Month: September 2015

RTC Graduate Student Colloquium Series Presents “Visual Rhetoric in the Polis”

RTCColloquiumPosterCorrectedThe Humanities Department’s Rhetoric, Theory and Culture 2015-16 Graduate Student Colloquium Series will be holding an event, “Visual Rhetoric in the Polis” on Friday, October 2, 2015 from 4-6 PM in Walker, Room 120A. Two of our esteemed graduate students, Thomas Adolphs and Heather Deering, will be presenting papers, respectively titled “Solidarity and the Life-World: Facebook and the Image that United the LGBTQ Marriage Equality Movement” and “The Whitewashed Eye: Le Corbusier’s Refashioning of Subjectivity.” Dr. Karla Kitalong will be offering commentary and moderating discussion. These papers both deal with questions about visual rhetoric and its political implications.

This event will inaugurate a series of colloquia in which graduate students and faculty will have opportunities to share their work in a format modeled on a typical academic conference panel. The goal here is, in part, to create opportunities for graduate students to gain experience presenting their work among peers and colleagues, but it is also hoped that this will be a venue for the sharing of scholarly work and questions across the various disciplines that make up our department. I hope that everyone will be able to attend and contribute to a lively, collegial discussion.

Light snacks and Dionysian refreshments will be provided. All are welcome.

Here are the abstracts for the papers to be presented:

“Solidarity of the Life-World: Facebook and the Image That United the LGBTQ Marriage Equality Movement”

This presentation will focus on the red and pink marriage equality logo, developed by the Human Rights Campaign’s to provide a sense of unity for the LGBTQ movement through digital space. The distribution of the logo began on March 25th, 2013, through the peer-to-peer website, Facebook. The intended symbolism of this event was, as described by the HRC, to display a sense of solidarity among the LGBTQ community and its advocates as the U.S. Supreme Court came to a decision on the case United States v. Windsor and Hollingsworth v. Perry. The response to this logo, however, could not have been predicted. Facebook saw a 120% increase in the number of profile images changed during only a twenty-four hour period, roughly 2.6 million individuals. Seemingly overnight, the red and pink logo was a cultural phenomenon, with corporate entities as diverse as Kenneth Cole and Bud Light displaying their support for the cause by replicating the logo with their own products. How and why did this viral event happen? What impact has the event had on our cultural cognition of LGBTQ rights after we “unplug” from our digital devices? By investigating the phenomenological theory of the life-world, it is the author’s intention to address such questions.

“The Whitewashed Eye: Le Corbusier’s Refashioning of Subjectivity”

In the initial stage of his architectural career, Le Corbusier promoted whitewashing as the communicative medium that could restore order and rationalism to the larger society. Through its ability to define the very lines of architecture and to erase impurities associated with expression of ethnicity and class, whitewashing was the means through which Le Corbusier desired to reform the human eye—to condition it to see that which was worthy of its gaze.  This paper explores his work through Foucault’s theories of spatiality and subjectivity to address how whitewash could impact the larger society, leaving behind inscribed lines of class and racial segregation.  Furthermore, through establishing this new way of seeing through the fashioned form of a rational human, Le Corbusier instituted a new subjectivity, a new inhabitant of living spaces. In an environment devoid of sensual identities, this human becomes the product of a systemic machine powered by pervasive binaries.

French-Canadian Heritage Week in Michigan

French-Canadian Heritage WeekIn celebration of French-Canadian Heritage Week in Michigan, the following events are planned:

  • Children’s Story Time—Wednesday, Sept. 30, 10:45 am, Portage Lake District Library
  • Dance—Wednesday Sept 30, 7-9 pm, Finnish American Heritage Center
  • Children’s Story Time—Thursday, Oct. 1, 10:45 am, Portage Lake District Library
  • Concert—Thursday, Oct. 1, 7-8 pm, Chassell Heritage Center
  • Children’s Story Time—Saturday, Oct. 3, 11 am, Portage Lake District Library
  • Music at Farmers Market—Saturday, Oct. 3, 11 am-1 pm, Lake Linden Farmers Market

(For further  information, please click the image.)

French Director Agnès Varda Webinar

The French director Agnès Varda will be in residence at the University of Chicago in October. We have an exciting event scheduled to celebrate her work and life.

On Wednesday, Sept. 30, Café Francais will host a look at Varda’s work in Walker 134 at 5 p.m. And, thanks to the French Embassy, Michigan Tech is one of nine universities selected to participate in a webinar with the renowned director. It will take place on Friday, October 9 at 8 pm in Walker 120A.

Humanities to Host International Conference

Michigan Tech’s Humanities Department will host an international conference, the bi-annual meeting of the American Society of Exile Studies, Friday and Saturday.

Guy Stern, former German professor and Provost of Wayne State University, will be the guest of honor. His keynote address will be at 1 p.m. on Saturday at the Great Lakes Research Center, and will focus on the “Future of Exile Studies.”

(This article originally appeared in Tech Today.)

Michigan Tech Graduate School Announces Award Recipients

The Michigan Tech Graduate School has announced the following Humanities graduate student award recipients:

KaunonenCGS/ProQuest Distinguished Dissertation Award Nominee

Gary Kaunonen, PhD Graduate in Rhetoric, Theory and Culture

FrostDoctoral Finishing Fellowship

Rebecca Frost, PhD Candidate in Rhetoric, Theory and Culture

You can find more information on the Graduate School’s Awards and Fellowships page.

Volunteer as a Conversation Partner for IESL

Conversation Partners is an opportunity that pairs students in the Intensive English as a Second Language (IESL) program with more proficient English speaking members of the Michigan Tech community. The program is open to students, faculty and staff. Participants commit to one-hour a week of one-on-one informal conversation by signing a contract with the IESL program for one semester. The contract commits them to meet their partner in public places on campus for a minimum of one hour a week.

IESL is offering this opportunity again for the fall semester; consider giving an international student an hour of your time. It makes an enormous difference.

How the program works: 

  1. Interested students, faculty, and staff members may download and complete a form
  2. IESL matches students with participants. The program makes every effort to match people of the same gender though sometimes this may be difficult. IESL will always check with volunteers before matching them with someone of the opposite gender.
  3. IESL introduces the conversation partners to each other at an initial meeting. Both parties sign a contract stating that they will meet on campus once a week for the duration of the semester.
  4. Though partners meet independently, Listening and Speaking teachers will often check in with students.
  5. If there are any concerns, we ask that volunteers contact the IESL program as soon as possible.

Why participate in this opportunity? As a member of the Michigan Tech community, there are many reasons why you should consider and commit to being conversation partner. Here are some of them:

  1. Make a new friend and create a potentially rewarding friendship
  2. Help an international student understand American culture and society
  3. Experience the contemporary global landscape from the unique perspective of one of our international students
  4. Develop deeper cultural awareness and understanding by through a sustained conversation with someone from a different country
  5. Participate in promoting rewarding cross-language relations and cross-cultural dialogue on campus

The role of a Conversation Partner: As a partner your main responsibility is to offer your IESL student conversation practice. At times you may have to explain English language points but we are not asking you to be an English as a Second Language teacher. The goal is for your conversation partner to have plenty of speaking and listening practice.

The IESL program can provide ideas for your weekly meetings at the program’s preliminary meeting. Those who have participated have found the experience rewarding. We urge others to give it a try. Contact IESL with questions at

(This article originally appeared in Tech Today.)

Tech Faculty and Grad Students Hit the Road

On the weekend before orientation, the Industrial Archaeology Program (SS) made a graduate-study tour to Milwaukee. Five Social Sciences faculty and five graduate students (SS and HU, both MS and PhD) investigated industrial production, adaptation to industrial decline and how urban patterns have been affected by industry, both historically and today.

The five-day trip, partly underwritten by the Chipstone Foundation of Milwaukee, included factory process tours, museum visits, and a day at Chipstone discovering explanatory and interpretive strategies for material culture, primarily using the history of the ceramics industry as the focus for the day.

Visits included the Kohler Company, which produces ceramic and cast iron bathroom fittings; Caterpillar Global Mining (formerly Bucyrus-Erie), which builds some of the largest earth-moving machinery on the planet; Harley-Davidson Powertrain Operations, where we saw engines and transmissions being assembled on a state-of-the-art assembly line; La Lune designer rustic furniture company, where small-batch artisanal woodworking is still practiced; and the Falk Foundry (Rexnord Industries) in Milwaukee, which has sadly been decommissioned in the last six months, but which offered a glimpse of active deindustrialization.

Museum visits included the Hamilton Wood Type Museum in Two Rivers (WI), the Grohmann Museum at the Milwaukee School of Engineering, which has an extensive collection of artwork depicting industrial work, and the Iron Mountain (MI) Pumping Museum. The final stop of the whirlwind tour was the Wisconsin Historical Society’s Herrling Sawmill in Greenbush (WI), a reconstructed 1850s vertical sash sawmill. The historically accurate sawmill has been reconstructed on the basis of archaeology done by Michigan Tech’s Industrial Archaeology Program in the 1990s. Sadly, the day we visited the saw blade was misaligned and a main bolt had sheared, so it was not running, but it was wonderful to see the final result of our archaeology of 20 years ago.

(This article originally appeared in Tech Today)

Intensive English as a Second Language Secures Five-Year Initial Accreditation

After undergoing a rigorous three-year process of measuring its performance against the 44 standards of the Commission on English Language Program Accreditation (CEA), Michigan Tech’s Intensive English as a Second Language (IESL) program has secured a five-year initial CEA accreditation (August 2015-August 2020). CEA is recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education as a national accrediting body for English language programs and institutions. The Commission leads the field of language teaching and learning via rigorous standards and processes of transparent and accountable peer review.

Tech’s IESL program was established to help improve the English language proficiency of international students who meet all of the university’s academic admissions requirements. This accreditation review, the first external evaluation of the program since its inception in 2000, culminated in a three-day site visit last spring.  Tech’s was one of twelve programs seeking initial accreditation, and was one of only five programs granted the full five-year accreditation.

According to Bruce Seely, Dean of the College of Sciences and Arts, the visiting accreditation team was extremely complimentary about Tech’s program.  To a significant extent, that positive stance stemmed from the efforts of Beatrice Smith, director of the program and professor of Humanities, and the IESL faculty, who have revamped and significantly improved the IESL curriculum and content in recent years.  As a result, the visitors stated they would recommend that Beatrice’s report become a model for other schools.  “Beatrice worked incredibly hard to insure that the Tech program met the CEA accreditation standards and this outcome is a tribute to the dedication and commitment exhibited by her and the IESL faculty. They did a superb job, and we deeply appreciate their efforts.”

With accreditation, IESL agrees to uphold CEA standards for language programs and institutions.  The letter granting accreditation states, “In reviewing a program or institution, the Commission seeks to determine that mission and educational objectives are being communicated and met; that performance with respect to student achievement is being realized; that the program or institution is organized so that its mission and educational objectives are supported by adequate human and fiscal resources…and that the CEA Standards for English Language Programs and institutions are being met. The Commission had determined that the IESL Program meets these requirements and commends the program for its achievements”.

With this accreditation, IESL also joins EnglishUSA—the American Association of Intensive English Programs—a group that promotes quality and advocates for English language programs.

(This article originally appeared in Tech Today.)