> Re: (New) Inkshed
A couple of posts from a week or so ago are useful in getting started toward what the new or revitalized Inkshed organization becomes. I’d like to keep us thinking about that by reprinting parts of those posts and then adding my own thoughts to this.
Graham Smart had this to say:
“Why not simply let go of the old Inkshed and let whatever group of people who identify themselves as 'friends of Inkshed' by meeting for a day after CASDW to support each other's work do just that for a year or two? Then if the interest and commitment is there, we could create a new organization called New Inkshed or something like that . . . Inkshed was a great institution that served vital purposes in the early days of Writing Studies in Canada, and it had a pretty good run. In my view, though, at this point it's become pretty much an historical artifact and not a living reality.”
I think the point that I take away here is that we really do need to re-think what we (people who work in post-secondary institutions and are interested in issues related to writing) need out of an organization. This year, 2011, is the second year of meetings for one day after the end of the CASDW conference. Last year’s meeting really felt like a conversation to me among serious, interested, thoughtful colleagues, and I think there is a lot of value in that even if that is the extent to which we decide to meet face-to-face.
Susan Drain noted the strengths of past Inkshed conferences:
“To my mind the value of Inkshed conferences has primarily been in two areas: in the emphasis on teaching, first, and second, on collegiality, especially among the many of our colleagues in this field who are not tenured, full-time, research-focused, but are passionate and committed and knowledgeable and curious about writing.”
I agree: no other writing conference in Canada takes as its focus teaching of writing or the teaching/research intersection. That remains a need and may even be arguably the most important focus for writing conferences in post-secondary contexts. Susan also made a point about how knowledge gets created and shared at meetings, something that Inkshed originally took as a key part of its mission: “I don't think we need another conference for talking heads, or for the dissemination of research except as that work is thought through and addressed in terms of practice at the meeting place of writing and learning.” Last year at the one-day Inkshed we essentially had a series of conversations, some sparked by readings distributed ahead of time and some in response to drafts of work in progress by participants. I think we’ll try to do this again this year—keep the focus on talk and exchange rooted in either previously read texts or short statements of issues/topics/problems that the attendees have identified.
I’m reminded, though, of the title of the organization which includes the phrase “language and literacy.” How broadly do we want to spread our concerns beyond writing? CASDW adopted the word “discourse” to get beyond an exclusive concern with written language; CASLL uses “language and literacy” to make a similar move. Do we want to retain this broad emphasis or focus more specifically on the teaching of writing?
A key component of Inkshed when it started was the newsletter (it was the early 1980s—little use of email, no web, no virtual social networking). I wonder what technologies we could employ beyond the website and the listserv to build collegiality and generate knowledge about the teaching/research intersection? We tried out Google Groups last year, but the technology has changed since then and doesn’t allow us to post documents any more. What about a Facebook or Linked In site in addition to the website and listserv? Members could post content to this virtual newsletter; we could post links to documents and post the documents themselves on the website. The currency of the news would be up to the membership; if you hear of something, post it. Facebook pages also have the ability to host discussions, so we could enable that, too.
As much as possible, I think we should try to use the listserv to work out ideas for the future of the organization. If possible, I think it would be great if we could bring a resolution to the business meeting to consider, adapt, or refer to the executive for further study. I look forward to reading what others think about where Inkshed should go and how it might get there.
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> Director, Writing Across the Curriculum