Concentration Courses

Queer Pedagogy Independent Seminar, Spring 2012
Cultural Rhetorics, Spring 2012
Queer Rhetorics, Fall 2013
Queer Video Independent Seminar, Spring 2014

Portfolio Contents

Portfolio Reflection

Over the trajectory of my concentration courses I have deepened and narrowed my learning of queer and cultural rhetorics through thinking about the methods and methodologies of my video-making work. I used the videos and conference presentations included in this portfolio to play and experiment with the ideas I was developing. One of my goals in this PhD program has been to do things my own way, to give myself the space to try.

The Butch Rhetorics piece included here is a good example of this. I started working on this as a project for my Queer Pedagogy independent seminar with Trixie. I was playing with queering the conference presentation genre, a way of sharing knowledge that simply doesn’t work for me, while also considering my experiences of being butch in academic spaces, from classrooms to conferences. I wanted to do something that engaged the audience multimodally – visually, musically, and textually. The video and music accompanying a spoken word delivery of my presentation was made using archival video available in the public domain, one of my favorite playgrounds. I was looking specifically for video of “gendered making.” I was chasing this idea of composing the self, composing queer identity, and the choices we make along the way.

I include this piece in this portfolio to give you an example of my learning and how this project changed over time. After the conference performance in the spring of 2012. I made it a project for my work in Visual Rhetoric (AL 860), to remediate the conference performance into a self-contained video for publication, which is the version included here. I revised the words, cut and rearranged some of the footage, and filmed myself recording the spoken word voiceover track. If I was speaking about and from my butch body about the butch body then my body needed to be seen in performance.

In a move away from using archival footage and getting back into working on The Gender Project with a more in-depth understanding and investigation of methodology, I made Femme: Doing it Wrong in collaboration with Katie Livingston. I was ready to experiment with this video, to take what I’d been thinking about “research” and “composing” and make something. I composed this video as the final project in Queer Rhetorics. A focus this time around was on the participant, in this case, Katie. Because her work focuses on consent I knew she would hold me to a high standard and teach me a thing or two about communicating with participants throughout the life of the project. What I did different with the participant is included her more in the composing process by showing Katie drafts of my progress. I was beginning to understand the connection to composition in the way we think about it in rhetcomp and the composing of the self through composition. In this case, I was composing a version of Katie, a queer femme, which she needed to approve because it was a composing of her own identity.

I took my learning about methodology through working on Femme: Doing it Wrong to CCCC ‘13 in Las Vegas where I presented Queer Methodological Praxis: A Look into The Gender Project. This presentation was an opportunity to start naming the methods I’d been using in The Gender Project. At the time I wanted to work through the critical praxis methodology Sullivan and Porter present in Opening Spaces from a queer perspective. A significant learning moment in considering methodology came in the Q&A after this presentation. An audience member asked how this methodology was different from radical feminist methodologies and I didn’t have an answer. I was annoyed, defensive for being caught off guard, but it was a good question, and useful to come so early in my play with methodology. The question was really what makes this methodology queer?

The final piece in this portfolio is my FemRhet ’13 presentation, Dissing the Academy: Doing Queer Feminist Video Work. In this presentation I was experimenting with situating my interest of queer video in feminist and queer rhetorics. I wasn’t quite there yet in this presentation, but I was trying things out. Another purpose in this presentation was to figure out the requirements, or lack thereof, of doing a non-print (digital) dissertation by comparing the dissertation completion requirements of PhD programs at MSU – Rhetoric & Writing, Art, Art History & Design, Music, and English’s Film & Visual Culture PhD emphasis. I concluded that in doing a non-print dissertation I would also need to have an accompanying written component and a public screening (in addition to a defense). My work on this presentation also informed the Rhetoric & Writing Graduate Advisory Council on considering what the program would require from students doing non-print dissertations, to which they’ve recently put in the RW Handbook (see Production Guidelines for non-print dissertations).

The contents of this portfolio have set me up to write the review essay of this concentration exam focused on the queer video-making practices of queer methodologies and what these can tell us about how rhetcomp understands multimodal and video composition. The learning leading up to this moment is evident in the playing and experimenting I’ve done in my concentration courses, particularly in playing with my own queer video-making practices as a way to understand other queer filmmakers and the methodologies informing our choices.

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