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.
Quick (10-15 min tops), only needs a whiteboard and markers, big impact potential. Anonymous part not critical, but I think it did give us better results. If you’re cool with the vulnerability of winging it, I highly recommend as a check-in/calibration tool.
At least 30 min (can adjust). Used a whiteboard, timer on my phone, 8 1/2 x 11 card-stock I had in the office, a sharpie, tape, foil star stickers, a deck of cards, desks moved into pods of 4-5, enough notebook paper and index cards for the number of students enrolled. Movement/Activity: More than Moderate. I highly recommend as a data gathering activity and alternative to a more traditional paper/written first-day survey. Huge impact: determined parts of the curriculum and gave me a feel for how we intra-acted as a group with this particular spacetime.
“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)