more I have to write. My brain just keeps flowing ideas, related tangentially to one another or to my own personal preferences.

That doesn’t mean I will get accepted at all of them, of course. I was disappointed in the lack of reception to the research agenda presented in my paper for 4Cs.

But how many conferences can I reasonably attend while teaching? Is there a limit to how I should decide to apply? (Obviously national is better than regional in prestige. But what if you can do both? Is that better or worse?)

Looking over tenure recommendations for big schools indicates that two to three national presentations a year are acceptable. I would assume that means that regional presentations must come in higher numbers. (Are there very many conferences in the summer?) Of course, I am not presently presenting sufficiently to apply for positions at large research universities.

Is that a goal? Doing sufficient research that someone in the large university would look at me?

I don’t know. I like presenting. I like writing. But I don’t know that I want to work at a research-driven university.

But if I haven’t been presenting for the past fifteen years and I need to be presenting a lot to show that I can, then perhaps I should continue to work up presentations.

How many research topics can I pursue at one time?

Really my question is: do my topics need to be in one field, so that I become the expert or can I distribute them across multiple interests?

Is it important to build up a reputation in a field? Or is it sufficient to build up a name across the field?

Right now my papers are on:
information literacy for low SES [accepted]
teaching controversial issues, religion and politics [accepted]
an analysis of bias in political coverage [accepted]
job searches [pending]
the use of fairy tales to introduce literary analysis [pending]
the benefits of pen and computer [pending]
bridging the gap for low SES in digital rhetoric and culture [pending] (Not an example of double dipping, though it does have some facets similar to the accepted paper.)
the rhetorical creation of heroes at the national political conventions [writing]
the rhetorical creation of Americans at the national political conventions [writing] (A subset of the work above.)
Christianity as it is portrayed in the works of six popular speculative fiction authors [writing]
an analysis and comparison of bias in and political coverage [writing] (Again the work above is a subset of this.)

If you look at these topics, you would think I am interested in:
politics (and rhetoric)
class discrimination

You’d be correct. But I am also interested in cross-genre romance, science fiction and fantasy, mysteries, genre-questionable literary works, teaching in general…

So, again, the question is, should I limit my topics? Or can I pursue a broad range of interests across multiple intersecting fields?

Does it matter how much my name (or my school name) gets out there?

Which school do I identify?

The low ses work was primarily done at CC2 where I do not teach at present. So I put CC1, where I have continued the work, down as my school affiliation.

On my other presentations, should I put down SLAC? It is where I hope to work full-time and do work part-time. Will it prejudice the readers against me if I am at CC1 or SLAC? Can I submit without my college affiliation listed?

I guess CC1 doesn’t care if I do research and SLAC does. So if it is not related to work done at CC1 (or 2), I should put down SLAC.

Paper Accepted! To PCAACA

I had a proposal for PCAACA’s “Politics in a Mediated World” accepted. It turns out it was accepted during Ike, but I didn’t realize it. Whoo hoo!

My proposal reads (pretty much) as follows (with liberties taken with paragraphs for more bloggable readability): Fair and Balanced?
An Analysis of Pre-convention Presidential Campaign Coverage presents itself as a neutral news source, using slogans such as “fair and balanced” and “We report. You decide.” However, many criticize Fox saying it has a clear right-leaning bias (Slate Magazine, Wall Street Journal, the Huffington Post,

Based on a quick perusal of high-traffic sources, it would seem that is biased. However, the anecdotal evidence is insufficient to determine whether or not exhibits a political bias in its reporting.

A rhetorical analysis of four days’ postings from inspected for bias in the coverage of the presidential candidates gives an intriguing perspective. The analysis of digital rhetoric was limited to stories about and pictures of the two major party candidates taken from links on the homepage, the politics front page, and the election coverage main page.

The number of pictures of the two presidential candidates were examined, providing an analysis of bias in visual rhetoric (22 to 14). A simple count of stories, number per candidate, provided a second means of examining bias (35 to 18 with 6 about both).

These straightforward statistics do not take into account negative headlines or unflattering pictures, so to minimize possible skewing, a rhetorical examination of headlines and headline verbs was instigated. Rankings for connotation were determined by trained raters.

Unsurprisingly is biased, but it is not quite as unambiguous as many suppose.

How do you know what you should focus on?

I’m going to say you should teach. That’s the most important thing. But what’s after that? What is most important (at a college) to get hired or get tenure? (Not relevant to community college teachers because… er, you’ll have to wait for my CCTE presentation–I hope.)

“The relative importance attributed to research, teaching, and service is reflected also in the ranking of activities within each of these categories of evaluation. For example, within the category of research, publishing is deemed a more noteworthy activity than presenting papers (akin to lecturing) or editing or reviewing for a journal (akin to grading). And within the category of publishing, publishing articles in scholarly journals (for other researchers) is considered more important than publishing textbooks (for students), and both of these activities carry far more weight than publishing essays in the popular media (for the general populace) – an activity typically deemed utterly insignificant for the purposes of tenure and promotion review. Finally, within the category of publishing scholarly works, publishing purely theoretical articles often ranks above publishing articles which “merely” apply theory to a problem and, typically, both of these rank above publishing educationally oriented articles” (48).

Shelley M. Park
The Journal of Higher Education, Vol. 67, No. 1 (Jan. – Feb., 1996), pp. 46-84

Call for Papers: Science Fiction Research Association

It was not that long ago (perhaps five years) when I was at a conference where someone said that academics didn’t respect science fiction. Apparently science fiction academics are changing that, with a fortieth annual conference. (That’s pretty high up in numbers to be un-respected.)

If you have an interest:

The website says the conference is:

Engineering the Future and Southern-Fried Science Fiction and Fantasy
June 11-14, Atlanta, GA (Wyndham Midtown Hotel)
Guest of Honor: Michael Bishop
Special Guest Authors: F. Brett Cox, Paul di Filippo, Andy Duncan, Kathleen Ann Goonan, and Jack McDevitt

The deadline for proposals is April 1, 2009 at midnight EST.

I love the idea of southern-fried sci fi and fantasy… But I don’t know that it is what I read.

I’ll have to think about it.

If we propose, and we both get in, let me know and we can meet up.

A Compilation of Gender Isues Noted in Technical Writing Classes, pt. 6

This paper was originally presented at MLA in 1992.

This is the conclusion written and given in December of 1992.

After this paper was composed and submitted to MLA, I taught technical writing three more semesters.

Summer class aberration
The class I taught this summer had two papers in it which contradict two of the gender issues compiled from a review of past major paper assignments. One of the papers was from a male student who dealt with a female stereotypic topic: How Family Affects Work. Kenny explained his topic by saying, “Family areas such as marital satisfaction and child care responsibilities have an impact at work. Some effects that family can have on work include decreased productivity, increased pressure on supervisors, and a need for an expanded family policy. This report investigates these effects and what employees and organizations can do about them.”

Another student used personal anecdotes as a method of persuasion in his paper on job loss. Drew chose the topic because his father had been out of work for over a year. He quoted some research on psychological affects of job loss and wrote, “Many can hide the symptoms of dissatisfaction and low self-esteem. However, with my father, the signs are present if you look deep into his eyes.”

I do not have any explanation for why, in the summer of 1992, two students wrote papers which by-passed the gender differentiated approach to writing assignments.

I do not think that these two papers discount the significance of the issues I noted through examining approximately four hundred student papers. Rather, they offer a new avenue of questioning to pursue. Are they the start of a new generation of students who are not only able to be females using male strategies but also males using female strategies? If they are not, then their aberration from the norm is worth examining. What makes them different and how can we pass the differences on to other students?

Part 5

Part 4

Part 3

Part 2

Part 1

A Compilation of Gender Isues Noted in Technical Writing Classes, pt. 5

This paper was originally presented at MLA in 1992.

This is the original conclusion, which was sent in with the original paper in January of 1992.

Six years and four hundred students have been enough to note some gender issues in my technical writing classroom. Female students write on gender-related topics; male students do not. Female students use personal anecdotes as persuasion; male students do not. Both female and male students use sexist language, despite education and punitive attempts to change their language usage at least for one course.

What are the implications of these facts? Our students reflect the world around them. As Deborah Tannen noted in You Just Don’t Understand, men and women have different styles of communicating.

When they must communicate with each other in groups, both change their styles but the women change more. Female students have to learn how to cope with a previously male-only business world.

Their papers on gender related issues are a way of seeking to learn how to adjust, I think. Female students use personal anecdotes as persuasion because these are seen as persuasive by women; however, not all female students employ it. Even those students who had personal reasons for choosing their topics did not always include this information in their papers.

Neither female nor male students are using inclusive language; it is uncomfortable and unaccepted. So the female students use language which excludes them from the very things they are attempting to gain entrance to by completing their university degrees.

The workplace, including the university, is still a male dominated environment to which women adapt either because of conscious choice or because it is easier to fit in than to be different.