May
2006

C&W moments

I’m going to write about my time at the C&W conference backwards because I presented today and much of what I said in the final version of my Powerpoint was influenced by what I heard on Thursday and Friday.

And the main thing I need to say off the bat is that I cried.

Yes, I got up in front of my audience and as soon as I saw the slide with the pic of me in front of my house in New Orleans [the same one on the front page of this blog], I said “That’s my house,” and the tears started coming down. I’ve been writing and thinking about this presentation for months now and had felt no emotions stir up, then everything changed. I don’t know why, but now I am scared that it will continue to happen all the way through the dissertation defense and job search. And that is very scary. But I do feel that writing a personal piece is more important than anything else I could do right now.

Per Heidi McKee’s suggestion, I was going to write about this immediately after it happened, but I got a phone call from my NOLA actorgirl friend Lara, who I have not spoken to in months, and it was more important to have that outburst all over again with her. She’s been most affected by the storm and is still living in flux, but as soon as I started telling her about today, she completely understood and was proud of me for sharing my experience. The more people, even those in academia who are already thoughtful and celebrate personal narratives, that hear about how painful it is to lose your home and see your city underwater, the more they can begin to think about the rebuilding efforts and what we can all do to try to help.

Anyway, other than that session, the Graduate Research Network Forum really helped me pull out key words that I can use to frame my dissertation. As I have mentioned before, I’ll be using trauma theory to write about how going online during times of crisis is a physical action and something that the body and mind can do together. Therefore, “event,” “embodiment,” and “ethos” are words that I will use to guide that writing and make the dissertation more of a rhetorical one than quantitative or one that adheres to a fixed set of methods. As strange as it sounds, I will be building a theory around what happened to me during Katrina. It was also suggested to me that I make the examples people-based in addition to text-based, and I think that is a good idea, but since I am my own case study and (as evidenced by today’s proceedings) it’s an emotional topic for those personally affected by the storm, I think writing a text-based dissertation will allow me to finish it quicker and make some important points. I can keep track of people’s stories in the mean time and use them in subsequent projects.

I have to get ready for tongiht’s dinner, but will write about the video panel I saw yesterday later.

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4 thoughts on “C&W moments

  1. You should talk to Sharon Gerald at Comp Southeast, who teaches in the Mississippi Gulf Coast area, and who gave an amazing and compelling presentation at CCCC about personal writing, teaching, and the experience of the hurricane.

  2. I second Mike’s suggestion. And, I’m glad that you cried during your presentation because Katrina restoration has been folded into yesterday’s news, and it shouldn’t be. The more voices speaking to a variety of audiences will keep NO and the rest of the area at the forefront of our national attention.

  3. You cried? I’ll bet it made your presentation far more effective and powerful. You could not script a better rhetorical and pedagogical strategy…. You made the presentation personal, a factor all too often absent in acadeic discourse.

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