Archive for September, 2007

Speakers’ Series: “Communication in the 21st Century”

September 21, 2007

“Communication in the 21st Century: Teaching and Learning across the Curriculum”

Art Young organized this series of speakers for his RCID 813 selected topics seminar “Communication Across the Curriculum” as well as for the Clemson University community.

Professor Diana George, Virginia Tech University, made the first in the series of public presentations, on September 18th, at 4 p.m. in the Class of 1941 Studio for Student Communication, Daniel Hall.

Diana George is currently a Professor of English and Writing Program Administrator at Virginia Tech and has published several books including Reading Culture: Contexts for Critical Reading and Writing (with John Trimbur) and Picturing Texts: Composition in a Visual Age (with Lester Faigley, Anna Palchik, and Cynthia Selfe).

The title of Professor George’s presentation:

When Words Are Not Enough: Visual Communication and the Politics of Telling.”

During her presentation, she discussed visual literacy and multimodal means of learning across all curricula. From incorporating charts and graphs into a scientific report, to re-thinking standard narratives in terms of graphic novels, to analyzing the cultural impact of media images, visual literacy is a key element in the production and communication of knowledge in all disciplines. Teachers should consider explicitly integrating subject-matter visuals into their teaching to provide students with opportunities to both “read” images but also to compose them.

Professor George gives assignments to her classes asking them to create comics or graphically-illustrated arguments from existing texts or arguments. She displayed some of her students’ visual narratives in which images and words work together to tell the story of an argument. As students remediate their narratives or arguments, they learn new ways to express and share ideas as they learn the rhetorical possibilities of their disciplines.

On September 18th, Professor George was a visiting instructor in Art Young’s RCID 813 seminar, a special topics class on communication across the curriculum. She further explored the cultural and rhetorical impact of images in various contexts, and she discussed several of her publications with RCID students. The final half-hour of the seminar was devoted to her experiences in “program administration,” demonstrating the possibilities on integrating into an academic life teaching, research, and program administration.

The two other forthcoming speakers in the series are

Peter Elbow (UMASS), “What Speaking Has that Writing Needs: An Exploration of Modalities.” Monday, October 1, at 4 p.m. and Tuesday, Oct. 2, in the Studio.

Todd Taylor (UNC), “Making Movies: Metamedia for Communication Across the Curriculum.” Monday, October 22, and Tuesday, October 23, at 4 p.m. in the Studio.

~ Art Young


It Was so MUSiCal

September 7, 2007

It was great to work on fellowship at the MUSC Writing Center in Summer 2007. The Medical University of South Carolina contains six colleges and offers programs in medicine, nursing, dentistry, pharmacy, and the allied health professions, as well as courses toward a Ph.D. degree in the basic sciences.  The Writing Center is part of the medical university’s Center for Academic Excellence.  Faculty in the CAE assist students with writing assignments, test taking skills, study skills, etc.  CAE staff also work with clinical and basic science faculty on manuscripts for publication and with some clinical departments on ways to improve learning outcomes, e.g., through greater student reliance on small group collaborations.  As a temporary instructor in the Writing Center, I had a chance to see, and to some extent, participate in many of those activities.  I especially enjoyed working with students on writing assignments and participating in faculty discussions about research, education and communication in the health professions.

It also was possible to do some preliminary research for a dissertation in medical rhetorics, visual communication, and information design.  I attended anatomy classes, radiology lectures, and radiology reading sessions as possible and talked with MUSC faculty about visualizations in clinical education.  I am interested in learning more about how students in the biomedical sciences learn to think spatially and multi-dimensionally about anatomical and cellular phenomena as a preparation for diagnostic thinking – and how digital media can support such teaching and learning.  I am grateful for the opportunity to work at the MUSC Writing Center in Summer 2007 and to reside in Charleston, a very special city, with its wonderful art galleries and museums, architecture, music, places to dine, bridges, coastline views, and above all, hospitality and friendship.

picture of John Dinolfo

~ John Dinolfo

Scholars Gone Wild: Tall Tales of Medical Rhetoric at RSA

September 6, 2007

This summer, I had the opportunity to attend the Medical Rhetoric workshop at the summer institute for the Rhetoric Society of America (RSA) at RPI. Aside from enjoying the cool weather in the mountains of New York (particularly lovely compared to this current blasted heat wave), I spent an intensive three days exploring various conceptions and applications of, and opportunities in, medical rhetoric. Professors Ellen Barton (Wayne State University) and Sue Wells (Temple University) facilitated the workshop, and attendees included a mix of graduate students (MA and PhD) and relatively new faculty from around the country. With about fifteen participants, ours was the biggest workshop at the conference. We also proved to be the most cohesive group, continuing our conversations (academic and otherwise) through breaks, meals, and a memorable dinner cruise on the Hudson. Combine academicians, free drinks, and a DJ, and the results are, well, as I overheard the next morning, “about what you’d expect.” Though we, er, “jammed” to “Bad Case of Loving You,” sadly, no one caught the med rhetors’ sense of humor (“doctor, doctor, give me the news…”).

Back to the important details. Prior to the workshop, we received numerous and varied readings from journals such as Philosophy and Rhetoric, Medical Education, Quarterly Journal of Speech, Journal of Business and Technical Communication, Narrative, and Qualitative Health Research. During the first two days, Professors Barton and Wells led us in discussing the history of med rhet, means of discovering and developing relevant research questions, and specific research methods, such as discourse analysis and archival research. I was particularly drawn to Wells’ work in archival research, especially as I had just finished a fantastic seminar class on theories of archives (RCID 813, The Archive, with Professor Catherine Paul). On Sunday morning (our last meeting time), we each had the opportunity to present our own research, orally and through written proposals, and receive feedback from the group. These projects varied from the undeveloped (vague areas of interest), to works-in-progress (books, dissertations), to further development of research agendas and completed projects (i.e., where to go next?). [I presented my in-progress dissertation, tentatively titled “Composing the Prosthetic Body: Sampling and Remixing Constructions of Flesh and Technology.” Though more theoretically based than others’ work, it was well-received.] We also developed a collection of publication places–a list of journals and publishers that/who are especially interested in different aspects of research in medical rhetoric.

Though I spent nearly as much time driving to and from SC and NY as I did in the workshop (okay, a slight exaggeration), this opportunity was extremely worthwhile. Academically, this solidified and expanded my understanding of the field of medical rhetoric, and inspired several brainstorms of potential future projects. Additionally, I walked away with great resources–the aforementioned publication list as well as bibliographies for medical rhetoric, medical communication, ethics, and research methods. But perhaps most importantly, as is often the case, the personal interactions were the most substantial gain of all. This was an excellent networking opportunity, of course, but more than that, I was inspired by this group of (chronologically and/or experientially) young scholars, guided by our encouraging and notable leaders. These scholars are the next generation of the field, and I look forward to seeing where their/our research leads. I strongly recommend, should the opportunity arise, attending a conference or workshop with a specific focus of your own area of interest. If anyone would like more details on this workshop, contact me at

~ Amanda Booher


Venturing to EGS: A Mountainside of Ideas

September 6, 2007

This summer, June ’07, I had the wonderful opportunity to spend a little over three weeks in Europe, but it wasn’t a “vacation” by any sense of the word. I, along with fellow RCIDer Jason Helms, took six seminars1clairejasonsm.jpg (yes, 18 hours for each of the six in three weeks) in the ‘Media and Communication Division’ of the European Graduate School (EGS), and I must say it was one of the most intense, enriching educational experiences that I have ever encountered. Where else in the world are you going to get the opportunity to take a seminar on film (thinking/creating in film) with film director Claire Denis (pictured: with Jason Helms) and a seminar with Helene Cixous on Helene Cixous (and her intellectual and personal relationship with Jacques Derrida)?

There were other seminar and instructors of equal fascination: we had a seminar on the works of Jean-Francois Lyotard entitled “Hesitating Thought,” which was taught by RCID Director Victor Vitanza; there was a seminar on Media Art (with an emphasis on rethinking the shape/space inside the body) by renowned installation artist/sculptor Antony Gormley; a seminar on Matrixial Borderspace by Bracha Ettinger; and a seminar on Media Culture and Artificial Life by EGS Director Wolfgang Schirmacher.

Each of these seminars had its own dynamic and process, but the conversations they together ignited amongst us students was an exceptionally fertile ground for sprouting ideas. Whether in seminar, at breakfast, lunch, dinner, or in the Metro bar (drinking a Cardinal Lager), there was never a moment to not be actively involved (and invested) in a conversation.

Most of our time in Saas Fee, Switzerland, was spent in seminars or EGS related functions—including evening lecture sessions, which were presentations by faculty at EGS as well as guest speakers/presenters like writer Julian Barnes; philosopher Manuel DeLanda; and artist, musician, and theorist Paul Miller [a.k.a. DJ Spooky]). 2jjnancysm.jpgWe did have some free time each day after lunch, and some days we decided to watch Denis’ films; other days we took in the sauna and hot tub or went for a hike up (and/or down) the beautiful mountain-side (even taking the lift to the top of “an Alp” [stopping to stand next to a glacier] and hiking the hour and twenty minutes back down to the village). And there were several days where afternoon naps were in order and still others where drinks and conversation were the occurrence of the moment (like chatting with Pierre Alferi or Jean-Luc Nancy [J-L F with Jason & me]).

During our time at EGS, we had two scheduled days off. One was an actual day off, but the other included an all day trip to the Biennale in Venice. We arrived in Venice at 8:00am and left that same night at 11:00pm. This trip began the whirlwind part of our EGS stay as we toured the city of Venice on Thursday–including a fantastic meal that evening in some tiny corridor just across the waterway from the San Marco square. The following morning we had breakfast in the Swiss Alps (back in Saas Fee) and then we headed for Paris, ending our day with a lovely dinner at a little bistro a block from the Eiffel Tower.

The Paris part of our EGS experience was not part of the original plan, but Helene Cixous pic of cixous at homewas unable to come to us; however, rather than cancel on us completely, she gave up her monetary compensation to pay for our class to travel to her for a one day seminar and meal in her apartment, which concluded with a in-depth, behind the scenes look at the renowned Theatre du Soleil (for whom Helene has written several plays).

All told, it was a fascinating experience and I met many engaging individuals whom I hope to continue conversations with through the years to come. This opportunity was so unique and so rewarding that I hope all RCIDers get the chance to take advantage of it in coming summers.

~ Justin Hodgson


PS: Here’s a video of various snapshots.