Monday, September 14, 2015

(Not) Back to School Time

Though graduate rhetoric programs are expanding (slightly), there's no where near the number of jobs in academia to meet the supply. Rhetoric, though often lumped into "composition and rhetoric," is a distinct field with subspecialties beyond academic writing. My degree was within a "Rhetoric, Scientific and Technical Communication" program. I'm interested in how the rhetoric of creative writing affects public policy, which is loosely lumped with "technical" writing… because I couldn't locate a "rhetoric of creative writing" or "rhetoric of fiction" program.

Wayne C. Booth's The Rhetoric of Fiction is the seminal work on how works of written fiction are rhetorical, with authors making strategic choices to engage readers. However, narrative is narrative, and lines between "fiction" and "non-fiction" are blurry — with fiction aiming for its own "truth" and effective "non-fiction" embracing creative storytelling.

I love discussing rhetoric and writing. I tell my students stories sell ideas. But, there are no students this school year.

Maybe a seminar or two might happen, but I'm not in a university classroom. For the first time since the 2010-11 academic year, I'm not heading back to school this August. Before that, I had been in graduate school and teaching from 2004-05 until 2009-10 (six years, inclusive). That means I've spent at least part of ten of the last 11 years preparing for school as a student, an instructor, and a professor.

Maybe I'll head back part-time somewhere, teaching something, in the next year or two. I would jump at some teaching opportunities, but I'm not rushing to head back to the basic college composition ("academic writing") classes — and that's where most openings are for a "rhetoric" professors, even though I'm not an academic writing specialist. (I am interested in the rhetoric of cinema and theater, as they fall within both visual rhetoric and the rhetoric of creative writing.)

Not teaching means my routine has been disrupted a bit. It bothers me to not have that mid-August through mid-June plan in place, especially the paycheck. Moving forward was the right choice, but not an easy choice. The offer to adjunct part-time wasn't appealing this year, although it might have been wise to maintain a steady job history in higher education.

I loved teaching two sections a business writing class this last spring semester, after a difficult fall semester. I didn't enjoy the other class I was teaching, and still struggle to determine what went wrong. Teaching is like live theater: the audience can change the performance and you end up in a cycle… up or down.

For now, this blog and other platforms will be where I explore the rhetoric of creative writing, film, and stage.

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