Monday, September 17, 2012

SSLW 2012--Somewhere in between being here and being there

This entry comes a little late but there is always something else to do. I heard great things about the Symposium on Second Language Writing 2012 from my friends and colleagues. Congratulations to the organizers Tony Silva, Paul Matsuda, Kyle McIntosh, Carolina Pelaez-Morales, the symposium assistants, and volunteers. Last time the symposium was held at Purdue, I was one of the organizers so this whole thing makes me a little nostalgic. It is weird. In some ways it feels like I'm still there but I feel homesick too. Especially since the semester started I feel these imaginary paper cuts in my virtual bonds with that place and people. I know the pain is not serious but it sure makes itself felt constantly.  Anyway, that's life. I saw so many symposium pictures on facebook and got emails from friends that the stories they told me almost feels like my memories.

Ah, I should also mention that my advisor Dwight Atkinson and I had a presentation on my Master's thesis. Since the theme of the symposium was the perspectives of advisors and graduate students working together I wanted to share our experiences. I'm in Turkey right now and I could not attend the symposium but Dwight presented our stories. In the process of working on the presentation, I realized that I had so much to say about the process that it was impossible to fit them into the presentation. I hope to share my thesis stories here if I have the time. These words want to be spoken so I'm pretty sure they will get their way eventually :-). It's unfortunate that I didn't have this blog when I was working on my thesis. If I had, my stories would be here already.

Coming back to the presentation, initially, I wanted to focus on multimodality and interactivity of my thesis writing experience because I think this aspect of my experience has not found its way to the literature, but as I was going through the data I realized the role emotions play in the process. I'm not quite sure how to study emotions in SLW context yet but I will be thinking about it. Anyway, here is the proposal abstract.

The Making of a Master's Thesis: Interactivity and Multimodality in Academic Writing

In this presentation, we will describe the academic literacy development of an international graduate student during a major rite of academic passage--writing the master's thesis. Past studies of L2 academic writing have typically focused on either a specific aspect of the writing process (e.g., feedback) or written product (e.g., research article introductions), or approached the process from a etic/outside researcher’s point of view. The present study differs from these in both providing a holistic description of the thesis-writing process from inception to submission and featuring the unmediated voices of graduate student and advisor in complementary and contrastive perspective.

The main data in this study are autoethnographic accounts of the thesis-writing process, based on a wide variety of sources--the student's notes and journals, course papers (with advisor's written feedback) leading to the thesis, multiple thesis drafts with advisor comments, and transcripts of stimulated recall sessions wherein we retrospectively analyzed and reflected on various aspects of the writing process. Preliminary findings point to the centrality of interaction and multimodality in SLW. We hope this study will both expand perspectives on SLW as a collaborative, multimodal process and contribute toward demystifying academic writing processes for international graduate students.

At least I think this was the final version. Funny, even though I was not the one to present it, I got quite nervous and excited around the time of the presentation.  Another instance of the feeling being there and being here simultaneously, which makes me think that situatedness might be more complicated than some people think. Apparently, you can be situated in an imagery :-)

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