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In-Comprehensive-le

bluebookSo I’ve got a question, but it’ll take me a while to get to it.

A few years back, here at Syracuse, we overhauled our graduate curriculum, paying particular attention to the core curriculum and comprehensive examinations. When I arrived at Syracuse, our comps process was a fairly traditional major-minor-minor set up. The exams themselves were varied, in a well-intentioned attempt to account for a variety of writing processes, but the idea of generating 3 lists, writing, and being examined over the results is fairly standard practice. There are virtues to this model, not the least of which is that it gives students experience assembling bibliographies, time to read, and ideally, a more focused mastery over the field than perhaps can be achieved in coursework.…

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Dossiers (sigh)

FilesWinter is coming, and around the country, a host of applicants are diligently applying their talents to the assembly of materials that they hope will demonstrate their suitability for what few tenure-track positions are available. That means that anxiety is on the rise, as are the blog posts that castigate the academy for its inconsistencies, its capriciousness, and above all, its indifference.

The problem: partly because of their relative rarity, partly because of the varied institutional expectations, and partly because they are conducted by volunteers who themselves have other full-time positions, academic job searches are often more complicated than they need to be.…

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The Job Talk (draft)

On FB a couple of weeks ago, I posted a link to a fabulous blog post from Aimée Morrison, which looked at the differences between the standard conference presentation and the “keynote;” I noted that in many cases, what passes for the “job talk” is effectively a keynote presentation. Given how many people shared and liked the post, I thought I’d take it a step further here. We’re currently revising our materials for people on the job market, and so I thought I’d try my hand at providing a more comprehensive account of just what the job talk entails. While some of this advice may be specific to my own field (particularly with respect to job market timing, e.g.), most of it is probably general enough to apply more widely.…

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Relearning to Write

my new writing set-upI would describe myself as a deep writer, not in the sense that what I have to say is any more profound than anyone else’s thoughts, but in the “deep sleeper” sense. That is, when I write and it’s going well, I’m pretty able to shut the rest of the world out and focus on little else. For most of my life, this has included my body itself. I haven’t had to think about posture, arm angle, or things like that, unless they happen to impinge upon my ability to focus.

That changed with my back surgery last fall. I’ve discovered, to my dismay, that there are certain seats in my house that are worse for my back than others, and chief among the offenders is my desk chair, or maybe my desk more broadly, since I’ve tried multiple arrangements and chairs there.…

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RhetBit: a summer mecology project

It’s always a challenge for me to shift gears once the summer starts. After a full year of just-in-time work meeting others’ deadlines (and a few of my own, to be fair), the summer often happens upon me like an infinite horizon of possible projects, the opportunity to put a dent in the “to read” shelves of my bookcases, to write intransitively, and so on. It is the worst thing to hit August 1st only to realize that none of those wonderful plans have been realized.

For years, I’ve used the metaphor of exercise to communicate to my students the importance of steady, regular writing as a key to successful dissertating.…

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The Strength of Weak Media

There are a couple of different conversations that serve as context for this post, but rather than hail people directly, I’ll just note that it’s that time of the year (for us at Syracuse, anyway) when we encourage our dissertators to start thinking about the job market. Part of what we do in our graduate program is to set up gradual deadlines over the summer for them to share their dossier materials with each other and with faculty, so that when the deadlines start rolling in, they’re ready to go.

I’ve noticed in recent years, off and on, what has been kind of a surprising decline in the number of folks who maintain some sort of professional home page, whether a set of static pages or embedded within WordPress (or some other CMS).…

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A Book of Stars #tbt

It’s been a while. My spare time has been consumed with preparing for the 2014 Rhetoric Society of America Conference (that link will take you to the online program for the conference, which did no small amount of the consuming), which happened last week. As a consequence, I haven’t had a great deal of time to spend here.

Anyhow, one of the things that I talked about with friends at the conference was the idea of recovering orphan works–unpublished essays and/or conference papers that never saw the light of publication for one reason or another. One of my own orphan works is an essay called “A Book of Stars: Slicing, Scaling, and Data Mining Our Discipline,” which I wrote (as far as I can recall) sometime not long after I taught my first course in Network Rhetorics in 2005.…

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Textexture (#THATCampCNY)

I suppose that it might surprise a few people to learn that, before this weekend, I’d never attended a THATCamp. Surprise! It’s true. I blame this strange omission on several factors, including but not limited to proximity, awareness, and that special brand of conferential social anxiety that I bring to the table. Unconferences always sound great to me in theory, but then I realize that they’re basically designed to put participants in social situations that are my least comfortable. Ah well. I like to think I did okay this time around.

Anyhow, one of the things that these sorts of gatherings inevitably accomplish for me is to tip me onto tools that I hadn’t been aware of before.…

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The Work of Conferences in an Age of Social Media #4c14

This week is our flagship national convention, the Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC). After having attended CCCC for many, many years in a row, I find myself once more forgoing the experience. This year, I’m spending my travel money on a couple of summer conferences (RSA and KBS), and between those and my upcoming talks at LSU and Wisconsin, that’s more than enough public speaking for me for the year.

But as rhetopians and complandians across the nation converge on Indianapolis this week, one of the things that I chatted a bit about in class last night was the role that the flagship conference plays in our field these days.…

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Close vs Distant Readings #rcdh14

dials

Photo by cinz, CC-licensed, CGB-modified

In RCDH this week, we began the turn to a series of weeks where we look at some specific methods associated with digital humanities, and I began our conversation by explaining why I’d avoided (mostly) the idea of “distant reading” as a way to organize the syllabus. I think my explanation worked out okay, but I thought I might write through it here.

None of this is to say that I don’t use the phrase “distant reading.” I like to think that I don’t spend too much time or energy trying to close barn doors after the animals have escaped.…

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