e-mail me at billdeg@umich.edu


4Cs Chair's Address

Just got back from 4Cs, the annual flagship conference in my field (Conference on College Composition and Communication). Always nice to spend a few days reconnecting with friends from graduate school and from my first job. I mean, Facebook is great and everything, but you can't beat dinner in the big city (St. Louis this year) and the obligatory can't-believe-I-graduated-from-Arizona-a-decade-ago conversations. Panels and presentations always differ in quality and always will, but I consistently walk away from sessions with ideas and/or energy.

Malea Powell gave the chair's address and did a fabulous job of provoking thought. She discussed her own subfield--Native-American Rhetorics--and questioned whether it's time we move beyond relegating such pursuits to "alternative" status, challenging *everyone* to get involved in de-colonizing work. This blurb doesn't do her talk justice. Also noteworthy: Powell's inclusion of multiple voices during "her" talk--various members of the field went to the mic and told brief stories of their own about their inclusion (or lack thereof) and/or entree into Comp Studies. "This is my story, make of it what you will," they intoned. Which was interesting, but also left me asking: what if we choose to ignore your story?

Why not end each person's story with something like, "This is my story, please think about it and adjust your practices accordingly"?



I shared Billy Collins' Morning with my students today. "Why do we bother with the rest of the day[...]?" the poem asks. Some of my favorite poems by Collins capture the home, the day, the ephemera of the narrator: the barking dog next door, cello recordings, student papers. "Morning" is no exception, as we encounter the vitamins, espresso, and arcane machinery of literacy that define an idiosyncratic a.m.

This morning, before I shared "Morning," I realized I never loved the Southfield Hwy. until the Southfield Hwy closed for several months, humanizing my Berkley to Dearborn commute each morning. My own morning is sometimes bad radio and good cereal. The latter has whole grains, the former is bleached bland carbs. I should listen to NPR each morning, and not just during Bad Radio's commercials. Sometimes I walk the dog around the block, other days are lazy and she settles for the backyard. We should circle the block each morning. With thanks to Billy Collins, two morning resolutions.



Though on "Spring" "Break," I'm reading the ethnographies my Composition 106 students wrote. Many of them chose fascinating places to visit and study: Eastern Market, a braille bookstore, an after-school tutoring program for minority kids, CityYear Detroit, etc. Been a while since I enjoyed reading student writing this much. Definitely would like to keep this assignment in heavy rotation when I teach Comp 106.