Friday, October 31, 2008

To Do List

  1. Work on Afrafeminist Teacher-Research Methodology chapter
  2. Work on book chapter/assessment stuff due January 1
  3. Work on a revise/resubmit article
  4. Surf political junkie websites
  5. Eat
  6. Work out
  7. Laugh
It's a shame when laughing is all the way at the bottom of the list. Hmmph. Now that I think of it, I'll probably work out first (move #7 to #1).

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Thought-Provoking Commentary about Violence against Women

Since it is violence against women, and since I am working on my Afrafeminist methodology chapter, I find it useful to share these links:


Things I do now that I didn't do before this economic crisis:
  • Clip Coupons - Yeah, I never did that, but I do it now
  • Buy mostly Kroger brand items - Kroger brand bbq sauce, Kroger water, Kroger Splenda (it's called "Apriva" -- huh?), Kroger iced oatmeal cookies (they're yummy actually!), Kroger turkey bacon, Kroger egg beaters, etc., etc., I still can't bring myself to buy Kroger-brand cereal, so I haven't been buying ANY cereal!
  • Going to campus events for free food - I'll be attending a department reception with a guest speaker since there's free refreshments. Of course, I'm interested in the talk too! I would've went to the free lunch tomorrow too but my schedule conflicts. *sigh
  • Purchase Michelina's Lean Gourmets as opposed to Stouffer's Lean Cuisine - Hey, they're a buck a piece! Can't be that!
  • Grocery shopping once a month - at the end of the month, no food, but I'm survivin'
Things I have cut completely:
  • Smart Ones desserts - They cost WAY too much for a pack of two
  • Manicures and Pedicures - I've been trying to stretch my gel fills from 3 to 4 weeks only to get fussed at by my manicurist; pedis are completely cut from the budget.
  • Random trips to Saphora - Didn't ya know that you can get really cheap mascara at the drug store?
Things I need to Cut:
  • Weekly hair appointments - but I probably won't!
  • Visits to Starbucks - homemade coffee just doesn't taste as good! If you have an easy latte recipe, lemme know!
  • Random visits to Stein Mart - yeah, I know.

My sister sent me this link for pencil skirt spanx. Women, if you've never worn spanx, you should try them! They make all the difference. Will I spend $68? Hmmmmm. *sigh

Friday, October 24, 2008

If Thangs Couldn't Get Mo' Racist/Crazy

The latest mayhem and foolishness...

I'm still tryin' to figure out why this fool thought someone would wan't to fondle her you know what! So sad.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

When Rhetoric as Persuasion is Counterproductive

An interesting post from my dad. Not to piggy-back too much on his post, but, I do think we have the tendency use rhetoric and argument to try to persuade others to see things our way. And I think this is in part the fault of thinking about rhetoric only in terms of persuasion. Seen in this way, rhetoric is only useful if we can use it to strengthen our arguments, hence, persuade people that our argument is correct. When does rhetoric become the art of persuasion and when does it become something else? When does rhetoric become a mere means of stylin' and profilin' for purposes not exclusive to argument? I think rhetoric as persuasion really applies to this election. On one hand, we say the candidates use rhetoric to persuade/strengthen their chances of being elected. But for voters, we use rhetoric to persuade others that our candidate is the best. And we've seen people use rhetoric to persuade a certain campaign that racist tactics are unfair. The moral of the story: Quit tryin to persuade people that racism is wrong. We know that. It's time that we work on ourselves.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Toward an Afrafeminist Teacher-Research Methodology

Last week I met with Grabill to talk about the methodologies I'm trying to use in my dissertation. Grabill always gives me a sense of clarity when I'm trying to flesh out research (and gets REALLY geeked when having any conversation that has to do with methdology. Huge shout-out to him). I say methodologies because I am doing three different teacher-research studies in three different chapters of my diss. One chapter focuses on the literacy histories and linguistic practices of African American students (male and female). Another focuses exclusively on those practices employed by African American female students, and the other focuses on how all students understand Ebonics in Composition Studies. The conversation Grabill and I had about methodology and my proposed chapters went somethin' like this (I'm paraphrasing):

Grabill: Where's your methodology chapter?

Me: what?

Grabill: Your methodology chpater?

Me: I have several -- Each study is a different methodology, therefore I can't just have one methodology chapter.

Grabill: Why is that?

Me: Because how can I describe one methodology with 3 different studies?

Grabill: You're thinking about the methods used in each of these studies. Look at it not in terms of the different studies, but in terms of the methodology under which these 3 studies fall.

Me: Oh?

Grabill: You talk about Afrafeminist methods in your studies, and you define teacher-research a particular way, so that's your methodology.

Me: Oh. Since teacher-research typically (if it is at all) talked about in the context of Afrafeminism, then I need to define what Afrafeminst teacher-research looks like.

Grabill: That's where I see your work contributing to the field.

Me. Now the challenge will be to explain coherently what that looks like.

Grabill: Yep. That's your methodology chapter.

Me: so I have to add a chapter.

Grabill: Yes. You'll have six chapters instead of five.


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Today Is Blog Against Poverty Day

Reminding all bloggers: Today is blog against poverty day. This is much needed considering the fact that homelessness is climbing and our economy is in shambles. For those of us bloggers who aren't considered to be in poverty, and for those of us who have technological access to afford posting to our blogs, let's be thankful ( as times could be worse), while yet speaking out for those who aren't as fortunate as we are.


Monday, October 13, 2008

My Dad's Blog :-)

So, my blogging has been a bit contagious. My dad has started a blog and I encourage you to check it out. He plans on attending an Obama rally today and has been offered VIP seating. I'm a bit jealous :-)


Friday, October 10, 2008

The John McCain As a Freshmen Writing Student?

Steve Krause, a former prof of mine at EMU, has an interesting commentary about John McCain using quotes out of context to bolster his claims about Obama as a shady terrorist. Here's an interesting excerpt from his post. I encourage you to read the whole post though:

Besides the obvious and rather desperate smear McCain is trying here, a tactic that seems especially ugly given that the world economy appears to be ending, what bothers me personally is the bad freshman writing mistake that McCain is making here. I’ve seen plenty of students who take this tactic, cherry-picking quotes in order to make a point no matter what the evidence they are quoting really says. In other words, if McCain was a first year composition student and he handed in a paper about how Obama is a terrorist with this claim about Ayers, I’d probably circle that line “Obama lied about him just being my neighbor” and write something like “What is the full context of this quote, John? Do you really think that was the intent of your source? Is this the full story? It sounds like you’re twisting the words here.”

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Me and My Big Fat Gradiose Ideas!

For my concetration exam, I proposed to submit a potential draft for Chapter 1 of my diss, where I had this big plan to trace the decline in teacher-research publications in Composition Studies in Ch. 1 of my dis. Well, I tried and failed miserably. (I based a large part of my concentration exam on this argument, and my dissertation committee had pity on me and didn't fail me. God bless 'em!) For one thing, this is not an easy thing to prove evidence-wise, since results from databases prove to be quite unreliable. For example, when searching CompPile, one of the largest databases in the discipline, different keywords searches using "teacher-research", "teacher research", "classroom research" etc. don't yield any reliable results (which I expected but didn't anticipate this issue interfering as much as it did), at least not reliable enough to make a strong argument. Now imaging doing this search in multiple databases like ProQuest, JSTOR, Google Scholar, etc., etc. Not a feasible task. Why I didn't see this coming before, I don't know; I just wanted to be theoretical. LOL!

I thought I needed to trace this history and decline in order to make the case for additional Afracentric teacher-research. I thought doing so would establish particular relevance that would make my dissertation appear more theoretically sound, as opposed to a "this is what happened in my small, single, local classroom: ain't it neat?" dissertation.

As I'm revising and rethinking the new arguments I'll make in Chapter 1, with the help of my committee, I've realized that I don't have to trace this history of teacher-research (broadly conceived) to establish a relevance for doing Afracentric teacher-research. As one of my committee members pointed out, tracing this history is perhaps too broad for the scope of my project, and I think (s)he's absolutely right. So, my plan for this Chapter will be to establish the relationships between Afracentric pedagogy and Afrafeminist methodologies (how I define them, what they look like, etc.) and teacher-research. That'll make my argument more focused (I think!)


Monday, October 6, 2008

Second Qualifying Exam Passed!

I passed my second exam. Now on to the dissertation proposal...

Friday, October 3, 2008

Speech Acts, Rhetorical Theory and Verncular Literacy (or a Lack Therof)

A reader of my previous post emailed me a question directed at my assumed criticism of Sarah Palin's use of folksy language/vernacular:
For someone to be such a proponent of African American Verncular [sic] English, how can you criticize Gov. Palin for drawing on a different dialect? Isn't that hypocritical? Isn't it about what you say and not how you say it?
Yes, it is about what you say and how you say it. And while I may seem judgmental or hypocritical in my criticism of her dialect, let me provide readers with my understandings of Palin's speech acts as rhetorical theory.

Here's what Palin did (or attempted to do depending on the audience perception) quite well:
She understood that her use a folksy vernacular could possess pathetic (in the rhetorical sense) appeal (ethical appeals may also be possessed, but IMO the jury is still out on this). Palin wanted audience members to consider the ways that she is no different from them,and therefore, attempted to manipulate speech acts in way that create an "Average Joe" persona. The jury's still out on whether or not voters want an Average Joe Six-Pack assuming the most/second most important office/job in the country though.

But here's why Palin's nonstandard variety of English only gets her so far. If her folksy dialect had been used to directly, critically, and intellectually answer the questions given to her by the moderator, then she probably would have won the debate. But since her folksy vernacular was often used in ways that did not answer many of the questions, for responses that were semi incoherent, and/or for responses for which she relied on cliched terminology (e.g. "energy", "maverick", "corruption")--none of which was defined coherently if at all--her one-liners are not as effective.

Here's the difference between Palin's vernacular use and what I call for in terms of the legitimacy of AAVE: AAVE speakers are often assumed to be unintelligent, not because of what they say, but how they say it. IMO, Palin's responses are less intelligent, not because of how she said them, but because of how she weakly drew on her speech vernacular as rhetorical act. In other words, she used the folksy dialect, but her responses had no substance. Had she used the folksy dialect with substance, she might have won the debate over Biden.

For those less familiar with my work, my research invests an interest in the ways in which AAVE/Ebonics/Black English, etc. is used rhetorically to make an effective intellectual argument. Geneva Smitherman has made this argument decades ago, but linguistic prejudice is still a prevailing attitude in many schools and university classrooms. To illustrate what Smitherman and I mean when we say that Ebonics speakers can speak Ebonics and make exceptional and rhetorcally sound arguments, I leave you with a poem of JB Simple gettin' down intellectually from Smitherman's book, Talkin and Testifyin: The Language of Black America (p. 34):

In the North
The Jim Crow Line
Ain't clear --
But it's here!
From New York to Chicago
Points past and
In between
Jim Crow is mean!
Even though integrated,
With Democracy!
Jim crow is not mated.
Up North Jim Crow
Wears an angels grin --
But still he sin.
I swear he do!
Don't You?

Now, do you understand my position?

Thursday, October 2, 2008

4 VP Debate Questions

1) Who won?

2) Can a candidate win without answering any questions?

3) How does rhetorical theory inform whether or not someone answers the questions?

4) How does vernacular literacy influence rhetorical theory? Is it better to sound folksy or to sound intellectual and offer solutions?