writing groups as collaborative communities

I’m Katherine K. Chen. To kick off the 2017 spring semester’s Faculty Fellowship Publication Program (FFPP) blog series, I briefly reflect on CUNY, the academic profession, and how writing communities can support and enhance scholarship.

First, a little about myself: I am one of the newest FFPP mentors, and I am also a FFPP alum-turned-mentor (colleague Stephen Steinberg was my mentor!).  Using ethnographic and other qualitative methods, I study how organizations develop.  I joined The City College of New York in 2008, so I am now approaching almost a decade at CUNY.

As some of you know, CUNY is a higher education institution with an unusual structure, consisting of the Graduate Center, where most of its PhD granting programs are concentrated, senior colleges that offer bachelors and masters, and community colleges that offer associate degrees.  Moreover, CUNY has a long legacy of propelling first-time, minority college-goers into the middle class and beyond.  Despite a crushing burden of working low-wage, dead-end jobs, caring for sick relatives, and intermittent homelessness in a high cost of living city, CUNY undergraduate students persevere in their belief that education matters. Working at the frontlines with CUNY students are CUNY instructors who are vibrant and accomplished. Besides publishing in the expected peer-reviewed venues, some also produce artwork, novels, and opinion pieces in widely read venues.

It’s difficult not to be inspired by the intellectual ferment of CUNY and the surrounding New York City. Nonetheless, universities and academic professions in general face increasing uncertainties as state support for higher education declines.   Meanwhile, neoliberal pressures are increasing, with demands that faculty demonstrate their market worthiness in numbers of students taught and graduated and funding awarded.  These pressures can make the university and academic profession feel alienating, particularly when the rewards structure is skewed.  Often, only one type of the work – publishing in peer-reviewed publications – is recognized in tenure and promotion while much of daily work – teaching students and undertaking service to maintain academic institutions and the profession – is uncounted and unrewarded.

It is easy to get lost when journeying in this milieu.  In particular, navigating the writing and publishing can involve taking a hike into the unknown. While maps exist, the details are often unmarked, requiring local knowledge and constant experimentation. Sometimes a more experienced guide may lead, or companions may join, making the journey lighter (or heavier).  While writing coaches and guides to publishing offer some assistance (my favorites of the latter include Wendy Belcher’s Writing Your Journal Article in Twelve Weeks and William Germano’s Getting It Published), people can more fully realize their potential when immersed in an active, supportive community.

Writing groups such as FFPP, where members meet regularly to give feedback on circulated work, offer an oasis of support, collegiality, and generativity.  For me, participating in FFPP and other writing groups has been crucial to advancing my scholarly development.  Such groups have facilitated difficult decisions to, for example, reframe manuscripts and cut out excess material; these gatherings have helped interpret cryptic reviewer comments and modeled potential responses to reviewers’ suggestions.  Moreover, reading other scholars’ works in progress helps us understand common writing and conceptual issues – it is much easier to identify problems and potential solutions in other people’s manuscripts!   Finally, it’s heady to be on the cutting edge of manuscripts that are on the verge of reaching a wider audience, especially given how long it takes for manuscripts to wend their way through the publication process.

With these thoughts in mind, I look forward to facilitating fellow FFPPers’ journey and learning from everyone’s work in the months ahead.  Welcome to spring 2o17!

 

 

Queer Methods Launches 12/8/16

Queer Methods Launches 12/8/16

Announcing the publication of Queer Methods, a special issue of WSQ: Women’s Studies Quarterly, coedited by FFPP Mentor and former Fellow Matt Brim (College of Staten Island).

wsq_queer_methods_front_cover_final-1

 

Queer Methods presents pioneering feminist work on queer research practices across the disciplines and proudly features new poetry and prose selections by cutting-edge writers. WSQ is published by the Feminist Press at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.

 

Please join WSQ and the Feminist Press for the launch event of Queer Methods on Thursday, December 8th from 7:00-8:30pm at the Bureau of General Services–Queer Division, an independent queer cultural center, bookstore, and event space located in Room 210 of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Community Center at 208 West 13th Street (between 7th Avenue & Greenwich Avenue) in Manhattan.

 

 

Welcome to FFPP!

Welcome to FFPP!

The Faculty Fellowship Publication Program (FFPP) is the only university-wide initiative of its kind.  Sponsored by CUNY’s Office of Recruitment and Diversity, FFPP supports CUNY’s institutional goal of a diverse, high achieving professoriate, the cornerstone of CUNY’s scholarly excellence.    The FFPP initiative assists full-time untenured faculty in the design and execution of writing projects essential to their progress toward tenure. Discipline-based writing groups of peers from across the University, facilitated by senior faculty members, provide fellows with feedback on their work, which may include scholarly articles for peer-reviewed journals, books for academic presses, or, in some instances, creative writing.

University Dean Arlene Torres
University Dean Arlene Torres

University Dean Arlene Torres leads the Office of Recruitment and Diversity, and Maryann McKenzie is her Deputy.  Shelly Eversley (Baruch College) serves as Academic Director.  FFPP Mentors and working group leaders for 2016-17 are:  Moustafa Bayoumi (Brooklyn College), Matt Brim (College of Staten Island), Katherine Chen (City College), Bridgett Davis (Baruch College), Carrie Hintz (Queens College), Lina Newton (Hunter College), Debbie Sonu (Hunter College), Stephen Steinberg (Queens College), Anahi Viladrich (Queens College).

Online Bibliography and Citation Tools

Online Bibliography and Citation Tools

There are some really great digital tools that can help you organize sources and assemble bibliography and works cited lists in the most common research formats.  These tools are easy to use, (mostly) free, and they save so much time:

Zotero is your personal research assistant.  It is a free browser based plug-in that allows you to collect, organize, cite, and share your research sources.  And it stores anything–PDFs, images, audio, articles, and websites–all in your personal “library.”  Don’t let the term “plug-in” scare you.  Once you download the tool, it lives in your browser, freeing up valuable time to focus on writing.  Zotero allows you to create footnotes, end notes, in-text citations, and bibliographies in every academic format.

Docear is a open source reference manager that offers PDF metadata retrieval, free online back up, and a monitoring function for new files (images, PDFs, etc.).  It also has an MS word add-0n.  You have full control over your data, and there is no registration requirement.

Bib Me is a fully automatic bibliography maker that auto-fills.  It provides an easy way to build a works cited page in MLA, APA, and Chicago formats.  A professional account allows you to save every bibliography.

Cite This For Me allow you to automatically create website citations in APA, MLA, Chicago, or Harvard formats.  It also comes with a Google Chrome extension.

 

Arab American Book Award

Arab American Book Award

Congratulations to FFPP Mentor Moustafa Bayoumi (Brooklyn College)won the 2016 Arab American Book Award for his This Muslim American Life:  Dispatches from the War on Terror (NYU 2015)!

51utfcluoyl-_ux250_His book argues “To be a Muslim American today often means to exist in a space between exotic and dangerous, victim and villain, simply because of the assumptions people carry about you. In the gripping essays in This Muslim American Life, Bayoumi exposes how contemporary politics, movies, novels, media experts and more have together produced a culture of fear and suspicion that not only willfully forgets the Muslim-American past, but also threatens all of our civil liberties in the present.”

His first book, How Does it Feel to Be a Problem:  Being Young and Arab in America (Penguin 2009), also won the Arab American Book Award as well as the American Book Award in 2010.