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Handcrafted Rhetorics at #4C23 Chicago

Join us in Chicago for several HR-sponsored events this year:

Thursday, Feb 16 at 1:45 p.m. • Williford C (3rd floor)
C.18 • Roundtable: “Making Hope: Handcrafted Rhetorics as a Way to Encourage Invention, Reuse, and Resistance in Composing Communities”
Since 2015, the Handcrafted Rhetorics SIG has sponsored occasions at the CCCC Convention for members of the field to create, connect with community makers, and discuss the relationship between critical making and composition practices. This roundtable asks, “How can we make hope in our scholarship and pedagogy?” Attendees will leave with tangible, tactile strategies to create hope in local contexts.

Thursday, Feb 16 at 6:30 p.m. • Group Salon A-1 (lower level)
TSIG.06 • Handcrafted Rhetorics SIG
This is a chance for scholars, teachers, and community organizers to converse about the relationships among craft, DIY, multimodality, making, public composition, and culture. Come and meet folks, share new projects, exchanging teaching ideas, and more!

Saturday, Feb 18 at 2:00 p.m. • Salon A-3 (lower level)
SW.04 • Handcrafted Rhetorics Workshop (FREE!)
This informal workshop will begin at the conference site with a short activity before taking the CTA to Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood to visit Quimby’s Bookstore. Stick around for a meal and/or drink at Piece Brewery, right around the corner.

By Skvader – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Chicago Transit Authority website

Handcrafted Rhetorics at #4C20 in Milwaukee

2:00 – 5:00pm, Saturday, 3/28, at TBA off-site location

HASHTAGS: #4C20 & #SW03

We are thrilled to announce that Handcrafted Rhetorics will be run as a Saturday workshop this year! While we are still working to secure our offsite meeting location (which means that the details of the workshop will change depending on where we meet), here’s our proposal:

On July 21, 2018, Forbes magazine published an opinion piece by economist Panos Mourdoukoutas arguing that “Amazon Should Replace Local Libraries to Save Taxpayers Money.” Pushback from the public — particularly public librarians — was so strong, swift, and well-grounded in economic and democratic realities that Forbes pulled the article down within two days. (It is, of course, archived online by the American Library Association.) The same day the article was deleted, Crystle Martin (2018) explained on the Young Adult Library Services Association’s blog what Mourdoukoutas missed: that libraries play vital roles in “defending free speech, protecting the privacy of users, supporting lifelong learning, and creating an informed citizenry who can participate in the democratic process. But perhaps what is most disturbing about his suggestion is that he completely ignores the fact that there are millions of Americans living in poverty who cannot afford to purchase books and other materials, and who do not have access in their homes to current digital tools or high speed Internet.” As part of our commons, libraries are vital to our collective life — important even for those who don’t use them.

Since American communities began establishing and advocating for public libraries in the 18th century, we have understood them as more than repositories of books, and today public libraries are a common place for adult education, English language instruction, re-entry and job training programs for people newly out of prison, after-school and summer activities for children and teenagers, and year-round community events (Klinenberg 2018). Andrew Carnegie referred to libraries as “palaces for the people,” an important part of what sociologist Eric Klineberg (2018) calls “social infrastructure,” or “the physical places and organizations that shape the way people interact” and build social stability and resilience in communities (p. 5). It is no surprise, then, that public libraries and librarians have been at the forefront of what our group has been calling “handcrafted rhetorics,” pursuing the democratic promises that the maker movement itself has frequently fallen short on (Sivek 2011; Morozov 2014; Willett 2016).

This half-day hands-on workshop proposes to bring attendees into the Milwaukee Public Library’s Mitchell Street location, where its makerspace, Studio M, opened in 2017. Participants will learn about the work librarians and patrons do together, and do some making of our own. Having run workshops at CCCC in 2015 (Tampa) and 2017 (Portland) that brought local zine makers and DIYers to the conference, we moved our workshop out of the conference center in 2018 (Kansas City) and into Print League, a community print shop. Our 2019 (Pittsburgh) workshop partnered with the Pittsburgh Center for Creative Reuse (PCCR) and was held at Contemporary Craft. After successfully navigating the logistics of an off-site workshop for two years—and seeing how important the change of venue was for participants’ experience of the workshop—we propose to again take participants into our host city to learn more about public library makerspaces as scenes of publicly-engaged rhetorical action. (Knowing that a community-engaged workshop like this may need to shift plans, however, we encourage workshop attendees to visit for the most current information about the location and plans for this workshop.)

Scholars and practitioners in Rhetoric & Composition have turned to the histories, theories, and practices of craft, DIY, multimodal rhetoric, cultural rhetorics, (post)process-oriented pedagogies, and makerspaces to reimagine composition classrooms and better understand public rhetorical action (Farmer 2013; Howard 2018; Koupf 2017; Melo 2016; Palmeri 2012; Prins 2012; Sheridan, Ridolfo, & Michel, 2012; Shipka 2011; Stenberg 2015; Wynn 2017). Librarians and scholars and practitioners of Rhetoric and Composition share a stake in developing information literacy as a value among our communities (Baer 2016), and both groups create space for and draw attention to practices at all points in the information lifecycle. As public and school library makerspaces become increasingly common, we as a field have much to learn from the librarians who structure productive making and learning spaces for patrons every day. By bringing people from these two sites of public education together, we will be well-positioned to reflect on our commonplaces about information literacy, multimodal composing, and maker education, such as that:

  • labor conditions, materiality, location, and personal relationships matter to rhetorical practice,
  • meaningful public rhetorical practice can be undertaken both inside and outside academia,
  • multimodal composing classrooms can — or should — be structured as makerspaces,
  • our work in the classroom should engage public rhetorics outside of it, or
  • archives and libraries can highlight essential relationships between invention, research and multimodal composing.


1:30pm – Meet at space; introductions; tour the library/makerspace

2:15pm – Making

3:45pm Break

4-5:00pm Discuss the issues outlined above, and how to take these conversations back to our institutions and communities


  • developing a better understanding of libraries and their relationship to multimodal composing,
  • articulating some of the ways in which libraries and makerspace practices might help us to rethink multimodal composing and public rhetorical practice in university classrooms,
  • exploring opportunities for educators, librarians, and makers to collaborate in supporting students and communities, and
  • fostering local, participatory maker activism and political dialogue through hands-on activities that engage Milwaukee’s built environment and physical spaces.

Our Time at #4C19

It’s hard to believe it’s been over two weeks since #4C19. We wanted to take a moment to recap our time at the conference, especially since we met for our first ever SIG.

During Wednesday’s afternoon workshop, our group traveled off-site to Contemporary Craft. We started with some reflective time to view the current exhibit TRANSFORMATION 10, which featured art created from found materials.

Afterward, Dr. Melissa Rogers, a local educator and artist who works with Pittsburgh arts organizations and nonprofits, helped lead us through a weaving-themed making activity centered on the question of what we want our art to do in the world. Each participants created an item that was woven into an upcycled picture frame. The final product was displayed in the conference center for the duration of the conference.

Thanks again Pittsburgh Center for Creative Reuse (PCCR) and Contemporary Craft for all the help with the workshop!

For Thursday’s SIG, we focused on what kind of big dreams we had for the future of Handcrafted Rhetorics by focusing on the following questions:

  1. What is the social/practical role of handcrafts/DIY in the field?
  2. What are your future dreams for handcrafted/DIY comp/rhet collaborations/proposals/publications/conferences/websites/classroom stuff, etc.?

In maker-fashion, our dreaming manifested into 1-page zines (featured below) and lots of good conversations. Thanks to everyone who participated. We can’t wait to see you next year!

Handcrafted Rhetorics at #4C19 in Pittsburgh

1:30 – 5:00 p.m., Wednesday, 3/13, at Contemporary Craft


HASHTAGS: #4C19 & #AW02

This year’s workshop is again venturing out into our host city! We are very proud to be teaming up with Dr. Melissa Rogers, a local educator and artist who works with Pittsburgh arts organizations and nonprofits, and the Pittsburgh Center for Creative Reuse (PCCR) at Contemporary Craft, located about a mile from the conference enter:

This dynamic off-site experience will engage with quirky recycled materials provided by PCCR as we collaborate on an unbridled, multimodal, and public project addressing some of the inequalities perpetuated by the neoliberalization of the arts and humanities in Pittsburgh and beyond.

We will begin by exploring the current exhibit at Contemporary Craft (which is based on found materials), hear about the important work these organizations do in Pittsburgh, conceive and develop our project (guided by this zine), and (hopefully, if you’re so inclined) continue the conversation afterward at our reserved table at Smallman Galley, one of two DIY food incubators in Pittsburgh. It promises to be a memorable afternoon!

And whether or not you can swing the workshop, please plan to join us at the first Handcrafted Rhetorics SIG meeting on Thursday evening from 6:30-7:30pm!


Handcrafted Rhetorics at #4C18 in Kansas City

This year Handcrafted Rhetorics is being held off-site as a Wednesday afternoon workshop (#AW.10). From 1:30-5 on Wednesday afternoon, March 14, we’ll be at Print League, a community print shop located in the heart of Kansas City. Registrants can find out about Print League and their mission from their homepage, and even more from their original Kickstarter campaign from last year, which includes a wonderful video featuring co-founders Ani, Michelle, and Angie.


Crash course in bot construction

In the Guts of Your DIY Publication portion of the workshop, I mentioned that you could create a simple Twitter Bot to help you get information about your publication out into the world. Here’s how to set one up. It takes a tiny bit of reading, editing, and executing a well-commented Python script.

First, follow these directions by @robincamille to chunk your text and to set up a new twitter account and connect with the API. Then use her script to configure your bot. You can adjust the length of time between tweets by changing the 3600 in time.sleep(3600) # Sleep for 1 hour proportionally (7200 for 2 hours, 900 for 15 minutes).

Robin’s @MechanicalPoe bot (on which is what I based @ReallySystemBot) sources its tweets from a Project Gutenberg text, but you could just as easily create a file of tweet-length messages promoting articles, mentioning authors, sending out your call (though, each tweet needs to be unique; Twitter won’t allow you to tweet the same thing over and over again).

If you are not an administrator on your computer, you might have issues installing some of the python packages (automatically) that you’ll need. You can use a virtual environment to install the necessary modules and get things going. Details on that here.

Robin’s script above expects to run continuously, so executing it on a computer that is always one and connected to the internet is optimal. As she notes, you could adjust this script to run as a cron job if you have server space, but that is a little more involved (and depends on your set-up, of course).

Getting ready for Tampa

We — Frank, Jason, Martha, Chelsea, Kristi, and Patrick — are looking forward to seeing everyone at the workshop on Wednesday! And we’re *very* excited to announce that we’ll be joined by some people from the Tampa Zine Fest and Tampa Free Skool.

The workshop includes time to try three kinds of DIY projects: we’ll have tables set up where you can learn to make webpages, crocheted yarnbombing squares, buttons, zines, networks, and ledger art. We’ll have supplies on hand (except laptops — if you want to do <html>, please bring your laptop!), but feel free to bring any supplies you have on hand and want to use (or share!).