This past week I attended (and presented!) at the Conference on College Composition and Communication in Indianapolis – otherwise known as the 4C’s. My presentation was part of the Research Network Forum (RNF), a pre-conference full-day workshop in which works-in-progress are presented at roundtable discussions and then discussed. This was my first RNF, and I was overwhelmed by the validation and encouragement I experienced as a presenter – the event itself was so positive, which made for a safe space to introduce new ideas, trouble them, and collaborate with fellow graduate students working on a range of projects, as well as leaders in the field with expertise across the board. I brought with me a mini-zine that introduced my research (my MA Project that is currently haunting me in my dreams and stealing my sleep). What began as an innocent question // what happens when I bring zines into the classroom? // has evolved into a composite of genre theory, activity systems, collected stories to illustrate practical application, and multimodal assessment a la Jody Shipka (my she-ro!). The feedback I received was immensely helpful, and the smiles that danced on the faces of those who got to hold a zine and practice folding and unfolding it reminded me of exactly why zines matter: because how often do you associate the paper in your hand with the physical presence of the person who made it? How often do we get to play with our work? How often are we asked to think about the choices we make when we compose?
While at 4C’s I met with Jason Luther, Syracuse PhD student and zine rockstar who has taught DIY Publishing and Creative Nonfiction classes that worked with zines and special collections, and Frank Farmer, master of counterpublic intellectualism + zines and WPA from the University of Kansas. These two kindly allowed me to record our conversation over breakfast as an “interview” for my project. I also attended the following panels:
B.05 Opening Up, Opening Out: New Publics, New Futures for Composition’s Public Intellectuals
D.26 (Re)Opening the Ditto Device: DIY Publishing as Crafting Agency
F.14 Violence of Assessment: Theoretical and Practical Considerations
I.36 Opening Ourselves to Love: Rhetoric, Writing, and Communication in 21st Century Argument Culture
I also recorded my own literacy narrative with Cynthia Selfe for the Digital Archive of Literacy Narratives (DALN), which I am completely thrilled about. I remember learning about the DALN at 4C’s in St Louis in 2012, and have since used it in my own classes. If you’re interested in working with the DALN in your classroom, here’s a useful resource: Five Ways to Read a Curated Archive of Literacy Narratives by David Bloome.
To be honest, I spent most of the conference working: piecing together the remaining pieces of my MA Project and planning the courses I’ll be teaching this Spring. I did make it to the Bedford Party at the Indiana State Museum, I had lunch at the Eiteljorg Museum, and on the way out of town ate my very first tamale (yum!). I was also able to reconnect with former colleagues who have gone on to PhD programs since graduating from my program at EMU, and I spent hours in conversation with current colleagues (which sounds so sterile, these teachers are my friends!), encouraged by the energy at C’s. And then Friday I left a day early because I was on sensory overload and eager to get home to my daughter.
There’s a conference backchannel worth looking through on Twitter with the hashtag #4C14 – I certainly have a long list of panels to look up in the NCTE Connected Community archive where presenters (hopefully) uploaded their materials, thanks to the tweets that went out – and I was posting throughout the conference as well: