Tenure Narrative

  1. Executive Summary
  2. A brief statement which summarizes your assessment of the quality of your teaching, scholarship and service for this review period, including any statements about special circumstances that may have impacted your activities during this evaluation period. This statement serves as an executive summary for this activities report.

(Teaching)

During the 2017-2018 academic year I taught the following courses, many of which involved either a completely new prep, or partially-new preps based on course redesign:

ENGL-123: First-Year Writing Seminar (x2)

ENGL-223: Second-Year Writing Seminar

ENGL-350W: Writing for the Digital Humanities (x2)

HONR-377: From the Machine: Cyborgs in Philosophy, Literature, and Film

IDST-270: Introduction to Digital Humanities

Although I have guided many sections of ENGL-123 during my time at CNU, my 2018 Maymester course was uniquely enjoyable, as I had the opportunity to work with English Department colleague, Dr. Nicole Emmelhainz, and Summer Scholars student-recipient, Jack Filiault, to “gamify” the course, combining writing instruction/information literacy activities with recent scholarly insights into role-playing and collaborative narrative design (on digital platforms like Twine). Students really enjoyed this approach, and the high-quality work they produced calls for being shared in an undergraduate venue like the Journal for Undergraduate Research Projects (theJUMP) and/or a faculty publication such as Kairos or the Journal for Interactive and Technologically-Aided Pedagogy (JITP). The project serves, moreover, as an entrée to working with David Salomon in the OURCA office to build our own digital undergraduate journal at CNU, along with organizing a student conference based on this kind of work.

Speaking of student projects, one of the most surprisingly rewarding things I’ve done this year involved learning the nuances of audio-production programs, including Audacity and the challenging professional recording suite, Ableton Live 10. The ultimate pedagogical goal being to assist students with multimodal pieces that integrate “writing with sound” alongside text and images.

Another curricular project I’ve been committed to is developing a digital studies/digital humanities course sequence spanning from ISDT-270 to ENGL-350 to HONR-377 (or Senior Seminar), whereas previously ENGL-350 was mostly a “catch-all.” The vision is as follows, and so far seems to be working smoothly:

ISDT-270: Students explore existing digital projects across a range of Arts and Humanities disciplines (many produced by non-human programs), and familiarize themselves with methods such as “distant” or computer-aided reading. They are encouraged to see print-based norms as norms rather than intractable givens, an insight that challenges nearly every assumption about the nature of academic work.

(https://hurricanedigitalhumanities.wordpress.com/)

ENGL-350: By writing in more than half a dozen digital environments (e.g., social media, geo-maps, infographics), students not only begin building their own digital projects, portfolios, and/or activist communities, but learn to critically theorize what is at stake when composing in online spaces—questions regarding “selfhood,” addiction, memorialization, copyright, and beyond.

(https://maelstromdigitalactivismblog.wordpress.com/)

HONR-377: Whereas ENGL-350 is about “building,” HONR-377 is about “thinking.” Using complex frameworks such as “posthumanism” and “transhumanism,” along with critical vocabulary like “cyborgs” and “machines,” students apply theoretical ideas to characters/worlds in literature, film, etc., to deepen philosophical/cultural understanding.

(https://thecyborgarchive.wordpress.com/)

Before moving forward, I’d be remiss not to mention that HONR-377 was a joy to teach. The discussions and student presentations were truly outstanding, and I’ve been asked by program director, Dr. Jay Paul, to offer it again in Spring 2019. Indeed, it’s tempting to say my favorite pedagogical work at CNU, period, has involved upperclassmen, especially those preparing for graduate school (e.g., Spencer Fitchett) and/or defending senior theses (e.g., Christopher Gabro). Hence I would love to teach a Senior Seminar in the future, and/or offer a graduate MAT or upper-division English course focused on composition theory/rhetoric.

 

(Research)

On the research front, this year I have brought various projects to fruition, seen multiple to the cusp of publication, and have begun envisioning future projects as well. Most recently, I traveled to Minneapolis, Minnesota, to attend the Rhetoric Society of America (RSA) 50th Anniversary Conference, where my paper/presentation was entitled “After the Fire: ‘Timelessness’ and Forgiveness for the Unforgivable”—which raises the question as to whether an agent can “will” to forgive the “unforgivable.” Not only was our panel on rhetorical time (kairos) well-received, but I learned a great deal about the history of the disciplines of rhetoric, composition, and digital studies, given that (institutional) time/remembrance were the event’s key themes.

To great excitement, my book manuscript Occupying Memory: Rhetoric, Trauma, Mourning, passed its final round of blind reviews and should be published by late-2018 or early-2019. The monograph will be listed under Roman & Littlefield’s/Lexington Book’s “Cultural Studies” and “Communication” headings, as well as being the first title in Lexington’s new “Reading Memory and Trauma” series. I consider it the single most important achievement of my academic career, and expect the work to make an impact on multiple fields given the timely nature of the subject matter.

Beyond the book manuscript, The Journal of Interactive Technology and Pedagogy (JITP) just published my article: “From Addiction to Connection: Questioning the Rhetoric of Drugs in Relation to Student Technology-Use” (https://jitp.commons.gc.cuny.edu/from-addiction-to-connection-questioning-the-rhetoric-of-drugs-in-relation-to-student-technology-use/). The piece challenges flippantly deploying metaphors of drugs and addiction when discussing digital media, and I hope spurs much-needed debate around the way teachers approach technology in the classroom.

Another piece scheduled to come out in late-2018/early-2019 is a chapter I co-authored with my ENGL colleague, Dr. Emmelhainz. Written for the Composition as Big Data collection, our essay “Learning to Read Again: Introducing Undergraduates to Critical Distant Reading, Machine Analysis, and Data in Humanities Writing” will appear in the “Pedagogical Practices” section of the text. It is worth highlighting as well that collaborative writing with a colleague has been a deeply eye-opening experience, and something I would like to do more of—especially regarding interdisciplinary projects where I serve as a “meta-scholar,” building digital infrastructures such as the http://scienceplays.org WordPress site, an archive I recently constructed for the Theater Department.

One more article I’ve completed/submitted is “Reflective Essays, Student Assessment, and the End(s) of Grading,” wherein I explore the recent pedagogical trend of “going grade-less,” for example, by having students write reflective essays evaluating their own learning, as well as “advocating” or “negotiating” for scores/grades (i.e., “horizontal” vs. “hierarchical” education). The piece not only contends new approaches to assessment are desperately needed in today’s “corporate university,” but that there are serious social justice problems with grade inflation/deflation and “scoring” writing, due to the diverse backgrounds from which students arrive on the academic scene.

As for future projects, after working with Dr. Emmelhainz/Jack Filiault on the “gamifying writing” piece, I plan to compose a theory-heavy article on reconciling the (cyborg) philosophies of “posthumanism” and “transhumanism,” striving to reconcile these oft-overlapping but disparate approaches. And I would like to eventually write a newspaper editorial tentatively titled “#MeToo? Or: The Last Essay,” an exploration of the (overlooked) physical abuse of men, discourses surrounding false allegation, and the power of sharing stories via hashtags.

 

(Service)

This year, I again served as chair of the Academic Technology Advisory Committee (ATAC), wherein discussion focused primarily on whether ATAC’s functions are today not better served by institutions from across the university. Hence, following the advice of Dr. Brian Puaca, current members moved to review the handbook once new members become active, and then determine whether the committee should continue to exist. I myself see ATAC surviving and remaining active, but to do so its role must substantially change. For instance, in the coming year(s), we’ll be investigating alternatives to Black Board/Scholar, along with initiatives regarding more affordable textbooks, online courses, and more.

Continuing to serve as department webmaster, it likewise made sense for me to chair the ENGL Promotional Committee, which was tasked with cultivating a more visible presence for the department in the form of social media, events, T-shirts, success story collections, “external” OCPR website changes, and more.

This year I continued to serve on the University Writing Council (UWC) as well, (re-)certifying WI-courses, selecting award winners, developing an on-campus writing culture, and assessing evaluation practices in ENGL-123/223. After completing IRB CITI-training, I also worked with (Chair) Dr. Emmelhainz as a primary investigator for developing survey metrics regarding attitudes toward writing at CNU. Closely linked to the work of the UWC, members of the English Department primarily identified with the “Writing” track formed a committee, too, which met at the departmental retreat and again throughout the year. During these meetings, supported by student feedback, members agreed that curricular changes were prudent, including the development of new Writing/Rhetoric courses.

Along with the official business of meetings, I represented the English Department at several events, including but not limited to: CNU Open House, Homecoming Tailgate, the Sigma Tau Delta (STD) honors ceremony and Poetry Slam, English Department movie-nights, Signing Day, and the inaugural reception for graduating seniors. The STD poetry event was especially enjoyable, as I got to hear some really courageous student work wherein topics such as sexuality and race were brought to the forefront and fearlessly engaged. And it’s always great to see students/faculty granted awards for their impressive efforts, which is one reason why I was happy to help select winners for Summer Scholars and the 2013 Faculty Development Awards.

Lastly, it seems the sky is the limit for the Digital Humanities program. The minor is gaining students so quickly I can barely keep count of how many are pursuing the track! Thus the plan is to continue developing and enriching the curriculum, both with new course-offerings and/or modifications to existing requirements. And after much ado, the Center for Innovation in the Digital Humanities (CIDH) is opening Fall 2018! I am elated to teach my next courses in this special space, and to continue generating excitement for it, whether through developing a CIDH website with OCPR, or beginning to host events such as the CNU Faculty Conference during Getting-Started Week. I would likewise be honored to serve as one of the first to give an official talk in the CIDH, with the tentative title being “What Can the Digital Humanities Do?” – Wherein I would introduce how digital studies challenges traditional print research/publication norms, discuss what (multimodal) projects already exist along with their writing platforms/research methodologies, and problematize the liberal humanist conception of “Man” by posing what it means to be a 21st-century “cyborg.”

P.S., An exciting addition: I recently appeared as a guest on NPR’s program With Good Reason, where discussion focused on “technology addiction”—whether it exists, the effects of using drug/addiction metaphors to describe media, and more! The show is scheduled to air September 8th! (https://www.withgoodreasonradio.org/)

 

  1. Addendum

All those undergoing 2-4-6-year Probationary Faculty Review, Promotion Review or Unscheduled Review are recommended to complete this section.  This section is your cumulative statement addressing contribution to the Department, University, and the discipline for the entire review period.  Anyone may include an extended statement in support of your work.

 

(Introduction)

“Education is the practice of freedom.” — Gloria Watkins, aka bell hooks

When it comes to evaluating a candidate for tenure/promotion, the most succinct advice I ever received was that it is a question of “fit.” On the one hand, this might be interpreted as a call to “fit in” by meeting specific norms and expectations. Yet I begin every semester by telling students: “You can earn a 4.0 GPA, but if you do not meet challenging people, transforming yourself and the world, you have nevertheless ‘failed’ college.” Hence the other more exciting possibility is that “fit” is about carving out a niche for oneself, making oneself “necessary,” reinventing the institution so that it folds to form a hollow around the person in question. In the case of the successful—or more importantly, courageous and innovative—candidate, then, it seems a dance or dialectic takes place, wherein one strives to belong, while reshaping the grounds for that belonging. So what follows hereafter is an effort to show how well I have danced, both as a partner who follows and a partner who leads, the result of pouring forth my entire being in order to embrace “education as the practice of freedom.”

 

(Disciplines)

Proceeding from a wider scope of scholarly influence to a narrower one, I would like to begin by discussing my intellectual contributions to various fields over the past few years. Hence I pluralize the term “disciplines” above given my wide array of background in: writing, rhetoric, digital studies/digital humanities, web design, cyborgs/posthumanism, pedagogy, information literacies, European philosophy, critical theory, psychology/psychoanalysis, memory/trauma, activism/protest, cultural studies, addiction, communication, and more. Indeed, I thrive on interdisciplinary approaches—blurring of boundaries in thought—and find them not only fascinating, but intellectually fruitful in unique and powerful ways. There’s nothing like taking the concepts from one field and inventively repurposing them for another!

As a snapshot of scholarly works produced during my time at CNU thus far, I have published/presented:

x15 Presentations—including at Rhetoric Society of America, Virginia Library Association, Virginia Humanities Conference, and Christopher Newport University

x5 Peer-reviewed Articles—in Journal of Interactive and Technologically-Aided Pedagogy, Hybrid Pedagogy, Enculturation, Liminalities, and In/Visible Culture

x1 Book Chapter—in Composition as Big Data collection

x1 Monograph—via Roman & Littlefield (Lexington Books)

x1 Art Show—at Ferguson Center for the Arts

Regarding how the above projects are categorized, the main disciplines to which I have contributed are Writing/Rhetoric (often abbreviated “Rhet/Comp”) and Digital Studies. I have been a member of Rhetoric Society of America (RSA) and National College Teachers of English (NCTE) during my entire time at CNU, and the presentations I have given linked to these organizations/areas of study are as follows:

“After the Fire: ‘Timelessness’ and Forgiveness for the Unforgivable.” Rhetoric Society of America 50th Anniversary Conference (18th Bi-Annual). Minneapolis, MN. May 2018.

“Of Cinder, Ash: The Rhetorical Address of Burning Memory.” 17th Bi-Annual Rhetoric Society of America Conference. Atlanta, GA. May 2016.

“Masking the Riot: Finitude, Ecstasy, and Activism in the Face of Death.” CNU Democracy and Civic Movements Conference. Newport News, VA. November 2015.

“The Impossible Coming Wave: Forgetting, Figuration, and Death.” International Society for the Study of Environment, Space, and Place (Conference). Newport News, VA. March 2015.

“The Writing Wounded.” CNU Democracy and Civic Movements Conference. Newport News, VA. September 2014.

“Stiller Than Still: Monumental Bodies and the Challenge of Common Memory.” 16th Bi-Annual Rhetoric Society of America Conference. San Antonio, TX. May 2014.

“The Infinite Archive: Social Media and the Revolutionary Extension of Memory.” 16th Bi-Annual Rhetoric Society of America Conference. San Antonio, TX. May 2014.

“Wealth Inequality and the (Rhetorical) Production of Subjectivities.” CNU Wealth Inequality Panel. Newport News, VA. April 2014.

“Can a Rhetorical Approach to Trauma Enrich Clinical Practice?” Virginia Humanities Conference. Longwood University. Farmville, VA. March 2014.

“Occupying Memory: Recalling Radical Rhetorics.” CNU Scholarship Matters. Newport News, VA. October 2013.

“The Maelstrom of Sorrow: Working Through the Rhetorical Forces of Mourning.” 13th Annual CNU Faculty Conference. Newport News, VA. August 2013.

Out of these presentations, likely the ones with the greatest disciplinary impact were given at Rhetoric Society of America (RSA). As the premiere conference in Rhetoric/rhetorical studies, scholars from across the country (and outside it) gather to exchange ideas. I know I’ve learned a great deal from my colleagues whenever I’ve attended, and am confident they can say the same regarding my own contributions. One piece of evidence for having made an impact is being asked not only to review RSA conference abstracts, but serve as a blind reader for one of RSA’s most significant and long-standing journals, Philosophy and Rhetoric. I also enjoyed traveling with students to Longwood University for the Virginia Humanities Conference (VHC), and look forward to doing so again in the future. New student-focused digital studies/digital humanities events pop up all the time, and these venues would make an excellent opportunity to get students involved.

Concerning peer-reviewed publications in Rhetoric, both on the ENGL and COMM “sides,” my work has already been cited by several scholars, for one, because “Memory Studies” has become an area of increasing interest over the past decades for academics working in divergent fields. Those contributions are as follows:

“This Fragile Machine: Technology, Vulnerability, and the Rhetoric(s) of Addiction.” Enculturation: A Journal of Rhetoric, Writing, and Culture. Spring 2017. (http://enculturation.net/this_fragile_machine)

“Ghosts of Memory: Mournful Performance and the Rhetorical Event of Haunting (Or, Specters of Occupy).” Liminalities: A Journal of Performance Studies 10.3/4 (2014). (http://liminalities.net/10-3/ghosts.pdf)

“Elusive Memorials: Blind-Spots, Insight, and Gun Violence at the University of Texas at Austin.” In/Visible Culture. Fall 2013. (http://ivc.lib.rochester.edu/elusive-memorials-blind-spots-insight-and-gun-violence-at-the-university-of-texas-at-austin/)

Note: In/Visible Culture has recently been restructured and now identifies as a “Graduate Student Journal,” though it was not categorized in this way when they published my “Memorials” piece in Fall 2013.

Of the articles listed above, however, I am most proud of my piece in Enculturation, one of the top online journals in rhetorical/digital studies. The argument of the piece is unique, and strives to spark debate regarding the language students and scholars deploy when talking about technology, in particular, as an “addictive” drug. As evidence for the impact of the piece (and its sister-article in Journal of Technologically-Aided Pedagogy), I’ve been asked to be a guest this week on NPR’s show/podcast With Good Reasons to discuss my views!

Finally, the most significant academic contribution of my entire career is my monograph in-production, Occupying Memory, a text completely separate from my dissertation, which I have worked on diligently ever since arriving at CNU:

Occupying Memory: Rhetoric, Trauma, Mourning. Roman & Littlefield/Lexington Books. 2019.

Overview: In Occupying Memory, Trevor Hoag investigates the forces of trauma and mourning as deeply rhetorical to account for their capacity to seize one’s life. Rather than viewing memory as granting direct access to the past and as being readily accessible or pliant to human will, Hoag shows the past itself is a rhetorical production and trauma and mourning shatter delusions of sovereignty. By granting memory the power to persuade without an accompanying rhetorician and contending the past cannot become a reality without being written, Hoag highlights rhetoric’s indispensability while transforming its relationship to memorialization, trauma, narrative, death, mourning, haunting, and survival.

Along with examining how memory occupies life via trauma and mourning, Hoag shows what it might mean to “occupy” memory in return. Analyzing and deploying the rhetorical trope of occupatio, Hoag seizes the conceptual space or place of memory by reinscribing it in ways that challenge hegemonic power while holding open that same space or place to keep memory “in question” and receptive to alternative futures to come. Hoag likewise demonstrates how one might occupy memory through insights gleaned by analyzing artifacts, media, and events from the Occupy Movement, a contemporary national and international movement for socioeconomic justice.

At the time of writing this narrative, Occupying Memory has passed its final round of blind reviews, and the publisher—Roman & Littlefield (Lexington Books)—seeks to have it on the shelf by year’s end, just in time for the January 2019 Modern Language Association (MLA) conference. All that remains to do is build an index and other production-finalization measures like making the cover design really pop! The text will be listed under “Cultural Studies/Communication” on the book jacket due to the importance of rhetoric in both fields, and will be the inaugural text in Lexington’s exciting new interdisciplinary series “Reading Trauma and Memory.”

According to reviewer comments, the book is noteworthy for the following reasons: the range of research it draws upon is impressively wide-ranging; it constitutes a unique critique of memory as not only “liberatory,” but dangerous (when memory is viewed as “literal” or “direct” rather than rhetorically constructed); the text’s theoretical analyses are clear enough for a curious non-expert to understand; and the analysis of rhetorics from the Occupy Movement through case studies is not only astute but fills an existing scholarly void.

Writing Occupying Memory, especially given its deeply personal nature, has easily been the most challenging text I’ve ever written, but also the most rewarding. –And not merely because the book was emotionally challenging, but demanded a grueling marathon-like process to see manifest. For instance, I started submitting OM to publishers a couple years ago, which was picked up by Routledge but ultimately dismissed by very hostile and (in)famous “gatekeepers” (whose abrasive comments were ultimately contradicted by reviewers at other venues). Perhaps most frustrating about the process, however, was that whether the text was a Routledge, Southern Illinois, or Roman & Littlefield, each institution moved a snail’s pace, holding onto the manuscript for months and months. Hence, in my future research, I will likely devote myself exclusively to seeking out open-source digital forums with reasonable turnaround times.

On the flip-side, I finally did get prescient feedback on the work, but it wasn’t until Roman & Littlefield had three anonymous readers each provide remarks. Oddly enough, though, most of this feedback had to do with formatting, citation, and chapter arrangement (as opposed to content). Hence, it’s not an exaggeration to say I’ve been waiting patiently on others for years to release a text that’s been complete for quite some time now.

I can only hope that, after so much emotional and typographical toil, others find the work deeply moving and conceptually rigorous. I look forward, moreover, to the possibility of traveling to speaking-engagements to promote the work and discuss my ideas with a broader audience (especially upper-division students who might be reading OM for a senior/graduate seminar).

 

(II)

Regarding my other primary scholarly focus, I’d like now to shift gears and discuss my contributions to Digital Studies/Digital Humanities, which run parallel to transformations in my academic identity over the past few years. It is worth mentioning as well, that not only has digitality increasingly become the “topical” focus of my work, but a methodological one as well. For instance, I make it a point to publish articles in open-access, share-oriented journals that are available for free online; take advantage of innovations in submission, citation, and review; and encourage multimodal scholarship that includes images, video, sound, and more. Information wants to be free! I am deeply supportive of these transformations in academic process, and hence do whatever I can to foster them. The following, then, are the digitally-oriented presentations I’ve given while at CNU.

“Scienceplays.org: An Archive of Performance.” CNU Theater Department Salon Series. Newport News, VA. 2017-2018 Season. (http://scienceplays.org/)

“Anyone Can Be a (Digital) Activist!” CNU 2016 Election Teach-In. Newport News, VA. November 2016.

“Stellar Frequencies: Analyzing and Visualizing Textual Data in Silent Sky. CNU Theater Department Salon Series. Newport News, VA. 2015-2016 Season.

“The Digital Writing and Information Literacy Initiative (DWILI): A Collaboration between Metaliteracy Learners.” Virginia Library Association Conference. Richmond, VA. October 2015.

Of the above presentations, likely the most impactful regards the “DWILI” Literacy Initiative, as it provided the opportunity to meet with numerous college librarians, a group with a lot to offer digitally-oriented scholars, but who are often overlooked. Moreover, the VLA conference served as a catalyst for the construction of the Center for Innovation in Digital Humanities (CIDH), and sparked my desire to become involved in CNU’s Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP), in particular, by advocating that information literacy components be included in improving Undergraduate Research Literacy.

I am likewise grateful for the opportunity to work with Dr. Denise Gilman and Dr. Grace Godwin from CNU Theater; for one, because my “Stellar Frequencies” talk provided an opportunity to practice Digital Humanities work for a live audience, and because working on Dr. Gilman’s scienceplays site showed me how rewarding it can be to help other scholars digitize projects that might have otherwise remained analog.

Speaking of widening one’s audience by “going digital,” I am fortunate to have published multiple peer-reviewed pieces pertaining to digital studies, as not only do the following scholarly outlets have a great deal of “reach,” they opened my eyes to what the future of academic publication has in-store:

With Nicole Emmelhainz. “Learning to Read Again: Introducing Undergraduates to Critical Distant Reading, Machine Analysis, and Data in Humanities Writing.” Composition as Big Data Collection. 2018/2019. (https://call-for-papers.sas.upenn.edu/cfp/2017/06/28/composition-as-big-data)

“From Addiction to Connection: Questioning the Rhetoric of Drugs in Relation to Student Technology-Use.” Journal of Interactive Technology and Pedagogy. June 2018. (https://jitp.commons.gc.cuny.edu/from-addiction-to-connection-questioning-the-rhetoric-of-drugs-in-relation-to-student-technology-use/)

“The Pretense of Neutrality: Twitter, Information Literacy, and First-Year Writing.” Hybrid Pedagogy. May 2017. (http://hybridpedagogy.org/pretense-neutrality/)

Of the above articles, the coauthored piece on distant reading will appear in the “Pedagogical Practices” section of the Big Data collection alongside some very prominent figures, so I see it generating a significant amount of valuable feedback. (Not to mention that writing the piece solidified for me the importance/effectiveness of scholarly collaboration—a strategy I would like to continue pursuing in the future.) I was likewise pleased by how many views/reads my article in Hybrid Pedagogy received. For an academic article, it’s fair to say the work “viralized” thanks to online sharing, and I’ve had multiple readers comment not only on how much they enjoyed the piece, but plan to use it as a model for their own classes!

 

(University)

Moving forward, permit me to transition to discussing my contributions to the life of CNU as a university, beginning by highlighting the academic presentations/shows I’ve given on-campus over the past few years:

“Scienceplays.org: An Archive of Performance.” CNU Theater Department Salon Series. Newport News, VA. 2017-2018 Season. (http://scienceplays.org/)

“Anyone Can Be a (Digital) Activist!” CNU 2016 Election Teach-In. Newport News, VA. November 2016.

“Stellar Frequencies: Analyzing and Visualizing Textual Data in Silent Sky.” CNU Theater Department Salon Series. Newport News, VA. 2015-2016 Season.

“Masking the Riot: Finitude, Ecstasy, and Activism in the Face of Death.” CNU Democracy and Civic Movements Conference. Newport News, VA. November 2015.

“The Impossible Coming Wave: Forgetting, Figuration, and Death.” International Society for the Study of Environment, Space, and Place (Conference). Newport News, VA. March 2015.

“The Writing Wounded.” CNU Democracy and Civic Movements Conference. Newport News, VA. September 2014.

“Wealth Inequality and the (Rhetorical) Production of Subjectivities.” CNU Wealth Inequality Panel. Newport News, VA. April 2014.

“Occupying Memory: Recalling Radical Rhetorics.” CNU Scholarship Matters. Newport News, VA. October 2013.

“The Maelstrom of Sorrow: Working Through the Rhetorical Forces of Mourning.” 13th Annual CNU Faculty Conference. Newport News, VA. August 2013.

*“The Cosmos in Action: Concrete Romanticism through the Paintings of Trevor Hoag.” Ferguson Center for the Arts. May-June 2017. (http://trevorhoagphd.org/artworks/)

[Note: Just a quick aside to say how incredible an experience it was to put on an art show! The students, faculty, and staff from the Ferguson were delightful, and the process not only inspired me to digitize my own art, but help others interested in engaging in multimodal compositions that combine text with images.]

* (x4) “The Digital Advocacy Fair” Christopher Newport University. Newport News, VA (2013-2017).

In the context of the university, I consider my most valuable presentations those linked to sociopolitical activism, as they inspire students to get involved in changing the world for the better (and empower them to believe it’s possible!). Moreover, encouraging student “direct action” is especially valuable today, for whereas activist participation was once a key feature of the collegiate experience, this is largely no longer the case—something I contend academics have a “duty” to preclude from fading into memory.

Further examples of promoting student involvement include my advising groups like CNU Radio, Society of the Severed Hand, Trebled Youth, and more. And every panel I’ve helped students prepare for the Paideia conference has been rooted in social justice as well: (1) Using cultural/literary theory to enact social change, (2) Composing fiction/poetry that brings to light the struggles of marginalized groups, and (3) Digital projects that deploy new media technologies to form solidarity among communities of struggle. It is this last work, in particular, on teaching students the power of digital-oriented engagement, that factored heavily in my application for (and receipt of!) the “2013 Faculty Development Fund Award for Excellence in Student Mentoring” (Spring 2017), and I in turn served on the committee to select future winners. Both senior thesis committees I’ve served on have likewise been connected to ethical/justice issues, one on ecology and environmental ethics (O’Riley), the other on posthuman ethics that calls one to treat non-human animals with regard and respect (Gabro).

Further regarding mentoring, I am humbled that students who are “black sheep” seek me out from across the university. They struggle with trauma and mental illness, abusive/bigoted parents, confusion regarding pharmaceuticals (which they have previously never had to manage), discrimination/racism, fear of “coming out” as LGBT, along with mourning the loss of loved ones—all to accompany the already-acute pressures of college life. Such students come to me because they seek compassion and trust, and because they feel they have few others to go to for guidance without moral judgment. Programs like Captain’s Care are incredibly valuable, but for those students who fall through the cracks (i.e., whose concerns are such they do not involve reporting), I can only hope I am doing them justice.

Thinking on it more, it occurs to me that even my service-oriented/committee work at CNU often has a social-justice oriented valence. Granted, I have taken on several less fraught tasks such as chairing the Academic Technology Advisory Committee (ATAC), serving on the University Website Advisory Committee, and collaborating with the Office of Communication and Public Relations (OCPR) on videos, brochures, calendars, Viewbook, On the Move!, and more. However, the most rewarding service I have performed for CNU includes the University Writing Council (UWC), Quality Enhancement Program (QEP), and substantial contributions to developing the Digital Humanities minor and Center for Innovation in the Digital Humanities (CIDH).

Let’s begin with the UWC, a group I was invited to join after earning “The Provost’s Award for Excellence in Teaching Writing” my first year at CNU. Like others on the committee, I have (re-)certified “Writing Intensive (WI)” courses as well as select winners for the Provost’s Writing Excellence awards. More recently, I also completed “CITI” IRB training so as to assist (Chair) Dr. Emmelhainz in surveying writing-based needs across the university. Quite promisingly, students reported being truly excited about writing, and requested that more writing-focused courses be developed. And lastly, Dr. Emmelhainz and I recently met with the English Department as a whole to discuss potential transformations to assessment in “First-Year” and “Second-Year” writing, with special emphasis on retention.

Hand-in-hand with teaching writing, I am likewise a strong advocate for the value of information literacy, or in a digital context, “electracy.” This includes, for example, teaching students to deploy media they’re already using in order to become more informed citizens. Consider the following example: a student learns to use a scholarly database like JSTOR to write a research paper. Great! Then, immediately following the same class, every day said student opens their news-feed on a social media platform like Facebook or Twitter, yet has little idea how to discern which outlets are biased or constitute outright propaganda. In short, then, I think it’s invaluable that teachers assist students with learning research skills for use in both print and digital contexts.

In the service of helping students to develop different kinds of research skills, then, it made sense for me to join CNU’s Quality Enhancement Program (QEP) focused on research and information literacy, going so far as to serve as subcommittee chair in charge of the “Narrative” section of the report (much of which I wrote/edited). I likewise met with the accreditation committee when they visited campus, developed information literacy rubrics, piloted literacy modules in my courses, and worked with the new Office of Research and Creative Activities (OURCA) to develop research-oriented activities/programs/publication-venues with director David Salomon and Summer Scholars students funded by the office’s programs (not to mention serving on the committee to select future Summer Scholars Award recipients).

Likely the most wide-ranging contributions I’ve made to the university at large, however, regard digital studies/digital humanities, including: serving on the Digital Humanities Task Force, becoming co-director of the Digital Humanities minor, and striving to make the Center for Innovation in the Digital Humanities (CIDH) a reality—a dream I’ve had since leaving behind the Digital Writing and Research Lab (DWRL) at UT-Austin.

Starting the same year I arrived at CNU (2013-2014), I worked closely with faculty from across the university, along with Dean Underwood and Provost Doughty, to put in place a framework for creating an interdisciplinary Digital Humanities progrm. After several meetings, I was elected Chair of the Task Force, then set about designing a curriculum that ultimately included: an introductory digital humanities course, computer programming courses, and an interesting collection of digitally-oriented electives from across different departments (e.g., ENGL, FNAR, COMM). The next steps involved creating university catalog-copy for the minor, designing brochures with OCPR, recruiting faculty to teach in the program, and granting multiple interviews to advertise everything being planned (for The Captain’s Log, OCPR, and others). I have served as co-director of the Digital Humanities minor since 2015, and could have hardly imagined how successful it would be at attracting students. In less than three years I have already advised more than two-dozen minors, and met with innumerable students and parents interested in the program.

Finally, after the minor was up-and-running, as co-Principle Investigator I began working with Dean Underwood, Nicole Emmelhainz (co-PI), and members of Information Technology Services (David Underwood and Will White) to design a special new campus space: The Center for Innovation in the Digital Humanities (CIDH). Our investigation group met close to a dozen times with Dean Underwood at CNU, then went above-and-beyond to visit vendors in Chesapeake.

The CDIH is scheduled to house classes in Fall 2018, and feature the latest technologies such as touch-screens and “Mersive” screen-sharing, mobile ergonomic furniture (to facilitate heightened collaboration), creative cloud, cutting-edge software, and more. The space will be, as I affectionately call it, “the Lamborghini of classrooms” during the day, and in the afternoon/evening be opened to students working on especially multimodal, collaborative projects. I would also love to see the CIDH utilized for presentations, an invited speaker-series, technology/pedagogy workshops, undergraduate conferences, and in general, a meeting-space for digitally-oriented students and scholars to come together from across CNU.

As soon as the CIDH opens its doors in late-Summer, I’ll be there to learn the space inside-and-out, and can hardly wait to do so!

P.S., An exciting addition: I recently appeared as a guest on NPR’s program With Good Reason, where discussion focused on “technology addiction”—whether it exists, the effects of using drug/addiction metaphors to describe media, and more! The show is scheduled to air September 8th! (https://www.withgoodreasonradio.org/)

 

(Department)

Regarding contributions to the English Department in particular, permit me to begin by outlining more service-oriented activities, while working toward discussing my various courses and pedagogical strategies.

A service performed by practically every faculty member at CNU is representing one’s department across a wide range of different events. The list that follows is far from exhaustive, but nevertheless provides a solid overview of my own contributions:

x4 University “Signing Day”

x4 University “Open House”

x2 “Admitted Freshman Day”

x2 Summer Humanities Program (Volunteer)

x1 “Setting Sail” Event

x1 “Conversation and Coffee” Event

As Provost Doughty likes to say, recruitment is everyone’s job; hence I have met with prospective students and parents on a number of occasions. I enjoy talking with parents, especially alums eager to have their own children attend CNU—but students are often much more reserved and quiet with their families in-tow. Hence, I prefer celebrations such as “Signing Day,” where the focus is on students themselves and their excitement over making the very “adult” decision of selecting a major and minor. And likewise, with regard to precocious students looking to launch their CNU lives early, I got a huge kick out giving volunteer lectures for the Summer Humanities program, in particular, a series on ghosts and haunting (The Gothic).

x3 Faculty Appreciation Night

x2 Homecoming Tailgate

x1 Presidential Gala

x1 Fear-2-Freedom

Although attending Rosemary Trible’s Fear-2-Freedom event on preventing sexual assault and helping people to heal from it was deeply moving (prompting me to hold back tears while preparing rape kits for children in Central and South America), I would for now like to focus on another story. One semester on “Parent’s Night,” following a CNU home football game, I realized the star quarterback—a former student—had no one to stand with him. CNU had won the game, yet he hung his head, eyes downcast. Suddenly seized by something beyond myself, I marched toward him across the field, we fist-bumped, and he smiled. At its best a university is a family, and I cherish those moments wherein I can contribute to “ours.”

x4 Graduating Seniors Dinners

x1 Graduating Seniors Receptions

x3 New Majors Receptions

x3 Sigma Tau Delta Honors Inductions

x3 English Department Movie Nights

x1 Sigma Tau Delta Poetry Slam

x2 “Pizza with the Profs”/Career Q&As

Numerous Presentations On/Off-Campus

Numerous “Home” CNU Sporting Events

Though it’s wonderful to share in “big moments” like graduation or awards ceremonies, many of my favorite events have been more low-key activities wherein one really has an opportunity to get to know one’s students and/as peers. Who doesn’t enjoy “happenings” like movie nights and poetry readings, that is, opportunities to laugh at a professor’s goofy costume, shriek at the scary parts in a horror film, or become rapt in awe when someone bares their soul in writing?

And beyond official ceremonies or events, whether Philosophy Department Tuesday Tea, office hours basically every day, or even strolls around the Great Lawn, there’s always some ultra-sharp student whose mind is bursting with ideas, and who deeply respects you and wants to know what you think, hungry to engage you in dialogue like a contemporary Socrates. Perhaps what many don’t realize, though, is how much I care about what they think.

Hence, some of my guiding principles as an educator are to: start by trusting students, view them as adults, believe in the value of their ideas, and never subject them to feelings of inferiority. My classroom, my office, and wherever else I may go, I am a progressive educator who sees learning as “horizontal”—where every teacher is a student, and every student, a teacher. As one student recently put it in an IDEA response: “Unlike many professors that say that discussion [occurs] ‘between peers,’ [Hoag] was honest about it” (Fall 2017). And along similar lines, I have rarely been more honored than when a student told me: “You are the only ‘millennial’ teacher I know on campus. You get us. It’s ironic—the professor who is always claiming we’re cyborgs or machines most treats me like I’m human.”

Before diving further into evaluations/appraisals of my teaching, however, I should go ahead and outline the remaining department-level service I’ve contributed during my time at CNU. Again, though not entirely exhaustive lists, they nonetheless provide a solid overview:

(Chair) English Department Promotional Committee

(Chair) English Department Web Advisory Committee/4-Year Plan Committee

Cascade System Webmaster and English E-Newsletter Curator

Currents Magazine Website Design (https://currentsliterarymagazine.wordpress.com/)

Not surprisingly, given my background in online media, I have served the department in several “web-based” capacities. The ENGL Promotional Committee, and previously, the Web Advisory Committee, both held productive meetings with OCPR regarding the department’s online presence, and the promotional group helped develop social media for English as well. Not only are these websites/media well-constructed, but should really help with getting people involved in campus events, along with keeping tabs on alumni so they can share success-stories and cautionary tales.

On a similar note, I learned the Cascade web system early-on so as to become the department’s webmaster, though I am grateful for the new cnu.edu website. It exhibits awesome design, and takes pressure off faculty members whose digital labors are more effectively deployed elsewhere—e.g., building the infrastructure for the Currents literary magazine and submission system!

x2 English Department Curriculum Committee (Chair)

Writing Faculty Committee/Departmental Retreat Team

(x3 Meetings; Multiple Curriculum Proposals)

Majors Advisor for Approx. x5-10 Students each year in the “Writing” Track

Minors Advisor for Approx. x10-15 Students each year in Digital Humanities Minor (and growing quickly!)

Students for whom I’ve written “Long Form” Recommendation Letters, most of which went on to successfully engage graduate school (D. Norton), internships (K. Hill), and lucrative/rewarding careers (M. Coulouris):

Ashley Cherry            Maria Coulouris         Julia Criscuolo            Brianna Cossu

Nicole Crew                Spencer Fitchett         Kelsey Hill                 Victoria Miro

Deirdre Norton           Ashley Palkovics        Tammara Sutton         Nathan Whipple

Heather Worsham       Krislyn Yeatras

Faculty Recruitment—

Job-calls Composed: Science-fiction/Fantasy Lit, Rhetoric/Composition (x2), Technical/Professional Writing

Dinners and Sight-seeing with Candidates (At least x10-12)

(Retention: Assessment of “Writing/Rhetoric/Digital” Specialists for Tenure)

(e.g., Next Year and Beyond: Dr. Nicole Emmelhainz, Dr. Ivan Rodden, Dr. Katherine Swacha)

(Retention: Assessment of “European Philosophy” Specialists for Tenure)

(e.g., Next Fall: Dr. Joe Balay)

Interestingly enough, it wasn’t until I sat down to compose this narrative that I realized how many curriculum-focused activities I’ve worked on for the department. I chaired the Curriculum Committee for two years, met repeatedly with other writing faculty to envision curricular changes/course-additions, and brainstormed promising ideas during the Departmental Retreat—all of which gave me the confidence to propose multiple new courses and transformations to the English major’s “Core” and “Writing” track(s). (Including one successfully designed with Dr. Sharon Rowley: Studies in Advanced Literary and Rhetorical theory.) Many of these proposals were in direct response to student requests for more writing courses—via departmental and UWC survey data—and I can say with confidence that the most successful students for whom I have written recommendation letters (and/or advised regarding career-opportunities, etc.), were those I could discuss at-length as having impressive backgrounds in writing, especially regarding in multimodal, online composition.

Given my concern for curricular issues, it likewise makes sense I’ve often gotten involved in the hiring process. I’ve written multiple job-calls for positions, all of which resulted in successful hires; and I’ve gone out of my way to spend time with candidates whenever they’ve visited campus. I genuinely enjoy it! There are, moreover, multiple tenure-line faculty I’ve mentored over the past few years (in particular, those connected to teaching writing), and I’m deeply committed to their success moving forward.

 

(II)

“Frankly, Dr. Hoag is the best teacher CNU has to offer. I say this as a non-English major who disagrees with nearly everything he says. The man is a genius. He is kind. He is passionate. He [exhibits] every quality you would ever want in an educator. … I am thankful to have met Dr. Hoag, he single-handedly has made college, and my life, better.”

— Student IDEA Comment (Spring 2017)

 

What, then, of my specific courses, pedagogical approaches, and classroom experiences at CNU? For one, as suggested above, as a teacher I challenge “the banking model” that views students as inferior vessels to be passively and unilaterally filled with knowledge:

“(a) the teacher teaches and the students are taught;

(b) the teacher knows everything and the students know nothing; …

(e) the teacher disciplines and the students are disciplined; …

(h) the teacher chooses the program content, and the students adapt to it” — Paulo Freire

Here Freire sets the stage for alternative educational arrangements based on trusting students and believing in their intelligence and capacity to invent knowledge. And over the past couple years, I have even more fully integrated said approach, listing the professor of my courses as both myself and each student. Thus I have begun to demand more and more of them, though not in the sense of, say, stricter enforcement of linguistic and citational conventions. Instead, students must lead discussion and engage other students, even when they disagree with the writers/topics at issue; they must engage in substantial peer review/assessment/evaluation; they must evaluate their own performance and track their own learning; they must “learn to learn” without the threat of punishment and extrinsic grade-based reward; they must affirm the freedom to write on topics and construct digital objects that matter to them; they must learn to embrace freedom in the classroom, to experiment and potentially “fail,” rather than being told what to think or write; they must profoundly reassess what learning “is”; they must shed their egos and learn to work together collaboratively, recognizing how thought is inescapably “networked”; they must get involved, daring to change the world and themselves. Or as one student neatly summarized: “[Dr. Hoag] is focused on student-centered learning. He lets students think for themselves and outside the [boundaries] of a typical college class. … He truly admires the student mind and works to have students push their minds to their full potential” (Fall 2017).

One alternative teaching/assessment vehicle based on portfolio-grading I’ve experimented with since graduate school (to achieve the above ends), is the Learning Record Online (LRO)—which for my courses, I house in PBWorks, an open source wiki system with outstanding functionality. The wiki allows students to quickly and easily share and/or comment upon one another’s work, add multimodal content alongside text, and access course materials and pages designed for collaboration. The LRO likewise serves as a portfolio-archive for qualitatively tracking learning, both in the form of brief “ethnographic” observations alongside longer reflective essays that gage learning across an entire course. Not only does the LRO support a compassionate approach to teaching/learning; quite simply, it works, and the students who “get it” love it.

If you are interested in looking more closely at PBworks or the Learning Record, I have included materials from their websites in my dossier, along with essays students have written based on the LRO infrastructure. Moreover, in the dossier binders I have also included my own recent essay on qualitative assessment versus traditional evaluation as a matter of social justice, especially with regard to teaching writing—along with suggesting how a university Honor Code can serve as a teaching-tool:

“Reflective Essays, Student Self-Assessment, and the End(s) of Grading.” Prompt: A Journal of Academic Writing Assignments. (http://trevorhoagphd.org/uncategorized/873/)

I would like to briefly discuss each course I’ve been evaluated for during my time at CNU, but before leaving the thread of assessment behind, I want to take the opportunity to analyze student evaluations of me/my courses via IDEA surveys. In this regard, something I found illuminating was to calculate an overarching score for each course based on the “Summary Evaluation” section of the IDEA.

For example, I was evaluated for “ENGL-123: First-Year Writing” seven times; hence I added up each “Summary Evaluation” score for 123 and divided by seven. I then added up the “Summary Evaluation” numbers for all thirty classes for which I’ve been evaluated and divided by thirty, resulting in something akin to a three-digit “Teaching Point Average.”

ENGL-123: First-Year Writing Seminar (x7)

Raw: 4.6    Adjusted: 4.5

ENGL-223: Second-Year Writing Seminar (x5)

Raw: 4.7    Adjusted: 4.7

ENGL-308: Literature, Theory, and Culture (x1)

Raw: 4.7    Adjusted: 4.8

ENGL-350: Writing for the Digital Humanities (x10)

Raw: 4.5    Adjusted 4.4

ENGL-353: Writing for the Professions (x2)

Raw: 4.6    Adjusted 4.2

ENGL-395: Special Topics—Rhetoric, Memory, Forgetting (x1)

Raw: 4.5    Adjusted: 4.5

ENGL-/NEUR-/PSYC- 395: Dissecting the Enigmas of Memory (with Matthew Campolattaro) (x1)

Raw: 4.7    Adjusted: 4.6

HONR-377: From the Machine—Cyborgs in Philosophy, Literature, and Film (x1)

Raw: 4.5    Adjusted: 4.3

IDST-270: Introduction to Digital Humanities (x2)

Raw: 4.5    Adjusted: 4.3

All Courses Averaged (x30)

Raw: 4.55 Adjusted: 4.46

In sum, I am confident these scores speak well on my behalf as an effective teacher, and are consistently high across a range of different courses/disciplines—many of which are required and/or considered courses students dislike. Out of thirty classes, I had only three where the numbers dipped, but as educators we all know, for instance, how a toxic personality or two can co-opt the attitudes of an entire room. Because of this, I think it’s important to remind oneself of scenarios like the following: In Fall 2014, I taught two sections of “ENGL-350: Writing for the Digital Humanities.” In one section, I got the lowest scores I ever received on an IDEA

—Raw: 3.6 // Adjusted: 3.4

Yet in the other section, which was identical in every way save time-slot, I scored

—Raw: 4.6 // Adjusted: 4.5

Sometimes such things are simply out of one’s hands.

Regardless, alongside high teaching scores, during my time at CNU I have received mostly, not merely positive, but oftentimes superlative, compliments from students:

“Love love love love love, Dr. Hoag. This was my first class with him and I wish I could take 100 more” (Fall 2016)

“Awesome teacher. One of the best I’ve had. Tenure this man!” (Fall 2016)

“[B]y far one of the best professors I’ve had” (Fall 2016)

“Great class, great professor 10/10 recommend” (Fall 2016)

“One of the best professors we have on our campus. Keep him, make him happy, let him expand the digital humanities. … One of my favorite professors, sad to be a senior and graduating. Really truly a great professor” (Fall 2016)

“God bless Dr. Hoag” (Fall 2016)

“Hoag [is] a very unique professor. We had more freedom … than I have had in any of my other classes. … I appreciate the respect Hoag had for us. He treated us like individuals, not as students” (Fall 2017)

“Dr. Hoag inspired me to follow my dreams” (Fall 2017)

“One of my favorite professors. … 10/10. Would recommend Dr. Hoag to anyone” (Spring 2017)

“Professor Hoag is not only an excellent professor, but a great person. … 10/10. Recommend to my peers” (Spring 2017)

“Dr. Hoag is one of the best professors here at CNU. He is passionate about what he is teaching and cares for each and every one of his students” (Spring 2017)

“Dr. Hoag has become one of my favorite teachers at CNU! His unique way of teaching and passion for the subject matter make [his] class one the best I have taken” (Spring 2018)

THANKS TEAM!

 

I’ll save quoting more of the most recent IDEA comments for when I discuss specific classes, but invite the reader to look back over the total collection of what I think constitutes evidence of invigorating, inventive pedagogy. Granted, no teacher is perfect, and I’ve gotten less-than-positive remarks just like anybody else. However, to briefly respond, they mostly appear to involve what Freire terms “the fear of freedom,” for instance:

Since students are often used to remaining largely passive and not in control over discussion- or research- topics, etc., they sometimes will interpret a course as “disorganized,” in large-part because they aren’t used to themselves being responsible for how classes are structured. And similarly, since they’re used to being told what to do lock-step with little autonomy of their own, sadly, they sometimes interpret personal academic freedom itself as “disorganization.”

Experimenting with alternative methods of evaluation, such as the portfolio-based LRO, can sometimes make students uncomfortable because they’re used to numbers and letter-grades (quantities v. qualities). Since they’re used to “extrinsic” motivators of this kind, they have to re-learn how to learn according to “intrinsic” motives like curiosity and joy. Moreover, it takes time for students to come around to the notion that holistic, qualitative evaluation is not an excuse to be lazy or put forth little effort, but an opportunity to work even harder because they’re genuinely interested in something as opposed to fearing grade-based punishment.

Regarding content, students often get frustrated with challenging theoretical or philosophical readings, which is unfortunate given Aristotle’s astute observation that confusion is the first step to learning. And indeed, as collegiate educators, we are tasked with challenging students’ worldviews via humanities critique and factual scientific evidence, despite the risk of upsetting students who confuse cultural critique or philosophical alternatives with attacks on personal values. Students often view certain, especially ethico-moral, questions as “closed” and not up for debate; hence it’s up to teachers to use a soft touch, employ “trigger warnings” for potentially-upsetting materials, and again with Aristotle, emphasize to students that the mark of an educated mind is the ability to entertain an idea without ascribing to it.

Finally, and perhaps most paradoxically (given the “mysterious” nature of digital studies/digital humanities), students will sometimes tell me what a class was supposed to be about, likely because others have provided them with different expectations (e.g., a student-colleague explored alternative content with different teacher, with emphasis on traditional print-based assignments and quantitative modes of evaluation). Said pedantry is the case despite the fact I’m very clear about what a course will consist of from the outset, highlighting especially my focus on critical/cultural theory; but again, I’m happy to report the above student-concerns have been far eclipsed by positive enthusiasm.

 

(III)

“By far the most influential and beneficial professor I’ve ever had. … completely changed my way of thinking … without Dr. Hoag I would not be the student I currently am.”

— Student IDEA Comment (Fall 2017)

 

      ENGL-123: First-Year Writing Seminar

(https://vortextblogcnu.wordpress.com/)

Out of every course I teach at CNU, I’ve likely invested more time and energy in ENGL-123 than any other—which makes sense given that “Comp #1” is essentially “Intro to College.” Because this is the case, I often talk with students about issues beyond writing (like college study habits and survival skills), while getting them to expand their understanding of what writing “is”—going beyond paper to include images, video, sound, and more. And given my attunement to information/digital literacy, I strongly emphasize what it might mean to be literate in the 21st-century. Hence, I really appreciate student comments to the tune that: “Hoag did an amazing job with this class. … He encouraged us to use many different sources from the internet to library resources” (Spring 2018).

As per my approach to teaching writing—perhaps the most difficult pedagogical task there is—I began at CNU by mostly replicating a paper-centered, controversy-based model adopted from graduate school at UT-Austin, but soon shifted emphasis to highlight writing online along with building digital objects—and not merely because it’s “trendy,” but makes students feel empowered to see their work not only “turned in,” but likewise, “turned out” on the Internet. More recently, by introducing “gaming”/role-play, I am even more confident students are coming away from ENGL-123 with feelings of excitement as opposed to fear or trepidation.

Indeed, my top priority in the class is imbuing students with a love for writing, especially since so many have had unnecessarily negative experiences with composition in the past. By contrast, “Dr. Hoag made a first year English class fun and different while still finding a way to get students to learn. I would definitely take him again” (Spring 2017). In short, I do everything I can to have students leave class feeling empowered, ceaselessly reiterating how much their ideas/knowledge really do matter.

Speaking of empowerment, I imagine few teachers emphasize rhetoric and analysis as much as I do in First- and Second-Year Writing—but in these troublesome times fraught with fallacious reasoning and gross misinformation, I think we do students a serious disservice by not equipping them with these skills. As one student remarked: “[Dr. Hoag] is highly respected by me and the rest of his students and has managed to teach me relevant, useful information that I can use outside of class. And that is something I cherish deeply” (Spring 2018).

 

      ENGL-223: Second-Year Writing Seminar (Topic: Literature and Ethics)

(https://tsunamicnublog.wordpress.com/)

Despite my primary academic training not being in literary studies, I’ve been pleasantly surprised with how well my ENGL-223 courses have unfolded over the past few years—perhaps because the “moral” course-content is something directly applicable to students’ lives. More specifically, my approach calls students to engage in rigorous “triangulation” of literary works, ethical-philosophical texts, and the design of digital objects that require writing in multimodal fashion. For instance, what would Aristotle say about the theft of Jim in Adventures of Huckleberry Finn? How can you enhance/present your reading through media?

It’s likewise worth mentioning how, out of every class I’ve taught recently, students in ENGL-223 really excelled at affirming and implementing a “student-centered” classroom. As one put it: “Dr. Hoag has an awesome approach to learning through incorporating different elements into his class. Students got to lead discussion, bring their own experiences into the class, discuss different ideas, learn about different world perspectives, and incorporate media presentations into the learning process” (Fall 2017).

Add to the above my own fiery pedagogical approach, then, and fewer things make me happier than a response to the tune: “Dr. Hoag is one of the most inspiring professors that I have ever had and I will continue to try to take more classes with him” (Fall 2017).

 

      ENGL-308: Literature, Theory, and Culture

(https://wayvestheoryblogcnu.wordpress.com/)

Since last being evaluated, I’ve not again had the opportunity to teach ENGL-308, which is unfortunate since students and I really enjoyed the experience. I owe a lot in this regard to my sensei at UT-Austin, Diane Davis, herself a world-renown theorist, who taught me non-intuitive methods for teaching/writing about theory that I find effective and enjoyable. Essentially, the approach is “one text, one theory”—rather than emphasizing secondary sources/commentaries—where students pick a literary, cultural, musical, filmic, or other “artifact,” then do an ultra-close reading of that object via a specific theoretical-philosophical framework.

In ENGL-308, I received a Raw 4.7 // Adjusted 4.8 IDEA score from students, along with lots of positive comments, which I wager is rare because the course is required for the major and involves little pleasure-reading. I even had a student break down in class during the first week due to the challenging, politically-taut, course content; however, by the end of the class, she had truly “converted” and did an outstanding job with her analyses of the Disney film Frozen (applying models like feminism, trauma-theory, and Foucault).

Thus, permit me again to quote the remark I think most indicative of our success in ENGL-308: “I really enjoyed this class and I feel like this would not have been the case if I had a different professor … I venture to say that I would take any other course that [Dr. Hoag] offers because I know that even if I may not be 100% interested, he will try his best to get involved in the material” (Spring 2016). Indeed, I’d love to teach ENGL-308 again, and look forward to doing so in the future!

 

      ENGL-350: Writing for the Digital Humanities

(https://maelstromdigitalactivismblog.wordpress.com/)

“Dr. Hoag has been the first teacher to successfully keep me engaged in the classroom. …

This has easily been the most valuable class I have ever taken in college.” (Fall 2017)

Oddly enough, despite it being my signature class, ENGL-350 is the most challenging course I teach at CNU. The reasons for this are as follows: students from across the university take 350 because they need to meet a Writing Intensive requirement, so they’re coming from very diverse backgrounds; despite my initial “warnings,” students dislike analyzing challenging texts, and don’t realize the substance of a writing course taught by a rhetoric/media specialist is going to include theory (e.g., when discussing copyright, technology-addiction, online memorials, etc.); in general, students and professors alike don’t realize how much overlap there is between rhetorical studies in ENGL and COMM; students assume writing online is going to be a “fluff-activity” because they’ve not been exposed to rigorous, multimodal academic essays; many students have unconsciously absorbed the notion that only writing in text counts as “real writing”; whereas Intro to Digital Humanities is heavily interdisciplinary, ENGL-350 is focused on Writing/Rhetoric, so some students are expecting a broader approach ranging across various Arts & Humanities disciplines.

I provide the above list not as a series of complaints or grievances, however, but as an opportunity to share ideas with others who might not be as familiar with digitally-oriented fields. Indeed, it is a common topic of conversation among digital studies/digital humanities scholars that, say, when it comes to tenure/promotion, it is incumbent upon those in the “vanguard” to legitimate themselves and their activities, and to help others become familiar with the new values for which digitality calls, along with the assumptions it seeks to overcome.

On the other hand, when everything “clicks” and conceptually comes together for students (and scholars!), their responses from ENGL-350 are more akin to: “This class not only builds students’ digital literacy by encouraging them to explore different online media for their projects (which is what I initially wanted out of this course), but it also forces them to think long and carefully about every conceivable aspect of their interactions with the digital realm and how the advancement of technology is affecting their world” (Spring 2017).

Caveats aside, I’m confident I’ve been successful in teaching ENGL-350, though recent changes to the course may not have worked out as expected. Previously, I had students become digital activists for a topic of their choosing, then apply theoretical readings to reflect upon the media-writing they’ve produced. However, this approach felt too disjointed, so instead of activist projects culminating in the (very successful!) Digital Advocacy Fair*, I modified the writing prompts so they would more closely align with the theoretical questions being discussed. I probably should have known better than to emphasize more philosophical or critical engagement with difficult texts, though—since rather than appreciating greater continuity, students increasingly opined about the readings. But as with other courses, I’m confident that being able to teach in the CIDH digital lab will allow for continued successful modifications, even if that means returning to an earlier approach.

*(x4) “The Digital Advocacy (Research) Fair” Christopher Newport University. Newport News, VA (2013-2017).

Regardless of whatever the future holds for ENGL-350, I will never cease striving to have students respond as follows: “I have never taken a class quite like this. I mean that in the best way possible. What I imagined college classes to be like, Dr. Hoag delivered 100%” (Fall 2017).

      ENGL-353: Writing for the Professions

      ENGL-395: Special Topics—Rhetoric, Memory, Forgetting

Since I’ve not taught ENGL-353 or the Special Topics “Rhetoric and Memory” course since I was last evaluated, I’ll leave these entries fairly brief.

Per 353, I only want to note that, although I don’t have extensive training in technical writing, I still managed to receive strong IDEA scores and positive comments, which speaks to my capacity to learn quickly and adapt to new pedagogical scenarios. That said, I’m excited the English Department recently hired Dr. Katherine Swacha, who is not only an expert in such matters, but shares my vision for making sure the course has more digitally-focused components. As a couple of my own students pointed out: “I think that writing for the profession[s] needs to always be taught using digital platforms and the latest technology since that is what students will have to work with post-graduation,” and “This has been one of the most practically applicable courses I have taken in my four years at CNU and I have no doubt that it will have a huge influence on my job search and applications” (Fall 2015). Indeed, in the past few years this prediction has certainly come to pass, as students who’ve created digital portfolios for me in ENGL-353, ENGL-350, and beyond, have had outstanding success on the job market and other professional endeavors. And moreover, I’ve witnessed their successes first-hand while serving as a “Roaming Mentor” at the CNU Career Fair in back-to-back years.

Long story short, I absolutely loved the “Memory” course as it tapped into my extensive research in rhetoric/memory that is the foundation for my monograph and multiple articles. Students really enjoyed the course as well, with my favorite comment being: “This is an incredible course. It really makes you think about … everything. You start to see things discussed in this course showing up all over the place” (Spring 2014, emphasis mine). My only additional remark, then, is I wish I had the opportunity to teach more courses akin to this one, so as draw on my background in rhetoric and/or interdisciplinary “Memory Studies.”

 

      ENGL-395/NEUR-395/PSYC-395: Dissecting the Enigmas of Memory

      (with Matthew Campolattaro)

Speaking of playing to one’s strengths and utilizing previous training, I have 100% positive things to say about the interdisciplinary team-taught course I designed with my friend and colleague, Dr. Matthew Campolattaro. And given everything I’ve heard from students, they feel equally enthusiastic. Team-teachers need to be careful they’re not expecting too much from students that may have never taken a course in their own field, but nonetheless, the team-teaching initiative is laudable and certainly worth continuing and expanding.

It’s interesting that what students seemed most impressed with, at least for my part, was watching someone take a challenging theoretical, philosophical, or literary text (that at first seems impenetrable) be picked apart and interpreted with relative ease—which is to say, it’s interesting how the science students were awed by the hermeneutic abilities of a humanities teacher: “Gosh darn is Dr. Hoag smart. He has a wonderful way of making very advanced texts sound very simple. I think the texts chosen for this class were interesting. I think the ways they were presented were effective, and I think the things that Dr. Hoag wants to and does contribute to the discussion of memory are insanely stimulating” (Fall 2016).

Beyond that, I’ll only add I myself learned a ton in the class regarding memory in the sciences, and Dr. Campo and I are excited about the prospect of running it again!

Note: Given this course was cross-listed in three disciplines: ENGL, NEUR, and PSYC, something went awry with the IDEA system such that most students did not get to provide scores or comments. Hence, Dr. Campolattaro and I gave out separate evaluation/comment forms which you can find in the dossier folders.

 

      HONR-377: From the Machine—Cyborgs in Philosophy, Literature, and Film

(https://thecyborgarchive.wordpress.com/)

“Great course. Definitely different from the kinds of courses I normally take, but in a good way” (Spring 2018).

Speaking of crossover between the humanities and sciences, I had an absolute blast teaching the HONR “Cyborgs” seminar, and students had a great time as well. For one, the level of student curiosity and intellect was so refreshingly high it enabled an outstanding discussion environment, and the HONR students really stepped up to guide the course almost every day. Hence my only “concern” was that students would get so pumped up about the topics and readings I’d have to continually watch the clock and keep them reined in—especially during presentations on their favorite cyborg “heroes!”

Another positive outcome of the course was how it, in one student’s words, “tore down many … preconceptions of the subjects of humans and future technology” (Spring 2018). For instance, students expressed they were beginning to rethink human nature entirely, and were quickly overcoming the oftentimes facile and reactionary predictions many make for the future—instead imagining a world where humans and machines live together in complex, productive, ethical ways that far exceed Hollywood story-telling. Every day I’d delight in proclaiming things like: “We’re all cyborgs!” “We’re all machines!” “Prove me wrong!” For not only did students respond brilliantly/creatively, they came away with an appreciation for topics that might have otherwise remained alien:

“Dr. Hoag is eccentric but brilliant. As a result of this course, I have interest and knowledge in a subject I had never even thought of before. The entire class is dedicated to the student and their progress, learning, and critical thinking. Overall, an intellectually stimulating course that has made me think deeply” (Spring 2018).

Note: The director of the Honors Program, Dr. Jay Paul, said he was likewise impressed with how the course turned out, and has already asked that I offer it again Spring 2019!

 

      IDST-270: Introduction to Digital Humanities

(https://hurricanedigitalhumanities.wordpress.com/)

Intro to Digital Humanities is a course CNU really needed, so I’m ecstatic to have seen it brought to fruition; in fact, I’d be interested in making it an Area of Inquiry class! One reason the course is so vital, conceptually and otherwise, is that it provisionally answers the question “What is Digital Humanities?” yet simultaneously reframes the query by asking “What do digital scholars working in the humanities do?” or “What are the print-based assumptions about education that digital studies/digital humanities challenge us to reconsider?”

As per what some of those preconceptions might be, as a digital “vanguard,” I ask that one consider the following suppositions:

– Print is in no way more intrinsically valuable/rigorous than online work.

– Having students write multimodal essays (“blogs”), when they are well-researched, etc., is not inferior to assigning papers.

– The definition of “writing” must be expanded beyond text to include images, sound, video, media, design, and more.

– Traditional (print) citation practices can be improved upon by including or shifting to links.

– Criteria for evaluating digital work is still being defined; hence, one should exercise caution and not judge it according to existing print-based standards.

– Student work is deeply valuable, capable of producing knowledge, and should be encouraged/rewarded by being shared online.

– Thinking/Invention is never accomplished by individuals in isolation, but is inherently “networked”; hence collaboration is at the heart of all academic work already and should be more explicitly encouraged/valued.

– Traditional attitudes toward copyright/plagiarism call for being challenged in an era of free, “infinite” reproducibility.

– Texting, Tweeting, etc., are not inferior forms of communication, but constitute new modes of language/rhetorical exchange.

– Online culture, digital activism/archelogy, and objects like hashtags (#) are legitimate objects of academic study.

– Traditional peer-review, especially when understood as exclusionary “gate-keeping,” can now be replaced by compassionate peer-collaboration in real-time.

– Scholarly manuscripts can now be posted online and receive thousands of comments rather than only one-two readers’ thoughts.

– An online journal has potentially unlimited space (vs. the finitude of print); hence, gate-keeping is less important and acceptance rates are not necessarily an indicator of journal quality.

– There is nothing human intelligence/creativity can do that will not, one day, be greatly surpassed by machines/computers.

Posthumanism entails challenging human “exceptionalism.”

 

Ideally, then, one goal for IDST-270 is a response like the following: “I had no idea what Digital Humanities was before I first set foot in the class. [But it] has taught me the most in my entire college experience: I have learned to really question and argue against everything I had previously known to really understand different perspectives and ideas” (Fall 2016, emphasis mine). In other words, digital studies/digital humanities indicates not only shift in content, but a massive sea-change in academic practice.

Regarding content, moreover, because the course is so broad in scope, I ask students to present and discuss existing digital projects based on their own interests in the Arts and Humanities. For as one student explained: “The projects that I have done [in this class] are fundamentally driven by ‘wow this would be cool to know more about’ which is very rare in most classes I’ve been in so far” (Fall 2016).

Indeed, for what more could one ask than the shift whereby a student first thinks a class is going to be “boring” or “fluff,” then it becomes their “most enjoyable”—for instance, because “[the] presentations were really cool and really [enabled students] getting to choose topics of interest and inform […] fellow students about it” (Fall 2017). As I have emphasized throughout, as an educator I’m deeply committed to having students pursue their “intrinsic” passions, and see curiosity/joy as integral to learning.

 

(Future Directions)

Speaking of engagement, many thanks for reading so far! It’s time to wrap things up, but I’d like first to conclude with a few reflections regarding my future at CNU—in particular, how I plan to use my tenure to expand and improve the university in coming years.

In terms of scholarship, I look forward to seeing Dr. Emmelhainz’ and my Composition as Big Data piece come out later this year, and know I’ll be elated and teary-eyed when my book arrives this Winter; moreover, Dr. Emmelhainz’ and my proposed piece on games and writing should be a lot of fun to compose/design. I have found collaborative writing with colleagues to be a real joy and definitely look to do more, though I still fully plan on writing single-authored philosophical investigations into “singularities,” posthumanism, and contemporary theories of subjectivity that critique neoliberal humanist notions of agency and freedom.

Looking further ahead, I envision a series of “article” or “book” projects that take multimodality to a whole new level, combining non-linear text, photos of art/other images, reflections on writing with sound, and much more. Put another way, as a digitally-oriented scholar with tenure, I would be freed up to focus less on text-only projects, and more on “object building” (e.g. interactive archives, visual argumentation, and beyond). There are also multiple conferences I’d like to attend for the first time, including the “National Communication Association of America” and “The Digital Pedagogy Workshop.” After earning tenure, many academics shift/change the emphasis of their scholarship, and I look forward to doing so myself by becoming increasingly familiar with the rhetoric/digital studies work done COMM, FNAR, and more. In sum, it’s a question of taking advantage of tenure to experiment with new forms of writing/building, along with exploring interdisciplinary approaches to doing so.

Speaking of digital scholarship, tenure would likewise afford me the opportunity to grow the Digital Humanities minor even further, which has already become quite popular. For instance, I envision many much-needed improvements to the program, especially with regard to course-offerings. As a digital studies scholar, I am confident I have the capacity to (1) see which courses could/should exist, (2) recruit technologically-inclined/curious faculty, (3) and combine those resources to improve the over-arching structure of the minor. For example, we could easily develop courses like: “Writing for Digital Communities” (Hoag/English), along with offerings from colleagues like “Electronic Literature” (Emmelhainz/English), “Geo-Mapping” (Finn/Geography), “Historical Archives Online” (Cartwright/History), “Philosophy in the Digital Age” (Balay/Philosophy), and languages in digital contexts (e.g., Spanish). Earning tenure would not only grant me the time to develop these offerings, but attract colleagues at-the-ready who I’m sure have great ideas regarding the program/curriculum.

On a similar front, I see earning tenure as an opportunity to take full advantage of the Center for Innovation in the Digital Humanities (CIDH), transforming it into a fully-functioning institution like the Center for Effective Teaching (CET). Hence, I humbly suggest a directorship be created for the CIDH with the following duties, all of which are things I am confident I can accomplish:

-Develop an instructor contract

-Develop and track instructor teaching schedule

-Offer CIDH training during Getting Started Week

-Offer technology-training workshops during the academic year

-Train lab proctors on room/equipment

-Develop efficient system for “after hours” booking/usage

-Develop a CIDH website with the Office of Public Relations

-Connect work in CIDH to research initiatives in the OURCA office

-Update existing CIDH website (https://dwilicnu.wordpress.com/)

-Investigate expanding lab into other spaces in Trible Library

-Investigate possibility for bringing in speakers

-Collaborate with institutions on-campus like the CET and Writing Center

-Facilitate faculty projects: D. Gillman/Science plays, J. White/Civil war archives, K. Jeremski/Costuming

(The above projects are currently in-progress)

Note: This last point is especially important, as I see one of my post-tenure roles as becoming a kind of “meta-scholar,” focusing on helping other faculty to digitize work that would otherwise remain analog.

Finally, with regard to teaching, as a tenured faculty member two primary goals come to mind. First, earning tenure implies the candidate is indeed an expert in their primary fields of study and hence should be teaching in them. In my own case, although CNU has provided opportunities to teach x2 digitally-oriented courses, my other primary areas of research are Rhetorical Theory/Philosophy and Digital Media Rhetorics. Along these lines, I could teach any of the following courses and would delight in doing so: “Contemporary Rhetorical Theory,” “Classical Rhetorical Theory,” “Philosophy v. Writing,” “Rhetoric and Ethics,” “Rhetoric and ‘The Animal,’” “Protest Rhetorics,” “Rhetoric and Music/Poetry/Art,” a Senior Seminar based on trauma theory or posthumanism, “Theories/Pedagogies of Writing” (offered via the MAT program), “Digital Rhetorics,” “Activism in the Digital Age,” “(Electracy) Digital Media Literacy,” a team-taught course on media/drug “addiction,” and several more.

Secondly, I plan on taking advantage of my tenure to help re-envision and reshape the English Department’s curriculum as a whole, the “Writing” track in particular. At present the department is structured in a fairly tradition manner, with much greater focus on literary analysis than writing studies, hence I plan to use my ethos as a tenured faculty member to make suggestions that will lead toward greater sub-disciplinary parity. Making such changes likewise involves becoming increasingly involved in hiring/retention, and as a tenured faculty member I would have more opportunities to get involved in these vital processes. Thus, whether it concerns my own classes or the department as a whole, being tenured would make it possible for me to draw more fully on my background, as well as experiences in differently-structured types of departments (e.g., UT-Austin’s Rhetoric/Writing Department “v.” smaller liberal arts programs in English). Getting courses/curriculum changes approved can be difficult, but it’s absolutely worth it if I have increased opportunities for scholarly “actualization.”

 

(II)

Circling back to where we began, then, a career is about finding someplace in the world where one is a good “fit,” yes? I am confident CNU is indeed a place I fit, that CNU and I mutually benefit from one another’s existence, and to which I have contributed to the absolute depth of my capacities. For my first “real job,” first professional place of belonging, I am deeply fortunate to have found CNU and for CNU to have found me. Everyone here has been basically nothing but kind and supportive, fostering my oft-eccentric imagination and vision, which is especially important when one thrives on making innovations.

Beyond scholarly concerns, I need few things in life more right now than to feel at peace, optimistic and secure in the future by maintaining the loving family and community I’m fortunate enough to be part of here. Though the prospect of a potentially life-long commitment can be scary, I have reached a place where I’m confident I can be happy living out my days at CNU, especially if I attain the financial stability to “settle down,” buy a home, and perhaps start a family of my own (or simply get a fenced-in yard for my sweet corgi, Ariadne). And such joy, I’m sure, would be reciprocal, inspiring me to be an even better educator, researcher, and colleague.

Being a university professor is integral to my identity, and a source of profound meaning in my life; hence I wish not only to maintain this state of affairs, but magnify it so I can continue to explore the absolute height of my professional capacities. I will never cease pouring my heart 100% into whatever I’m doing in life; hence I look forward to continuing to do so here at CNU, so that my restless energy remains a source of growth and positive change. As long as education remains about transforming lives and freeing thought, an intervention born of passion and fire, you can count me in.

My deepest thanks for all that CNU has provided over the past five years; I promise to do everything in my power to keep giving back, and would delight in the opportunity to do so. Indeed, I would like nothing more than to be a “Captain for Life.”

With deepest sincerity,

Trevor Hoag

~Trevor Hoag., Ph.D.

 

CNU Honor Code: On my honor, I will maintain the highest standards of honesty, integrity and personal responsibility. This means I will not lie, cheat, or steal, and as a member of this academic community, I am committed to creating an environment of respect and mutual trust.

***

Fall 2018

12:55 PM (Thursday)