It’s been a busy semester for me. Here’s what I’ve been up to lately — an academic odds and ends post, if you will.
In September, I presented new research at the 4th Annual Western Michigan University Medical Humanities Conference. I discussed Sara Josephine Baker’s 1939 autobiography Fighting for Life. In her day, Baker was a renowned public health official in New York City who revolutionized prenatal and well child care. Her autobiography is interesting in terms of what it reveals about gender roles and the construction of a professional, medical identity in the early twentieth century. Fighting for Life also is interesting because of what Baker leaves out of this account of her life–no mention of her personal life past her late teens.
Advising and registration for Spring semester 2015 begins soon at my institution, so I’ve been updating our departmental website and blog, which I built and maintain. I recently created a page that lists course descriptions for upper-level and special topics courses. And when possible, I cross-promote our website and blog material on other FMU digital media outlets.
And speaking of new media: I’m pleased to announce that I’ll be teaching English 411, The Rhetoric of New Media, next semester. English 411 is a required course for professional writing majors and minors. Students will contribute to my department’s website and blog, and they’ll also launch a new Facebook page for the department. At the end of the semester, students will have the opportunity to apply their skills in a real-word setting (and expand their portfolios) when they work with a non-profit client from the local community.
At the end of the month, I’ll be meeting with faculty across the disciplines at my institution to begin planning a gender-awareness week. (Previously, FMU has sponsored a “V-Week” in the spring, but this year, we’re unable to produce a showing of Eve Ensler’s Vagina Monologues.) Along with another colleague in my department, I’m co-directing a Wikipedia writing and editing event that will focus on closing the site’s notorious gender- and race-gaps. During the one-day event, novice and seasoned Wikipedians alike will edit or add entries that focus on women, minorities, and other under-represented groups. The Wikipedia Edit-a-Thon is inspired by the work of a colleague and friend from graduate school, Adrianne Wadewitz, who passed away earlier this year following a rock climbing accident. Adrianne was a prolific Wikipedian (and scholar-teacher) whose work with the site especially focused on gender bias.