Thursday, December 19, 2013

Gustavo Arellano on the Arizona Latino

OC Weekly Editor, "Ask a Mexican" Columnist, and Author Gustavo Arellano Hispanic Convocation Speech at Arizona State University

Having earned my PhD at the University of Arizona, I've been indoctrinated into rejecting all things Arizona State; however, I make an exception with Gustavo Arellano's keynote address that he gave at the Hispanic Convocation on the Arizona Latino. Rhetorically, it could be argued that his speech was epideictic fitting the context and audience of the event, though I would point out that what makes Arellano's speech great was that the message isn't said enough to his primary audience of young Latin@s.  Additionally, he makes an important distinction about the narrative spread about Arizona and how Latin@s might be characterized as victims, so it's important that he leaves the graduating class with the message that the "Arizona Latino is a magnificent person."

(Old photo of me with Arellano in 2008)

From his speech:

And, you already have accomplished much. So as you go off to life, remember where you came from, and never be ashamed to tell the world the school that forged you into young men and women--Arizona State University, in the state of Arizona.

Even if this isn't your native state, even if you're leaving after this afternoon to return home, you're now part of this proud tradition. I know the power and potential of Arizona's Latinos because I'm descended from two. My abuelita was born in Metcalf, nowadays a ghost town near the Morenci Mine, while my grandfather arrived there at age four and stayed until his teenage years. Metcalf served as the entry point for hundreds of people from my rancho in Zacatecas during and after the Mexican Revolution. Those pioneers went on to be the parents and abuelos of professors, entrepreneurs, politicians--Latino success stories, all of them. It was in those copper pits that my ancestors learned to fight for a better life, to never take discrimination lightly, and to never forget your roots

And if it was good enough for my ancestors, it should be good enough for everyone else. The Arizona Latino is a magnificent person, and this graduating class is the latest generation to fulfill your raza's destiny. Now, time to proclaim it to the rest of America--tell them what I've just told ustedes, and don't be shy about it. Gracias, and God bless. 

Read the full text here:

Friday, December 6, 2013

Recommended Watches

Former Tucson Ethnic Studies Teacher Acosta's Keynote Speech

Thanks Elias for getting me hip to this video of Curtis Acota's keynote at the Northwest Conference for Teaching Social Justice. I'll be teaching a social justice and literacy course in Spring, and I've already been ruminating on the kinds of readings that I'll want to incorporate--of course the case of Tucson will find its way into the subject matter. Themes of social justice seem particularly poignant in the context of Nelson Mandela's passing, and the quote of his that's been making the rounds with my educator colleagues:
"Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world."
Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.
Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.
Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.
Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.
Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.
Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.

Elias Serna's Pop-Up Book Short

If you happened to read the past post with a Q&A with Elias Serna at UC Riverside, then the subject of pop-up books will be familiar. What's interesting in the video below is how the mediums of pop-ups have been integrated into a stage-dance performance with musical accompaniment as a kind of mixed/multimedia presentation of sorts with the rhetorical message of support for the Tucson MAS program coming through loud and clear. 

In the beginning of the Winter quarter, my students will be creating their own digital docs that I'm looking forward to, and which I might post (with their permission naturally.)

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Q&A with Reflections contributor Elias Serna

 A Brief Interview with Elias Serna on "Eagle Meets the Seagull," Chican@ Epistemology, and Xikano Pop-Up Manifesto

I have had the pleasure of knowing Serna and his infectious ganas for teaching, learning, and speaking out against the attacks on Ethnic Studies programs for a few years now. I feel lucky to have coordinated this on-line Q&A with Serna as a couple of High-Tech Aztecs or Cyber-Vatos (with all respect to Gomez-Pena), providing a good space to delve into some of the issues and movements that Serna is a part of. This is of course a continuation of some of the posts I've done regarding the forthcoming issue of Reflections: A Journal of Public Rhetoric, Civic Writing and Service Learning, so be sure to order a copy when it comes out!

1) In a nutshell, what would you say that your article in the Fall issue of Reflections: A Journal of Public Rhetoric, Civic Writing and Service-Learning is about?

The "Eagle Meets the Seagull" article was originally written as a reflection on the 2nd Raza Studies Now (RSN) conference this past summer. RSN came about from the political and pedagogical interaction of LA/Santa Monica educators and the Tucson Raza Studies folks. Early on we attended the amazing Summer Transformative Education conferences, then all the racist republican borlo picked up and we jumped into that struggle, raising awareness and funds for the case (which is now headed to the 9th circuit federal Court of Appeals). The first and the second conferences were somewhat magical for me, they were invented/organized in quick "de volada" fashion (the first I believe in 2 months), they were dynamic, gathered many people and forces, and seemed to make a splash on social media and with those in attendance. The potential may have been bigger than the outcome. The article meant as reflection was also putting RSN activism under a rhetorical lens. Cristina and Isabel encouraged more citation and homework - including looking at your submission on "Nuestros Refranes" - and that really helped me crystalize my thinking around rhetoric as a civic mode of writing. The article itself in a way is civic writing in that it still reflects on Raza Studies activism and suggests points of improvement and attention – such as addressing gender issues, converging with the Dream Act movement, community colleges, and engaging with issues around policing and the prison industrial complex. That was more like a big walnut shell.

2) Tell me a little about how you came to be interested in the Tucson Ethnic Studies controversy as a researcher, teacher, and activist?
Around 2006 or 7 currently UCLA Education PhD candidate Johnny Ramirez connected with MAS alumni Selina Barajas Rodriguez at CSU Northridge’s Chicano Studies program and began attending the summer Transformative Education conferences in Tucson. I went a few years later and was amazed by the program, its accomplishments, and perhaps that it had innovatively taken the field of Chican@ Studies to a whole new place. It was eye-opening and inspirational. I saw it as a model and a future path.
The activist part of the question reminds me of a concert I attended in Tijuana in the late 90’s. A few of us were there for Aztlan Undergound, which was opening up for Voodoo Glowskulls and Tijuana No. My friend Edgar was alone hopping around in the pit and some punkabilly dudes started pouncing him and blindsiding him. Mark Torres of Travel Tips for Aztlan and Anjanette from Zapatista PRC were there. I jumped in there with him and these dudes which were like a dozen (some in the pit, others standing in a corner) started to pounce on me. I saw that they were gathered at the edge of the slam pit, in a corner by a wall. Once there was about 20 people in the pit it suddenly occurred to me that with the right timing, and the force of the song, a single person could push about three people, much like a small wall, against twelve people, acting like a musically engined human tractor, and smash those mean people giggling in the corner hard against that border wall, which is exactly what I managed to do (several times). One person can have a powerful effect on many, and many on millions. And mean people should be smashed. That’s what I’ve been trying to do in Los Angeles, but with more constructive, pedagogical and creative intent. I went into PhD in part to contribute to Chican@ Studies, and as a result my work in rhetoric and Chican@ literature/studies began to serve a movement. 
 (From Aztlan Underground's Myspace)
3) What part of the situation in Arizona do you think is the most shocking, offensive, or overtly racist that hasn't garnered much attention for whatever reason?
That they’re getting away with it. Dr. Cintli gave a powerpoint presentation once that explained how the Republican proposition was essentially outlining their own political behavior: they were the ones promoting resentment against a race of people, they were trying to overthrow the federal government, and the education they propose is designed primarily for a particular ethnic group (Euroamericans).The Arizona legislature is tilted racist right and so are the courts, which allowed all this to happen. When my students in California ask how this racism is possible, I explain this and that Arizona has an older conservative white demographic (many retirees) that votes out of fear; much like California in the 90’s, which pushed reactionary and racist propositions attacking affirmative action, bilingual education and undocumented families. Increasingly I read it as an attack specifically on young people of color.
The most overtly racist example is State Superintendent of Schools Huppenthals recent slip/confession that he read military war texts (Hannibal) to prepare for taking on the MAS issue. That the head of schools looks at Mexicans/Latinos as enemies to destroy and slaughter – as in his earlier genocidal comment that he will “destroy La Raza” - is clearly racist and quite unbelievable. A state superintendent who’s never taught, makes racist comments about Latinos (who make up a third of the state’s population), and that looks like he’s about to cry every time he speaks should step down. It’s unbelievable so many people in power stand by. I thought at some point more big shot educators, even Obama could have weighed in. The video says it all and should be shared widely:

(Xican@ Pop-Up Book #2:  Teatro Chicano- Stop the War!)

4) You live in Califas Sur, can you speak a little about the Ethnic Studies debates and outlawing of programs that's been happening close to you?

We’ve had successes and battles out here ourselves. The Santa Monica/ Malibu Unified School District recently created a small Ethnic Studies course/program which parents and community called for after some racial tensions between Latino and Black youth, and other youth (gang) violence.  Behind the scenes a group created a proposal for a larger Ethnic Studies program but that proposal has been largely ignored; band aids are cheaper and easier to throw away after some time, they (district administrators) suppose. XITO (Xican@ Institute For Teaching and Organizing) created by former MAS teachers has also helped us in this campaign. In East LA, the Semillas high school (Anahuacalmecac) was recently denied their high school charter despite impressive programs and high graduation and college-going rates. This recently became our little Tucson here in LA. After several spirited protests and interventions the struggle continues and may be appealed at the state level. Groups like MEChA, Chicano Studies departments (especially CSUN), ARE (Assoc. of Raza Educators), AMAE, and PEN (People’s Ed Movement) have been vocal and active around Raza Studies. The most ambitious statement has come out of Raza Studies Now, but we are also a group that goes through changes in momentum, membership and energy. Organizing is hard, time-consuming, risky and thankless work. Still, the struggle continues. 

(Xican@ Pop-Up Book #3: Anahuacalmecac)
5) What has been the most inspiring aspect of taking part in the support of Ethnic Studies programs?
To be a real nerdo, I must say the epistemology and methodology of it. I really do see a huge theoretical lesson in Tucson’s MAS model. Rudy Acuna has stated that Chicano Studies is primarily a pedagogy, not an epistemology, but I disagree to an extent. I enjoyed Michael Soldatenko’s book theorizing Chican@ Studies as an epistemology. Maybe because I’ve been in rhetoric and we pay so much attention to categorizing and epistemology, I have pondered the tenets of Chican@ Studies, because I do think the field has produced tenets that interpret and produce knowledge uniquely. Concepts like “taking the university back to the community” precedes “field studies”  and ethnography (participatory action research) for me. The Chicana feminists disruptions and interventions (big in the late 80’s) within Chican@ Studies preceded what Critical Race Theory terms intersectionality. Chican@ self-determination, which was big in the Plan de Santa Barbara, should be revisited by everyone (from students to tenured professors). I taught an introduction to Chicano Studies one summer for high school students and it forced me to define Chicano Studies, and these tenets helped me do that and to teach these youth that our people created a discipline, a science if you will. Really looking at the epistemology of Chican@ Studies will be part of effectively building and carrying it on into the future.
6) You've recently been in the running for a national book collectors award. Can you tell me a bit about how you came to develop a passion for collecting? What kinds of things do you tell younger readers to help them discover a similar love for books and reading?

Three weeks ago I flew with my family out to DC to pick up my award: 1st place National Collegiate Book Collecting Contest for a collection titled “Chicano Movement Banned Books” (entries from Duke and John Hopkins came in 2nd and 3rd – sorry had to rub that in, UC Riverside, whoop whoop!). It’s an archivist award. I have collected unique texts over the years including a first edition Plan de Santa Barbara, a first edition “I am Joaquin” published by the Crusade for Justice and signed by Corky Gonzalez. Betita Martinez’ classic picture book, 450 Years of Chicano History in Pictures (now titled 500 Years…). This last book is actually one that my older brother brought home from Santa Monica community college when I was in high school. These books opened my eyes to my history and culture and gave me motivation and purpose to go to college where my passion continued.

(Chicano Movement Banned Books collection currently on display at Tomas Rivera Library, UC Riverside)

To answer the second part of that question, I was recently explaining to my Chican@ Literature class at Cal State Dominguez Hills about the dilemma of Chican@ Literature in the digital age. I theorized that there were likely 3 groups with definite attitudes towards Chican@ novels and books. In Tucson, I explained, there are teachers and students who believe that these texts are integral for Raza students to see and understand themselves (and all students in order to create cultural understanding in a diverse society). The second group are the Arizona Republicans who see these books as tantamount to a civilizational cancer, books so dangerous that they prepare the soil for the violent overthrow and collapse of the republic as they know it. To them these books are worse than deadly weapons (in Arizona you can openly carry around deadly weapons). The third group exists within their generation of young people which asks, why should I read this book… when I can look up cheat notes, Wikipedia, watch the movie or spend time on social media. I was trying to have my students reflect on reading a longer novel (Bless Me Ultima) and where they stood in an era when textual reading is challenged by social media, phones and the internet.  In a strange way, Tucson’s politics have brought a spotlight to Chican@ Literature and we as activists/participants should exploit this.

7) Are there any other projects that you're currently working related to literacy (and culture)?

(above: Xican@ Pop-Up Book #1: dedicated to Jose Montoya, Royal Chicano Air Force)

My main job right now is writing a dissertation on Chican@ Rhetorical Traditions and technology, looking at Tiburcio Vasquez’ photo/letters from jail, the Magonista PLM newspaper Regeneracion at the turn of the century in LA, and manifestos from the Chicano Movement. My conclusion will likely center on the work of Tucson’s Raza Studies department. My comedy performance group Chicano Secret Service is also currently working on a play addressing Raza Studies titled “Neoliberalandia.” The most exciting project recently is the Xican@ Pop Up Book Manifesto, which is taking the world by storm. Together with UCR Mexican dance instructor JohnAvalos we’ve made a few Xican@ pop-up book prototypes (first models) and authored a vitriolic manifesto that states in part:

 The Xican@ Pop-Up Book movement is designed as a resistance movement against the cultural hostility of Tom Horne and Arizona’s racist Republicans, and as a cultural affirmation of MAS, Chican@ Studies, Chican@ Literature and art! All liberation art warriors are called upon to create and display Xican@ Pop-Up books and JOIN THE MOVEMENT! ... This concept is designed to create a movement of Xican@ art display, of mass popular production and participation for a resistant art form in the era of imperialistic civilizational warfare upon our communities… The idea is to add paper engineering to display our plight, to get viewers attention, and to proclaim: ‘You can BAN CHICANO BOOKS… but they’ll still POP UP!’

I took some prototypes and Xican@ Pop Up Book manifestos with me to DC and they were a hit. An original prototype found its way into the Smithsonian and we were invited to join the Movable Book Society. Back home my CSU Dominguez Hills students and JohnAvalos’ students are creating books and a pop-up book dance performance, and we are planning to share/produce how-to videos, and make some multiples to get out to the public. I think that getting some artists involved will help this really take off. Johnavalos suggested that with profits we fund our private corporate jet fleet, but I think we need to focus on where the Xican@ pop-up book goes next.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Reflections Special Issue, Mexican American Studies, and Elias Serna

Coming Soon: Q&A with fellow Reflections contributor Elias Serna
Having earned my PhD this past May at the University of Arizona, I was in close proximity to not only Tucson Magnet High School where the Ethnic Studies program was outlawed by House Bill 2281, but I also had the opportunity to interact with MAS teacher Curtis Acosta and teach students who were MAS graduates. In this forthcoming issue of Reflections: A Journal of Public Rhetoric, Civil Writing, and Service Learning, I have an article on a student publication that I co-edited in Tucson during the passing of SB 1070 and HB 2281. What makes the student publication Nuestros Refranes worth examining was that the prompt for the writing was designed to be culturally-relevant in much the same way that the TUSD MAS program's curriculum was meant to reflect the reality of the students it educated.

 In addition to my own article, I'm excited to read Elias Serna's article because I have come to know Elias through his activism and research with Tucson Ethnic Studies. Coming soon, I'll be including a brief interview with Elias regarding his article and the current projects he active with. Elias Serna, a PhD Candidate at UC Riverside, in August won the Antiquarian Booksellers' Association of America 2013 National Collegiate Book Collecting Contest.
 (Portrait of Serna by Shizu Saldamando)

In the meantime, an extended interview with Dolores Huerta

The video below is an extended interview from the documentary called Outlawing Shakespeare that I posted earlier.

Video available at:

Read more about Serna's Book Collector Award
A guest blog post of mine on Arizona in Spanish:

Friday, October 25, 2013

Art, Activism, and Disease Prevention on the U.S.-Mexico Border

Nuestra Casa Project (El Paso-Cd. Juarez Chapter)
In the December 2013 issue of Reflections: A Journal of Public Rhetoric, Civic Writing and Service Learning, Guillermina Gina Núñez and Eva Moya have a forthcoming article on an art installation that raises awareness and draws attention to both TB and HIV along the El Paso-Ciudad Juarez border. The video below provides a brief overview of the project and history of the art installation. 

Update: I found another embed code for this video!

From the Reflections Facebook page:
“Public Art, Service-Learning, and Critical Reflection: Nuestra Casa as a Case Study of Tuberculosis Awareness on the U.S-Mexico Border.” by Guillermina Gina Núñez and Eva Moya (UTEP)


This case study describes the Nuestra Casa (Our Home) Initiative, an advocacy, communication, and social mobilization strategy to increase tuberculosis (TB) awareness that was a public art exhibition hosted at the University of Texas at El Paso. This work describes this multi-disciplinary initiative that cuts across academic boundaries to engage faculty, students, and community members in service learning and community engagement efforts. Nuestra Casa reached diverse audiences, including school children, farm workers, promotoras (health promoters), university students, educators, persons affected by TB, and public health officials in Mexico and in the United States through education, critical reflection, and a call to action.

(from Nuestra Casa "Photo Stories" By Damien Schumann)

From the "Project History":
"The genesis of the project stems from the need to reinforce advocacy, communication, and social mobilization efforts for the prevention and control of TB in Mexico and the U.S.-Mexico borderlands. Because communities and the persons affected by TB must be involved and their real-life situation addressed if efforts to combat the disease are to be effective, the project’s developers pushed themselves to adopt a novel approach: “The Shack” installation."

Learn more about the Nuestra Casa Installation:

Visit Reflections Journal at:

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

A Storify from RMMLA 2013

Digital Humanities Talk, Tweets, and Wifi (in)Access

This past week, I was in Vancouver WA for the Rocky Mountain Modern Language Association conference, and I put together a Storify of the messages posted on Twitter about the conference. They include live-tweets from panels, keynote speaker's Ray Sieman's speech about his open access book, and issues of internet access. Discussing Tweets, WiFi (in)access, and DH is very meta in a blog, and it's even more self-reflective and self-referential in a Storify of Tweets, though perhaps not for those who did not attend.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Terry Eagleton at Santa Clara University

An Informal Chat About Sports as the Opiate of the Masses

This evening, prolific scholar Terry Eagleton will lecture on "Why God for Christians is Good for Nothing," but I was fortunate to be invited to take part in a small discussion with Eagleton before his lecture for the Bannan Institute. Below I've put together a summary/paraphrase of the discussion had by members of the Santa Clara faculty with Professor Eagleton.

During the discussion, Eagleton remarked that he does not have an email and he has never read the internet, but hopefully my notes from our discussion will prove interesting for those who were unable to attend. Note: these notes and summary come from what I typed as he and others spoke, so I acknowledge the potential for inaccuracies of details. The overall tone of the discussion was collegial and friendly.

To get the discussion started, Dr. Marilyn Edelstein asked, given Eagleton's work with Marxist theory and Marx's famous critique of religion as opiate of the people, how does Eagleton explain his move towards religion?

Eagleton explained that his concern with theology was always there. He joked that it also might be "fire insurance--I'm getting old." He also attributed his theoretical work to the era of theory ascending while left politics were also in ascent. It was time when there was too much trust in politics. Christianity went underground. Although politics like everything has its limitations.

As of late, he's had recurrent work with tragedy. However, Marx's point about religion as the opiate of the people is often taken out of context. In the context of Marx's criticism of capitalist society as a heartless world, religion as a kind of opiate was more positive. "What's wrong with a little opium?" he jested. Eagleton explained that Marx doesn't condemn religion, he just argues that there could be a better way. Eagleton argues that in the heart of the heartless world, his opinion is now that sports is opiate of the people. He cites Marx's daughter attending a secular school, and Marx saying that she'd be a great deal off reading the New Testament. Marx has little to say about the future--future is the failure of the present. His relation to religion is a complex one.

I followed up asking how his criticism of sports being the opiate of the masses went over at certain universities in the U.S. where American football is the reason many students attend the school. 

He admitted that he'd made the mistake of offending taxi drivers by criticizing sports, a mistake he wouldn't make again.

(Eagleton, Edelstein and Phyllis Brown)

He also explained that he'd been more reconciled to the idea of death, thinking that the future was huge crowds moving towards him "mesmerized by a small electronic square." He said that he was always seeing people forever shouting boring things across from him on train, things like, "Have you got the invoices?"

Father (Fr.) Mick McCarthy, an administrator and Religious Studies faculty member asked: Could you explain your writing process because you're known for writing very quickly? And in your career looking back--what were your significant intellectual surprises?

Eagleton said that he suffered from "hypergraphia." He said they'd finally come up with a diagnosis for his excessive writing. "I can't stop writing," he said, relating that he has three books in the pipeline while continuing to conceive of others. He enjoys writing, and that he's of the category of people who are writers--it's not a matter of what they write, only that they write. He said he's written for the theater and even a film script--it's artificial the difference between creative and scholarly; what I write rather more contingent. I'm more one who creates in the act of writing. If only I disliked it a bit more, I might slow down and others might catch up.

Someone suggested that if he were more interested in sports perhaps he might feel less compelled to write less.

He said, being Irish, I lack a visual and spatial sense--good verbal sense, not much visual sense, I'm always blundering around the place.

I asked Professor Eagleton if he had a daily writing schedule so as to keep up with his writing.

He responded, "I don't have a daily schedule, I can do it anytime like combing your hair, I can pick  it up and put it down again. I don't tend to [go back and forth between projects]. I only work on one project, except for short journalism, and finish a book at a time."

Dr. Stephen Carroll asked if he goes back while he's writing to revise as he's writing?
"No. Revise? I revise more than I used to. I'm fairly obsessive about style. I might be the same category--to sell grandmother for a turn of phrase."

Eagleton answered: "I write with an eye for style and then go back with the same aim in mind. As I get older, I find myself polishing a lot more. I might polish a whole manuscript where I might not have done that when I was younger. Perhaps it doesn't come as right as it did before.
I suppose...I could go all the way back through again and never feel satisfied, ...stylistically."

Dr. Marilyn Edelstein: You were critical for theory not engaging the material world?
You wrote After Theory , when you look at that high theory moment--did the high theory not engage enough with the real world?

Eagleton: "I think it would be a mistake from a materialist point of view to believe that ideas can  by themselves can change everything. History is a great sorter-outer...Marxist criticism experienced the rolling back of the left. It managed to hang on in some ways. One has to look at theory historically. I've been a critic of post-modernism is that it did on the whole bring theory down to earth. Post-feminism, ethnic politics, they're much more concerned with social relations--it's a category mistake to put textual literary interpretive methods; you can't classify with socialism and feminism that are political movements; in certain ways it brought these discourses down to earth."

From a Modern Language Faculty member, there was a question about French theorist.
Eagleton responded:
"It's been a while since France has been intellectual capital. I spoke with Bourdieu and Bourdieu said that hadn't been popular--he had never been asked to speak on a French campus. Par excellence, there's a hierarchy in discourses. Derrida speaks about art and Bourdieu counts how many people go into museum.
Towards the end of the discussion, the questions were faster and the answers quicker; however, here are a highlight of some of what was said:

"Frederick Jameson has carried on in a period when a lot of literary critics fell by the wasteside. God clearly doesn't like literary theorist. Not many survivors from that period."

"Deconstruction doesn't travel well. Derrida declared many a time that deconstruction was political and not textual."

"It is the responsibility for radical critics to popularize their work outside of a narrow audience; I had a lot of responses that came from my Literary Theory
 book from people outside who wanted to know what's going on; popularizing is an art."

Towards the end, I asked if he had recommendations for teaching writing--a question that was perhaps lost in translation as his response was geared towards creative writing as opposed to composition.

He responded:
"So-called creative writing is new in Britain; after years of snobbish in British universities, it's beginning to be studied. I suppose when I talk to undergraduates--as though they were human beings what I always say to them--there is one rule to writing: literary criticism is to look at what is said and how it's said.

Generation of teachers who do not do it that way. You read half a line a day, eight months to read a Blake poem. If a student can talk about tone, pace and texture--better than being able to give a decent summary of text--that's why I wrote How to Read a Poem
 and How to Read Literature."

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Instructional Writing Videos

Explain Everything App Assignment with iPad Project

In the past, I noted that there was a story about the skills desired by employers with regard to writing and technology--one such skill was the ability to create instructional videos. This assignment, which was created by Rob Michaelski for the LEAD teaching collaborative, begins to anticipate the digital writings skills asked of students.

In the pedagogical spirit of merging the want and desires of students for their writing and the motivation to integrate digital writing into my teaching, I asked students to create video presentations using the Explain Everything App in the course I teach that is a part of a programmatic iPad project.

Here is the test video I created to direct students to OWL Purdue's MLA formatting guide. It's too long, there is too much text on each slide, and I have pointed this out to students as a 'what not to do.'

Below are a few examples of the videos created by students after one class working-period following one instructional session.

Dangling Modifier by Jennifer and Saron

Affect vs. Effect by Daisy and Jesus

Monday, September 23, 2013

NCTE Twitter Chat Kicks Off Banned Book Week

Because of my research on the outlawing of Ethnic Studies/Mexican American Studies program in Tucson, AZ, I feel invested in discussions of banned books, especially since I used many of the MAS authors banned in my composition classes.

Last night, I took part in NCTE's online chat via Twitter to kick off Banned Book week. The participants ranged from teachers, students, authors, and even some policy makers, not a single of whom was in favor of banning books. However, I was intrigued by the different ways that experienced teachers and newcomers approached the issue and argued to defend the books they chose to teach. Some of the more interesting responses were things like:
  • You want to ban this book? Have you read it because I have and I'd talk to you about it if you'd like
  • A Guardian story about the importance of not lying to your children about difficult topics
  • Turning controversial material into teachable moments
  • Being a teacher-researcher so that teachers know about the books, controversies and can be prepared to have discussions with parents, students, and administration
Also in part because of my understanding of House Bill 2281, I was interested in the response of teachers who qualified the banned books that they would work to defend. Works like "worthy" and "legitimate" were used to describe the books that should be defended--I responded to a couple of arguments such as these, and asked how they define or decide the worth and legitimacy--I asked not to problematize for the sake of being critical, but because HB 2281 has shown that when going against ultraconservative legislators that book awards, student opinions, teacher opinions, and even research on the positive effects of courses with this literature do not change the minds of book banners.

The NCTE Twitter Feed on Storify

Friday, September 6, 2013

My Small Scope Narrative in College Composition and Communication Journal

The Family Profession

College Composition and Communication is not just my favorite conference of the academic year, but it's also an important top tier journal in the field, so I am super excited to have a vignette of mine featured in this month's special issue on the profession. A few months back, I actually also posted a digital story that actually accompanies this piece because it inspired the "story" I was able to tell.

Here's the digital story I composed, inspired by my CCC vignette. If you're not a CCC subscriber, my 3 minute digital story, or digital testimonio, will provide a good idea of what the vignette addresses.

on the profession edit with video 0001 from Cruz Medina on Vimeo.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Started Tumblrng

Branching Out to Additional Media Platforms

Just started a Tumblr at It relates to a writing project that I'm working on and that I'm super excited about. Something about Tumblr has lured me over to creating a new media object for this project so that I might continue to update ideas I'm collecting, though perhaps not give as much attention to the writing of as I might a blog post--I'm thinking a cross between Twitter and Blog.

Tumblr seems much more geared towards images in the way that Twitter is dedicated to concise messages that  present persuasive reflections of reality. One of the themes or trends/characteristics of Tumblr I'm noting is emphasis on pop culture mash-ups.

Some of the favs I've enjoyed include the following. I'm sure they're not new for most of y'all, if only because I've definitely referenced both the Kanye and Coach Taylor tumblrs in a previous post on memes.

The above meme is from the Tumbr:

Not academic, but amusing:

Monday, August 12, 2013

Papers, Please

Border Symposium at University of Arizona

I'm sorry to be out of Tucson for this symposium that's coming up September 13. It's free to register and I really love the work of both the keynote speaker Victor Villanueva and Plenary speaker Curtis Acosta. Villanueva's work has been extremely influential in discussions of race, language, and rhetoric. Acosta's teaching and activism in the fight against the ban on Ethnic Studies in Tucson has been inspirational in the context of negative portrayals by media and legislators.