Independence Day 2023

I put out the flag and read some poetry this morning: Rowan Ricardo Phillips, Dean Young, Claudia Rankine, Terrance Hayes. As battered and damaged as we are, I have to think there’s some slight hope for democratic ideals.

And I let Malcolm stay up late last night to watch the neighborhood’s homemade fireworks displays. Literal squeals of delight.

American flag against a clear blue sky

Here’s some Tony Hoagland that maybe captures a bit of the feeling.

That one night in the middle of the summer
when people move their chairs outside
and put their TVs on the porch
so the dark is full of murmuring blue lights.

We were drinking beer with the sound off,
watching the figures on the screen—
the bony blondes, the lean-jawed guys
who decorate the perfume and the cars—

the pretty ones
the merchandise is wearing this year.

The poem then takes a swerve into gun violence—and there’s more than enough of that today to not reduplicate it in verse. Happy 4th.

Security Dreams

I probably shouldn’t do class-related readings on the NSA and information security right before going to bed. The past two nights have been a combination of first-week anxieties and stuff related to Bruce Schneier’s Data and Goliath and Frank Pasquale’s The Black Box Society, the latter of which is one of the books I assigned for Digital Technology and Culture (DTC) 356, Electronic Research and the Rhetoric of Information, plus some weird house- and family-related stuff.

In Monday night’s dream, I’m wandering in an abandoned, crumbling neighborhood in late afternoon, the facades of houses caved in, burned and abandoned cars lining the streets, a smoky haze in the sky like what’s been visiting Pullman, dimming the sun. I go into one of the houses and it’s filled with irregular but oddly assembled debris: Read more

Good News, Good Projects

I was recently happy to have good news: last week, the WSU English Department graduate students gave me the “Most Supportive Faculty Member” award (which particularly delights me in that they’re amazing people with whom to work). Yesterday I learned that I’d won a teaching grant. And I’ll brag about my wife too: Lauralea today received an invitation to give a keynote address at a professional conference. We are apparently doing some good things professionally, and those good things seem to sometimes intersect: we’ll both be presenting about quantitative rhetorics and research at Feminisms & Rhetorics in the fall, as well.

In addition to that good news, my Digital Technology and Culture (DTC) 375 (“Languages, Texts, and Technologies”) students presented their final collaborative projects at the DTC showcase last night, and they. were. awesome. Seven teams (who all told me it was OK to post links to portions of their projects) did these things:

I’m kind of amazed, even though I know I shouldn’t be, to work with students who have such goodwill and creativity. The projects above reflect some of the best aspects of what I consider to be excellent multimodal collaborative scholarship.

And today, in class, we concluded with the intersections of James Gleick’s The Information, Marshall McLuhan, “The Library of Babel,” smartphone dating, big data, Robert Burton’s Anatomy of Melancholy, and the Skyrim/Valve paid mods user revolt. A good end to a good semester.