The Center for Writing Studies

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Navigation: Quick Links

Rafters and skylights in the English Building

Brownbag Series


Faculty and graduate students are invited each academic year to participate in the Research-in-Progress Brownbag series. The series began in 2004 with CWS core faculty invited to discuss their current projects. Over the years it has expanded to include informal presentations by affiliated faculty, graduate students, visiting scholars, and other faculty members from across campus.

Brownbags run for one hour, including a question and answer session.

For the schedule of brownbag speakers, please see the Center calendar. For the archive of previous brownbag talks, see the past speakers page.


Spring 2016

All lunches are from 12-1 in English Building 107a - we're excited to see you this spring!

Brown Bag - Mark Dressman - March 9


Mark Dressman (Curriculum & Instruction) - Words and Pictures: A Peircean/Saussurean Framework for Multimodal Analysis

In this presentation I will demonstrate an approach to multimodal analysis based in a combination Peircean semiosis and Saussurean structuralism that is very different from the more prevalent approaches of Gunther Kress and his associates. A comparative analysis of two videos, one produces by Al Jazeera and one produced by CNN, will illustrate this new approach. In conclusion, I consider implications for conceptualizing relations between language and other modes of signification within multimodal texts.




March 23


Spencer Schaffner (Director of Center for Writing Studies/English) - Shame Parades

In this lunch-hour talk, I describe a portion of a book I'm working on about different ways that writing as been used to punish, shame, and humiliate people in public. I describe how, in a variety of contexts, written signs (often hung around the neck) have been used to shame and punish in social space. When people are made to hold or wear written signs in public, written language is figured as being able to create potentially transformative social anguish. We'll look at some of the messages in these signs, as well as the social actors and contexts in which the signs are created. In the talk, I describe how the signs are imagined to transform social realities via a relationship between two rhetorical mechanisms: mandated and associative speech.




Fall 2015

All lunches are from 12-1 in English Building 107A - we're excited to see you this fall!


October 28 - Writing Across Media

Join us as we kick off the 2015-2016 CWS Brown Bag series! Katrina Kennett will talk about how the Writing Across Media course started and has evolved, current instructors George Boone and Eileen Lagman will share their course visions and projects, and we will talk about future directions. If you're interested in composing in various media, or are curious about teaching WAM someday, stop on by! WAM website.






November 18 - Carolyn Wisniewski


Our second Brown Bag lunch will be hosted by Carolyn Wisniewski, Director of the Writers Workshop


From Preparation to Praxis: Problem-Setting, -Solving, and Emerging Teacher Knowledge among Novice Graduate Teaching Assistants of First-Year Composition

This presentation shares work-in-progress that draws on data from a two-phase qualitative study of the development of teaching knoweldge and practice among twelve novice graduate teaching assistants (GTAs) of college composition. Contributing to recent empirical research in composition studies about the processes by which GTAs learn to teach writing (Dryer, 2012; Reid and Estrem, 2012; Restaino, 2012), this study examines how GTAs make mindful use of programmatic training and materials as they negotiate perceived teaching challenges and begin to move toward goal-oriented, integrated thinking about teaching. This presentation will conclude by raising questions such as: How can writing pedagogy educators better define and help GTAs acquire sufficient, usable, integrated, and deep knowledge about teaching-- particularly within institutional labor structures that continue to ask inexpert instructors to adopt responsibility for teaching our first-year students?