ESL Teacher Orientation

by Dr Davis on August 14, 2017

I am teaching an ESL class this semester and had a meeting this morning with the entire faculty of the program.

There are four instructors and two staff/faculty positions involved. I have met three of the six folks previously. Now I have met everyone.

The classroom has been painted, updated, and decorated. It is a very pleasant room. I wish we could do that for all the rooms we teach in. They tend to look very institutional.

I learned quite a bit about the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CERF), which is what we are using to base our assessments on–both incoming and outgoing.

The level of writing that I will be teaching assumes B1.

Can understand the main points of clear standard input on familiar matters regularly encountered in work, school, leisure, etc. Can deal with most situations likely to arise while traveling in an area where the language is spoken. Can produce simple connected text on topics which are familiar or of personal interest. Can describe experiences and events, dreams, hopes and ambitions and briefly give reasons and explanations for opinions and dreams.

Before they get into on-level classes, they need to achieve C1.

Can understand a wide range of demanding, longer texts, and recognize implicit meaning. Can express him/herself fluently and spontaneously without much obvious searching for expressions. Can use language flexibly and effectively for social, academic and professional purposes. Can produce clear, well-structured, detailed text on complex subjects, showing controlled use of organizational patterns, connectors, and cohesive devices.

Students and teachers will all be challenged this semester.


Presentation on Digital Storytelling

by Dr Davis on July 28, 2017

I attended a presentation on digital storytelling at the Abilene Writer’s Guild two years ago now. The speaker was teaching a class on Technology as Spirit and discussions of digital storytelling was part of that.

John Weaver introduced the StoryCenter out of Berkeley, CA. They have run several seminars on digital storytelling at Abilene Christian University.

Weaver then presented a theory pyramid showing engagement with technology’s progression for digital storytelling. It is called the Taxonomy of Media Practices

Consumption (bottom of the pyramid)
Constructed in Content
Media Creation (The top layer said DIY, but I think that is too broad.)

Weaver also presented the 7 Steps of Digital Storytelling:
1. owning your insight
2. owning your emotion
3. finding a moment of change
4. see the story
5. hear the story
6. assemble the story
7. share the story

I am not sure about “owning insight” and “owning emotion” being first. How can you have an insight if you haven’t thought about your story? But these steps don’t decide on the story until step 3, finding a moment of change.

Weaver said that the StoryCenter has a progressive (i.e., liberal) political and social agenda. This is why, he argues, they focus on change.

Could it instead be that most stories involve movement and change? Characters are dynamic, the plot moves, often even the setting varies.

This is an interesting order for steps as the primary construction of the story begins with images, so that the emphasis is on the visual.

Then, after the visual is assembled, the verbal/aural is created.

Weaver presented an odd description of share the story as he said after the story is assembled (after the video is created) that you consider your audience and the context in which the story will be shared. This is theoretically inaccurate and leaves the story as a wholly author-driven construct, which may not be understood by the audience eventually chosen to receive the story.


2 Ways FYC Does Not Match Student Expectations

by Dr Davis on July 17, 2017

Increasing difficulty:

In most courses the assignments are level. The information across assignments is different, but the level of difficulty stays somewhat consistent. Unless there is a clear jump (such as between a regular exam and a comprehensive mid-term), students assume that they did the last assignment well and they know everything they need for the next assignment.

This is not true in second-semester freshmen composition. The course is scaffolded, so that the easier assignments are earlier, but the assignments throughout the course get increasingly harder, even while building on previous assignments.


Students in writing (and other) classes assume that the first assignment will let them know how the teacher grades and that the next assignment, done the same way, will allow them to earn the same grade.

This is NOT true when the assignments are scaffolded. Each assignment increases the level of complexity. That means that if the student does not learn and apply the requirements in equally increasing complexity, the grades will decrease with each assignment.


Kairos and Comics

by Dr Davis on July 4, 2017

Found an interesting article on Kairos and Comics. It is in Project MUSE.

“Reading Human Rights Intercontextually in Joe Sacco’s Graphic Narratives”
by Rose Brister, Belinda Walzer


Black Widow and the Marvel Girls quantitative study

by Dr Davis on July 3, 2017

In 2015 I attended a talk by Heather M. Porter, whose real job is/was producing reality shows in LA.

The talk she gave looked at 9 of 10 movies, not Hulk, which featured Black Widow.

Black Widow basics:
First appeared in 1964
Joined Avengers in 1966
8 issues of own comic in 1970s
appearances in other comics until 2010…
In Iron Man 2 in 2010
Relaunched series in 2010
Action figures
Solo movie

Bechdel test
Had to appear in 2 of the films
Bechdel test (2 named female characters, talk to each other, not about a man)
Avengers doesn’t pass.

Many films that pass with poor depictions of women.
Major issue of this test is that it only requires small changes.
Fails to look at bigger issues.

Complete female character
Named, speaking character
Has a back story
Has a personality and skills that define them beyond their looks
Has agency
Has flaws
Has audience relate-ability

Black Widow character development
Spy from childhood, originally Russian KGB
Many espionage skills
Out to make amends for her past
Dark past and is cocky
Can be vulnerable, cares for her team members

Quantity is also important
Screen Time –how long on screen
Scenes—how many scenes appeared in

Black Widow 21% of Iron Man2
Avengers 27%
other 29%

Women in each movie
27%, 38%, 49%, 35%, 41% 26%, 58%, 40%
(through the different movies)

trend of increasing complete female characters
Black Widow carries through most movies.
Not a lot of characters carry through.
Phase Three shows promise of more of these characters with Captain Marvel movie on the slate.

Domestically only $3B

19th movie before woman lead
Black Widow won’t have her own.

Gina Davis Disparity
29% of speaking roles in all movies
2.42 men = 1 woman

Heather M. Porter now has a chapter published in Marvel’s Black Widow: From Spy to Superhero edited by Sherry Ginn. Here is a link to the Kindle version.


After Listing Relevant Posts

by Dr Davis on July 2, 2017

After composing a list of posts relevant to teaching visual rhetoric and comics, I decided I must have more notes that I did not actually post on the topic of comics and visual rhetoric.

I’ve found a few.

I will be posting those soon.


Visual Rhetoric of Comics and Graphic Novels: Relevant Posts

by Dr Davis on July 1, 2017

Since I am teaching the Visual Rhetoric of Comics this fall for an Honors Colloquium, I thought I would see what posts I have on TCE. There are quite a few, but not as many as I thought.

On Comics and Graphic Novels:
Visual Rhetoric and Comics Honors Colloquium
What I plan to do with this course.

Teaching Comics as Visual Rhetoric
Link to a dissertation on the topic with relevant work identified by section.

Trends in Teaching Composition Conference 2015 notes on Teaching Comics
I have some fun beginning activities from Lauryn Angel’s presentation.

Mental Health and Comics Workshop
I attended this at Nine Worlds in 2014.

MLA notes on “Why Comics Are and Are Not Picture Books”

PCA Teaching Medieval Lit with Comics

9 Chickweed Lane
Comic I wasn’t familiar with that has a professor as a main character.

PCA Questions on Superheroes 2015

Visual Rhetoric, when I decided I should use Scott McCloud’s book

PCA 2011 Understanding Visual Rhetoric

PCA 2011 Women in Refrigerators

PCA 2011 Supertexts The Waste Land

General Visual Rhetoric Posts:
Benjamin Franklin and Visual Rhetoric

Defining Visual Rhetorics: Emerging Graphical Conventions
A post about a chapter in Defining Visual Rhetorics.

Defining Visual Rhetorics: History of the Visual
A post about a different chapter in Defining Visual Rhetorics.

Defining Visual Rhetorics: Images Construct Memory
A post about a different chapter in Defining Visual Rhetorics.

Defining Visual Rhetorics: Challenging the Visual/Verbal Divide
Notes on Words and Images, Words AS Images, Words over Images, and material practices.

Defining Visual Rhetorics: Rhetoric of Visual Arguments

Says visual arguments can have the same fallacies as verbal arguments: vagueness and equivocation (1002 of 6169).

“[M]ost communications that are candidates for visual arguments are combinations of the verbal and the visual” (1065 of 6169).

“Visual images can thus be used to convey a narrative in a short time” (1106 of 6169).

“visual arguments supply simple, minimalist support” (1131 of 6169)

Defining Visual Rhetorics: Psychology of Rhetorical Images

There are more notes from chapters of Defining Visual Rhetorics that you can find by searching for Defining Visual Rhetorics, but most did not have anything relevant to the class I will be teaching.

Visual Rhetoric: Digital Writing
Since the students will be presenting a digital presentation, I thought this was relevant.

Visual Rhetoric Assignment(s)
Ideas for assignments from Rice in Rhetoric of Cool.

#FYCchat Visual Rhetoric Highlights
Lots of posts from a chat on first-year composition by FYC profs.

Visual Rhetoric, literally
A link to an American Heritage offer that lets you create a picture of you out of your words.

FYC Visual Rhetoric Paper
Long quote and short notes on a Scientific American article.

Visual Rhetoric Essay
How I introduced a visual rhetoric essay.

PCA Tech Comm and Visual Rhetoric
Notes on a panel at 2012 PCA.


CFP: Routledge Comic Studies

by Dr Davis on June 12, 2017

Routledge Advances in Comics Studies Series.

The series promotes outstanding research on comics and graphic novels from communication theory, rhetorical theory and media studies perspectives. Additionally, the series aims to bring European, Asian, African, and Latin American comics scholarship to the English speaking world. The series includes monographs and themed anthologies.

For proposal guidelines contact:

Randy Duncan
Henderson State University
[email protected]
Matthew J. Smith
Radford University
[email protected]

Available Now

Reading Art Spiegelman By Philip Smith

The Modern Superhero in Film and Television By Jeffrey Brown

The Narratology of Comics Art By Kai Mikkonen

Coming Soon

Empirical Approaches to Comics Research: Digital, Multimodal, and Cognitive Methods Edited by Alexander Dunst, Jochen Laubrock and Janina Wildfeuer

Batman and the Multiplicity of Identity: The Contemporary Comic Book Superhero as Cultural Nexus By Jeffrey Brown

Immigrants and Comics: Graphic Spaces of Remembrance, Transaction, and Mimesis Edited by Nhora Lucía Serrano

For more information on any of these books or to place an order, please visit:



CFP: Currents in Teaching and Learning

by Dr Davis on June 12, 2017

Currents in Teaching and Learning
Currents in Teaching and Learning, a peer-reviewed electronic journal that fosters exchanges among reflective teacher-scholars across the disciplines, welcomes submissions for its Fall 2017 and Spring 2018 issues (Volume 10, Numbers 1-2), and looks ahead to the special themed issue for Spring 2019. We consider all submissions that address new approaches to theories and practices of teaching and learning.
Each year we release two issues of Currents, an open-ended Fall issue and a themed issue in the Spring. We welcome all teaching and learning-related submissions for the Fall Issues.

The following are the themes for the Spring 2018 and Spring 2019 issues:

The theme for the Spring 2018 issue is “theories and practices of project-based and problem-based learning.” Project-based learning has been described as “a teaching method in which students gain knowledge and skills by working for an extended period of time to investigate and respond to an authentic, engaging and complex question, problem, or challenge.” Problem-based learning has been defined as a student-centered pedagogy in which students learn about a subject through the experience of solving an open-ended problem.” We invite submissions that address any or all aspects of these approaches to teaching and learning. Some questions that might be addressed include (but are not limited to):

· What kinds of knowledge and skills should educators be cultivating inside and outside the 21st century classroom?

· How do long-term projects and open-ended problems fit into curricula that are often content-driven?

· How do (or should) educators guide students who are frequently risk-averse toward taking on “authentic, engaging and complex questions, problems, or challenges”?

Looking ahead, the theme for the Spring 2019 issue is “Globalizing learning.” With the intensifying clash between nationalism and globalization, the issue of how to incorporate consciousness of global issues and trends into college education has become ever more critical. For this issue, we invite submissions that address this issue from theoretical and/or practical perspectives. Some questions that might be addressed include (but are not limited to):

· What constitutes “global learning”, and what implications might this have for the nature, substance, content, and methods of tertiary education?

· What kinds of approaches can be used to integrate global knowledge and skills into teaching and learning across the disciplines?

· In what ways can global and local forms of knowledge construction be related in classroom and extra-curricular modes of teaching and learning?

Submissions may take the form of:

· Teaching and Program Reports: short reports from different disciplines on classroom practices (2850–5700 words);
· Essays: longer research, theoretical, or conceptual articles and explorations of issues and challenges facing teachers today (5700 – 7125 words);
· Book and Website Reviews: send inquiries attn: Book Review Editors. No unsolicited reviews, please.

We welcome both individual and group submissions. All submissions must be original, previously unpublished work and, if based in a particular academic discipline, must explicitly consider their relevance and applicability to other disciplines and classroom settings.

Submissions Deadlines:
Fall 2017 issue: August 15, 2017
Spring 2018 issue: December 1, 2017

Submissions received after these dates will be considered for the following issue and on a rolling basis.

Currents in Teaching and Learning is a peer-reviewed electronic journal that fosters non-specialist, jargon-free exchanges among reflective teacher-scholars. Published twice a year and addressed to faculty and graduate students across the disciplines, Currents seeks to improve teaching and learning in higher education with short reports on classroom practices as well as longer research, theoretical, or conceptual articles, and explorations of issues and challenges facing teachers today.

Send all inquiries to Editor Martin Fromm or Editorial Assistant Kayla Beman at [email protected] For submission guidelines, visit our website at

Currents in Teaching and Learning is a publication of Worcester State University, Worcester, Massachusetts, USA. ISSN: 1945-3043



CFP: Engineered Humans

by Dr Davis on June 11, 2017

Organic Machines/Engineered Humans: (Re)Defining Humanity

deadline for submissions:
November 15, 2017
full name / name of organization:
Special Issue of Interdisciplinary Humanities
contact email:
[email protected]
Now that school is OUT, it’s time to do some writing for yourself – and if you are a fan of scifi, or intrigued by the singularity, or the human/machine interface that is currently underway, this is the topic made for you!

From E.T.A Hoffmann’s Tales of Hoffmann and Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep to Isaac Asimov’s I, Robot and Vernor Vinge’s Rainbows End, authors have been exploring the human/machine interface since before the computer age. Today we stand on the threshold to the lab as the government contemplates microchipping all U.S. military personnel and Swedish office workers are already implanting themselves for convenience ala M.T. Anderson’s Feed. A 2014 study conducted by Cisco System found approximately one-quarter of the white-collar professionals surveyed “would leap at the chance to get a surgical brain implant that allowed them to instantly link their thoughts to the Internet”. We are already experimenting with gene therapy, cybernetics via cochlear implants and many other technical organic enhancements, autonomous self-replicating robots, nanotechnology, mind uploading, and artifcial intelligence.

The Spring 2018 edition of Interdisciplinary Humanities wants to consider topics focused on transhumanism, the singularity, and the arrival of the bio-engineered human/machine interface and what it means for the humanities as we redefine identity, pedagogy, humanity, class structure, literature (past, present, and future) and the diversity of our species. We also want to consider papers on the future of recreation, literature, music, and art. We invite papers in disciplines and areas of study that include but are not limited to Aesthetics, Anthropology, Architecture, Art, Classics, Communication Studies, Composition, Cultural Studies, Dance, Design, Digital Technology, Disability Studies, Education, Environmental Issues, Esthetics, Ethics, Ethnic Studies, Family, Film Studies, Gender Studies, Geography, Geology, Globalization, History, Languages, Law, Literature, Media, Museum Studies, Music, Pedagogy, Performance Studies, Philosophy, Political Science, Psychology, Religious Studies, Sexuality, Sociology, Theater, Women’s Studies, and all sciences relevant to the topic. These disciplines will help us understand and grapple with how we will redefine identity and the diversity of our species through the dynamic interplay of humanity and the acceleration of technology.

The Humanities Education and Research Association, Interdisciplinary Humanities’ parent organization, requires that authors become members of HERA if their essays are accepted for publication. Information on membership may be found at:

from UPennCFPs