May 2nd 2008 04:58 pm

New Orleans — 4Cs and More

This page is another static page designed to collect all the various posts from the 2008 4Cs convention in New Orleans.

Sally Forth Conference Panel

At lunch with Jane in New Orleans during the conference, I began thinking about connections and conversations and implications. In my classes, I have asked students rhetorically (i.e., through writing assignments and readings) to consider non-traditional lifestyles, among other “modern” topics. I have been surprised at the way they seem to accept and even value more fluid identities (transgender people, etc.) than I would have expected. When I listened to Peter Elbow describe his concept of “The Believing Game,” (more on this in the post link) and one of his fellow speakers talked about taking this concept into the arena of teaching to the religious student. I was struck by the synchronicity of this: I had just come from discussing with another colleague a religion paper one of my students submitted. My student was clearly upset with my response to her paper–and I am faced with the prospect that I am biased; perhaps more so than my students?

In my defense, I did not discount her paper but asked her to fix the judgmental portions and reframe the discussion. Still, if I expect my students to develop as academics, I ought to pay more than passing attention to the places they start that developmental journey. My student thinks she is making an academic argument with the Bible as source material and I am not going to reach her by discounting her attempt. And she is a bright young woman–one of my favorite, if more vexing, students.

These are the things I came away from 4Cs with–the cogs turning. What I want to do here is list the thematic elements of the presentations I watched so anyone interested can see what my focus was.

Revision: Sessions that dealt with the subject of revision included “New Perspectives on Revision: Discourse and Practice” which dealt with a 3-year project researching student revision practices–what works and whether they’re doing it at all–and “What Students Really Do With Feedback” which examined how students navigated instructor comments.

Ethnography: I attended a half-day session on the use of ethnography as a research tool in the comp classroom. Because I use it–and because some of the papers that research generated challenged us in Portfolio, I wanted to understand the pedagogy and explore others’ practice of it. It was a great session and I learned I have a lot to learn!

Publishing: One session involved how to get published in 3Cs, the premier journal of 4Cs. Interesting–more of us should send stuff.

Elbow: Peter Elbow held court on his Believing Game idea. It was Elbow and it was good.

Online &cetera: A couple sessions dealt with “Fully Online Teaching”–the problems and advantages–as well as “Multi-Modal Rhetorics”–some interesting theories and research into the implications and surprises of online communities.

New Orleans: New Orleans itself was an important aspect of my visit. I got some local flavor by walking around, but the most powerful message of the whole conference came from a tour of the areas hit by hurricane Katrina’s storm swell.

Social Activism: The conference opener was all about activism–so was the tour I mention above. It was so powerful to me, I’m mentioning it again.

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