Sunday, January 22, 2017

Week 1: Introduction

Hi everyone, I'm Allison Hutchison, a second-year PhD student in the Rhetoric & Writing program. I've taught reading and writing at community colleges and an online university. My research interests are writing centers, sonic/sound pedagogy, and learning management systems.

The Principles of Community are interesting to me in that they pertain to a previous research project I did on writing center mission statements. I am interested in how writing centers may or may not reflect the larger institution's mission statement in their own. Like writing centers, I see these principles as guides for how one is expected to behave in the VT community. I'm actually really impressed that the Principles statement recognizes previous "bias and exclusion" because it's a way of admitting that the university has made mistakes but is willing to learn from them. It's like admitting that you come from a place of privilege that alters how you see the world, what in my field might be referred to by Kenneth Burke's notion of the "terministic screen." 

I'm drawn to the inclusion of VT's motto because I think service is an integral part of a land grant university's mission. Last semester, Rosemary Blieszner, Associate Dean of the graduate school, came to speak in our Field Methods class, and I was so impressed and inspired by her dedication to service. In our field, service is sometimes looked down upon because our field often gets reduced to an emblem of service; in other words, teaching writing is viewed as a service to the university and, therefore, not very important. Of course, I think that's a load of crap. At the same time, I value service very much. I think it's possible to teach writing, serve your institution, and not be reduced to "that department that teaches students where to put commas." That ain't what it's about. So naturally, I'm drawn to "the right of each person to express thoughts and opinions freely" and how, specifically, that expression comes into being.

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