Summer 2023 & Fall 2023
Jesse Stommel recently published Undoing the Grade: Why We Grade, and How to Stop. The book draws on over 20 years of research, prompting teachers to “ask hard questions, point to the fundamental inequities of grades, and push for structural change” so that assessment becomes more equitable. Stommel was interviewed about his book for a handful of podcasts and community gatherings over the last several months, including "Episode 483: Undoing the Grade" of Bonni Stachowiak's Teaching in Higher Ed Podcast.
Russell Brakefield’s second full-length collection of poetry My Modest Blindness will be published by Autofocus Books in October.
Alfred Owusu-Ansah published the article “Defining Moments, Definitive Programs, and the Continued Erasure of Missing People” in Composition Studies. The article explains how ChatGPT delegitimates Ghanaian English, erasing it as non-standard English usage as well as erasing the people who use it. The article thus makes a call for the fields of rhetoric, writing studies, and literacy studies to champion multicultural uses of English.
In October, Kamila Kinyon and Alejandro Ceron will publish “Teaching Ethnography and Writing: Experiential Learning, Communities of Practice, and Social Justice” in Practicing Anthropology. The article addresses the teaching of ethnography in first-year writing courses and the way that the DU Ethnography Lab (DUEL) supports students working on ethnographic projects. Kinyon will be also be presenting “Pedagogical Journeys: Developing a Writing Minor Travel Journalism Course” at the Rocky Mountain Modern Language Association in October.
April Chapman-Ludwig was accepted as a Scholarship for Teaching and Learning (SoTL) Faculty Fellow for 2023-2024. Faculty fellows engage in research regarding pedagogical and curricular design and implementation practices that impact student learning. Chapman-Ludwig will be entering a year-long study connected to transfer student research in the 1533 sections and will be creating a proposal, drafting a data report, presenting the data at a symposium, and writing an article to submit for publication.
15 Writing Program faculty attended the first post-pandemic, in-person Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC), "Doing Hope in Desperate Times." Russ Brakefield, David Daniels, and LP Picard presented a panel titled “Running Up That Hill: Using Pop Culture to Teach for Social Change” where they explored how they use pop cultures and emerging digital media and genres to engage students in creating social change. Kamila Kinyon, Rob Gilmor, Olivia Tracy, and DU librarians, Kate Crowe and Madison Sussmann, participated in the roundtable "Collaboration, Community, and Curiosity: Partnerships between Writing Programs and University Archives" that advocated for how writing programs and libraries can collaborate by teaching research and writing with special collections and archives. Specifically, Kinyon discussed how her WRIT students analyzed images from DU's rare collection of Edward Curtis' "The North American Indian," a multi volume set of his ethnographic work from 1907-1930. In “Along the Tightrope: Performativity, Carceral Complicity, and Prison Correspondence in the Time of the Pandemic,” Libby Catchings and Logan Middleton revisited “the tacit carceral logics shaping our origin stories, praxis and approaches to access . . . through critique of arts-based writing programing and Covid-era institutional constraints grounded in Critical Race Theory and Critical Prison Studies.” Middleton’s talk explored how everyday prisoners find underground ways to co-construct more just spaces for teaching and learning: conducting makeshift science experiments on the inside, slipping educational materials past prison guards, and visioning abolitionist futures in cops-off-campus campaigns. In “Doing Hope through Teaching and Designing Games for Social Change,” Richard Colby and Rebekah Shultz Colby examined how students can critically interrogate oppressive social systems through their game design. Specifically, Colby surveyed boardgame players and students and found that, for the most part, both groups believe games can be used for learning, change, and social good. In “Feminist Pedagogies: Care, Resilience, and Vulnerabilities in the Writing Classroom,” David Riche explored how to use vulnerability, care, and resilience to effectively respond to the pressures facing students post-Covid. In “Radical Pedagogy,” Matt Hill tackled “gun regulation, mass shooting, and re-entry programming for incarcerated youth . . . to highlight strategies for hope.” In a roundtable titled “Food Justice Rhetoric and Literacies; Practicing Hope and Growing Change Inside and Outside of the Writing Classroom,” Veronica House explains how writing teacher-scholars have joined with food activists, farmers, and community literacy activists to advocate for food justice in the writing classroom, research, and community practice. In the roundtable, “Toward a Research Ethics of Entanglement: Attuning Methods Toward Messiness, Difference, and Indeterminacy,” Calley Marotta explored “methodological approaches for ethically fostering, analyzing, and representing the continually emergent relations that animate research on composing as entangled activity” within qualitative research. Although a time conflict with a different conference prevented her from attending, Kara Taczak’s presentation explored how the teaching for transfer curriculum facilitates writing transfer during the pandemic, in online teaching, and in the workplace.
This winter, Rebekah Shultz Colby published “Embodying Empathy: Using Game Design as a Maker Pedagogy to Teach Design Thinking” in Technical Communication Quarterly where she used 12 qualitative surveys with writing teachers within rhetoric and writing studies and technical communication to argue that games not only give students practice in design thinking but that, as multimodal, embodied systems, games can enact social theories and, as such, be a way for students to empathize with and design for wicked social problems.
In two separate articles, Jesse Stommel argued that instead of ChatGPT creating a paranoia about plagiarism, teachers should interrogate what makes students cheat in the first place, use ChatGPT as a teaching tool, and build a relationship of trust with students. In Times Higher Education’s “Inside the Post-ChatGPT Scramble to Create AI Essay Detectors,” Stommel argues that plagiarism detection tools have been “plagued” by false positives and there is no reason that the same will not be true of AI detectors. This neglects the fact that “when students cheat, it’s usually unintentional or non-malicious” and such initiatives will only fuel “a culture of suspicion in education . . . driven all too much by corporate profit.” Instead, teachers “need to ask what pedagogies are embedded in these tools, how they are monetised, how they remove or enable student or teacher agency.” In “Should Schools Ban ChatGPT or Embrace the Technology Instead?“ published in New Scientist, Stommel argues that teachers should “talk to students really frankly about what ChatGPT’s capable of, what it’s not capable of.” Teachers should also use ChatGPT as a teaching tool such as asking “students [to] use it to write an essay about Jane Austen and gender dynamics, and then have them read that essay and peer review it and think about what ChatGPT gets right and wrong.”
In WRIT 1122: Rhetorics and Literacies of Mutual Aid, Logan Middleton's students carried out a collaborative solidarity campaign with Happy Tampers, a DU student group that provides free menstrual hygiene products to folks on campus. As a part of this work, the class raised $350 for Happy Tampers and collected a box full of menstrual products to be distributed to those in the DU community.
In "Innovaciones y Historias: A Home- and Community-Based Approach to Workplace Literacy," published in Community Literacy Journal, Calley Marotta, Guadalupe Remigio Ortega, and Alfonso Guzman Gomez drew from Latinx studies and the literacy experiences of men employed as university custodial staff to propose a home- and community-based approach to workplace literacy, calling for a broader understanding of participants' literacy experiences -- not only as workers but as people who work. Also, in a special issue of The Journal of Multimodal Rhetorics on carework and writing, Marotta wrote “T is for Traci: A Letter to Our Daycare Provider” to honor her daycare provider, Traci Salazar's carework, during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Forthcoming in Literacy in Composition Studies this fall is Logan Middleton’s first single-authored article titled “Prisons, Literacy, and Creative Maladjustment: How College-in-Prison Educators Subvert and Circumnavigate State Power.” He argues that prison educators mobilize complex and highly situated literacy practices to quietly bend the rules in carceral environments. In tracing how instructors deploy subversive acts of “creative maladjustment” (King Jr., Kohl) to circumnavigate state power, Middleton illustrates through these case studies how literacy educators can better comprehend what it means to resist the state: for research, praxis, and survival. This October, Middleton also gave a presentation titled, “‘It’s Better Not to Ask Because if you do, They’ll Say No’: Higher Education in Prison Programs and the Reproduction of Carceral Logics” at the National Conference for Higher Education in Prison where he drew on qualitative data to argue that college-in-prison programming can replicate the same carceral logics of control, punishment, and obfuscation that abolitionist organizers work to dismantle.
In October, Niki Turnipseed and her co-authors, Bruce Kovanen, Megan Mericle, and Kevin Roozen, published an article titled "Tracing Literate Activity across Physics and Chemistry: Toward Embodied Histories of Disciplinary Knowing, Writing, and Becoming" in a special issue of Across the Disciplines' on writing in STEM. They illustrate what attention to "literate activity" offers for understanding writing and learning by presenting analyses of learners’ embodied actions across an array of semiotic resources including texts, talk, images, and gestures for two different STEM settings: physics and organic chemistry. In addition to foregrounding the wealth and variety of semiotic modalities that mediate students’ embodied engagement with disciplinary science, the analyses illuminate the extended histories of semiotic activity that learners continually build as they fashion disciplinary ways of knowing, writing, and becoming.
With Steve Holmes, Rebekah Shultz Colby edited companion special issues of Computers and Composition and Computers and Composition Online that features scholars using new materialist theory to frame how games materially persuade for social justice whether in the classroom or for Hong Kong protesters. Within the introduction, they examine how posthuman and new materialist rhetorics can use feminism and Native American theories of materiality to decenter the human in liberatory ways. Within the special issue, Shultz Colby and Holmes published “Cultivating Ethical Gameplay Dispositions through the Materiality of Gameplay in Illuminati” where they videotaped a playthrough of the card game Illuminati and interviewed players to examine how rules and mechanics act as attractors, or stabilizing end points within the multitude of trajectories in a possibility space, that form dispositions through the habits of material gameplay. They discovered that the rule of allowing cheating and a player role with an unbalanced mechanic acted as material attractors (DeLanda, 2013; 2016) for gameplay dispositions, but through a process combining metis and phronesis, players resisted the dispositions of cheat and spoilsport and materially played the game so that they embodied the Aristotelian virtue of friendliness instead.
Kamila Kinyon, Alejandro Cerón, and Dinko Hanaan Dinko have a forthcoming chapter, “The University of Denver Ethnography Lab: Fostering a WAC Community of Practice,” in The Proceedings for the International Writing Across the Curriculum Conference 2020/2021 where they discuss multiple facets of the work of the University of Denver Ethnography Lab (DUEL): DUEL's foundation and goals under Cerón’s direction, DUEL's support for first-year writing students' ethnographic work and ways Kinyon has incorporated this into her classes, and graduate work being done in ethnography, as exemplified by Dinko's dissertation on water rights in Ghana.
Russ Brakefield published two poems, "Americana" and "Late Autumn in the Anthropocene", in the August issue of Wildness. Brakefield also has a forthcoming poem titled "Wildland Urban Interface" in The Fourth River.
In August, Rob Gilmor presented a talk titled "Incongruity and Institutional Ethos in University Archives" at the International Society for the History of Rhetoric Biennial Conference in Nijmegen, the Netherlands.
Juli Parrish, Megan Kelly, and Olivia Tracy facilitated a workshop at the International Writing Centers Association Conference titled "Memory and Gathering: Reflecting from the Post-Pan Writing Center.”
At the Rocky Mountain Modern Language Association Convention in October, Brakefield presented a paper called "Community Concepts: Enriching WAC Work Through Faculty Writing Groups.” Kinyon also gave a presentation titled “The First-Generation Student as Translingual Writer: Negotiating Diverse Discourse Communities through Oral History and Autoethnography,” discussing how her research writing oral history and autoethnography assignments have empowered multilingual students to incorporate the lived experience of their native language/s into academic papers or multimodal projects.
Olivia Tracy and Libby Catchings established the DU Guerilla Craft Society to offer students new ways to engage with and share personal expression within campus spaces. Society participants created a yarnbombing installation on campus in late October.