ROOM 1 – Prairie North

ROOM 2 - Prairie Center

ROOM 3 - Prairie South


Transgressions of Identity

Adventures in Babysitting

Lord Byron

Albany / Reinosa

E. Williams / Hicks

Rients / T. Williams / Kerker


This & That

Bates / Poling

Transgressions of Category

Grad School & Parenting


Creative Writing I

Belomoina / Cochran / Pandolfi

Browne et al.

Hellman / Pitman

Lunch Setup


No activity due to lunch

No activity due to lunch

Presenters Lunch

Open time to talk with our guests!


Postcolonial Perpectives

Surviving Grad School

Lunch Clean-Up

Price / Giovagnoli


Disability Studies

Creative Writing II


Scott / Taylor

Mixon-Webster / Sutton

Edel / Wright



Dr. Emily Hipchen


Children & Youth

Multicultural, Multilingual

Experimental Teachers

Viswanath / Parish / Trevarrow

Henderson / Hercula /

Riggert-Keiffer / Hummels /



Strom / Scott

ISUWordsWorth.com – Like Us on Facebook!

Name of First Presenter / Panel Coordinator

Presentation Title

John W Henderson

Arizona House Bill 2281 and Censorship: Slapping a Band-Aid on a Fictional Crisis

Censorship, Latino Threat, discourse analysis

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Censorship is an institutional legal practice that aims to eliminate or phase out content and ideas from the public realm. Paul S Boyer, Hafid Gafaiti, and Nicole Moore have pointed out that censorship has historically been—and is presently—employed by governing agencies with the goal to maintain control over the nation’s citizenry by regulating the production and consumption of ideas. By applying their theories to Arizona House Bill 2281, the infamous “ethnic studies ban” as the legislation has been called, I argue that the Arizona government demonstrates intent to pressure students residing in the state—especially those of Latino decent—to conform to a standard American national identity. 2281 closely resembles the practice of censorship and features the same goals. Analyzing the bill’s rhetoric reveals Arizona’s fears of a takeover and loss of American cultural values. This bill is a response to the notion that Latino immigrants are unwilling to assimilate with the American national community and seek to reclaim their former lands in the U.S. Southwest, a narrative Leo Chavez terms the “Latino Threat” (3-4). HB 2281 ostensibly stamps out ethnic and class resentment and promotes the treatment of people as individuals in schools; however, the very language of the enacted legislation suggests students cast aside their own racial and cultural identity.  By eliminating courses designed for students “of a particular ethnic group” (Arizona 1) legislators will influence the public discourse to be hostile towards ethnic groups such as Latinos, and encourage individuals to adopt a standard American identity.

John M. Price

From Reconquista to Maurophilia: the ‘Last Sigh’ of Washington Irving

Orientalism, Transnationalism, Islam and Early American Literature, Post-colonialism

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        The Reconquista of the Iberian peninsula from Islam by Christianity reached its dramatic conclusion with an incident poetically known as “The Last Sigh of the Moor.” This seminal moment in history brought an end to one culture and inaugurated another; it led to not only a unified and Christian Spain, but eventually the European “discoveries” of the Americas. It was a fledgling republic within this “New World” which gave birth to Washington Irving. His fascination with the lost civilization of Moorish Spain, and lament over the fall of Granada, captured in Tales of the Alhambra, completed the cycle of causality that began and ended with “The Last Sigh.”

Irving may be the best known example of Western enchantment with the “otherness” of Moorish Spain, but he is not unique. This paper suggests that, among others, an equivalent to Irving’s obsession may be found in Lawrence of Arabia (1962). Both Irving and Lawrence came to realize the difficulties involved in cultural assimilation:

LAWRENCE. Look, Ali. (grabs his own skin) That’s me. What color is it? That’s me! And there’s nothing I can do about it.

ALI. A man can do whatever he wants. You said so.

LAWRENCE. He can. But he can’t want what he wants. This (still indicating his skin) is the stuff that decides what he wants.

This paper demonstrates that Irving’s “maurophilia” is not only a common fascination but perhaps even an inevitable characteristic of multiple literary and societal trends, such as Romanticism and Orientalism, and perhaps even pre-figures postcolonial sentiments.

Maclain B. Scott

Staring through Screens: Social Media and the Way(s) We Look

Social contruction of technology; disabilities studies; gaze theory

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Social networking sites currently stand as prominent mediums of communication, ones that rely on and enable various types of looking. But for as reliant as many people are on various platforms, it’s not uncommon for use to carry with it a sense of anxiety, self-loathing, or disconnect. I believe this stems from a desire to simultaneously and paradoxically connect with and keep distance from others. In her book Staring: How We Look, Rosemarie Garland-Thomson sets out to “bring forward the generative rather than the oppressive aspects of staring,” believing staring offers the opportunity for productive discomfort generated by “mutual visual presence.” While Garland-Thomson reconceptualizes staring by challenging the social etiquette surrounding how “normal” people look at “stareable bodies,” I apply aspects of her project to the ways we “look” on social networking sites, questioning how various norms--especially as they relate to presence--enable and inhibit interpersonal communication and connection. From this, I consider the potential effects of transgressing various boundaries of social etiquette, exploring the ways that these trangressions can be both productive and oppressive.

Leigh E. Hellman

Layovers: An Opus

Reading of a Creative Work

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What is it that we leave in the spaces of transit—in the moments when we are neither home nor away, neither here nor there? What possibilities are opened to us in this in-between—possibilities for actions and interactions that we have forbidden from our stationary lives? Drawing from my experiences living and travelling abroad (specifically in Asia) and the social, sexual, racial, economic, cultural, and ethical points of contention that came to significantly define the ways that I thought about myself and the world(s) that I was/am a part of, “Layovers” is a section from a larger episodic work focusing on the parallel physical and mental states of impermanence located in airport terminals, red-eye flights, up-all-night layovers in LED cities, one-nights in cheap hostels, and the pulse of the taboo where anonymity and non-responsibility meet. This particular excerpt is set in Bangkok and pushes against the chokehold of gendered repressive desires and the incongruous norms of a white female tourist who cannot unstrap the legacies of imperialist and colonizing narratives from her body. This piece is relatively short (12 pages, double-spaced) so after the reading the floor could be opened for questions and dialogues that the audience and/or other panel members would like to pursue.

Kayleigh M. Pandolfi

The (Shape) Shifting Identity: Gender Fluidity and the Transforming Body of the Female Werewolf

Film theory, feminist theory, queer theory

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Film theorists—for instance, Walter Evans and Barbara Creed—tend to draw a link between male werewolves and femininity. Their monthly transformations and ability to “birth” a new entity presents an obvious correlation between this duplicitous monster and a woman’s biology. Despite this, female werewolves are left out of the discussion. Even though female monsters in general have provoked a considerable amount of scholarship, so much about the female werewolf remains unexplored.

This paper will consider the female werewolf. Werewolves, though linked with experiences of the female body, are traditionally considered male figures, predominantly due to their socially-associated masculinity. As an abject figure, the female werewolf reveals a social anxiety not seen in the male werewolf: anxieties of gender identity. I will argue in this paper that the female werewolf confronts audiences with a female body which takes on socially constructed masculine characteristics, a body which transgresses as it visibly transcends the socially assumed boundaries of gender.

This paper is not interested in the before-and-after notions of gender, however. Instead, this paper will address the transformation moments themselves regarding two films, Cursed and An American Werewolf in Paris, two films released in the 1990’s, a time which brought challenge to the notions of rigid gender borders. This paper will consider the transformation moments and its relation to the film’s narrative to show how these female characters depict the societal anxieties of the breakdown of traditional gender roles and norms.

David J. Giovagnoli

Books Left Open by Absent Masters: Postcolonial Theory, Classical Reception, and Derek Walcott's <i>Omeros</i>

Classical Reception, Postcolonial Theory

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This presentation aims to do two things: First, it explores the theoretical links between postcolonial theory and classical reception theory, as reflected in the tensions between “reception” and “tradition” in reception studies and between “authenticity” and “hybridity” in postcolonial studies. Second, it applies this theoretical framework to an exegesis of Derek Walcott’s Omeros, a poem which both models and subverts the epic by coopting Homeric forms and borrowing Vergilian themes.

Katie Albany

Transgression in writing on social media

digital literacies

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Transgression in social media and its effects on writing

        The idea for this paper came out of a casual conversation I had with a student who was exhibiting low performance in both reading and writing. In response to my question about his daily activities, the student mentioned that he spent a large chunk of his time on social networking sites, such as Facebook, mostly reading posts and sometimes responding. This paper aims to explore violations of regulatory norms in writing, that would not even be conceivable without social media. In a world that is becoming predominantly digital, social media is influencing interactions and is dictating the form those interactions take. Responses on social media for the most part show use of critical thinking skills reflected in evaluation of posts, the awareness of bias and the form the response takes. By creating a space that brings together people of different skills, backgrounds, understandings, beliefs and so on, social media has the potential of advancing and expanding our thinking and understanding; but, what is happening to language?

Language on social media is cryptic for the most part and new abbreviations are invented and reinvented every day. This new form of shorthand writing is functional, economical, transactional and exclusionary. More than anything, it relieves the pressures of conventional spelling and grammar. On the other hand, encrypted words acquire a new spelling. The immediacy of the writing shifts the focus from grammatical correctness to the quality of the information being communicated. Writing is first and foremost a social practice. Thus by engaging with social media, the new generation is enacting its own agency in redefining the terms of communication and, by that token, writing. Our challenge as writing instructors is to learn how to design activities that make use of that space and re-evaluate what we consider acceptable or not acceptable in writing.    

Cristina Sanchez-Martin

Code-meshing: Indexing Alternative Discourses in Academic Writing


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The aim of this paper is to look at language ideologies in relation to academic writing and to discuss whether or not the strategy of code-meshing indexes alternative discourses, as some scholars have recently argued (Canagarajah, 2013). With this discussion, I will try to contribute to the many debates about language ideologies that have been object of scholarly research. Since most of the literature in language ideologies refers to spoken language (Lippi-Green, 2012), my goal is to expand on already existing theories about language ideologies in relation to academic writing, which until a few years ago had been neglected. In my opinion, language ideologies towards written genres and, most particularly in academic contexts, are very subtle and are so embedded in the academy that finding instances of ideologies becomes an arduous task for the researcher. Moreover, the reactions of readers towards writing are not immediate to the production process in most cases.

Tharini Viswanath

“I’ve seen worse”: Monsters and angels in trauma fiction for adolescents

Children's Literature

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This paper examines the occurrence of fantastic creatures and their function in fantastic-realist trauma fiction for adolescents. In particular, this paper focuses on two British novels: A Monster Calls (2011) by Patrick Ness and Skellig (1998) by David Almond. For the purpose of this paper, ‘sacred’ represents (social) structures that are steadfast and deep-rooted, which an adolescent can trust to get him through hard times: the family, religion and medicine.

Adolescence is that phase in a person’s life, characterized by “internal turmoil, storm and stress” (Hilton and Nikolajeva, 2012). The stress intensifies when the adolescent anticipates or experiences the death of a loved one. Coats (2007), Trites (1998) and Norbury (2012) have established that the key to identity and overcoming grief in Young Adult literature is the protagonist establishing a meaningful connection with the people around him. However, in the contemporary society embodied by the crumbling family structure and loss of religion, how does the lone adolescent deal with adversities? I argue that in trauma fiction, monsters and angels can be interpreted as projections of the human psyche, summoned to defend the protagonist from the trauma he suffers in real life.

This paper draws on children’s literature scholarship, as well as psychoanalytic trauma theory, primarily Caruth (1996) and Leys (2009), and on the theories of the fantastic, to better understand the characters of the Monster and Skellig in A Monster Calls and Skellig respectively. Using these theorists, I explore the reasons behind the appearance of the fantastic in the primary texts and the mediums through which they are communicated: dreams, art and intertextuality. I conclude with a coda which contains an examination of how the fantastic in fantastic-realist trauma fiction prepares its adolescent readers for the maturity of adulthood and the loss of innocence.

Cody H. Parish

Depicting the Child and Child Abuse: Tracing Ray Bradbury’s Influences on Stephen King’s Fiction

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Since his early publishing success and rise to international fame, critics and scholars have spent considerable time comparing the prose of horror author Stephen King to that of his genre predecessors Lovecraft and Poe. Scholars have paid little attention, however, to the influence of the late science fiction writer, Ray Bradbury, on King’s fiction, despite King’s assertion that “[w]ithout Ray Bradbury, there would be no Stephen King” (qtd. in Buckley xii). The purpose of this presentation will be to trace parallels between the short fiction of Bradbury and King, specifically narrative elements, depictions of the child, and the theme of child abuse. My analysis will encompass Bradbury’s stories, “The October Game” and “Let’s Play ‘Poison,’” and King’s stories, “The Boogeyman” and “Suffer the Little Children.” Although the content of this presentation will not transgress trends in contemporary academic research on King’s corpus of work, I believe it necessary to return and explore this neglected thread of criticism, as scholars like Don Herron have noted that King often reworks material from his short stories later into his novels (63). Therefore, the implications of this investigation weigh heavily on tracing the thematic trajectory of many of King’s most popular novels up through present day.

Eric Pitman

Sex Carnival: Using Queer Studies To Radically Problematize Heteronormative Protagonists and Archetypes

This paper is heavily influenced by the work of many Queer Theorists.

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Benjamin has been to the carnival many times, but on this particular outing, he hopes to fulfill his aims of receiving the blessing of a womb from the heralded King. In doing so, he will be required to “pass” through multiple roles, activities, and judgments by those with the power to determine whether or not he is worthy.

This work of fiction concerns the social, cultural, and historical forces which impinge upon and predicate the formation of gender. From those assertions, gender is constructed as a dramaturgical play between identity, interaction, and institution, in which the character must enter into a power struggle with deterministic forces that began the moment conception in the womb occurred. Additionally, this work aims to disentangle the interpellative forces attached to Motherhood and pregnancy from biological sex. It seeks to formulate a narrative account which articulates the impact of ideological, institutional heteronormative exemplarism upon the bodies and minds of the radically queer and non-normative--those defined by such exemplars and institutions as “undesired,” “unlovable,” and “undeserving of life.” In order to articulate these impacts, this work engages in a rhetoric which partners extreme ultra-violence, pervasive hedonistic sexual behavior (hedonistic as defined by the White-Supremacist, Imperialist, Capitalist, Heterosexual, Christian gaze), and the expulsion and exchange of body-products, in a fashion reminiscent of Chaucerian scatology. These aims are executed with hyperbolic utility for the purpose of unveiling (through radical, excessive parody and ridicule) the heteronormative “law” which binds the performance of gender on the prognosis of repetitious citation of norms. In addition, it aims to fruitfully harm, disgust, fascinate, affect, and ultimately, challenge its reader to question the traditionally accepted role of the protagonist within the conventional narrative storytelling practices deployed by the majority of literary works of fiction.

Jeff Rients, Taylor Williams, Shelly Kerker

The Many Lives of Lord Byron

authorship, authority, authenticity

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Shelly Kerker examines how publishers John Murray and William Hone used the “Byron brand” for their professional and political benefit.  With a focus on the official and unofficial publications of Lord Byron’s Separation Poems, the traditional relationship of author and publisher is challenged, and instead can be viewed instead as a symbiotic relationship.

The traditional view of author and publisher requires the author to provide the written work, while the publisher sells the work.  When examining the multiple publications of Byron’s Separation Poems, Kerker demonstrates how Hone and Murray actually needed each other and Byron to accomplish their goals.

Taylor Williams examines the methods we have used to construct Byron in relation to his public persona, referring to scholarship from the field of Life Writing to explore the reasons for constructing a persona when endeavoring to tell the story of one’s life. This scholarship helps to explain not only why Byron might have contrived a persona for interactions in his public sphere, but also inspects the different versions of the poet we construct to suit our own scholarly purposes.

Williams examines these constructed personas in relation to the way Byron was situated in—and often felt displaced from—his own world and the public’s perception of him. Byron’s dark allure is often examined in relation to his Byronic Heroes’ wearisome brooding.  Neither was based on the other, but rather that both were constructed from the same characteristics in an effort to keep others at a controllable distance, safely concealing his sinister self.

Jeff Rients argues that, in the case of Lord Byron, the traditional model of authorship breaks down spectacularly.  Relying on network theory and object oriented ontology, Rients argues for an alternative network-based model of authorship in which the man George Gordon exists as only one node in a larger landscape from which the aggregate figure Lord Byron emerges.  This alternative model allows us to trace the influences in the Byron network free of the blinding light of his celebrity.

Julie C. Bates

Staring Back: Toward a Different Way of Seeing the Environment

feminist studies, disability studies, environmental rhetoric, visual rhetoric

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Many people dispute the abundance of scientific, photographic, narrative, and embodied evidence that anthropogenic climate change, pollution, and other environmental harms are negatively affecting the Earth and its human and nonhuman occupants. In this paper, I argue that we need a new way of thinking about and looking at the environment, one that persuades people to enact more ethical relations with the land. Toward this end, an opportunity lies in putting Rosemarie Garland-Thomson’s book "Staring: How We Look" into conversation with other feminist disability studies scholarship (Dolmage; Kafer; Lewiecki-Wilson) and feminist and environmental rhetoric scholarship (Killingsworth and Palmer; Pezzullo; Dobrin and Morey’s Ecosee) in order to explore the possibilities for rethinking how we “see” the environment. Presentation attendees will be invited to engage in the exercise of looking at images of the land in order to make visible how the types of staring Garland-Thomson explores—including the blank stare, paying attention, and baroque staring—come into play in relation to images that run the gamut from the beautiful and grotesque to the mundane. This paper concludes by engaging audience members in a brief discussion designed to spark an interest in a new way of looking at the environment: Is it possible to engage in a “mutually vivifying visual dance” with the land around us? What happens if we approach a visual encounter with the environment—whether in person or via images portraying it—with Garland-Thomson’s willingness to see the productive/generative power of unknowing?

Deb Riggert-Kieffer, Dan Hummels, Kristen Strom, Maclain Scott

Experimental teachers teaching teaching experiments to experimental teachers who aren't afraid to teach experimentally.

Rhetorical Genre Theory and Cultural Historical Activity Theory

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This panel discussion builds on rhetorical genre theory and cultural- historical activity theory frameworks to explore the pedagogical practices of creating writing researchers in K-12 classrooms. In traditional K-12 education focused on meeting the Common Core State Standards for writing instruction, creating writing researchers is transgressive practice. This pedagogical approach opens up the space of the writing classroom to investigate multiple genres though the examination of the activities encompassing these production(s). In order to provide a context for comparison, we will contrast traditional writing instruction with a pedagogical approach focused on creating writing researchers.  

Elizabeth Williams, Amy Hicks

Adventures in Babysitting: Transgressive Acts of Child-Minding in Children’s Literature

Children's Lit

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Mrs. McTwitter the baby-sitter,

I think she’s a little bit crazy.

She thinks baby-sitter’s supposed

To sit upon the baby.

~Shel Silverstein

Babysitting is a notorious site of transgression. From Dr. Seuss’s Cat in the Hat to Shel Silverstein’s Mrs. McTwitter, babysitters allow and encourage rebellion against parental rules. The babysitter is often figured as a teen who is granted permission to temporarily cross the border of between childhood and adulthood as they supervise other children. These negotiations of power often result in fun and adventure but they can also result in danger and fear.

In this presentation, we will explore the transgressive presence of the male babysitter in children’s literature. This shift in the sex of caregivers perpetuates various anxieties by disrupting and calling into question traditional gender dichotomies. For this presentation, we will examine these disruptions of gender schema and the transgressive presence of supernatural male babysitters, as seen in Ann Hodgman’s My Babysitter Is a Vampire series (1991-5), the Teletoon made-for-TV movie My Babysitter’s a Vampire (2010), and the Teletoon television series of the same name (2011-present). I demonstrate how the adolescent caregivers’ supernatural abilities reflect cultural anxieties surrounding deviant--both because of its dangerous and non-normative qualities--masculinities. Rather than reflect a singular concern about who (or what) is minding the children, these texts indicate a fear-ridden preoccupation about male adolescence more broadly.

The second portion of our presentation demonstrates the power that this preoccupation carries. We will explore the rhetorical power of silence in the relationship between an adolescent male c and his nanny. In E. L. Konisburg’s Silent to the Bone, the central mystery of the novel revolves around what really happened when Branwell’s infant sister is injured while in the care of the nanny. I demonstrate that a rhetorical reading of this novel highlights the power yielded by the babysitter and the ways that silence works to both suppress and express communications of power.

Irene Taylor

“Chronic Illness and the Older Adult: An Examination of Disability Studies through the Lens of Ageism”

Disability Studies and Age Related Studies

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In my paper I reflect on the physical, psychological, and financial challenges faced by the older adult coping with chronic illness in society today. For all the anti-aging products on the market that would tell us otherwise, aging is the one “problem” that cannot be fixed. Couple that with a healthcare system whose costs are spiraling out of control and a medical model based on “fixing the problem,” we are left with major flaws in how this society provides treatment to the older adult with chronic illness. Using scholarly research in the fields of Disability Studies and Age Related Studies, I explore this issue and argue for further study in a concerted effort to bring the two fields together. Ellen Samuels offers insights on “coming out” and “passing” as they relate to the older adult with invisible disabilities while Lerita Coleman Brown explores the concept of stigma and how stigmatization impacts the care offered by the medical community. But finally, and most importantly, is how ageism presents itself in some of the most prominent scholarly works today. For example, in Susan Wendell’s discussion of healthy and unhealthy chronic illness she writes that “. . . old people with chronic illnesses may be seen to be entitled to rest until they die.” I would argue the opposite is true. “Rest” for those who find themselves financially impoverished and shut out of the medical community in later years is not a luxury they enjoy but a respite they are denied.

Lucy N Belomoina

The Impact of Teacher's Written Feedback on Students' Revision of GWRJ Articles

genre studies/CHAT theory, revision, written feedback

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In the Fall 2014, I taught Composition as Critical Inquiry for the first time. I particularly was interested in the impact of written feedback on students’ revision of their writing. One assignment in my course required students to write an article for Grassroots Writing Research Journal. This journal publishes articles that investigate the practices of people composing in different rhetorical situations in a variety of different genres or articles that investigate the nuances of particular genres in terms of how they are made, who makes them, their distinctive features, who uses them and why, and how these genres do a particular kind of communicative work in the world. In this respect, it is crucial that students understand the genre of GWRJ. Last semester, as my students composed their articles for GWRJ, many fell into the mode of "success narratives", which is GRWJ finds to be problematic. This experience led me to reflection on how successfully I provided written feedback for my students’ rough drafts. I’d like to share how teachers can increase the impact of their written feedback on students’ writing. A thoughtful feedback can ‘open a writer’s eyes’ on where he or she should improve upon, which is decisive for both understanding the genre better and producing a successful piece in that genre. With this in mind, the main question guiding my study is the following: “In the genre studies curriculum, what is the impact of teacher written feedback designed to assist college freshmen to revise a journal article?”

Kenny Reinosa

Transgression, Social Identity and Accommodation Theory Implications for Hispanic Non-Native English Speakers

Howard Giles´ Communication Accommodation Theory, Henri Tajfel´s Social Identity Theory

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I would like to address sociolinguistic aspects of cross-cultural communication from Hispanic Non-Native English Speakers (NNES) in classroom settings. Regarding transgression, I find it appropriate to address social psychologist Henri Tajfel´s Social Identity Theory (SIT) and Howard Giles´ Communication Accommodation Theory (CAT). The former states speakers identify with multiple identities among which some are more salient or idiosyncratic than others for group identification and acceptance. The latter describes the process through which interlocutors adapt speech and attitude consciously or unconsciously intending to converge/diverge social distance. Both theories inform my description of transgression notions from a Hispanic NNES’s perspective. I have focused on the classrooms as they provide perfect scenario for peer and authority interaction. In the presentation, I will discuss professor and classmate perception roles and relate them to word choice by Hispanic students. By the way, in order to prevent ambiguity, it must be noticed that I have specified my viewpoint as a Hispanic NNES since there are Hispanic people whose native language is English regardless of their parents´ languages. There are also bilingual Hispanic English Speakers, but as they grow up in an English speaking country, the cultural notion of classroom roles leaves their ethnicity irrelevant as their classroom interaction is not different from those students who are not Hispanic. However, I will focus on students who have learned English as a Foreign Language; and as a result of the cultural baggage in which they grew up, their word choice and teacher expectations is different from USA-based schooling.

Sarah E. Hercula

Investigating Intersections between Non-Native English Speakers and Speakers of Nonstandard Englishes

sociolinguistics, second language acquisition

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This study examines the linguistic and literacy experiences, practices, and attitudes of two groups of graduate students: (1) students whose first language is not a variety of English, commonly referred to as non-native English speakers, and (2) students whose first language is a nonstandard variety of English, that is, a dialect of English associated with a particular social/cultural group of people and/or geographical region, often popularly viewed as inferior to standard English. The primary research questions considered include the following: (1) Do the two groups have a similar set of experiences and challenges in learning how to speak and write in both their home languages and in (standard) English? (2) Do the two groups develop similar practices with and attitudes toward the use of their home languages and (standard) English in their speaking and writing? I have investigated these two populations of speakers/writers by conducting interviews with graduate students whose backgrounds suggest their belonging to one of these two groups. An analysis of the studies reveals that there are some significant similarities between the two groups, both in terms of their linguistic and literacy practices and in terms of their attitudes towards linguistic diversity. In other words, this study suggests that learning standard English is not unlike the experience of learning an entirely new language. Furthermore, these similarities suggest the need for educational reform in order to meet the needs of these linguistically diverse student populations and to promote more positive experiences and attitudes for students with complex linguistic backgrounds.

Michelle C Wright

Dueling Rhetorics in the Month of April: The Silent (and Not-So-Silent) Battle for Rhetorical Authority in Child Abuse Prevention and Autism Awareness Discourses

Rhetorical Theory (Duffy, Perelman and Olbrechts-Tyteca, Marback) and Critical Discourse Analysis (Fairclough, Wodak, Meyer, Huckin) as well as Activity Systems Theories (Russell) and Foucault's work on power relations in confessional cultures

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How are children, especially children with “silent” disabilities, a text, a visual rhetoric read/misread by the public? How do these literate practices not only encourage a reading/misreading of a child’s condition, but also empower American citizens to boundary-crossing outrage that helps neither the parent nor the child? This transgressive, multimodal presentation explores the vilification of mothers in public spaces and aims to demonstrate how national discourses for child abuse prevention and for autism awareness, both acknowledged legislatively (and ironically) in the month of April, are, in fact, dueling rhetorics. This is a paradoxical battle of rhetorical authority set in a dynamic constellation of socially-fraught exchanges, prompting the public to act out against parents/caregivers, who are defined by these literate practices, particularly in their negotiated use, denial, and re-situation of them. Part of the case studies involved are personal, blurring the genres of life writing and rhetorical studies, in that I map out the “power of spoken and written discourse” (Fairclough) via social and historical contextualizing with the goal of explicating the public representations that have both enabled and constrained me. Using Rhetorical (Duffy, Perelman and Olbrechts-Tyteca, Marback) and Critical Discourse Analysis (Fairclough, Wodak, Meyer, Huckin) as well as Activity Systems Theories (Russell) and Foucault's work on power relations in confessional cultures, I am actively participating in these contingent and ever-changing texts that have defined and continue to redefine our reality, which points to the mechanisms that can bring about social and political change, giving me in the end resounding hope.

Olga Cochran

Gendered Language Ideologies in Mainstream American Humor

Ideological and linguistic aspects of humor produced by male and female comedians

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The current study of gendered humor pursues three main objectives.The first research objective is to identify the main mechanisms of humor production and reception influenced by gender ideologies. The second objective is to problematize the issues of humor gendering and highlight the paradox of humor contained in the fact that not only humor breaks the chain of stereotypical gender perceptions but also serves to maintain the existing stereotypes. The last but not the least, is the attempt to identify major shifts in humorous discourse caused by changes in gender ideologies through time. The evidence to support my arguments will be taken from the scholarly resources on humor theory, from historical and socio-cultural research on the major ideological tendencies in popular culture. Several items of popular comedy will be used to illustrate the aforementioned statements.

In order to set up the theoretical background for further conceptualization, the study will introduce the major linguistic theories of humor and tie them to the notion of ideology. The current research perceives theoretical cohesion between the linguistic and ideological aspects of humor production and appreciation as fundamental. The intent of this academic pursuit is to support the argument that the existing principles of humor production and reception are grounded not only in the structural, sematic, and communicative aspects of language but in language ideologies as well.

The study will familiarize the reader with the key components of humor gendering and how it was utilized, taken advantage of or resisted within the context of humorous discourse. References to the history of gender ideology in American society will allow to track the main twists of ideological formation and tension which inspired new forms and functions for gendered humor.

The paper will look at the ideological debate between Christopher Hitchens and Alessandra Stanley around the question whether or not women are funny, which had resonance not only in the world of popular journalism but also in academic world. The study will consider two monologues by male comedians Tom Simmons and Hall Sparks about the inverted use of the ideologically loaded and indexically marked words “pussy”, “vagina” and “balls” used as teaser and insults in humorous discourse among males. The monologues will be used to illustrate the way basic linguistic and ideological concepts work within the process of humor production with the genre of stand-up comedy. In the discussion section of the paper Sarah Silverman would be added to the list of comedic representations which, on the one hand, commodify gender ideology for their own benefit and, at the same, violate stereotypical expectations and stand their feminist ground in order to annoy those who have balls to insists that “Chicks aint’ funny” (Rebellious Humor, 1997).

Jonah Mixon-Webster, Benjamin Sutton

Transgressing the Perception of Language and the Spoken/Speaking Self: A Poetry Reading and Conversation

Post-Modernism, Language and Subjectivity

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In this panel, first-year Ph.D. poets Benjamin Sutton and Jonah Mixon-Webster present both newly written collaborative and individual poems which arise from larger works in progress.

The collaborative work focuses on language as both meaning-making and abstraction material, and the way in which self-hood is constructed for the body in narratively receptive and projective states. Receptive in the sense that one cannot help the experiential narrative that happens on their body at any given interval as it permeates and is permeated. The projective (whose trajectory is always ultimately reflexive) is the way the individual aids in the construction the narrative associated to their bodies. This collaborative project explores how the transmission/translation of narrative acts work in the performance and (de)formation of the self. Ultimately, the work aims to allow the self to interact with and navigate through both the personal and the collective language residuum.

After the reading, panelists will have a brief discussion of their poetic concerns and will take questions from the attending audience.  

Andrew J Trevarrow

Queering Childhood and the Literary Body

material feminism, queer theory, psychoanalysis, reader response

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“Queering ‘Adolescence’ and the Literary Body”

The discontents of a text can be seen as those discursive threads that run through the narrative that cannot be neatly resolved or bound by closure…these spaces open out ways for reading the implicit and explicit ways in which change can be a means for denaturalizing gender, sex, and sexuality, for introducing an acceptance of diversity, and for disrupting fixity of self-identification and community (127, 146).

—Kerry Mallan, “Queer Spaces in a Straight World”

While imaginative texts like J. M. Barrie's Peter and Wendy enchant the lives of readers and offer them alternative realities in fantastical realms, many contemporary authors strive to create queer spaces for self-determination, such as in Benjamin Alire Saenz' Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. Children’s literature that privileges only normative embodiments of identity instead re-produces young adult readers’ subject positions in terms of the dominant discourses; as an example, then, heteronormative texts repress queer adolescents’ agency and materiality. However, to foster ethical conversations about Children’s literature, society must first examine both child and adolescent constructs, as well as their historical intersections with the discourses of race, gender, and sexuality—all common, traumatic sites of erasure on queer bodies. The following sections endeavor to explore children’s and adolescent texts, e.g., Peter and Wendy and Aristotle and Dante, as they disclose culturally-bound gender and orientation prescripts, while queering the construct of adolescence itself.

Brad Poling

"Franzen, Freedom, and the New Protest Novel"

post-postmodernism, postmodernism

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Abstract: This essay examines Jonathan Franzen's place in the emerging "post-postmodern" literary landscape, which hosts numerous problematic terms like hyperrealism, speculative realism, tragic realism, and hysterical realism. By using Stephen J. Burn's post-postmodern schema described in Jonathan Franzen at the End of Postmodern alongside De Villo Sloan’s “The Decline of American Postmodernism,” “Franzen, Freedom, and the New Protest Novel” seeks to establish Franzen’s most recent novel, Freedom, apart from the post-postmodern trajectory containing authors such as Don DeLillo, David Foster Wallace, and Richard Powers. By charting the divergences in Freedom from Burn’s schema, “The New Protest Novel” seeks to dissociate Franzen’s work from traditional postmodern metanarratives and place the novel within the 20th century trajectory of the protest novel. To complete this comparison, I chart the use of metanarration, ecocriticism, punk rock lyrics, pop culture allusions, and chronological disruptions within the novel in order to distinguish Freedom from Sloan and Burn’s respective theories. The essay hinges upon a juxtaposition between Franzen’s novel and an essential protest novel of the 20th century: John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath. At the risk of sounding absurd, the essay destabilizes assumptions of narrative experimentation as a fundamentally post- and post-postmodern venture by examining the metanarrative within Steinbeck’s novel, finding similarities between the two novels’ self-referential narrative structures and use of shifting narrative perspectives. This comparison offers an alternative trajectory by which to understand the evolution of Franzen’s work as well as the emerging neorealist genre.

Ryan Edel

Toward a Theory of Writing: Raúl Sánchez and the Future of RhetComp

Raúl Sánchez, Rhetoric and Composition

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The first semester writing course remains one of the few courses almost universally required on college campuses. However, Rhetoric and Composition Studies occupies a tenuous position within the humanities. Often positioned as a “service” discipline, RhetComp faces real challenges in not only articulating theories of writing, but it having these often pedagogy-driven theories accepted as epistemic contributions to knowledge-making. In calling for a new theory of writing, Raúl Sánchez attempts to assert a new independence for RhetComp. He portrays writing not as a hermeneutic reflection of reality or knowledge, but rather as a “discursive circulation” (4) that takes place within the phenomenological framework of “paradigmatic” activity. According to Sánchez, such activity does not implicitly create “knowledge,” but rather creates texts which are privileged in accordance with “tactical” and “rhetorical” decisions which reflect the usefulness of individual texts as they interact within an ongoing activity of “knowing” (31-32). This presentation describes and problematizes Sánchez’s approach, exploring whether or not it’s possible to fully disconnect writing from the physical act of composition and the critical traditions which see writing as an interpretative rather than a paradigmatic activity.

Kate Browne

There is No Correct Answer: Passing and Failing as a Grad Student Parent

grad school parenting roundtable

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DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince argue in their 1988 rap hit “Parents Just Don’t Understand” that “parents are the same no matter time nor place.” An informal survey of grad student parents in the English Department at ISU suggests that despite broad diversity in family composition and academic specialization, grad school parents are in fact all the same. Fierce competition for resources, job market anxieties, and competing forces of “guilt” ground the experience of parenting while in graduate school. This roundtable, comprised of panel members who either became parents during grad school or started their graduate program as a parent, will focus on how all grad school parents enact multiple professional and personal transgressions, and how these transgressions can challenge the constructs of both the “good” parent and the “good” scholar.

Some questions for discussion:

•        What does it mean to transgress the boundaries of work and home?

•        In raising children and pursing a graduate degree, a heavy emphasis is placed on achieving “milestones.” How has this narrative impacted your assessment of your own success?

•        How do you negotiate the demands of academic culture with parenting culture?

•        What has been your proudest or most rewarding moment as a grad school parent?

•        How do you answer the question, “should I have kids in grad school?”