This year Handcrafted Rhetorics is being held off-site as a Wednesday afternoon workshop (#AW.10). From 1:30-5 on Wednesday afternoon, March 14, we’ll be at Print League, a community print shop located in the heart of Kansas City. Registrants can find out about Print League and their mission from their homepage, and even more from their original Kickstarter campaign from last year, which includes a wonderful video featuring co-founders Ani, Michelle, and Angie.
Because this workshop is a bit more expensive and involved than our original plan, we absolutely must thank CCCC, the University of Kansas English Department, and Print League for generously co-sponsoring this opportunity.
We are planning to start at Print League promptly at 1:30. Once all participants arrive, we will make some quick introductions, hear briefly about the history of letterpress and relief printing, and then get an opportunity to make a print. Here’s how our hosts describe the workshop:
“This “block” printing workshop is designed to introduce folks to the wonders of relief printing by using a variety of Lego tile blocks to create a design. The act of setting the tile also mimics typesetting. So participants can get a feel for traditional letterpress as they create their image and print on our Vandercook press. Additional print techniques are explored through the use of texture printing, or “stamping”, the oldest form of printmaking. Use texture to create a background for your Lego design or an added layer. Each participant will go home with an edition of prints, size: 12.5” x 12.5”
Because this particular workshop is designed for beginners, participants can count on a nice mix of demo time and work time, alternating periodically. That said, the “making” part of the workshop will fill most of the time. As such, we have arranged for a reservation at a local bar and grill, Tower Tavern (which has generously agreed to allow us to pay via separate checks), where we can talk pedagogy and share our perspectives and intersections on making and composition.
Print League is located about 2.5 miles from the Kansas City Convention Center at
3121 Gillham Road
Kansas City, MO 64109
Buses are available near the KC Marriott on Wyandotte Between 11th and 12th and depart every 5-10 minutes; total travel time via bus to Print League will take anywhere from 20 to 35 minutes. This option also requires .4 miles of walking from the bus stop to Print League. Day passes are $3 and available locally from busses or through their mobile app.
Alternatively, rides via Lyft or Uber look to be about $10-15 and will take about 15 minutes; if you would like to travel together, please meet near the Conference Registration area in the Kansas City Marriott between 12:45-12:55 p.m. We will have signs that say “AW.10 Handcrafted Rhetorics.”
Street parking is available if you plan to drive yourself.
While we realize that Print League is a community print shop and not a makerspace, we feel this provides a unique, hands-on opportunity to engage with some inspiring and dedicated critical makers, and a chance to imagine and think about handcrafted rhetorics at a community space in the heart of Kansas City. We hope you plan to join us for this fun afternoon!
I define literacy and writing broadly and bring in material rhetorics to most of my teaching, whether or not I name it as such. In my classes, we talk about how writing is just one form of making and then consider how we make other things, which gets students thinking about the wide range of activities they are involved in and how literacies can be repurposed across contexts (Roozen). As a writing center director, I frequently talk with consultants at my Center and faculty on campus about how writing goes beyond alphabetic text. In the writing center education class, I ask students to remix their consulting philosophies into a new form. They’ve impressed me with songs, quilts, paintings, zines, and multimodal projects. We also talk about how making together is a way to build community. Just last week our staff meeting involved crafting art to hang on the walls of our writing center.
Similar to Erica, my undergraduate experience was largely focused around studio art—although I ultimately ended up with a degree in journalism and graphic design. As a result, I often find myself blurring the lines with fine art and digital making, drawing on both to help my students broaden their own ideas of composition and literacy. In my instruction of introductory composition courses, I organize my classroom around a multimodal teaching philosophy, in which I incorporate activities, lessons, and assignments that embrace multiple modes and ways of making.
I really enjoy experimenting in the classroom and want my students to do the same with their writing. Inspired by last year’s workshop, I began incorporating a “making” activity into my first-year writing class about “Truth and Fiction.” In response to the book Mr. Wilson’s Cabinet of Wonders, students create a fake artifact, document, or photograph and write an accompanying persuasive and descriptive essay in which they attempt to persuade an audience of museum-goers that the artifact, document, or photograph is in fact real. This assignment engages students in hands-on composing activities involving both found and newly created materials, while also enhancing their skills in persuasion and description. I encourage them to have fun with the assignment and to embrace composition as more than just alphabetic or digital writing. I love this assignment because I never know what I will receive from students, and they grow excited about what they can find and/or make — I’ve received a turtle shell, a clay mug, a wooden chest, and Photoshopped photos, to name a few examples. I look forward to seeing what students produce in the next half of this semester!
My adolescence was largely defined by do-it-yourself publishing and DIY hardcore, punk, and indie music and so I carry this experimental philosophy throughout my work. In terms of teaching, I try to align platforms and materials for learning and see what students bring to the table in terms of their own literacies, histories, and compositional goals. For example, I’ve taught two versions on DIY Publishing as a graduate student at Syracuse University — a course I will teach again at Rowan University next year — where students design public texts like zines, e-books, or build Kickstarters. As a first-year assistant professor, I am charged with teaching courses on technology and research; thus, I’ve asked my students to collaborate on two digital publications: one for undergraduates about digital culture, called The Future of Writing, and another, called The Phono Project, which invites students to write about a digitized phonograph recording in the public domain. Both are works in progress and informed by a larger sense that publications should be living, breathing assemblages that don’t always have closure. I’m excited to see where it takes us.
Crafting has always been a part of my life, and from an early age and found pleasure in taking objects that people thought were of no value (a rock, a stick, an empty cardboard box) and turn it into something meaningful. I also understand crafting as connected to the act of giving/gifting, and I see this extended into how I think about the writing in the classroom: whatever the materials we use—the alphabet and/or the colors, photographs, and arrangements of a webpage—I want students to see composing as a tool for refining and developing ideas and as a means to advocate for their communities and the issues they care about. I believe this process starts first with imagining what you are capable of giving, to whom, and through what materials?
Whether I’m teaching classes that obviously lend themselves to craft or DIY approaches to composing (like mulitmodal rhetorics) or those that don’t (expository writing), I scaffold in activities or assignments that ask students to develop their thinking through not-just-textual means. These assignments and activities often follow Shipka (2011), in that students are required to select and justify the modes and materials in which they compose, and then to reflect on the benefits and limitations of those modes and materials in helping them to develop and communicate their ideas. Additionally, as our classroom setup allows, I also try to dedicate at least some serious class time to composing together — to creating a workshop or studio or makerspace atmosphere where students can work independently or collaboratively, and in which we can learn from each other’s trials, errors, and successes.
I have always been interested in individuals and groups that push back against the proliferation of digital technologies in our lives, and while makers can use digital mediums, there is often a non-digital, crafty element to “making” that intrigues me. This interest has led to opportunities to work with many individuals and families that have intentionally or unintentionally privileged and nurtured alternative community literacies, and makerspaces are sometimes examples of this. I recently taught a seminar course in which I used ethnographic observation and oral history methodologies to look at the ways some of these individuals privilege non-digital types of literacies within their like-minded peer groups. Some of these alternative literacies included non-digital made things such as handwritten music, recipe cards or quilts: made things that functioned as a thread that held the community together. This seminar project led me to wonder about the value of makerspaces as promoters of cultural identity, particularly in post industrial cities such as the one my university is located in, and I have recently been granted a fellowship in which I, and 15 students, will explore makerspaces around the country as places that nurture and promote cultural identity.
Because my undergraduate degree is in studio art, I often find myself including maker-space techniques into my composition and technical writing classrooms. More than anything, I want my students to understand the composing process as something more than just words on a page. I design my classes to include multimodal maker projects, including photography and soundscapes, that challenge students’ conception of “writing,” audience, and the potential impact of our discipline.