In Medias Res, Fall 2014

Greetings and welcome to the start of a new school year!

Every year brings with it a new set of changes and challenges.

This year’s changes include the July 1st launch of “WRAP,” or the Writing, Rhetoric, and Professional Communication program. WRAP administratively and conceptually combines the First-Year Writing (FYW) program with the Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC) program in order to develop a more coherent pedagogical approach across all segments of the Communication Requirement. WRAP collaborates with MIT faculty and departments to teach written, oral, and visual communication to over 4,000 students a year in more than 100 communication-intensive subjects.

Building on the strong foundation that FYW and WAC developed over the past dozen years, WRAP will offer a new vision for communication pedagogy, one that is both more firmly based in research in the field of rhetoric and writing studies, and more aligned with current practices in professional communication.

In addition, this structure allows us to consider deeper issues of sequencing across the Communication Requirement, and specifically teach for the transfer of communication knowledge from one component of the requirement to another. This focus on knowledge transfer will be supported with greater attention to researching our teaching practices and outcomes, and a more systematic approach to pedagogical innovation, including the integration of online pedagogies made possible through MITx. Led by Director Suzanne Lane and Associate Director Andreas Karatsolis, we expect big things from WRAP in future years.

Speaking of changes and challenges: WRAP and the Writing and Communication Center have been moved out of building 12, which is being torn down, and into a new space in E39.

Though he has been a part of the MIT community since 2004, July 1st also marks the official start to Mobile Experience Lab Director Federico Casalegno’s appointment as an Associate Professor of the Practice in CMS/W. Kudos!

This issue takes note (page 20) of the retirement of long-time Lecturer Bill Corbett. On September 12, CMS/W hosts a retirement event for science fiction giant and 30-year faculty member Joe Haldeman, along with long-time Writing and Communication Center consultant Gay Haldeman. If you wish to attend and have not registered, drop me a note at schiappa@mit.edu.

As described on page 25, four of our faculty have received prestigious fellowships that will allow them to spend a year away from campus devoted to their research: Vivek Bald will spend 2014-15 at Harvard University’s Warren Center for Research in American History; Heather Hendershot will be Maury Green Fellow at Harvard’s Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study; Fox Harrell will be at Stanford’s Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences; and William Uricchio will spend six months of 2015 at the American Academy in Berlin’s Hans Arnhold Center as a Berlin Prize Fellow. Though we will miss their presence, we look forward to hearing about their time away and will share an update in the fall 2015 issue of In Medias Res.

This year we welcome artist/scholar Dr. Coco Fusco, who will join us as an MIT Martin Luther King Visiting Scholar for 2014-2015 (see page 26).

We are also pleased to welcome accomplished author Marjorie Liu as a Lecturer this fall. Ms. Liu will be teaching a fiction workshop class titled “The Sweet Art of Comic Book Writing,” informed by her experience as a successful author for Marvel Comics.

This issue has something for everyone, ranging from the evocative photo-journalism of B. D. Colen to an exegesis of the scholarship of Fox Harrell to the impressive educational adventures of our CMS graduate students last spring in Peru. I hope that you are as impressed with the range and quality of work going on in CMS/W as I am and that you enjoy this installment of In Medias Res.

Edward Schiappa

About Edward Schiappa

Edward Schiappa conducts research in argumentation, classical rhetoric, media influence, and contemporary rhetorical theory. His current research explores the scope and function of rhetorical studies, including the relationship between rhetorical theory and critical media studies. He has published ten books and his research has appeared in such journals as Philosophy & Rhetoric, Quarterly Journal of Speech, Rhetoric Review, Argumentation, Communication Monographs, and Communication Theory. He has served as editor of Argumentation and Advocacy and received NCA's Douglas W. Ehninger Distinguished Rhetorical Scholar Award in 2000 and the Rhetorical and Communication Theory Distinguished Scholar Award in 2006. He was named a National Communication Association Distinguished Scholar in 2009. Schiappa is Head of CMS/W and John E. Burchard Professor of the Humanities.