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In this reflection I use the knowledge I’ve gained in my core courses to point to gaps I’ve noticed, or that at least have been definable, as I’ve prepared for my core exam. But first, some thoughts on the core. Much of “the core” of the field remains fragmented and blurry to me, not just blurry but empty, lacking a picture. I’ll never be an academic that can list off rhetoric and composition theories and scholars, and I’m quite comfortable with that, though I’m not sure you all are. In some cases I’ve failed to retain this “knowledge,” and in other cases this “knowledge” hasn’t been taught to me.

I feel strong in my understanding of methodologies in and histories of our field. 805 and 870 continue to inform my work. I was critical of these courses, which seems to be the key to me giving a shit. I’m proud of the projects I included here from 805. As much as I loathe “writing papers” I understand it’s part of the game and that it requires practice, which is why every once in awhile I’ll write a paper. I like what I was doing in “The Emotional Other in the History of Rhetoric.” It’s not perfect and would require some work to be publishable, but that wasn’t the point in writing it. The Gender Project Study Design is another example of written work. I struggled with this assignment, but that struggle was extremely generative and helped me begin to frame a queer methodology – queer praxis – through my work on The Gender Project.

I’m learning that I’m very hard on and resistant to curricula and discipline. What I mean by this is that I’m constantly questioning and challenging the structures and systems in place that have been decided are the most effective and productive in graduate education in our field. I do this because this resistance, this pushing back and search for boundaries and fissures, is how I learn, how I come to “knowledge.” This is a queer way of meaning making. Now, on to those gaps.

First, composition pedagogies. I can’t exactly tell you what I’m missing here beyond my peers mentioning names in conversation and class discussion and I have no idea who or what they’re talking about. The process model. Got it. Writing is situated in communities, places, knowledges, identities. Got it. But now what? Maybe I’ll find the answer to this when I start classroom teaching.

In this portfolio I included the major project from 878 – Common Book: Identity. This is basically an annotated bibliography of texts from 878 that had something to say about identity, or how identity is constructed in composition scholarship. I added a hefty does of queer theory into this assignment because I wanted to put composition in conversation with queer theory. But after completing this assignment I’m still not confident in my understanding of “composition pedagogies.”

Second, video. What does our field have to say about video production? How does video fit in or alongside “multimodal composition.” What IS multimodal composition? Who’s writing about it and/vs. who’s doing it? How do we teach video? How do we make video? What does video say/show about composition? About rhetoric? How do we critique and grade video? How is video situated in/around the core?

Video is always an option to me, and I try to make a video for at least one assignment per class. But my knowledge in rhetoric means the purpose, audience, and scale for the assignment needs to make sense with video. And my knowledge in/of queer invites experimentation and resistance, to queer the assignment, the curriculum, and the expectations that come along with that. For the “Definition of Rhetoric” video I jumped at the chance to create a video for an assignment in 805, partially because I love making videos and partially because Dean said not to.

Finally, the last gap in my knowledge, the core according to MSU versus the core according to the field. What makes MSU so “elite”? And why are we seen as arrogant? Through my conference experiences I have the impression that we’re forward-thinking and a powerful force in the field, but how? Why? What/who makes us this way? And how do we combat the reputation of arrogance? Because also part of my conference experiences is that look, that “Oh, you’re from Michigan State” sneer. Maybe faculty don’t experience this, but grad students do.

To conclude, in being able to identify these gaps I know where to turn next. I think more understanding of comp pedagogies will come with time and classroom teaching experience. And my concentration exam will be an opportunity to focus on video making in rhet/comp, as well as working with Alex Hidalgo (!). As far as situating MSU, I suppose that will also come with time. And to push back against the MSU reputation, well, I have a saying I remember when things get hard, too political, or I take myself too seriously: Do your work. Be humble. And listen.

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