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“MnWE News” Spring Issue, May-June 2018

In this issue:

     1. MnWE CONF. FRI.-SAT, MARCH 23-24, UMN-TC:  
Rereading and Mobilizing White People
          for Antiracism”

Our Bold North: Expansive, Ethical, &
         Relational Perspectives on Writing and the Work of Writing Educators


     5. About MnWE:
Forwarding the News, Joining/Leaving, Grad Credit,

If you are a MnWE representative, please forward this email to colleagues in English,
Writing and related fields. Many new faculty and writing tutors may not be on the email list.

If you are a long-term member of this listserv, thank you
for your continued participation. If you are new, welcome! Our
listserv emails go to about 2500 English, Writing, and related Upper
Midwest faculty. To join, send a request to the editor at richard at jewell dot net.
Our website is at
www.MnWE.org. Our next conference is at UMN-TC Fri.-Sat., 3/23-24/18.
You are welcome to attend our next Committee meeting at the Conference at 4 pm Fri., 3-24-18, at UM-TC in Nicholson 110 (a conference building) or by Skype at “MnWEmeeting” at
https://join.skype.com/AqzB0BQoN7wu .  –Richard J., Editor


        MnWE returned in March to the site of its first conference eleven years ago: the University of Minnesota. This time we met on the Southeast Campus, participated in two excellent, interactive keynotes, ate lunches from the Wedge Coop and dinners at two nearby restaurants, and talked with each other constantly for two days in small breakout sessions. We had about 130 attendees, with another approximate 30 cancellations at the last minute (three groups from the Dakotas, and others) because of western Minnesota snow.

         The Friday keynote was by UMN Professor  of Curriculum and Instruction Dr. Timothy Lensmire: “Rereading and Mobilizing White People for Anti-Racism.” Using the Conference theme “Points of the Compass: The Ethics of Our Times,” he talked about his ethnographic research into how white identity develops in a northern Wisconsin town. Echoing ideas originally broached by Ralph Ellison and the Rev. Dr. Thandeka, Lensmire described how white people in the town learn to be specifically white, over against perceived nonwhite cultures, and that this “whiteness” depends in part, at least, on people of color, even if townspeople have little personal contact with people of color. Lensmire’s research is in his recent White Folks: Race and Identity in Rural America.

        During the Friday plenary, panelists from two universities shared their experiences with spheres of politics in classrooms. Panelists and the audience discussed such topics as introducing diversity and inclusion training into universities, encouraging students to critically think about politics without searching for the “right” answer, conceptualizing politics as “the fabric of our lives,” and maintaining the moral imperative of anti-racist teaching.  (–Ellen Zamarripa)

        Dr. Kirsten Jamsen, Director of the UMN Center for Writing and Co-Director of the Minnesota Writing Project, keynoted on Saturday. She explained how everything we do, write, encourage, and even require in teaching writing involves a value: of rational vs. irrational thinking; logical vs. emotional thinking; thorough vs. shoddy (or no) research; speaking to others fairly, forthrightly, and with balance in an academic community vs. doing so with malice, manipulation, or selfishness; the value of seeking to understand multiple viewpoints vs. circling our wagon around just our own. If, Jamsen said, this is what values are in teaching writing and research–and grading papers–then certainly all of us must and do teach them and should be confident in doing so: this is the ethical work we choose to do.

        The Saturday plenary was an excellent reprisal of many age-old financial tensions, along with some new ones, in the payment of adjuncts vs. the payment of permanent, full-time faculty, especially in the fields of Writing and English. The panelists pointed out how administrations often make use of adjuncts to save large sums of money, and how adjuncts in an increasing number of institutions are creating or joining unions.


        Are you an adjunct, especially the kind called a “freeway flyer” or “roads scholar” because you spend so much time shuttling between campuses? I remember my own years of driving. At the lowest point, during a recession, I worked for six different units in four locations and kept several briefcases in my car-as-office. Do you feel like you’re going nowhere? There are a number of ways you can advance your job and career:

     - Look for schools that have unions; learn the union pay rules for adjuncts.
     - Find professional development opportunities for your growth and resume.
     - Seek membership on campus committees that are nonpolitical.
     - Present and publish, as this can advance your career with little danger. Also,  
       many conferences and journals accept work not knowing your name/position.
     - Seek a variety of experiences: online, night, multicultural, and multi-course
       teaching in multiple styles and settings.
     - Seek full-time jobs so that you gain experience in applying and interviewing.
     - Get together with other adjuncts in your discipline and/or similar ones.
     - Find one or more tenured–or long-term adjunct–mentors on campus.
     - Develop a communicative relationship with your hiring dean or department chair.
     - If you aren’t appreciated in one school or by one boss, move to where you are.
     - In all cases, ask, ask, ask for advice.
     - Act as if you feel like a tenured professional: others will start assuming you
       should be. However, if asked, always be honest, if brief, about your position.
Google: “Tomorrow’s Professor #1641”

This brief excerpt is from “No More Formulaic Composition Essays” by David Gooblar in the Chronicle, Mar. 6, 2018. It discusses how we can use common rhetorical devices students already know from social media to help them learn academic and professional writing.
        Gooblar says, “Lacking their own standards for effective academic writing, [students] adopt their former [high school] teachers’ rules. We see…a lot of formulaic prose.
        “One way to meet that challenge is to better familiarize students with the [academic] genre. Providing examples of good–and bad–undergraduate writing can be enormously helpful in teaching students how to write well. In class activities, I often use anonymous excerpts of papers…to help students identify the writing strategies that work and…don’t….
        “But lately I’ve been...looking for parallels in rhetorical modes that first-year undergrads are already familiar with…. I start by showing them movie trailers…. Then I ask them how an opening to an essay is like a movie trailer.… What would they include in the trailer to their essay? How would they entice readers to read on? How can they get across something of the paper’s tone and themes? Suddenly we’ve got a new way to talk about their writing, one they’re much more comfortable with.
        “[T]here are other nontraditional forms of rhetoric you can use to get students thinking more clearly about their introductory paragraphs:
       “ - [If students have no] thesis, [a]sk: If this were a magazine article, what would your headline be?
        “ - In class, offer examples of Facebook posts promoting…magazines and websites…. If [students] had to promote their essay online, how would they get their point across in one sentence? How would they entice readers to click?...
        “If students can learn how to tweet, they can learn how to write a thesis statement.
        “The point is: Our students understand rhetoric even if they don’t understand how to apply it to a composition essay…. Many of our students already have a keen grasp of effective communication. Part of our task is to help them develop the flexibility to use those skills appropriately in response to a variety of rhetorical situations–say, for example, on social media, in a college course, and, eventually, in the workplace.”
Full article:



“Connecting Reading and Writing” is our 2019 Conference theme. We’ll meet at North Hennepin Community College, Brooklyn Park, in the northwest corner of the Twin Cities Friday, April 5-Saturday, April 6.

What is the relationship between teaching reading and teaching writing? How do we help stu­dents read thoroughly, deeply, and with pleasure and excitement? How do we explore the com­plexities of reading textbooks, research sources, or literature? The 2019 theme encourages sharing perspectives on the links between engaging with texts and producing writing.

As always, we also will accept proposals on any subject having to do with college Writing, English, and related subjects.


5. About MnWE
(repeated in each newsletter):

Please forward this email to others, especially if you are a MnWE representative listed below. Your newer full-time and adjunct faculty members, graduate students, and writing center tutors may not receive it. 

If you are not on the listserv and would like to join it, simply send your request and email address to richard at jewell dot net.

WHO WE ARE: “MnWE” is “Minnesota Writing and English,” an organization with a coordinating committee, a listserv, and an annual spring conference by and for college, university, and high school English and writing faculty, graduate students, and related academic and literary scholars, writers, tutors, and others in the Upper Midwest.  Our purpose is to bring together these communities in Minnesota, Wisconsin, north and central Iowa, and the eastern Dakotas.  Our website is MnWE.org; our geographical center is Minneapolis-St. Paul. Over 2500 faculty, tutors, and graduate students are on the listserv.  Our listserv members come from public and private two-year colleges, state universities, private four-year and graduate-degree colleges, high schools, and the Universities of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and North Dakota.  Our activities are led by a large, active committee of representative members listed below. 

GRADUATE CREDIT: Anyone may earn one graduate credit from Southwest Minnesota State
University for attending one MnWE Conference day and writing a related research paper (up to three times). For questions about this course—“Eng 656: MnWE Practicum”—please contact lisa dot lucas at smsu dot edu or see www.smsu.edu/academics/programs/english/?id=11637 .

HOW TO REMOVE YOURSELF FROM THE LIST: If you want to be removed from this listserv, please do so yourself, following directions at the very bottom of this email.  If you try without success, then send an email to richard at jewell dot net indicating (1) this problem, (2) your specific email address copied from the directions at the bottom of a MnWE mailing, and (3) your request for removal.
FORMATTING, INVITATION, & CREDITS: These listserv emails usually are formatted in a simple way using html. If you cannot read them, please go to the link at the top to see them on the web.
        If you have any questions, we invite you to email any of us on the committee. You also are always invited to attend any of our five MnWE Committee meetings per year.  You also are invited to offer suggestions—or volunteer your leadership—for a special or double section at the annual conference. 
        This newsletter is written primarily by Richard Jewell without copyright so that anyone may quote, paraphrase, or forward any or all of it freely. We ask only that you give credit to the “MnWE Newsletter” and/or “
www.MnWE.org“; and when you use material that has been quoted or paraphrased in this newsletter from other sources, please be sure to give proper credit to the original source. 
REPRESENTATIVES: Representatives, please forward each of these emails: many of your writing and English colleagues may not be on this listserv. Potential volunteer representatives: We always appreciate hearing from you if your school has no rep. See the “Representatives” list below, and if no one at your school is on it, please volunteer! Email richard at jewell dot net.  We are especially looking for reps from Greater Minnesota, Canada, Iowa, North and South Dakota, and Wisconsin. 
Richard Jewell, Larry Sklaney, Danielle Hinrichs,
and Gordon and Beata Pueschner, Coordinators
Anthony Miller, 2019 Site Coordinator
Alexander Champoux, 2018 Site Coordinator

Richard at jewell dot net - (612) 870-7024
larry dot sklaney at century dot edu - (651) 747-4006
danielle dot hinrichs at metrostate dot edu - (651) 999-5960
a dot miller at nhcc dot edu
gordon dot pueschner at century dot edu - (651) 686-4468
beata dot pueschner at anokaramsey dot edu - (651) 686-4468
champ147 at umn dot edu

Minnesota Writing & English
A Consortium of Colleges & Universities

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Donald Ross of the University of

Minnesota and Taiyon Coleman of St. Catherine University run a breakout session about literature.




Geoffrey Sirc of the University of Minnesota runs a small breakout after his keynote presentation.




MnWE started in 2007. The cofounders

were Richard Jewell, here giving a welcome after lunch, and Donald Ross, first picture above.





During a 2016 breakout, Beata Puschner presentson improving classroom inclusion of ELL students.


Updated 11 Mar. 2018




Editions: 12-09, 10-14, 8-15, 9-16

Conference Questions--Larry Sklaney or Danielle Hinrichs. General--Richard Jewell

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All MnWE work is volunteer. MnWE thanks the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities for meeting and web space, and the Minnesota State system (formerly MnSCU) for financial and site services. Photos © MnWE