The Writ 250 Committee at the Center for Writing and Rhetoric would like to invite you to attend an Open House from 8-10 a.m. Friday, March 1st, in the Bryant Hall gallery. Breakfast will be provided at this event, and our goals are to inform you of the curricular changes Engl 250 is undergoing, distribute handouts of sample assignments and course materials that may be especially useful for advisers, and share success stories from our Fall 2012 courses.
We hope that you will be able to join us to learn about the exciting new changes that are happening with Engl 250. If you are able to attend then please RSVP to Glenn Schove a firstname.lastname@example.org no later than noon Thursday, February 28. Registration is required.
Tracie McMillian slated for public lecture Monday at Ford Center
The University of Mississippi’s Center for Writing and Rhetoric and the Southern Foodways Alliance have teamed up to co-host a lecture next week by award-winning journalist Tracie McMillan on the realities of our country’s food industry.
The lecture, at 7 p.m. Monday (Feb. 25) in the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts, is free and open to the public.
McMillan is the author of the New York Times bestselling book “The American Way of Eating: Undercover at Walmart, Applebee’s, Farm Fields and the Dinner Table” (Scribner, 2012), which explores vital issues of food access and distribution in the United States.
To research the book, McMillan worked as a vegetable picker in California, a produce stocker at Wal-Mart in Detroit and an expediter at Applebee’s in New York City. Along the way, as she attempted to live off the meager wages she earned, McMillan explored the question, “What would it take for all of us to eat well?”
“This topic is front of mind for a new generation of students now studying the political resonances of food in America,” said John T. Edge, director of the Southern Foodways Alliance, an institute of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture. “In a region where agricultural labor issues have long been fraught, we’re especially excited to hear McMillan’s read on modern agricultural labor and how those insights apply to issues of race and class the South.
McMillan’s undercover reporting for “The American Way of Eating” has won critical acclaim and resonated with tens of thousands of readers. In the New York Times, reviewer Dwight Garner wrote, “The book Ms. McMillan’s most resembles is Barbara Ehrenreich’s bestseller ‘Nickel and Dimed.’ Like Ms. Ehrenreich, Ms. McMillan goes undercover amid this country’s working poor. … This is a voice the food world needs.”
Before her lecture, McMillan is scheduled to visit Writing and Rhetoric composition classes, for which her book serves as a text. She will talk to students and answer their questions on the journalistic process.
“Student writers enjoy the opportunity to think critically about food; looking at how a resource, which is often taken for granted, moves from farm to table allows us to see a larger impact of collective choices,” said Robert Cummings, director of the center. “And Tracie McMillan’s project stands as an example of how students can find a passion in pursuing a question,”
“The American Way of Eating” was among six finalists for the university’s Common Reading Experience for the 2013-14 academic year.
For more information on McMillan and her work, go to http://www.traciemcmillan.com/.
Ole Miss, Oxford community will read ‘The Unforgiving Minute: A Soldier’s Education’
“The Unforgiving Minute: A Soldier’s Education” by Craig Mullaney has been chosen as the 2013 Common Reading Experience novel at the University of Mississippi.
A 2009 New York Times bestseller and named one of the Best Military Books of the Decade by the Military Times, “The Unforgiving Minute” was selected for a number of reasons, said Leslie Banahan, co-chair of the 2013 Common Reading Experience Committee.
“It’s a wonderfully written coming-of-age story that shares the author’s experiences from plebe year at West Point through the almost unbelievable challenges of Ranger school training to two idyllic years in England as Rhodes Scholar and finally to the terror of combat in the mountains of Afghanistan,” Banahan said. “It’s a book about leadership, courage and the human spirit.”
Author Craig Mullaney said he hopes students will view his book not as an adventure into battle, but as a journey into adulthood.
“I think it guides students to a place where they think critically about who they are, what they want to become and what values are important to them,” Mullaney said.
As this year’s Common Reading Experience author, Mullaney will also address students Aug. 27 at Freshman Convocation.
“I’m thrilled to speak with students at Ole Miss,” he said. “It is the greatest privilege to write a story and share it with a wide audience. Every student and person takes away something different when they read this book, and they teach me far more than I could ever teach them.”
In its third year, the Common Reading Experience is a program designed to bring together UM students, faculty, staff and the campus community through the engagement and discussion of a common text. Faculty members will receive copies of the book later this semester and it will be distributed to all incoming Ole Miss freshmen during their respective orientations.
This year, the committee received nearly 150 nominations from the Ole Miss and Oxford community before ultimately selecting Mullaney’s book. According to committee co-chair Robert Cummings, “The Unforgiving Minute” was unlike previous Common Reading selections.
“This text gives us a chance to reflect on our education experience both as teachers and learners, what it means to sacrifice for our nation and the value of a liberal arts education,” Cummings said.
For more information on the Common Reading Experience, visit http://umreads.olemiss.edu/.
Students on campus have created The University of Mississippi Food Bank to provide food for students who are not able to afford meals.
“The Food Bank was launched Thursday, Nov. 8 and began serving students on Nov. 12 in the old math lab, Kinard Hall,” said biology major Mary Margaret Saulters, co-student director of the food bank.
Robert Cummings, director of the university’s Center for Writing and Rhetoric and faculty sponsor for the food bank, said the food bank is a permanent organization.
“We are located in Kinard 213 Monday through Thursday at various times and we are staffed,” Cummings said.
The food bank was open during the Thanksgiving break and plans on being open when needed, according to Cummings.
“We were open on a call basis,” he said. “Camp Best, advocate in the Office of the Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs, and I left our phone numbers on the front door in the event we needed to open for a student who needed food.”
The food bank is led by a committee of faculty and students and stands firm with the anonymity for students that come in need of food.
“Students must have an Ole Miss ID, but all clients retain anonymity,” Cummings said.
Since its launch, the food bank has gained success and recognition. Saulters was grateful for the donations that were made.
“We were lucky to have the support of a number of organizations on campus, who organized fundraisers and canned food drives so that our shelves were fully stocked on Monday when we opened,” Saulters said.
Cummings believes that students will learn from participating in the food bank.
“While there are many practical business skills involved, such as management, budgeting and marketing, I think that students will always remember that they learned how to be sensitive and aware of the needs of others,” he said.
“We might not be able to always solve big problems, but we can ameliorate them by remaining practical and building community around our shared principles.”
What makes a good writing assignment? We know that thoughtful papers come from thoughtful assignments, but why do some students run with our assignments, surprising us with interesting insights and careful research, while others, like Bartleby the Scrivener, simply “prefer not to?”
Assignments work on multiple levels, especially in a first-year writing course, when students, as apprentices, are asked to think about big, complex ideas, and asked to do so as if they were experts on these topics. We’ve learned that assignments work best when we work backwards, asking, What must a student know how to do in order to successfully write this assignment? And when we sequence each assignment to give students time to practice skills, one lesson at a time, and provide opportunities for students to try out ideas and receive feedback in low-stakes writing exercises.
But how do our best pedagogies square with students’ learning? When speaking with college students about writing assignments, I often hear their uncertainty about what their teachers are asking them to do: What counts as a good thesis? What kind of evidence should I use? How can I say something different from what my source already says? And what criteria will be used to grade my paper? Viewing assignments through students’ eyes shows us both the complexity of what we are asking them to accomplish in a single assignment and the challenges they face as apprentices trying to simultaneously develop expertise in new subjects and new methods.
During my travels this semester, I came across engaging assignments at the University of Mississippi and Tacoma Community College. These assignments provide opportunities for students to enter public conversations as fellow participants, with something to gain and much to give.
In the University of Mississippi’s Foundations for Academic Success Track (FASTrack) program, students take a research-writing course focused on the theme of community. Each of their assignments asks them to solve community problems and enter debates that demand real, immediate solutions. The course culminates in the $100 Difference Project, which asks students to research a community problem, investigate organizations which attempt to address that problem, and propose how the organization might use $100 to make a difference. In completing this assignment, students not only develop their authority as rhetoricians, but also use their research skills to make something happen in their community.
The second assignment, from Tacoma Community College, asks students to assume the role of mediator for a current social or ethical issue that the class has studied. To do so, they need to research the background and context for the debate, listen closely to various arguments in the debate, acknowledge the legitimacy of each side’s claim, synthesize the commonalities and differences between sides, and present a workable compromise. To understand what it would take to achieve compromise, students must move beyond either/or thinking and engage with competing sides in the debate, find common ground by being sympathetic and respectful to opposing views, and use their synthesis to work in the territory of compromise and reconciliation.
Dear Readers: What makes an engaging assignment for your students? Do you give students opportunities to enter real civic or academic debates? Please share your thoughts and assignments with fellow readers.
With every good wish,
From Between the Drafts by Nancy Sommer’s Teaching Journal
A new grant, awarded to Robert Cummings, director of the Center for Writing and Rhetoric at the University of Mississippi, will help improve the visibility of Open Educational Resources.
OERs are free and openly licensed online learning materials. Massive open online courses, or MOOCs, are one type of OER aimed at large-scale participation.
Cummings, along with researchers Pete Forsyth, Sara Frank Bristow and Alexis Hart, was awarded the $140,000 grant from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation for his work with the Communicate OER Project.
“The main purpose of the project is to improve the awareness of Open Educational Resources by improving the quality of OER pages on Wikipedia,” Cummings said.
Through OER, Cummings and his associates are working to create a better way to reach students through the Internet and teach subjects not available locally. Along with bridging the geographic gap, the project plans to cut the financial burden that often accompanies education.
The project will run for about 18 months and will take place in two phases. It is currently in its second phase: gathering participants to promote OER awareness.
- William Faulkner claims that “the past is never dead. It’s not even past.” Does Franklin’s novel support this statement? How?
- How do Larry Ott’s friendships compare to your definition of the term? How do they compare to each other? Toward the end of the novel, Larry begins to question his judgment of these relationships. What does that show the reader about Larry?
- The novel certainly contains accounts of man’s flaws – Silas (32) wonders “what’s missing” out of him, the townspeople worry that Larry has turned into a monster because of the way he’s been treated, and Wallace’s flaws are exemplified in his relationships with women. What do these men’s flaws reveal about them, the society in which they live, and the families from which they came?
Original essays must be at least 1000 words and must be emailed to email@example.com no later than Friday, 10/12/2012.
Winning essays will be featured on the Center for Writing and Rhetoric website.
Cash Prizes of $150 will be awarded toone winner in each category.
- LaFayette County High School Student
- Oxford High School Student
- UM- Booneville Student
- UM- DeSoto Student
- UM- Grenada Student
- UM- Oxford Student
- UM- Tupelo Student
- UMMC Student (Jackson Campus)
Enter to win today!
In your email, please include the following: Name, phone number, address, email, and category (one only). Attach your essay (minimum of 1,000 words) to your email and send to: firstname.lastname@example.org no later than Friday, October 12, 2012. Winners will be announced on October 31, 2012. Enter to win today!
All entries will be submitted to SafeAssign, an originality and resource verification tool. Writers are not required to cite to an outside source, but if they cite an external source, they must use a citation system of their choice. Work submitted for this essay may not have won other awards.
Winning entries may be published on the CWR website under the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial (CC-BY-NC) licensing system; with submission the authors agree to that licensing. Further details are available on the Creative Commons website at http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/
Operating a lemonade stand in the Grove on a football Saturday may not seem like a likely result of a writing exercise, but for University of Mississippi sophomore Kimmi Herring, it is.
Herring, who will sell lemonade in September to benefit Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation for Childhood Cancer, is among nearly 80 students in the UM Foundations for Academic Success Track, or FASTrack, program who have experienced the power of words firsthand by turning a $1,200 donation from a fellow student into a lasting impact on the community.As part of their spring semester writing course, FASTrack students researched, developed and wrote proposals outlining how they would use $100 to benefit a community of their choosing. Taylor McGraw, former Associated Student Body president, selected one winner from each of the 12 class sections and donated $100 from his student government stipend to fund each project.
“We wanted the students to use their writing for service,” said Karen Forgette, UM instructor of composition and rhetoric for FASTrack. “One of our primary aims is to help students feel a sense of community at the university and to engage the whole community. We also want them to understand their own power within the community.”
The project began last winter when students in the first-year learning cohort completed a “bridge” project illustrating their definition of community through a photo essay. When classes resumed, they delved deeper into their topics, gathering information through interviews and research, analyzing data and, eventually, writing project proposals.
“One of the things that was most satisfying to FASTrack instructors was that the service the students were doing was benefiting their writing, and the improvement of their writing was serving the community,” Forgette said. “It gave our students an authentic audience for their writing. Composition research has found that when students write for someone outside of their instructors, their writing improves, and we definitely saw that with these proposals.”
Winning proposals ranged from a $100 donation to the UM Food Bank to projects such as Herring’s lemonade stand. Anna Louise Meyers of Houston, Texas, chose to send vitamins to Haitian children through her project “Rebuilding Haiti One Vitamin at a Time.”
“The proposals I saw were just fantastic,” said McGraw, who hoped the assignment would help freshmen realize the value of service early in their academic careers. “They were well-written and well-researched. I hope this project instills a value that becomes part of the students’ daily thinking – that they look at the world and ask themselves how they can make it a better place.”
As part of Herring’s project, the forensic chemistry major from Smyrna, Ga., researched childhood cancer statistics, interviewed a UM student who was diagnosed with cancer at age 4 and created a budget outlining how she would spend the $100 to purchase supplies for the lemonade stand.
Herring plans to set up the stand during the Ole Miss-University of Texas at El Paso football game in September, which coincides with Fall Family Weekend. She calculates that she can raise as much as $725 for Alex’s Lemonade Stand, selling lemonade at $1 per cup.
“Before this project, my editing and persuasive writing were very unstable,” Herring said. “I hated to edit papers, but this proposal made me really read my writing because I knew someone else would be judging it. I also wasn’t a very persuasive writer before this paper, but it helped me find a topic I was passionate about and really get people to buy into it.”
The idea for the FASTrack project came out of a 2011 College of Liberal Arts initiative to support faculty members interested in service-learning. FASTrack writing instructors received a grant to implement such projects and developed the concept after attending a workshop at the Gulf-South Summit in Blacksburg, Va. When McGraw, who completed a similar service learning project his freshman year, heard about the idea, he offered to provide funding.
“When properly designed, service learning projects benefit the community and teach our students valuable lessons,” said Stephen Monroe, assistant dean of liberal arts and FASTrack director. “This has been just such a project.”
FASTrack is an application-only learning community for UM freshmen, providing students with the tools and support they need to succeed in the transition from high school to college. Students take enhanced versions of courses and receive individual attending from instructors, mentors and academic advisers. For more information on the program, visit http://www.olemiss.edu/fastrack.
Other winning proposals include:
- Madison Langley of Houston, Texas: “Love Packs $100 Proposal”
- A.K. Suggs of Kingwood, Texas: “Impoverished, Not Impossible” (benefitting Leap Frog)
- Kristen Simmons of Jackson: “Diversity Rocks”
- Drazen Minor of Indianola: “Mississippi Magic”
- Morgan Crumbaugh of Birmingham, Ala.: “Cooks for Christ: Creating Change for the Hungry” (benefitting Manna)
- Kaeshia Smith of Memphis, Tenn.: “Positive Youth Development: Making a Difference” (benefitting the Boys and Girls Club)
- Beau Harriman of Colleyville, Texas: “Howling for Help” (benefitting Drifters’ Place)
- Cara Tackett of Baldwyn: Hope for Hopeline (benefitting the UM Counseling Center)
- Tasha Parvin of Rienzi: “Sharing is Caring” (benefitting the Oxford Oxford Pantry)
- Ashley Saulsberry of Nesbit: “More Love for Love Packs”
- Lilly Tayne of Laguna Niguel, Calif.: “$100 Proposal: Rainn Organization”
- Kelly Kundinger of Arlington, Va.: “Hotty Toddy, Food Almighty” (benefiting the UM Food Bank)
“A William Faulkner Remembrance” is designed to promote reading and literacy as well as to honor Faulkner’s legacy and celebrate the role of the arts in lives of Mississippians.
“At least since he won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1950, Faulkner has been an indisputable part of Oxford’s identity, and I believe that he’s now an integral part of the university’s identity as well,” said Jay Watson, Howry Professor of Faulkner Studies and professor of English. “His legacy has attracted writers to the area, dramatically enhancing the literary reputation of the community, and has helped recruit students to the university and new residents to Oxford and Lafayette County.
“Anyone who wants to learn more about what makes Oxford tick – and about what makes the 20th century South tick – could do a lot worse than studying the writings of William Faulkner.”
The Remembrance day program comes at the end of a week of events celebrating the 175th anniversary of the city of Oxford’s incorporation. Like those events, the Remembrance was conceived, planned and organized as a program for the general public and the local community, rather than for a specialized community of scholars or literary professionals. The day’s itinerary will connect the town, county and campus, along with other significant spaces from Faulkner’s personal history. The program will begin with a marathon reading of Faulkner’s final novel, “The Reivers,” on the grounds of his home, Rowan Oak.
Like the marathon readings of “Absalom, Absalom!” in 1997 (for the 100th anniversary celebration of Faulkner’s birth) and “Go Down, Moses” in 2005 (for the Mississippi Reads Initiative), the reading will draw on volunteer participants who will each read aloud a short section of the novel. Beginning at 6:30 a.m., it will unfold over an estimated nine hours. Refreshments will be served and tents will be set up to help keep everyone comfortable in July heat.
Following the marathon reading, participants will adjourn to the second-floor courtroom of the Lafayette County Courthouse, a building immortalized in Faulkner’s fiction, for a pair of keynote addresses at 4:15 p.m. Philip Weinstein, the Alexander Griswold Cummins Professor of English at Swarthmore College, will address the significance of the writer’s life and career.
After Weinstein’s address, keynote writer Randall Kenan will comment on Faulkner’s legacy from the literary artist’s point of view. Kenan is an associate professor of English at the University of North Carolina and a former John and Renee Grisham Writer in Residence at UM. In his fiction, Kenan has created a rural North Carolina community he calls Tims Creek, a domain that bears suggestive affinities with Faulkner’s Yoknapatawpha County.
Participants will reconvene at 8 p.m. for a “late show” screening of the 1969 film adaption of “The Reivers” (directed by Mark Rydell and starring Steve McQueen, Sharon Farrell, Rupert Crosse and Will Geer) at the Lyric Theatre on the Oxford Square. The Lyric has its own special place in Faulkner history, as the venue for the local premiere of “Today We Live,” the first film to be adapted from a Faulkner work, in 1933, and the international premiere of “Intruder in the Dust” in 1949.
During the Remembrance, university shuttle vans will run in a loop linking the Lyceum, University Museum, Rowan Oak and the Oxford Square.
The museum will host two exhibits in conjunction with the event. The first is a mixed media exhibit by Brooklyn artist John Shorb entitled “Absalom, Absalom!” in homage to Faulkner’s 1936 novel. The second is an exhibition of paintings by Faulkner’s wife, Estelle Oldham Faulkner. Many of her paintings have never been seen by the public.
Estelle Faulkner was known for painting, reading and playing the piano. She began painting while living in China in the 1920s with her first husband, a district judge, and later had her art studio in Charlottesville, Va.
All Remembrance events are free and open to the public , thanks to the assistance and sponsorship of the UM Department of English, the Center of the Study of Southern Culture, the Center for Writing and Rhetoric, the Mississippi Humanities Council, the Lafayette Oxford Foundation for Tomorrow, the Oxford Convention and Visitors Bureau, Vintage Books, First National Bank of Oxford, the Lyric Theatre, Larson’s Big Star and the city of Oxford.
The following day, July 7, kicks off the annual Faulkner and Yoknapatawpha conference at UM with a day of guided tours of “Faulkner country” in north Mississippi and Memphis.
This year’s conference, “Fifty Years After Faulkner,” also seeks to commemorate the anniversary by bringing together an expanded lineup of almost 60 writers and scholars to reassess Faulkner’s achievements and reflect on where the study of his work will be headed in the future.
Besides the lectures, talks, panels and tours, conference-goers will be treated to sessions on teaching and collecting Faulkner, an open mic night at Southside Gallery and exhibits at University Museums and the J.D. Williams Library’s Archives and Special Collections.
“It should make for one of the most memorable Faulkner and Yoknapatawpha conferences ever,” Watson said.
The Center for Writing and Rhetoric Announces Recipients of the X. A. Kramer, Jr. Outstanding Teacher Awards
These awards, established in memory of X. A. Kramer, Jr., are presented annually to first-year composition instructors for outstanding teaching. This year, the categories recognize service to the CWR teaching community, assignment development, and overall excellence in teaching.
This year’s nominations demonstrate the richness, excellence, and experience of our CWR instructors, and the Kramer selection committee is pleased to recognize the following recipients:
- Mary Brooks Tyler - Outstanding instructor
- Amy King – Outstanding assignment development
- Ebony McNeal - Outstanding service in support of CWR goals and mission
As a recipient of one of the Kramer Awards, each of these instructors will receive an award of $300.00 and a CWR Certificate of Recognition.