I fancy myself a writer.

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I’m suffering a little spring nostalgia

I’m feeling a little sad today. The redbud trees are slowly beginning to exchange their flowers for leaves. It may have been cool this week, but summer will soon overpower my favorite season, and we’ll be wilting in the sultry steam of a central Illinois summer.

This time of year always reminds me of my Grandma Webster who passed away just over nine years ago now. I was pregnant with my younger son when Grandma left us, so I will always be able to recall just how long she has been gone.

When I was a kid, I used to sneak down the hill by Grandma’s house with a pair of scissors and cut a few twigs of blooming rosebuds to surprise her with. Every time, she showed her appreciation for the gesture as if it was the first time. She had a way of making every single one of her grandchildren – so many of us now, I’ve lost count – believe ourselves to be her favorite. To this day, I am still fairly confident that I was Grandma’s favorite. But then again, so is everyone else!

redbud tree

The redbud trees are in bloom all over central Illinois right now, but they won’t last long.

Another treasured spring memory is a composite of all of the times I went mushroom hunting with my grandma in the woods by her house. Morels are plentiful in the woods of my homeland this time of year. When I was a kid, it seemed as though everyone I knew made a mass exodus into the local woodlands to search for this delectable treat. For a few short weeks, we’d have fried mushrooms for breakfast, and then again as a side dish at lunch and dinner. Unfortunately, I’ve never been any good at finding them myself. Read the rest of this page »

How to fall in love with a reader: Part Three

Cover of “The Name of the Wind” by Patrick Rothfuss

Since my first post, I have now added “The Name of the Wind” to my original list of favorite books. Not sure how I forgot this one!

And finally, the third and final part of my how to fall in love with a reader Q&A series: Read the rest of this page »

A Wednesday Writing Prompt

Write  for fifteen minutes on the following writing prompt:

Writing prompt: She refuses to admit she's not okay.

She refuses to admit she’s not okay.

Post your work in the comments below, or share them on your own blog and post a link below so we can read what you’ve written. Read the rest of this page »

How to fall in love with a reader: Part Two

Anti-Stratfordian Mark Twain, wrote "Is S...

Yes, Mark Twain is still my celebrity crush, even after all these years! | Anti-Stratfordian Mark Twain, wrote “Is Shakespeare Dead?” shortly before his death in 1910. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As promised, here is part two of my how to fall in love with a reader Q&A series: Read the rest of this page »

How to fall in love with a reader: Part One

a picture of me with my niece

Did you fall in love with this reader yet? This is a picture of me with one of my nieces at my sister’s recent bridal shower. My niece is a reader too, but she’s too young for you. I’m the short one.

The other day, I read this blog post that mentioned a New York Times essay discussing a “36-question interview devised to make strangers fall in love.” The author of the blog post revised the questionnaire with the intent of making specific people – readers – well, if not fall in love, at least “have an interesting conversation about books.” In this post, the first in a three-part series, I will answer that blogger’s questions. Read the rest of this page »

What now?

Kungsleden hiking trail, in Swedish Lappland, ...

This looks like a nice place for an adventure. | Kungsleden hiking trail, in Swedish Lappland, just over the Teusa lake, south of Kebnekaise. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So now, I’ve finished all of my annotated bibliography entries and have written all of my required papers this semester except for that one huge final that just won’t fit into a blog post. It’s a relief, but today I’m panicking a little because… NOW WHAT WILL I PUT ON MY BLOG?!

Sorry, I didn’t mean to yell.

On one hand, repurposing content is awesome because you can kill your proverbial two birds with one pen. You gotta write a paper anyway, so why not post it to your blog too, right? On the other hand, my annotated bib entries have been admittedly dry at times. (I find them interesting, but do my readers?) The truth is, they haven’t received a huge amount of traffic compared to some of my older posts. Read the rest of this page »

Closing the gap between east and west in “Persepolis”

Cover of Persepolis 1, 2000. L'Association Fre...

Cover of Persepolis 1, 2000. L’Association French edition. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In her graphic novel, Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi examines the pedagogical issue of “othering” and creates closeness between her western audience and its perceived enemy – the Iranian people – by speaking directly to and carefully instructing the reader on Iran and its people. She explicitly teaches the reader about the Iranian revolution and how she and Iranians like her are very much like us here in the West.

The history of Iran that Satrapi provides in the introduction creates a frame for her story in which the reader must consider the fact that the fundamentalists who now rule Iran were created by the west. She also strives to strip away the “otherness” and show us that we are, in many ways, more alike than we are different. Satrapi uses her text to show her western audience that she and other educated Iranians like her are more like everyday westerners than they are like the fundamentalist Iranians who are so vilified by the west.

Throughout Persepolis, the character of Marji often speaks directly to the western reader. There is no question that Satrapi uses her text to teach to a western audience. For example, in the scene on pages 114-115, Marji walks purposefully down a flight of stairs toward her audience. She may as well be an actor on a stage, pausing the show to step down to audience-level and explain her country’s descent into war. Such a move would not be necessary if she were writing for an Iranian audience. Read the rest of this page »

Annotated Bib: “Creative Transcendence: Memoir Writing For Transformation And Empowerment.”

Diana Raab

Diana Raab (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This week’s Annotated Bibliography entry reviews an article by Diana Raab, a researcher and memoir writer who explores “the transformative and empowering dynamics of writing a memoir in connection with transcendent/pivotal experiences.” You may view the full text here.

Annotated Bib Entry

Raab, Diana. “Creative Transcendence: Memoir Writing For Transformation and Empowerment.” Journal Of Transpersonal Psychology 46.2 (2014): 187-207. Academic Search Complete. Web. 2 Apr. 2015.

In this article, Raab discusses a study she conducted in which she examined the works of five writers who have written at least one book-length memoir. The purpose of this study was to determine the impact on the participants of writing about events that have transformed their lives. Participants were chosen who had 1) written at least one memoir that was prompted by the occurrence of a pivotal or transformative event in their lives, and 2) reported that writing a memoir about the inciting incident(s) provided additional transformative and empowering experiences for the writer. Individual stories were analyzed in an effort to identify their similarities and differences. Read the rest of this page »

Annotated Bib: “Gender and Violence”

This week’s Annotated Bibliography entry reviews an article by Jacquelyn Knoblock, a domestic violence survivor who examines the role of gender expectations in her experience of a violent intimate partner relationship. You may view the full text here.

Annotated Bib Entry

Knoblock, Jacquelyn. “Gender And Violence.” Human Architecture: Journal of The Sociology of Self-Knowledge 6.2 (2008): 91-101. SocINDEX with Full Text. Web. 17 Mar. 2015.

In this article, Knoblock explores “how gender ideologies and practices contribute to gender based violence” (91). She discusses issues such as the process by which human beings are classified as male or female, the stratification of genders in which “men are ranked above women within the same race and class,” and the structure of our society that dictates gender roles and determines whether certain tasks – for example, household chores – are considered by society as either male or female. Knoblock then connects these elements to the prevalence of gender based violence in American society.

women meme

Women are nine times less safe in the home than out of it.

Throughout the history of the world, and the United States, gender based violence has been widely considered to be a personal issue rather than a societal issue. Gender based violence occurs most often in situations where the perpetrator maintains the perception that he has the right to behave in a violent manner toward the victim. In the United States, this most often occurs within the context of an intimate partner relationship and thus has often been viewed as a private matter. This view has often lead bystanders to ignore the violence, believing that it is “none of their business.” Read the rest of this page »

Annotated Bib: “Toward a Writing and Healing Approach in the Basic Writing Classroom: One Professor’s Personal Odyssey.”

Basic writing

Basic writing (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This week’s Annotated Bibliography entry analyzes an article by Molly Hurley Moran, a composition teacher who learned the importance of incorporating personal writing in the classroom after writing a memoir about a personal tragedy in her own life. You may view the full text here.

Annotated Bib Entry

Moran, Molly Hurley. “Toward a Writing and Healing Approach in the Basic Writing Classroom: One Professor’s Personal Odyssey.” Journal of Basic Writing 23.2 (2004): 93-115.Communication & Mass Media Complete. Web. 4 Mar. 2015.

After writing a memoir about a tragic experience in her own life, this writing teacher decided to explore the usefulness of using personal writing in a basic composition course rather than focusing solely on academic writing. In her redesigned curriculum, Moran asks students to write about personal and often painful experiences in their own lives in an effort to improve students’ confidence in their writing skills prior to moving the focus to academic writing. Read the rest of this page »

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