In a total violation of Inkshedding conventions, I composed this off line in a word processing file so that I could not hit send without editing it first. My name is Roger and, while I have had students inkshed in the past, I have not done so recently.
Is the community on the wane? Attendance was down in Gimli but good in Nova Scotia before that. London in May anyone? I guess we’ll see about that. It is hard to get contributions to the newsletter, but any of the editors over the years will tell you that. Hard to see a trendline there. Ask the right question to the list, though, and your inbox will fill up fast. Lots of people are on it and will dig deep and really give 110% to help someone find clichés, if that’s what they need.
A tougher question is what does it mean to be part of this community. In some sense it means knowing people or knowing of people; another sense is feeling that you could email or even phone one of those people, which I have done. When I was first told about the Inkshed conference (1987), I was warned that it was a hard-nosed group of tough debaters—occasionally some things got broken in this Burkean parlour.
The group was pretty small, necessarily, and I think while this group of “originals” remains a presence, the field of writing/composition/rhetoric in Canada has grown. There are more people who teach writing in Canada than there were in the early 1980s, but this group does not always identify with Inkshed (the conference). CATTW offers an alternative identity, and for people specifically in technical/professional writing, that name may have a greater claim on them. Some belong to CSSR, and the new writing centre group offers a greater recognition for those who work that end of the field. So Inkshed is now one of a set of identities individuals may have, and that gives it less of a claim, perhaps.
I guess belonging to this community means reading the list postings, maybe the newsletter, maybe attending the conference, maybe recognizing who else in your geographical area does work like you do. I think it means you aren’t alone—others have had to justify class sizes, too, and they will help you find the resources to help you make your case. I guess it means you will help others and you feel you can also ask for help or ideas if you need them. At grad school at Ohio State there were a couple dozen people, literally, I could ask. Inkshed actually expanded this number by quite a bit—a gross or more!
Dr. Roger Graves
Director of Writing and Technical & Professional Communication
University of Western Ontario
London, ON N6A 3K7
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