Reflections on CCCC 2011

Wow! 4 C’s is over, and I’m trying to make sense of my jumbled notes and memories, kneading them together into something that will rise into a single loaf of a blog post. Here’s my best shot:

Best Papers/Panels

  • The Sound Teaching workshop with Dan Anderson, Geoff Sirc, Spencer Shaffner, Jason Loan, Zach Laminack, and Steph Ceraso was inspiring. I’m seriously going to be assigning mix tapes to my students from now on. I mean, what took me so long? My second blog post ever was even about mix tapes!
  • I chaired panel B.16, Code-Switching, Code Meshing, and Contrastive Rhetoric, even though I don’t have any scholarly expertise in the area; C’s offered the chairing job, and I took it. But it reminded me of the power of a lively audience that’s willing to be open and frank, and the surprising importance that (sometimes) comes from attending panels outside your normal area. Sweet!
  • F.38, Hearing Space and Listening Compositions: Re-Inscribing Sound in Composition Practices, was probably my favorite panel, with the wise and friendly Jordan Frith, Seth Mulliken, and Kati Fargo speaking. Jordan helped us imagine pedagogical uses for sound-based geolocation tagging games, Seth helped us critically investigate the terms sometimes used when talking about remixes (which gave me that little thrill of, “Hey, I have an article coming out that kind of addresses that!”), and Kati reminded me of ways to attend to soundscapes rhetorically. Lots of lovely thinking, and at 8 a.m.!
  • At another early-morning session, L.05 Fans, Fandom, and Fazines: Contesting Boundaries, I was privileged to witness some on-the-spot organizing, as fans and fan-studies people spoke up and said, “For goodness sakes, it’s time we had a fan studies SIG!”

Best Experiences

  • Unbelievably, I was one of the 3 winners of C’s the Day! That’s right: I have a small-blue and a super-huge-blue sparklepony. The small one isn’t named yet, but the large one is named Victor, a purposefully nonreferential name that could refer to more than one field luminary. I’ll be writing more about this experience in a future issue of one online journal or another, which is a pretty stinking sweet prize. (More than one friend’s face went from, “Oh, a cute pony!” to slack-jawed surprise when I told them I was playing for a publication.)
  • Running into Charlie Lowe at every corner became a recurring joke; it was good to finally meet him after so many emails.
  • Image from H.G. Wells' film, _Things to Come_; from

    I swear, it’s all about the elevators. This was the coolest, freakiest, most dystopian hotel I’ve ever been in, like something from Metropolis or Things to Come.

  • I focused more on people than on my interests this year, and that was a nice move. Instead of going around a lot myself, I really got to know my USF colleagues better (both fellow grad students and professors and staff), reconnected with old friends, attended lots of friends’ panels, discovered a new aunt, and went out of my comfort zone to tell people I liked their work and ask them to lunch. Sure, I got to hear others’ thoughts on sound and music, but in the end, that wasn’t the most important thing.
  • This is my second conference using Evernote to take notes, instead of scribbling randomly all over pieces of paper that are unsearchable, and which will never be seen again. I flipping adore this method (and this MSI Wind netbook, which has now seen 2 years and 3 C’s, and is still holding up fabulously).

Best Food

  • Miso, a lovely Japanese place in the midst of a graffiti-lined street in Inman Park
  • Anatolia, near Georgia State, a bizarre and lovely (and super-yummy) Turkist place
  • Bhojanic, an Indian place in Decatur

A Word on Presentation Style

Though I had an overall positive experience, it’s worth noting that I was sadly unimpressed with the style of many of the presentations I saw. I was staying with a linguist friend who asked me, amazed, “Do people in your field really read papers to the audience?” a question repeated by a colleague of hers that we ran into on the MARTA. My response early on was, “Well, yeah, sometimes, but only like a few of us. Loads of people give really creative presentations.” I was thinking of John Logie and his fantastic deliver, especially–but Logie wasn’t here this year. It was like a paper-reading virus got into the water stream in Atlanta or something.

By my count (which might be off), I heard 19 people read straight from prepared texts, 2 people speak extemporaneously from an outline, and 3 people who did about a 50/50 mix. 8 of these people used traditional slideshows (PowerPoint and the like), 3 used Prezi (though all 3 were on the same panel and had collaborated to put all of their info into the same Prezi), and 2 showed videos with no accompanying slideshow.

Now, some people can read a prepared text like nobody’s business, staying fresh and engaging. (Kate Pantelides and Twila Yates Papay come to mind from this year’s C’s.) But holy smokes folks, many people can’t, and the audience is left wondering, “Would you let your students give a presentation like this?” and, “Couldn’t you have shown us the stuff that you’re describing–or better yet, taught us, as opposed to just presenting to us?”

I suppose this is a hanging-on from our humanities heritage as a field? And yes, in the end I’d rather have someone read a paper to me than stumble over notes–know thyself, and all that. But I felt the way I often feel with students, to whom I say things like, “There’s a power in your ideas that isn’t coming out in the way you’re expressing those ideas. But I know you, and I trust you, so please take a few minutes to ask yourself how you could give a presentation that is absolutely engaging and avoids all cliches as if they were poisonous vines creeping up around you. When you’re this boring, it subtly communicates that you simply didn’t try not to be boring.”

Other Posts on the Conference

These are just a few that I know of; feel free to contact me if you want to be added to the list!

  • Dan Berrett, writing for Inside Higher Ed, reviewing my favorite research initiative in rhet/comp, The Citation Project, as presented at C’s. (Check out the comments, too.)
  • As always, Alex Reid has some excellent thoughts on C’s and how it relates to the larger field.
  • Dennis Jerz was a hardcore C’s blogger, posting his detailed notes to many-a-session, and–bonus!–the story of his hospitalized sickness on the way home.
  • The Blogora has a post about students at C’s studying the history/theory of rhetoric.
  • Jenn Stewart, fellow C’s the Day winner, has a hilarious post up, filled with many-a-pic of Sparkleponies, as well as a “this is the stuff I thought about at C’s” kind of post. Perhaps I should have followed her lead and split the academic and the crazy-wild-fun into different posts?
  • There’s a page up on Ryan Trauman’s site about the Remixing our Scholarship panel.
  • Marc Santos‘s thoughts on education and assessment are briefly tied into C’s–namely, how doggone often these things were mentioned there.
  • Shane Wilson on Peter Elbow, and the hotel as the Star Wars Galactic Senate.
  • Noel Radley over at Viz, writing about Anne Wysocki and Johndan Johnson-Eilola’s visual-body-twitter-scanner thing that was down in the Marquis level of the Marriott during C’s.

Looking forward to St. Louis next year!



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3 responses to “Reflections on CCCC 2011

  1. Pingback: » #cccc11 recap

  2. Thanks for the mention! This was a nice post. Good to see someone else frustrated by the presentation style…

  3. I’m totally jealous of your C’s experience. I was accosted on the street by every person I encountered, fell and messed up my shoulder pretty bad, and went to the wrong panel at least once.

    Now I’m conflicted, though, about the presentations. Prof. Jacobs spent all spring semester last year convincing us that you have to read your papers at conferences, because, gosh darn it, you chose every one of those words with care. But I agree that it’s harder to listen to. As a presenter, I guess that I’m lazy; I’m starting with a paper, and to turn it into a talk is like writing a whole nother paper in a different genre. But I promise I’ll at least think about it the next time I present.

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