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  • Reflecting on Jeff Rice's "Craft Identities"

    Last week, we were pleased to welcome to campus Jeff Rice, Professor of Writing, Rhetoric, and Digital Studies at the University of Kentucky. Professor Rice’s talk, “Craft Identities,” was part of the 2015-2016 CWS Colloquium Speaker Series. To say that Rice’s talk was about craft beer would be like saying Discipline and Punish is about prisons. It is and it isn’t. Taking craft beer as a kind of carabiner, Rice’s talk weaved through anecdotal repetitions, interruptions, and multiple beginnings, a kind of Burkean perspective by incongruity that demonstrated how identities are crafted across print, digital, and material spaces.  In “One Always Fails in Speaking of What One Loves,” Roland Barthes writes “Music constitutes a kind of primal state of pleasure: it produces a pleasure one always tries to recapture but never to explain; hence, it is the site of the pure effect, a central notion of the Stendhalian aesthetic.” If music is the degree zero in Stendahl’s Italian system, beer may be said to be the degree zero of Rice’s craft network, both signifying and producing anecdotes, identities, relationships, events.

    While there was much to reflect on in this talk (especially as someone who is herself both constructing and constructed by the network of craft beer), I find myself repeatedly returning to the role of the personal in Rice’s work, the way he stitches together pleasure, surprise, and desire with the logics and narrative gestures of both craft beer and social media. He says, “In this sense, I’m also searching for an identity outside of an industry’s identity: mine, and that of experiences that I want to share. I call this identity a “craft identity,” for it is based in the logic of craft beer, consumption shaping a sense of who I am, as well as social media, that RateBeer experience that marks my initiation into shared participation. The basis of a transmedia identity is that various items that shape who I am come from disparate sites and create conflicting, almost mythic meanings.” Through what he elsewhere calls “personal weaving,”   Rice not only explained, but performed this craft identity, through interruptions and contagions of grand narratives and by scanning not for the confident ethos of grand narratives, but for “the mystical and mythical nature of craft relationships.”

    If you'd like to listen to "Craft Identities," a recording is available to stream in the CWS Colloquium Archive

  • WAM Professional Development with Professor Jeff Rice

    During Jeff Rice’s recent visit to the Center for Writing Studies, he met with current instructors of the Center’s Writing Across Media class for breakfast and conversation at Courier Café. Over always-amazing eggs and hash browns, WAM instructors Annie Kelvie, Katherine Flowers, and Kaia Simon shared our approaches and experiences teaching WAM with one of the scholars whose scholarly work influences the course.


  • Upcoming Talks and Events on Campus

    Upcoming talks and events on campus include: 

    Lunch-time talk by Dr. Carolyn Wisniewski, Director of the U of I Writers Workshop.  The talk is about a study about the development of teaching knowledge and practice among twelve novice graduate teaching assistants (GTAs) of college composition. [Wed Nov. 18th @ Noon -> English Building 107A]

    Talk by Tom McNamara titled “'Burning Dollars': Chinese Undergraduates and Investment in the US Writing Classroom" [Thurs Nov. 19h @ 4pm -> GSLIS 126]


  • Writing Across Media

    We have four sections of our Writing Across Media class going strong this semester. Learn more about this innovative undergratuate class at The course fulfills the University's Advanced Composition requirement, along with over 100 other classes on campus. 


  • Sixth Annual Gesa Kirsch Graduate Student Symposium

    The Center for Writing Studies conference planning committee invites proposals for the Sixth Annual Gesa Kirsch and Center for Writing Studies Graduate Student Symposium held on Friday, April 24, 2015 from 8:30am-4:30pm. Graduate students from all departments are welcome to present on topics of interest within writing, literacy, discourse, rhetoric, education, and communication. The symposium is a supportive conference where graduate students can present and receive feedback from a small, interested group of peers and faculty.

    We encourage a range of presentation types, from traditional papers to multimodal, performative, reflective, or experimental projects. Please send a title and short abstract (100-200 words) to Kaia Simon ( by April 3, 2015. Specify your preference for either a 10- or 20-minute presentation and any restrictions on your availability for April 24.

    Both Breakfast and lunch will be provided.We look forward to seeing you at the Symposium!

  • CWS@4C15

    The 2015 Conference on College Composition and Communication is fast approaching, and we are so proud of the many scholars affiliated with the Center for Writing Studies who will be participating in workshops, roundtables, panels, and poster sessions. For a list of CWS faculty, graduate students, and alumni who will be presenting papers at 4Cs this year, please visit the CWS Blog by clicking on the title above. See you in Tampa!



  • From the Director: Welcome and Good News

    As we begin the 2014-2015 academic year, we have many exciting announcements to share with the CWS community. First, we have an engaging line up of visiting and residential speakers for our Colloquium and Brown Bag series. In Fall 2014, we look forward to visits by Sandra Jamieson of Drew University, whose visit is co-sponsored by the Undergraduate Rhetoric Program and who will present at the Colloquium on September 29th. We also look forward to a visit from Christine Tardy of the University of Arizona, who is scheduled to give a talk at the Colloquium on October 23rd. In Spring 2014, our scheduled Colloquium speakers are Scott Wible of the University of Maryland, and Marcelle Haddix of Syracuse University.

    Brown bag sessions in Fall 2014 will be on teaching in our WAM (Writing Across Media) program (September 17), as well as talks by two new English faculty and Core and Affiliate CWS faculty, respectively: Visiting Assistant Professor John Gallagher (October 1) and Assistant Professor Eric Pritchard (November 12). We round out our semester of brown bag events with a talk by Postdoctoral Fellow in Writing and New Learning Ecologies Anna Smith (October 15). All our brown bags are Wednesdays from 12-1 PM in English Building Room 228; bring your lunch and join us for some great conversations!

    We also want to celebrate the new faculty positions of three Writing Studies students who completed their PhD work in Spring 2014. These are Sonia Kline (Assistant Professor of Elementary Education at Illinois State University), Ligia Mihut (Lecturer at Barry University), and Andrea Olinger (Assistant Professor of English at the University of Louisville). Please join me in congratulating these graduates on their new positions!

    In other good news, two CWS graduate students were honored in May 2014 at the Rhetoric Society of America annual conference in San Antonio for their scholarly work: Katie Irwin (Gerard A. Hauser Award for “From Mob Violence to Violence against Women: Lynching Appropriation and the Case of PUMA”) and Pamela Saunders (Gerard A. Hauser Award for “Disabling Counterpublics: Examining Competing Discourses of Autism Advocacy in the Public Sphere”). Our new colleague Eric Pritchard was also honored with the first CCCC Lavender Award for LGBT scholarship, based on his “For Colored Kids Who Committed Suicide, Our Outrage Isn't Enough: Queer Youth of Color, Bullying, and the Discursive Limits of Identity and Safety” which appeared in the Summer 2013 issue of Harvard Educational Review. Last but certainly not least, our colleague Catherine Prendergast was honored with a prestigious Guggenheim fellowship for her project, Writer, Painter, Banker, Thief: The American Arts Colony in the Public Account.

    In still more good news, we have four new English department graduate students who have joined our ranks in the CWS program, and our Writing Studies concentration. These are M.A. students Alison Kranek, Maria Carvajal Regidor, and Paul Beilstein, and Ph.D. student Evin Groundwater. We happily welcome these four to our CWS community!

    Finally, as I assume the position of interim director of CWS for this year, I want to thank outgoing CWS director Paul Prior (who is now on sabbatical—best wishes, Paul!) for his kind support and guidance in helping me make the transition to this position, as well as my other CWS colleagues—particularly staff member Amy Rumsey, who has also provided me with infinitely patient assistance. Leading both CWS and the Undergraduate Rhetoric Program will be a formidable challenge, but one I welcome, as I hope this temporary union will allow us to create an even greater culture of writing at UIUC from the first year through graduate levels. 

  • Gesa E. Kirsch CWS Graduate Student Symposium

    The Center for Writing Studies conference planning committee invites proposals for the 5th Annual Gesa E. Kirsch CWS Graduate Student Symposium, April 25, 2014, from 8:30 am-4:30 pm. Graduate students from all departments are welcome to present on topics of interest within writing, literacy, discourse, rhetoric, education, and communication. The symposium is a supportive conference where graduate students can present and receive feedback from a small, interested group of peers and faculty.

    We encourage a range of presentation types, from traditional papers to multimodal, performative, reflective, or experimental projects.  Please send a title and short abstract (100-200 words) to Kaia Simon ( by April 4, 2014. Specify your preference for either a 10- or 20-minute presentation.

    Additionally, one session of the Symposium will provide an opportunity for small-group workshops. This workshop session is designed to be a writing group experience for graduate students to get feedback on written work, including seminar papers and/or upcoming conference papers. To participate, contact Kaia Simon ( by April 4, 2014.

    Breakfast and lunch will be provided.

  • Good News from CWS

    It is not always easy to find good news in any medium, but we have a lot to share as the new semester starts. This fall, CWS is looking forward to visits by Mary Juzwik, who will present at the Colloquium on October 24 and the University of Illinois Writing Project Fall Conference on October 26, and Maisha (Fisher) Winn, who will present at the colloquium on December 5. CWS is also co-sponsoring a visit by James Gee, who will talk on new literacies and video games, at the Symposium on Activity-Based Approaches to Communication, October 5. Kaitlin Marks-Dubbs and Ligia Mihut will present their dissertation work at a Graduate Research Forum on October 17. We are looking forward to colloquia by Jordynn Jack and Brian Street in the spring.  

    I am also happy to announce that we have a new Core Faculty member of CWS, Kelly Ritter, Professor of English and incoming Director of First-Year Rhetoric.

    We want to celebrate as well the new positions of six Writing Studies students, who completed their PhD work in the last year....  Click the title above to read more!

  • Virginia Kuhn, "Filmic Texts, Future Texts: From Keywords to Keyframes"


    When: Thursday, May 23th at 3:00 pm

    Where: English Building 160

    Sponsored by NCSA, iCHASS, & ISDA

    Abstract: Filmic media (aka video) is an increasingly ubiquitous mode of expression and communication brought about by the rise of consumer grade video cameras and other mobile devices (smart phones, iPads, flip cams) on the one hand,  and improvements in graphics processing units for networked editing and cloud based video hosting on the other. These technologies allow both the recording and the dissemination of video in ways that are utterly unprecedented. However,  we have yet to see its real potential. This presentation will focus on the radical potential of video and its implications for transforming research,  scholarship and pedagogy.

    Bio: Virginia Kuhn serves as associate director of the Institute for Multimedia Literacy and associate professor of cinema practice in the School of Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California. She directs an undergraduate Honors program, oversees faculty in the IML Digital Studies minor and teaches a variety of graduate and undergraduate classes in new media, all of which marry theory and practice. Committed to helping shape open source tools for scholarship, she recently published the first article created in the authoring platform, Scalar. “Filmic Texts and the Rise of the Fifth Estate” appeared in the International Journal of Learning and Media, she just completed editing her second peer-reviewed digital anthology titled, MoMLA: From Gallery to Webtext, and co-authored a chapter in Digital Humanities Pedagogy: Practices, Policies and Politics, which was published by the pioneering UK-based scholarly press, Open Book Publishers.