5.05.2008

Places, Everybody

I've been thinking about place a lot. Not surprising. My research is all about place. But I've got other thinkers lately, like Ydog. He's got a lot to say about hometowns. And recently while walking through the exhibit hall at 4Cs, I heard someone shout in my direction: "Now there's a man after my own heart!" I looked over and saw a woman looking at me, maybe pointing. The exact details are blurry, but she then said, "Your hat" and I remembered I was wearing my Twins baseball cap. I went over to her and she introduced herself, "Kay Halasek." Turns out she's a big Twins fan, but stranger yet, she's grew up in Owatonna, the small city just down the road from Waseca, where I graduated from high school.

Now, I'm in Iowa, Kay is in Ohio, Jeff in Missouri and generally, at things like 4Cs, we look at and see where someone is now -- who employs them, generally (unless you're a very notable composition scholar who *still* gets the affiliation on his name tag wrong!). This is to say that we often make associations with where folks are for right now. There is, after all a considerable deal of transiency (word?) in our profession and this often tells us very little about that person except that they are able to hold a job at University of X where the scenery/ weather/ shopping is Q, or that are brave/ talented/ lucky enough to self-label as "Professional Independent Scholar." What we don't see is where the person is from. Sure, where they live now has an immediate effect, but so does where they have been. Take Mina Shaughnesy for instance and how much her hometown of Lead, South Dakota has been seen in her use of frontier metaphors. Where are their roots? How might those early years of figuring out this crazy life have situated that person? Like Kay and I, who might be practically neighbors and never even know it? What kind of insights or revisions might this literal choragraphy reveal?

So, I've created a Google Maps page titled "Hometown Composition" that I invite you all to add to. I hope I have the permissions set right. You will need to search the maps for it, but once you do, please add or change the markers. Click on the green colored link "Hometown Composition" below the names that are listed as the main headings. Jeff and Kay, I presumed yours already.

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hey, the Twins are in first place in the Central!

Hi, David. Your message and blog made me smile. Thanks. I am, myself, fascinated by our composition locales and our "geneologies." I once spent a nearly eight hour roundtrip from Columbus to West Lafayette, IN with Mara Holt from Ohio University and Ed Corbett. Sadly, the trip was occasioned by Jim Berlin's death, so it was a solemn affair, but the ride with Mara and Ed was one to be remembered--especially as it had to do with how each of us was welcomed--or, in Ed's case, beckoned by books--into the profession.

My best,

Kay

Unknown said...

Thanks, Kay! I might add that upon my entry to the profession, I was quite proud to see my M.A. thesis shelved right next to Pedagogies of Possibility!

CrS said...

Dave, this is brilliant! I hope more folks decide to add their hometowns---it has only been in recent years that I have begun to understand (maybe appreciate?) the influence my home(town) culture has had on my own scholarship and approach. I like the idea of a community of communities within the field. Very cool.

BTW, I tried to add my hometown to the map, but I could only add a location to the 'master' Google map; once I accessed the 'Hometown Composition' map, the option disappeared. As soon as I can figure it out, I will add good ol' Carmichaels, PA!

Unknown said...

I think I have all the kinks worked out now; Ray, Dave and the rest of the guys (ba-da ba tssh!). No, really, I reset the Google map preferences. You still need to sign in and/or create a Google account for yourself. Once you are signed in, there should be a link that says "Collaborate" which will bring up the pallette to place your marker.

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