Tuesday, February 18, 2014
Must Begin with I
Along with several other colleagues in my department, I was invited late last fall to be posterized as a faculty researcher at EMU. It's part of a banner campaign devised to connect campus and Ypsilanti, and to make abstract-seeming faculty more real-seeming, I guess. And it is an honor to be invited. Humbling, really. Like others, I had a couple of photos taken in late November. The email arrived yesterday asking us to choose the best one. I let D., Is., and Ph. weigh in; two-thirds of them agreed on #122. I think I look slouchy, tired, and over-stressed (i.e., like a first-year WPA!) in most of them and so didn't quibble with the rec. #122 it is.
Next comes the harder part: along with formalizing a preference for a photo, we're supposed to send in a one-liner--five words or less and must begin with 'I'--that will function as a public research profile. Officially, it's called an "integrated power statement"--but I'll think of it as a bumper sticker-sized CV.
I'll be the first to admit that my 4.5 years at EMU in research terms has been spasmodic at best--due in large part to a constantly challenging orchestration of service responsibilities, institutional and departmental dynamics, and herky-jerky, stop-start bursts of writing with more change of speed and more spills than bad Olympic figure skating. Whoosh! Whoa! Oh sure, I get it: that's the nature of this work in many places.
But how does such a pattern of activity translate into four or five words of banner material? And what's a more appropriate gesture--something with a university-ambivalent public in mind, something true to the specifics of a research agenda, or something attuned to undergraduates, prospective students, and their families? Fun to think about from a university outreach standpoint, but not especially helpful for settling on the best four or five-word string.
Here's what I've come up with so far:
- I create clouds, graphs, and maps.
- I visualize discourse networks.
- I trace disciplinary networks.
- I make scholarly networks visible.
- I make rhetorical connections visible.
- I map scholarly networks.
- I practice digital rhetorics.
- I strengthen weaker arguments.
- I write in code and light.
I'm open to other suggestions and will wait for a few days before sending in my power statement. Comment away if you're so inclined. Give me a better five words, starting with I. I'd considered tipping the statement toward directing first-year writing, but I have yet to root that work in what I think of as my research (so much heft in getting some Venns to overlap, you know?), so the power statements would be things like, "I fight the textbook-industrial complex" (five words?) or "I dream of budget" or "I large-scale assess." Nothing especially powerful or integrated or researcherly in these statements. Of course, maybe if I come up with something really catching, really, really inspiring, they'll invite me to be on another poster in a few years, just about the time I get the hang of more research oriented WPAing.