Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Multimodal Writing, Eloquentia Perfecta & Digital Possibilities

How Compose? Why Compose? Roundtable
                                                           (Me, Bruno, John, and Julia)

Yesterday, I presented as a part of a roundtable on composing with multimodal and digital platforms. Bruno Ruviaro from the Music dept presented on his podcast assignment, Julia Voss from English discussed multimodality as the production of physical texts with the emphasis on connecting meaning across modalities. And, one of my former students John Flynn talked about his experience blogging and the need for individual voice online. The roundtable was facilitated by Simone Billings and Tricia Serviss as a part of a generous grant by the Bannan Institute at Santa Clara University.

With respect to the institutional context, I referenced writing scholars at Jesuit institutions who discussed multimodal and digital writing with regard to eloquential perfecta. One such article "From Classto Community: EP 2.0 and the New Media Legacy of Jesuit Education" by Allen Brizee Jenn Fishman advocated for technology quoting John O'Malley who said, "Ignatius and others took great care to demonstrate how print might 'aid Jesuits in their ministry'" (O'Malley qtd in Brizee and Fishman 31). I also used time lapse video that students used on an assignment to study and reflect on their own writing process. 

Some of the discussion that followed pointed out the interconnectivity between text and video modes of communication, especially where academics rely on the ethos of their scholarship to serve as public intellectuals in talking head capacities. The recent controversy over Michael Eric Dyson's takedown essay about Cornel West provided a timely example of how the traditional essay 'technology' serves as the primary medium in the debate even though both scholars are frequently featured on radio and television.

 Video created by John Flynn for my Introduction to Writing Studies & Digital Publication course:

Saturday, March 21, 2015

My Storify on CCCC 2015 #4C15

Here's the archive of tweets that I cultivated from the CCCC 2015. Highlights included Adam Banks' opening session talk on the need to promote the essay to emeritus status, cite more inclusively and diversely, and taking flight.

See the video of Dr. Banks' talk:

(With my Santa Clara University colleagues: Julia Voss, Simone Billings, Tricia Serviss, & I)

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

My Response Essay with Aja Martinez to SB 1070 Article

Arizona as 'Home Place'
In issue 4.2 of Present Tense: A Journal of Rhetoric in Society, Aja Martinez and I have a response essay to an article published in the 4.1 issue of Present Tense called "Economic Globalization and the “Given Situation”: JanBrewer’s Use of SB 1070 as an Effective Rhetorical Response to the Politics ofImmigration." In our response, Aja and I advocate for more critical engagement with the lived experiences of people affected by this and other dehumanizing Arizona policy. We do so as a call for ethical consideration of Arizona's historical context that has a long tradition of anti-Latin@ laws and legislative action.


Here is the link to our article "Contexts of Lived Realities in SB 1070 Arizona: A Responseto Asenas and Johnson’s “Economic Globalization and the ‘Given Situation.’” We take the opportunity to speak about the tradition of anti-Latin@ policy; however, we also address the culture of police (over)enforcement, as in the case of Dr. Ersula Ore.

In addition to complicating and problematizing Arizona as a 'given situation,' Aja includes a counterstory that originated from her recent experiences in Tucson while visiting family. When dropping off her father at the place he's worked for decades, the security guard asked Aja and her father if they were both "U.S. Citizens" [or 'illegals']. Aja writes:

When and how did this security gate become a border checkpoint? What was it about me that prompted this question? Why do I feel so ashamed? Why was my dad so numb?

Link for the article pdf.

(Aja Martinez from Present Tense site)

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Faculty Workshop for Puente Program

This past Wednesday, I was honored to be asked by the Puente Program educational partnership with UC Berkeley to present a workshop for their English faculty.

Rhetorical Analysis as 'La Facultad'
 I called the workshop "La Facultad as Rhetorical Analysis," borrowing from Gloria Anzaldúa's definition of la facultad in Borderlands/La Frontera as the “capacity to see in surface phenomena the meaning of deeper realities, to see the deep structure below the surface” (60). When Anzaldúa talks about “structures,” I described them as the different genres of writing like the applications that can seem super daunting. When students are taught to approach these kinds of writing with the understanding that it’s a genre, they're less intimidated because of the awareness that genres have established structures and expectations.

(Workshop handouts)

Below are a few of the handouts that I culled from online that demonstrate the traditional Aristotelean  triangle, as well as the more contemporary triangle that highlights the important aspects of rhetorical situation. In addition to Aristotelean analysis, we discussed the role of ideology on what Zizeck explains as governing the desires of our daydreams.


Following the workshop, I had the opportunity to speak with a few of the English faculty members at Diablo Valley College who had been working with Puente for several years with great success stories about students who had continued on to four-year institutions. In addition, there was an informative talk by Katie Hern at Chabot College who discussed approaches for increasing access for students of color, and increasing their continuation to non-remedial, college level instruction in English. 

A few of her key advocacy points were:
  • Don't police borders of remedial classes/open access to students at all levels to encourage continuation
  • When 20-30% of students are lost over the few layers of remedial classes, the success rate diminishes to only 30% by the time students enter college level English.
  • Students responded well to advanced readings like Pedagogy of the Oppressed and other discipline-specific readings, especially psychology.
  • Students engage with texts better when they work in small groups to problem-solve and teach one another

A video of Katie Hern speaking on Accelerated Programs:

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Jeff Chang and Who We Be

"Multicultural," "Post-racial" and "Post-Black"
As a part of the Culture, Power, Difference Speaker Series and Working Group, author and scholar Jeff Chang addresses questions about race and multiculturalism in a lecture entitled Who We Be: The Colorization of America.

Chang explained that he began writing Who We Be with a bit of a chip on his shoulder from having discussions with elders, in which he had to defend criticism of misogyny in hip hop as the culture of his generation. He began looking at the generation that produced his generation, all the while thinking of wanting to write about multiculturalism and "post-racial" society; however, his editor told him it wasn't edgy. And then came Barack Obama's campaign for presidency.

So he began writing about what Obama meant for the emerging generation, and he noted right away the backlash came at him about 'not this America,' or 'save for 2042.' Chang described 2042 as a kind of 'demographic Y2K' when the U.S. would reach a "minority majority."

Obama's campaign led to the question of "how do we see race now?"

Along with the fear of the changing demographic (demographobia) came the return of the Culture Wars from the 60s and 90s. There was a competing narrative of 'Save America forever' vs. 'Great National Transformation.' Or a restoration vs. transformation, a high stakes debate for the future.

Chang looked back to the 60s, a period of political and cultural renaissance. It was a time when "multi-cultural" was a paradox because "American" culture meant assimilated to the dominant culture. In the early 90s, there were pushback against the multicultural phenomenon, leading some to ask "who are we?" To which Chang responds with his book title: Who We Be. He points out the identity politics that came from liberal white Americans who believed there was an attack on Anglo-American heritage (as the political right had railed). 

But hip hop was a pivot point in the 90s, when so many of the youth were non-whites, and hip hop became representative of the mainstream pop culture. This led Chang to say that 'Art makes new kind of politics possible for America.' Still, the backlash came from the disappearing white middle-class who began to turn on their political ideologies for sake of their economic interests--a trapping of the American Dream and the struggle to fight for it in insurmountable odds.

Some thoughts that Chang concluded with were:
If society were becoming a minority, how can we imagine a new majority

He advocated beginning with a culture for justice, especially because polls show concerns about racial relations a high concern for most Americans.

He moved towards abstraction, articulating a wave as representative of the future. Recent elections have created their own kinds of waves of change, but he reminded us that cultural change always comes before political change. Also, he reminded us of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s most controversial speech in which he argued that militarism, racism and poverty were the three scourges of society.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Latin America and a History of 'Justifications'

Obama, History & Dreamers

Juliet Eilperin of the Washington Post writes that President Obama has been critical of U.S. policy:

"America, he has suggested, has much to answer given its history in Latin America and the Middle East."

Here's my thoughts on history, discrimination and the president's policy:

Obama, History & Dreamers from C Medina on Vimeo.

From his speech at the National Prayer Breakfast, Eilperin quoted the president as saying, "In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ.”

The reporter note Conservative Outrage

"Some Republicans were outraged. “The president’s comments this morning at the prayer breakfast are the most offensive I’ve ever heard a president make in my lifetime,” said former Virginia governor Jim Gilmore (R)."

The original article: