on (not) being left behind

As I make my way through the journals stacking up around me, and review lists of new books I want to read (just ordered Frankie Condon’s excellent sounding I Hope I Join the Band), I have that familiar anxious feeling of being on the edge of withitness. Maybe that’s the default state of academic work. What’s required is constant learning and openness and a deliberate refusal to give oneself over to provincial gravitational pulls, so alluring in the midst of repetition, habit, convention. The sheer volume of work (both within and beyond a particular field), and the pressures of time, make withitness daunting. What I’d like is a group of curators to organize timely contributions to the conversation in and around r/c on my behalf–a collective archiving project…a tumblr…really, we should be doing this (maybe “we” already are?).

Until then…a recent piece that’s turned my thinking in new directions: essay in CCC (63.2) by Horner, NeCamp, and Donahue on translingualism and comp scholarship. My initial reaction: felt out of my depth and a little annoyed by what struck me as an utterly impractical call for scholars to write and research in various languages. The more I sat with this piece, the more it agitated me. I wanted to dismiss it but found myself circling back, questioning my own response and lingering over my defenses. We are a field of exhortations (maybe they all are?); it’s sometimes fatiguing.

Still, what I think compelled my return to this piece is the way it upends everything…the materials we build with…words/language/ideas/signifiers. Perhaps this translingual model might be considered another branch of multimodal composing — using all of the available means of composing (rather than limiting ourselves to those available in English) to communicate something. In practical terms, this article is the best case I’ve seen for continuing language study at the graduate level (a practice I’ve been against, for the most part, because of the soulless implementation). It also, and obviously, interrogates the limits of monolingual composition studies and so generates potentially interesting links to broader movements in global studies and digital humanities (the latter in a somewhat circuitous way).

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2 thoughts on “on (not) being left behind

  1. I like these thoughts. I like thinking about multilingualism as multi-modality. Rather than fatiguing me, though, I think: hmmm, that’s something for someone else to do. Hmmmm.

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