Author: ersmith

Gareth Williams to Speak on Violence in Contemporary Mexico

williams_colloqThe Humanities Department’s Rhetoric, Theory and Culture 2014-15 Colloquium Series is pleased to welcome Gareth Williams, Professor of Spanish and Latin American and Caribbean Studies at the University of Michigan. Professor Williams’ talk is entitled “2666, or The Novel of Force.” It will take place on Friday, April 3rd, at 5 pm, in Forestry G002 (refreshments will be available). All are welcome!

Here is the abstract for Professor Williams’ talk:

Upon the Nazi invasion of France in 1940, Simone Weil penned one of her most renowned essays dealing with the relation between force and the foundation of the city, titled “The Iliad, or the Poem of Force”.  Roberto Bolaño’s 2004 novel 2666 is a fictionalized attempt to approach the murder of hundreds of working class women in and around the city of Santa Teresa (Ciudad Juárez) in the deserts of northern Mexico from the 1990s to the present.  The novel also offers a sustained reflection on the double originality of the political, that is, the constitutive relation between reason and force.  At the heart of the novel’s aesthetic is the questioning of the relation between war as the register and experience of the everyday and the contemporary grasped as (im)possible metaphorization, which in turn raises the question of what is possible in literature, in life, in the face of death.

Professor Williams is the author of The Other Side of the Popular: Neoliberalism and Subalternity in Latin America (2002), The Mexican Exception: Sovereignty, Police, and Democracy (2011), and numerous articles examining the relation between cultural history, literature, and political philosophy. He is one of today’s key thinkers about Latin American politics and culture.

For more information, please contact Marcelino Viero-Ramos.

Photo credit: Shaul Schwarz for The New York Times

Northern Lights Film Festival 2013

The ninth annual Northern Lights Film Festival will feature filmmaker George Desort who will present his new film Fifty Lakes One Island and If You Build It, which Desort shot for director Patrick Creadon. We are also proud to present Joshua Oppenheimer’s remarkable documentary, The Act of Killing, as well as many other notable and award-winning independent documentary and feature films. The festival is free and open to the community. All events are in the Rosza Center for the Performing Arts.

Also screening at this year’s festival is Yoopera!, directed by MTU alum Suzanne Jurva and edited by Erin Smith. Much of Yoopera! was shot by recent CCM graduate Justin Jones with key production assistance from VPA graduate Chelsea Leighton and other Cin/Optic Enterprise team members. Visit the festival website or contact Erin Smith at for more information.

Humanities Department Retirements

Three senior scholars in composition studies are retiring from the Humanities Department this year: Elizabeth Flynn, Professor of Reading and Composition; Marilyn Cooper, Professor of Humanities; and Nancy Grimm, Professor of  Humanities. Dr. Grimm retired in December 2012, while Dr. Flynn and Dr. Cooper will retire in May 2013. All three contributed in major ways to the development and success of the graduate program in Rhetoric and Technical Communication, which has graduated 88 doctoral and 139 masters students to date.

Elizabeth Flynn came to Michigan Tech in the fall of 1979 to help develop the University’s Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC) Program. She was chair of the Department of Humanities when both the MS and PhD in Rhetoric and Technical Communication were developed in the late 1980s. She directed Phase II of the WAC Program, which focused on writing in the engineering curriculum and which was supported by grants from the Whirlpool Foundation (P.I., $75,000) and the National Science Foundation (Co-P.I., $175,580). As part of this project, she co-directed a national conference on writing in engineering design courses. She also directed the Liberal Arts Program and the Rhetoric and Technical Communication Program. She has taught undergraduate and graduate courses in rhetoric and composition, literary studies, and gender studies. She was president of the Women’s Caucus for the Modern Languages, and affiliate of the Modern Language Association and served on the executive committee of the Conference on College Composition and Communication twice and on executive committees of several divisions of the Modern Language Association. She serves on the board of the Copper Country Guatemala Project.

In 1981 she co-directed “Discovering Copper Country Women’s Heritage,” a week-long program sponsored by the Michigan Humanities Council, the first program in Michigan Tech’s history to focus on women’s issues. The project was selected as an “Outstanding Humanities Project” and received a Certificate of Commendation from the American Association for State and Local History in 1981.

Flynn has published six books, including the monograph Feminism Beyond Modernism (2002) and the co-edited collections Gender and Reading (1986), Reading Sites (2004) and Feminist Rhetorical Resilience (2012). The book on resilience resulted from an international conference, Feminism(s) and Rhetoric(s): Affirming Diversity, co-directed with Patty Sotirin and Ann Brady in 2005. She has also published over sixty articles and book chapters in the fields of literary studies and rhetoric and composition including two, “Gender and Reading” and “Composing as a Woman,” that have been reprinted multiple times. She has been an invited speaker at numerous conferences and has made over eighty conference presentations. She founded and edited the journal Reader and serves on the editorial boards of two  international journals, Works and Days and JAC. She is working on a book tentatively titled “Rhetorical Witnessing.”

Marilyn Cooper came to the Humanities Department as an Associate Professor in 1986, just as the graduate program in Rhetoric and Technical Communication was being put in place. She was one of the early directors of the program and also worked for three years with graduate teaching assistants as they prepared to teach first-year writing. She taught graduate and undergraduate courses in composition, editing, grammar, critical theory, rhetoric, and composition studies, and directed fourteen doctoral dissertations and three masters theses. She chaired the general education subcommittee that designed the first-year seminar, Perspectives on Inquiry. She was also president of the Michigan Tech Chapter of the American Association of University Professors from 2006 to 2008, during the brief period in which Michigan Tech faculty had a bargaining unit.

For five years, she served as editor of College Composition and Communication, the flagship journal in rhetoric and composition studies, during which time she also served on the executive committee of the Conference on College Composition and Communication. She directed the National Council of Teachers of English Commission on Composition for two years, and served for two years on the NCTE Committee on Alternatives to Grading Student Writing. She was appointed as the Thomas R. Watson Distinguished Visiting Professor at the University of Louisville for the spring semester of 2010.

She is the co-author of Writing as Social Action (1989) and thirty-five articles, book chapters, and reviews on social approaches to writing and teaching writing, including the much cited “The Ecology of Writing” (1986). With Dennis Lynch and Diana George, former colleagues in the department, she received the Braddock Award for the best article published in College Composition and Communication in 1997. She has delivered over sixty presentations, a number of which were invited. She is now completing a book manuscript entitled The Animal Who Writes, in which she reconceives writing through the lens of complexity theory and phenomenology.

Nancy Grimm began her career at Michigan Tech in 1978 as a part-time tutor in what was then called the Language Skills Laboratory.  From 1979 to 1995, she worked as an instructor and as a professional staff member, directing the Writing Center and leading it into a position of national prominence. During this time, she also served as co-editor of The Writing Center Journal and as executive secretary of the National Writing Centers Association. She was also responsible for coordinating the development of the Learning Centers at Michigan Tech, serving as an advocate for undergraduates and professionalizing the hiring practices and the coach education programs.

Upon completing a PhD in Rhetoric and Technical Communication in 1995, she accepted a tenure track position in Humanities. She was promoted to full professor in 2007.

An interdisciplinary commitment to productive diversity in staffing and programming was central to Grimm’s development of what is now the Michigan Tech Multiliteracies Center. In 2007, the Center earned the attention of Kimberly Clark for this effort and was awarded a $90,000 grant for the renovation of the Center. In the same year, the Michigan Tech Writing Center received a Program of Excellence Award from the Conference of College Composition and Communication, one of only two writing centers in the nation to have received this recognition.

Grimm has published two books and over thirty articles, book chapters, and reviews. Grimm received the outstanding scholarship award from the International Writing Centers Association in 1998 and again in 2000. She was an invited leader at two IWCA Summer Institutes and an invited keynote speaker at sixteen conferences. During her career, she delivered over fifty conference presentations. In the Rhetoric and Technical Communication program, Grimm has directed eleven dissertations and five masters theses. During her career at Tech, she taught graduate and undergraduate courses in composition, technical communication, literature, literacy studies, education, and rhetoric.

Northern Lights Film Festival

The Eighth Annual Northern Lights Film Festival will be held November 1-3 at the McArdle Theatre on the Michigan Technological University campus. This year’s festival features the award-winning Beasts of the Southern Wild, with its special effects director, filmmaker Ray Tintori, on Friday, November 2. For a full list of festival films and events, visit the festival website. For more information, contact Erin Smith at or (906) 487-3263. Admission is free.

Spring ’12: Justin Jones

I am a senior in the Communication, Culture and Media program, with a media concentration. An Upper Peninsula native, I grew up in Calumet and have a deeply rooted love for the area. For that last two years I have had the opportunity to work for director Suzanne Jurva on Yoopera!, a documentary about creative growth around cultural heritage in the Upper Peninsula. The film specifically looks at the Pine Mountain Music Festival and the commissioning of an opera based on the story of a mining tragedy from the early 1900’s in the town of Rockland Michigan. The film also tells the story of a joint project by community artist Mary Wright and the impact her Storyline project has had on local residents and their sense of collective self, young and old alike.

As a sophomore I had the opportunity to first try my hand at film making in Erin Smith’s documentary course, producing a short film about PANK Magazine with three of my fellow students (see the video below). Being involved in the Cin/Optic Communication and Media Enterprise since my freshman year, I have worked on various video productions across campus as well as a book cover for the Keweenew Research Center and a shirt for the CCM major. I currently work as a media lab consultant at the HDMZ in Walker and as a graphic designer for University Marketing and Communications.

Sharing an affinity for the hat they call the Stormy Kromer, Andrew Benda and myself have been a tremendous team in the past year or so. Our short film “Ouroborus” was a winner for story (ten total) and top ten finalist in the Hint Fiction Film Competition at the Vail Film Festival. Winner will be announced at the end of March during the festival. We have collaborated on both video production and design – the trailer for NLFF is a good example (we did all the filming and music). We are also currently collaborating on a brochure for our major and a hodgepodge of other creative endeavors.

Spring ’12: Andrew Benda

Andrew Benda and Justin Jones have collaborated on a number of video, music, and art projects during their time as CCM students.
Andrew Benda
Born and raised in the Keweenaw, the things that I have pursued while attending Michigan Technological University are (in order): lakes, stories, and saunas. Exploring expression in the arts, particularly film and music, I have worked on several projects including two trailers for MTU’s Northern Lights Film Festival for which I serve as project manager as well as working with Justin Jones on a series of short films marrying footage with music and more abstract sound design.

Serving as former President of MTU’s Rotaract Club, I spoke at last years Rotary 6220’s District Conference on Rotaract, Media, and the Future of Rotary. While president I led a fundraising initiative to send our representatives to Rotary’s International Conference which was held last year in New Orleans. At the conference I was intrigued by ShelterBox, a disaster relief non-profit, and I am now one of district 6220’s representatives.

I work during the summers at Camp Manito-wish YMCA where I do leadership initiatives in a wilderness setting with youths from around the midwest paddling lakes and rivers of Northern Wisconsin for four to five day routes.

Justin and I wrote directed, and produced a short film for the Hint Fiction Film Contest, where we were given a poem under 25 words and were given 1 minute of film to tell its story. The film has been selected as a finalist, and we will be traveling to Vail, CO at the end of March to see it screened.

I also play guitar in the band Two Sunrises. We play around town.

“Khipu” from Communication & Culture (HU2820)

Tom Maynard created a record of his work schedule using a khipu, a system of writing developed by the Inca people of South America prior to the Spanish conquest. Although khipus are still not fully understood, researchers have discovered that khipus use knots and cords to signify different types of data.

From Tom’s description of his project: “Short cords indicate date, and overhand knots indicate punctuation. Ashley’s Stopper Knots indicate a quantity of 10. The number of turns in each Barrel Knot equates to a number (between 1 and 9). Work hours are indicated with the task signifier (a particular type of knot) followed by the number of hours worked in that day. Figure 8 Knots: Challenge Course. Masthead Knots: Domino’s Pizza. Alpine Butterfly: Outdoor Adventure Program. Square Knot: School Work. All strings between the date strings signify one day, and are arranged chronologically.”