A Blogging Revival, or 10 Things I Accomplished in 2016

Almost a year has passed since my last post. I could offer an explanation: I was busy (true). I could offer a lament: I’m sorry for creating yet another abandoned social space on the internet (also true). I could promise to atone: I’m renewing my commitment to blogging and will post at least once about about my teaching, research, or reading (well, I hope this will be true).

Instead, or maybe in addition to those things, I’ll bring you up to speed about what I’ve been doing.

In 2016, I accomplished a lot as an educator, scholar, and member of a robust university community. Here are 10 highlights of my year:

1. Presented on Dr. S. Josephine Baker’s Little Mothers’ Leagues at an arts and health humanities conference sponsored by the Cleveland Clinic and Hiram College; this research is part of a larger project focusing on Baker’s autobiography, Fighting for Life.

2. Published  “Teaching Casual Writing for Professional Success with Twitter: Digital Small Talk and the New Textese,” a chapter in the collection Engaging 21st Century Writers with Social Media, edited by Dr. Kendra N. Bryant.


3. Collaborated in developing and now, co-coordinating, an online, Graduate Certificate in Professional Writing at Radford University; the certificate can be completed in one year.

4. Taught an introductory medical humanities course to academically gifted high school students from Virginia; the course was part of the 2016 Governor’s School in Arts and Humanities, which takes place every summer at RU.

5. Contributed an essay to a forthcoming special issue of the Journal of Medical Humanities; edited by Dr. Sarah Berry and Dr. Erin Lamb, the issue discusses the health humanities at the undergraduate level.

6. Taught English 607: Business Writing and Editing, the first course offering of RU’s Graduate Certificate in Professional Writing; many RU MBA students also enrolled in the course for elective credit.

7. Taught a 400-level, “author-in-context” course on Eugene O’Neill, an American dramatist whose plays often referenced his life, family, alcoholism, mental illness, and bout with tuberculosis.

8. Attended the 2016 Association for Business Communication national conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico; my presentation focused on using trending social media gaffes to teach “combined refusal-apology” messages.

9. Successfully sought “Scholar-Citizen Initiative” designation for my Spring Semester 2017 section of “Professional Writing Technologies”; in the course, students will help a local advocacy group, Friends of the New River, meet their communication needs, and the SCI designation helps formalize the course’s focus on civic engagement.

10. Led a short workshop for Graduate Teaching Fellows pursuing masters degrees in English at RU on maintaining a professional, online presence.

Posted in Blogging My Research, Books, Experiential Learning, Lifewriting, Medical Humanities, Workplace Writing

A Year in Books – A (Partial) 2015 Reading List

I had less time for pleasure reading in 2015 as compared to years past. Ironically, this is because my daughter is no longer an infant and is more independent. She was a catnapper as a young baby, so rather than go down for one or two long naps, she slept an hour or less every few hours. The slightest noise (my joints cracking, a cough, the door shutting) would wake her. So, I made the most of those naps by reading. My phone, iPad, and later, Kindle, made it easy to read any kind of lighting. Those devices also allowed me to read one-handed (because, did I mention my daughter only would sleep while being held?).

Times Square, NYC. CC-licensed photo by Kohei Kanno

Times Square, NYC. CC-licensed photo by Kohei Kanno.

New changes in my professional life—a tenure-track Assistant Professorship at Radford University—also influenced this past year’s readings. Owing to a generous two-course release in my first year at Radford, I’ve been able to pursue more research and publication opportunities. Although that work is pleasurable, the list below doesn’t reference any academic titles except for #11. It’s a fascinating book, but I’m really including it here for superstitious reasons: 2016 could be the year that my research on public health official S. Josephine Baker and early twentieth century well baby care comes together. Interestingly, that project grew out of some pleasure reading I completed in 2014.

Without further adieu, here is my “year in books,” a partial and alphabetical list of books I read for fun in 2015:

  1. After Visiting Friends: A Son’s Story, Michael Hainey (memoir)
  2. Don’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability, Steve Krug (how-to guide)
  3. Drowned By Corn, Erika Hyaski (narrative nonfiction)
  4. Epilogue: A Memoir, Will Boast
  5. Everything I Never Told You, Celeste Ng (contemporary fiction)
  6. Fresh Off the Boat: A Memoir, Eddie Huang*
  7. The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins (contemporary fiction)
  8. The Grownup, Gillian Flynn (contemporary short fiction)
  9. The Martian, David Weir (contemporary science fiction)*
  10. Out of Orange: A Memoir, Cleary Wolters *
  11. Perfect Motherhood: Science and Childrearing in America, Rima Apple (academic; history)
  12. Stitches: A Memoir, David Small (graphic memoir)
  13. We Should All Be Feminists, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (essay)
  14. Without You, There is No Us: My Time with the Sons of North Korea’s Elite, Suki Kim (memoir)
  15. The Year My Mother Came Back, Alice Eve Cohen (memoir)

What about you? What books did you read for fun in 2015? Can you recommend any favorites?

Books that I especially enjoyed—that impressed me with craft, style, and substance—are highlighted and linked to author’s sites, when available.
*Books that I didn’t finish also are marked. I wanted to like #6 and #7, but they have some style and craft issues that I found irksome. I have no excuse for not finishing #8. Things got busy, and I guess I figured I could just watch the movie. True confession there, folks.



Tagged with: , , , , ,
Posted in Books, Creative Non-Fiction, Fiction, General literature, Lifewriting
Dr. Amy Rubens
I'm an "ambulant scholar," and I move among several worlds. As a professor of English, I research and write for audiences within and outside of academia. As a teacher of writing, literature, and culture, I facilitate learning. As a blogger, I critique, question, and reflect. Learn more about this blog and the work I do as a professor and workplace writing consultant.

Enter your email address to receive notifications of new posts by email.