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CCCC 2004: Review

Review: A Gumbo of Sorts: Co-Chair’s Reflection of the Research Network Forum
Reviewed by: Risa P. Gorelick, rgorelic@monmouth.edu
Posted on: April 18, 2004
Updated on: April 21, 2004

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In the days since the 17th Annual Research Network Forum (RNF) at CCCC has passed, I look back and try to describe its essence.  We are a gumbo of sorts:  an introduction to the field for many participants.  The RNF seasons the roux with the voices of household name scholars in plenary addresses, spices up the field by bringing together both experienced and novice researchers to share works-in-progress in thematically based round tables, and finishes off the day with the smooth taste of possible publication of participants’ research by inviting editors from journals, e-journals, and presses to explain their hunger to consume (and hopefully publish) ideas discussed at the RNF.  This forum creates some very appetizing conversation before the main course of CCCC.  When we come together at the RNF, we become the unforgettable taste that prepares our members for more of what is to come at the conference.
    This year marked my 10th year as a member of the executive committee and my third year as co-chair with Ollie Oviedo of this wonderful group (I was associate chair for six years prior to chairing).  Our five plenary speakers, broken up into a morning and afternoon session, previewed the conference’s theme of technology, visual rhetoric and feminists’ voices.  As I balanced my role of moderating the plenaries, assisting them with their overhead transparencies, and trying to figure out why our room was unequipped with the round tables we ordered, here’s a brief view of what our plenaries brought to RNF this year.  

Cynthia L. Selfe and Dickie Selfe shared the podium in their address on “Research Possibilities in Computers and Composition Studies” where they began by saying that computers and writing is “more than just studying machines.”  They did an overview of the political, social, and psychological implications, along with the globalization, of the technology that is entering our classrooms.  Additionally, they shared insights on how video games can teach children (and sometimes adults) about literacy (both electronic and in general).  

In “Investigating Processes of Verbal-Visual Composition in Advertising,” Geoffrey Cross shared research on how those who work in advertising compose.  His analysis of the ways in which advertising copywriters produce—and process—texts with the visualization of the items being advertised showed that even those in the humanities can incorporate statistics and other quantifying methods into our research while not forgetting the human side of the equation.

Afternoon plenary speakers Kristie Fleckenstein and Pam Takayoshi continued to explore the human side of rhetorical research.  Fleckenstein’s address on “Visible Women: Researching Feminist Agency and Cultural Imagery,”  shared visuals of a book that her daughter brought home which highlight the rhetoric that is all around us, while Takayoshi’s “Feminist Epistemologies and Researching Writing Technologies” made a wonderful connection to the morning plenaries’ focus on technical communication and feminist scholarship.

    Our day is divided into morning and afternoon sessions of plenary addresses followed by 18 (morning) to 20 (afternoon) thematic roundtables of work-in-progress [WIP] presentations.  The sixty-plus participants spiced up our gumbo with a variety of research interests.  Some themes included: “DISCOURSES OF THE BODY,” “RHETORICS OF DIFFERENCE: FORMING IDENTITY AND COMMUNITY,” “EMOTIONS AND SPIRITUALITY IN COMPOSITION AND RHETORIC,” “WRITING ACROSS THE DISCIPLINES,” “WORKPLACE ISSUES: ACADEMIC, ONLINE, AND INSTITUTIONAL,” “EXPLORING THE TUTORING RELATIONSHIP,” “THE POLITICS OF LITERACY,” “ETHNOGRAPHIC STUDIES,” “READING THROUGH RHETORICAL THEORIES,” ”SCENES OF WRITING:  GRAMMAR IN THE 21ST CENTURY,” “EXAMINING COMPOSITION STUDIES AS A WRITING PROGRAM ADMINISTRATOR,” “WRITING AND THE CREATIVE ARTS,” “RACE RELATIONS INSIDE AND OUTSIDE OF THE CLASSROOM,”  “COMPOSITION-LITERATURE CONNECTIONS,” “AUTOETHNOGRAPHY,” “BASIC WRITERS AND THEIR NEEDS,”  “AUTHORSHIP,” “ON-LINE WRITING STRATEGIES,” “THE RIGHT TO ONE’S OWN LANGUAGE VS. STANDARD WRITTEN ENGLISH ,” AND “THE RHETORIC OF BAD NEWS.” Conversations at each table were lively—often times, tables needed more time to continue discussions—and these discussions, I’m told, continued well into the rest of the CCCC week at meals on the Riverwalk, through ghost tours of the Alamo, between celebrity sightings from the movie premier, and were powerful enough to tighten security measures to Code Orange at the San Antonio airport.  For a complete listing of WIP’s presenters, titles, and abstracts, please go to http://web.syr.edu/~mdlattim/RNF/04/index.html.  

    Our day ended with the Editor’s Roundtable where researchers met with print and e-journals from the field to discuss publication possibilities of their current research projects. The one-on-one time with editors, where both discussion leaders and work-in-progress presenters had face-to-face contact to discuss their work is one of the most valuable aspects of the RNF.  While most of us teach “writing as a process” to our students, the publish or perish world that we also live in may begin with sharing the process of germinating a research topic, gathering the ingredients that go into a project, simmering the ideas together as researchers begin their writing process, and finding the right menu to serve the finished work to interested colleagues.  The RNF is indeed and word a gumbo of sorts that starts and feeds the culinary and intellectual processes of CCCC life.

    We are already well underway in our plans for San Francisco, so plan on arriving a day early for CCCCs just for a tasty bowl of RNF gumbo.  For more information and an on-line e-form to register, please see our new web site www.rnfonline.com.

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