DRC 2019-2020 Fellows End-of-Year Reflection

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Screenshot of 2019-2020DRC Fellows' final virtual meeting

Image: A modified screenshot of the 2019-2020 DRC Fellows’ final virtual meeting. Pictured (top to bottom, left to right): Simone Sessolo, McKinley Green, Wilfredo Flores, Jialei Jiang, Nupoor Ranade, Soyeon Lee, Dana Comi, Naomi Silver, and Jathan Day. Not pictured is Anne Gere.

As their time with the DRC draws to a close, the 2019-2020 DRC Fellows offer reflections on their experiences, what they’ve learned, and where they go from here. This year has presented numerous crises and challenges, and it has also highlighted the many ways that digital rhetoric can respond with an eye toward a more just society. We are grateful to the 2019-2020 Fellows for their presence, dedication, and insight.

Nupoor Ranade

A big thanks to the DRC team Jathan, Naomi, Anne, Simone, and to the wonderful fellows in my cohort for not just enriching my academic community experience through the fellowship, but for building and maintaining a strong community of scholars to support researchers in our field, especially graduate students and their work. You all are amazing people and I’m so glad to have had the opportunity to be a part of this group. In the past year, I was able to give visibility to my ideas about Data Analytics and Gender and AI through the blog. With Wil’s expertise and my coordination efforts, we were able to publish DRC’s first podcast series: On the Job with Swettland’s DRC, where we interviewed new faculty members who shared their experiences of being on the job market and beyond. We are glad that future graduate students will be able to make use of the advice. Apart from my work, I learned a lot from the diverse body of fellows. Listening to their perspectives and scholarly contributions has made me more aware of the digital rhetoric field.  From the leaders, including Adrienne Raw who led the cohort in our first few months, I learned so much about project management and making successful collaborations happen, seamlessly. I cannot wait to apply all those experiences to my pedagogy and personal life. I thank the leaders for giving me another opportunity to serve as a fellow. I look forward to working with the new cohort and continuing to make contributions that will add value to this community that I belong to, and beyond.

Soyeon Lee

I am thankful to my cohort of the DRC fellows and the DRC, particularly, Ann Gere, Naomi Silver, and Simone Sessolo, Adrienne Raw, and Jathan Day. I truly enjoyed collaborating with my cohort to promote conversations in this field. Given this year’s political turmoil and ecological health crisis, many collaborative projects gave me the opportunities to rethink the ethics of digital rhetoric and communication and create action plans for social justice. 

With other fellows, I worked on the affirmation statement of Black Lives Matter and believe that the DRC re-envisioned the important agendas that can promote anti-racist pedagogies and practices in the field. As a fellow, I contributed to actively including practices of two-year colleges and design-thinking writing pedagogy with/for diverse students in the conversations about digital rhetorics and makerspace movements. Based on this experience, I am currently working on developing anti-racist writing programs and assignments, particularly in the context of online education. The other agenda I co-worked on with my cohort, particularly Jialei Jiang, was relevant to creating Kairotic responses to  the time of the COVID-19 pandemic. By cultivating dialogues through Blog Carnival 17, I enjoyed the opportunities to curate one of the most timely and engaging responses to the changing material, institutional, and digital environments. I look forward to more diverse conversations and actions that will come up in the DRC 2020-2021 year!

McKinley Green

I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to be a DRC graduate fellow. The communities and conversations fostered by the DRC helped me become a better teacher and learner, and I was continually humbled by the opportunity to work among such a thoughtful and creative DRC community.

The projects that emerged from our collaboration—including the Blog Carnival on Community Building as Social Justice Praxis and the DRC’s response to the murder of George Floyd—helped illustrate how our commitments to social justice must inform all aspects of our teaching, research, and service, and that it is impossible to separate our academic commitments from our community commitments. I was happy to be a part of these projects, and I look forward to continuing those conversations in years to come. Other fellows undertook exciting work at the DRC, including the “On the Job” podcast and the COVID-19 Blog Carnival. I learned much from listening to these scholars, and their work has opened many new possibilities for digital rhetorical research in our current social and academic landscape. I am sure that I will continually return (and ask students to return) to these texts as models of ethical and necessary scholarship. 

Of course, our field’s teaching, research, and collaboration has changed significantly this year, including how those of us at the DRC interacted with one another. I’d like to thank Jathan, Naomi, Anne, Simone, and Adrienne for their support during this exceptionally turbulent year, and for all of their encouragement, flexibility, and positivity in spite of our challenging circumstances. And, as we missed the opportunity to be together in the same location, I look forward to the future when we can (finally) meet in person!

Dana Comi

I’m so lucky to have been part of the DRC graduate fellow cohort this year. Many thanks to Jathan, Naomi, Ann, Adrienne, and Simone for fostering and supporting such a collaborative and creative fellowship. Although the world became incredibly chaotic in March, the rhythm and regularity of our DRC fellowship work was a needed constant. It is so strange to think that when we first started meeting, I’d never done regular video-conferencing and was so excited to virtually meet with people all across the country! I’m excited to meet in person someday soon to celebrate and reflect.

As a DRC fellow, I worked with McKinley Green to develop the Blog Carnival on Community Building as Social Justice Praxis. This project, along with helping to draft the DRC’s response to the death of George Floyd, one of many violent acts against Black bodies in recent months, provided space to listen, learn, reflect, and act as a collective of digital rhetoricians. I am grateful to have been part of both projects and to learn more about what it means to be an ally and activist within digital contexts. Both of these projects, as well as our meeting conversations, have continued to inform my work as a teacher, researcher, and community member at my university. I know I’ll continue to look to the DRC as a place for resources and conversations that support, challenge, and better my work as an academic in the coming years, and look forward to contributing to future DRC projects.

Wilfredo Flores

Like my fellow cohort members, I am grateful for this excellent opportunity of being a Sweetland DRC graduate fellow. Thank you to Jathan, Naomi, Anne, and Simone for making this fellowship a productive and exciting one!

In my time as a Fellow, I worked with Nupoor Ranade to record and produce the On the Job podcast, the DRC’s first podcast (and hopefully the start of more podcast series from the DRC). Working with Nupoor and interviewing so many scholars was a pleasant, informative experience, and as Collin Bjork notes in this tweet, I am hopeful that future Fellows continue this work and produce new series with different foci. I am happy that I was able to practice digital rhetorics, as it were, during my time as a Fellow, and I highly encourage future applicants to do either a podcast series or some other type of digital media-based production! For now, I am hopeful that current and future graduate students might benefit from On The Job despite the precarious nature of the world at the moment (in academia and beyond).  

On that note, helping to draft the DRC’s response to the anti-Black, state-sanctioned violence abound throughout the summer—and U.S. history—into the present moment was, as McKinley notes, helpful in reaffirming the deep commitment we must have to actuating a just, equitable world. We, as digital rhetoricians, are primed to do this work—and we must. I leave my tenure in the DRC with the hope that it commits to its promise of recruiting and retaining Black graduate students to make up for the dearth of such Fellows in the DRC’s history. I also look forward to seeing future blog posts about how to do the work of anti-racist digital rhetorics, and I hope to contribute to this work soon! Well wishes to everyone!

Jialei Jiang

It is my pleasure to be a returning DRC graduate fellow this year. I’d like to thank the DRC team Jathan, Naomi, Anne, Simone, and Adrienne, and my cohort of the DRC fellows for their support throughout the year. DRC provides an exciting opportunity for me to join an online community of teachers and scholars and to extend digital writing scholarship beyond conventional forms of circulation. I am glad that DRC allows me to be part of such work. This year, I enjoy collaborating with the other fellows, especially with Soyeon Lee, on projects like the COVID-19 Blog Carnival. I also learned a lot from other fellows about their wonderful projects, such as the “On the Job” podcast and the Community Building Blog Carnival. As an early career researcher dedicated to new media scholarship, I am grateful for the opportunity to contribute to the work of DRC that invigorates the theories and pedagogies valued by the computers and writing community. Being a DRC fellow allows me to engage in online teamwork and collaborative action. With research interests in digital composition, antiracist pedagogy, and community-engaged work, I have been thrilled to see the wide array of timely digital media projects that engage antiracist pedagogy and social justice on the DRC website. I look forward to seeing more diverse conversations and robust projects next year!

About Author(s)

Nupoor is a PhD Candidate in the Communication, Rhetoric and Digital Media at the North Carolina State University. Her research focuses on audience analysis, digital rhetoric, user experience and information design primarily in the field of technical communication and artificial intelligence. Her research experience and partnerships with the industry help her bridge gaps of knowledge that she then brings to her pedagogical practices.

Soyeon Lee teaches writing courses at Houston Community College and works as a PhD candidate in Rhetoric, Composition, and Pedagogy in the English department at the University of Houston.

McKinley is a PhD candidate at the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities, where he studies technical communication and cultural rhetorical theory.

Dana Comi is a fourth-year Ph.D at the University of Kansas. Her research interests include Rhetorical Genre Studies, technical communication, and community-driven design.

Wilfredo Flores is a third-year PhD student at Michigan State University. His research interests include digital rhetoric, health communication, land-based and multimodal design, and cultural rhetorics.

I am Jialei Jiang, a PhD candidate in Composition and Applied Linguistics at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. My research areas of interest include digital rhetoric, new materialism, and multimodal pedagogy.

Jathan Day is the Graduate Administrative and Editorial Associate for the DRC. He is a PhD candidate in the Joint Program in English and Education at the University of Michigan. Jathan's research interests include course management systems, digital literacies, online pedagogy, disability studies, and reading practices.

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