Audio excerpted from a series of recorded conversations with Mimi Rowntree during the COVID-19 event of Spring 2020. The full discussion is stored at PH Praxis (our current joint digital project) as data for a research project on the effect of the coronavirus on pedagogical narratives and as part of a larger archive documenting posthumanist pedagogy.
In the move online this semester during the COVID-19 event, all of us had to make do with a makeshift workspace. For many of us, this included needing a space to record videos for our students. The first video I did, I randomly sat in front of this bookshelf in my home office instead of staying at my desk, and that was that: it’s been my “studio” ever since. Throw in a lighting kit I got a while back when I fancied taking my #bookstagram game to the next level (still working on that) and you’ve got yourself a bright corner of the world. It occurs to me, in writing this post, that I desperately needed such a corner and that, considering things were just plain hard(er) in those early days, this makeshift studio’s agency in helping me get necessary work done on a consistent and timely basis was/is very real and should be acknowledged. I mean, the shelf edges are blackboard paint with fields and categories chalked on them–wouldn’t you feel like a boss sitting in front of that level of awesome?
The Semester Story was a three-day, multimodal activity (in preparation for the Final Exam) that I first created/deployed in a non-survey, non-major American Literature course (17 students) in Spring 2018. Its curation started with two writing process research studies (re)calibrated via posthumanism and has become just one concrete strategy/assignment in my toolbox that not only helps me more ethically and responsibly observe and assess the classroom as a whole but also offers students the chance to research and assess their own learning and growth–the story of their semester–using data they’ve been creating and curating for months. The Semester Story played a huge role in my dissertation and is, to my mind, a practical distillation of what teaching elsewhere can be. The below recording was my first time presenting on this assignment (March 2020) outside of my defense and offers a (very) brief introduction to the concept of it, particularly the two composition studies articles it started from.
While pulling together some job materials this weekend, I got out ye old Sage Handbook of Qualitative Methods (5th ed)–see below–and stumbled upon this scribbled delight, this marginalia wormhole (could we say wordhole?–that seems weird) to the Summer of Dissertation…
Dissed are excerpts from the dissertation that have been cut, killed, excised, burned on the altar of common sense and distance before being left here to not die…
This one hurt to cut. I remember thinking how clever I was and how it"Explained Everything. Duh." And, certainly, in looking back I can see the early versions of what I was just really starting to grasp. I did bring a good chunk of this up in the epilogue, but it took some reshaping. I like having an original (albeit excerpted) version of it here as part of this archive. After all, Sally and this comic were integral parts of the dissertation, critical actants that sat in my eye-line (tacked above the computer) the entire time I wrote and reminded me--without a word, with just a glance, without even really realizing it, in fact I'm only really realizing it right now as I type these very words--why I was still sitting in my office chair, still looking for answers. Touchstone is too mild a word for that level of presence and pull in the overall phenomenon. But my true love didn't make it into the final draft: the incomplete tracing of the other actants at the end. I read that list and that timespace snaps into place around me. I'm-back-there-again-here.
“And yet when essays draw on the work of Barad or Haraway but do not attend to nonhuman life, environments and material agencies, the lack is notable. Feminist materialisms, especially in their posthuman forms, are worlds apart from the conventional classroom, an all too-human place cordoned off from more-than-human liveliness. The chasm between the two suggests how intrepid and inventive we must be to teach with a (posthumanist) feminist materialism”
–Stacy Alaimo / “Book Review: Teaching with Feminist Materialisms” (179)