Eportfolio Tutorial

In the first half of the Spring ’17 semester Christina, Angelica, and Aracelia joined me in taking the first eportfolio tutorial offered in the English Department. (Note: If you would like to know more about eportfolios, Kathleen Blake Yancey has contributed a short article to the Digital Pedagogy in the Humanities keyword project accessible here.)

As part of the tutorial, I studied with the participants various theories of representation, media, and identity to figure out how to develop a compelling online identity based on works they had developed in literature and creative writing classes within the English major at College of Charleston.

Although neither Christina, Angelica, or Aracelia had much web design experience at the beginning of the course, each developed a space for themselves on the internet to showcase their works and share aspects of their professional and creative identities. I hope that in browsing each of their eportfolios you can see that each representation is as distinct as the individuals who made them. In addition to what’s below, I’ve also built a website showcasing each student’s portfolio and their reflections on their experiences here.

Aracelia’s Eportfolio

An English and Secondary Education major, Aracelia found the portfolio experience helpful as a way of finding a trajectory through the major to help her be more intentional about the topics she selects in her literature courses and the subjects she writes about in her creative writing courses.

Angelica’s Eportfolio

A Creative Writing concentrator, Angelica used the portfolio as a way to begin thinking about how the critical pieces that she has written in her literature courses connect with and inform her creative writing.


Christina’s Eportfolio

Also a Creative Writing concentrator, Christina used the portfolio tutorial to draw a broader set of connections between the work she does in school–short story writing and essay writing–and the creative work she does outside of school: photography and bookbinding.

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Creative Writing and Creative Consulting

Michael Hals, a sophomore English major with a Creative Writing concentration, started working this year as a consultant in the College’s Writing Lab, though he doesn’t often get to work with clients puzzling over poems and finessing their latest work of fiction. Yet he finds that his training as a creative writer has been an asset in his consulting work. In a recent piece that he published in The Palmetto State Writing Center Association’s digital newsletter, Hals describes how different the work of a writing consultant is from, say, the work of a math consultant: “[writing] consultants don’t have the luxury that the math or science labs do, where there are consistent formulas and laws to fall back on,” he writes. “A grand majority of the time the craft of writing an essay feels like alchemy where a solution of words and ideas are mysteriously mixed together to produce a perfect, golden composition for the professor. While there are structural elements common to all essays—paragraphs, introductions/conclusions, and theses—the constructed rhetorical arguments are completely decided by the writer.”

For Hals, this suggest “limitless possibilities,” and the work of the consultant is less to provide the correct answer than to stimulate the client’s capacity for creative problem solving:

As a consultant, I must listen to the problems assaying a writer and come up with suggestions to fix them almost immediately. It doesn’t really matter if my suggestions are the “right” ones; sometimes a consultant’s job is just to get the writer’s mental cogs turning long enough for them to discover their own solutions. Creativity is an individual’s capacity for creation, and being a creative writer makes it easier to think spontaneously, act in the moment, absorb my client’s dilemmas, and spit out ideas in a moment’s notice. It has been a great asset for me in the Writing Lab, and I can’t imagine consulting without it.

Dr. Bonnie Devet, who directs The Writing Lab, is always pleased when students use their unique background to help their peers:”I am glad to see when a consultant transfers his talents from one sphere to another as he assists student writers,” she notes. “Doing so reflects the consultant’s own development as a writer and thinker.”


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Using the 6-Word Memoir in the Writing Center

This post was originally published in the Palmetto State Writing Association’s digital newsletter by Bonnie Devet, Director of the College of Charleston’s Writing Lab with consultants Will Allen, Jalen Brooks-Knepfle, Alli Camp, Emily Clark, Chloe Field, Lauren Findlay, Wilson Ford, Antony Garruzzo, Ryan Hall, Michael Hals, Olivia Liska, Winnier Meyers, Megan Minchak, Jessica Moon, Tori Rego, Alexia Tadros, Hayle Thomas, and Abby Tummers

WC consultants know best.  They are savvy, reflective souls, always eager to describe their work with clients.  So, in honor of International Writing Center Week, I asked the College of Charleston (SC) Writing Lab consultants to write about their experiences as consultants.  Using an idea from Andrew Jeter on the WC Listserv, I asked my consultants to write a 6-word memoir, based on Ernest Hemingway’s overly famous “For Sale: baby shoes, never worn.” I explained that now was the consultants’ chance to reveal all, such as what they love (or not) about being consultants, what part of themselves they use to work with clients, or what it means to help students one-to-one.  Here are these miracle memoirs, in only 6-words:

Dreary Client. Constructs thesis. Happy day.

Oh, no! It’s Turabian style, again.

We always wear lots of hats.

Flow and grammar scratch the surface.

Well, at least it’s not calculus.

*“Just check for grammar and flow.”

I don’t proofread; I consult.

*Confusion; Assistance

Clarity; Joy

Understanding; Accomplishment

The rewarding satisfaction of finding solutions!

Semi-colons are stronger than commas.

Sure, we can make it flow.

Remember, tomorrow is a new day.

“How do you use a semi-colon?”

In the business of fixing commas

Making a difference in lives matters!

Then, to round out the project, the consultants voted for the best 6-word memoir, with the winner receiving a small prize. (The “winners” are starred.) These 6-word memoirs have helped me as a director: not only have I been able to emphasize to the consultants the power of compact writing but I have also been able to underscore, for IWCA Week, the role of consultants in a center.

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S.C. War Veterans Use Poetry for Healing in New Reading Group

Professors William Russell (English) and Bryan Ganaway (Honors College) recently established a reading group for area veterans, as reported in the Charleston Post and Courier:



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What Can I Do With an English Major?

It’s a question that all of us book nerds have asked at some point in our lives.  Contrary to popular belief, the answer is A LOT.  On Wednesday, April 29th, 6:30-8:30 in Alumni Center (EHHP), Sigma Tau Delta and the Graduate English Association present a panel of people who majored in English and used their skills to pursue diverse careers.  Here is a list of our panelists:

Michael Duvall is a professor at CofC who specializes in American literature and culture in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He is the director of the Master of Arts in English program at the college. He received his PhD in American Literature from the University of Maryland. Dr. Duvall will be discussing the M.A program as well as the process of earning a PhD (at CofC and in general).

Allyson Field was an English Major in college and is now a first year teacher at Fort Dorchester High School. She will be representing English Majors in Secondary Education.

Kasey Hayes is an alumni of College of Charleston and is a partner and co-founder of Native Collaboration. Her company, Native Collab, is a marketing positioning firm that helps organizations reach audiences through marketing, PR, and digital strategy. She is coming all the way from Richmond, VA to tell us why business corporations hire English majors.

Bret Lott is a professor at CofC and an author of fourteen books. He serves as Nonfiction Editor for Crazyhorse as well. He is director of the Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program at CofC. At the panel, he will be discussing the MFA program as well as journal editing.

Courtney Proffitt works for Benefitfocus, which is a company that provides employers, brokers, insurance carriers, and consumers with technology to shop, enroll, manage, and exchange benefits information. She, similar to Hayes, will be discussing English Majors in business.

Dustin Waters is a reporter and journalist at the Charleston City Paper. He covers everything from issues occurring on the peninsula to more controversial, global issues; such as his recent cover story on gun control. He will be discussing the fields of journalism and reporting.


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English Major Elizabeth Torpey to Present at Coker College

English major Elizabeth Torpey will present a paper this month at the Coker Humanities Undergraduate Conference at Coker College in Hartsville, SC. In her paper, “Golden Worlds: A Pastoral Paradise,” Elizabeth explores how early modern poets and writers invoked the classical trope of the “golden world” to express a variety of political and philosophical positions. Congratulations, Elizabeth!

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English Major Cathy Keaton Featured in The College Today

The College Today published a feature on English major Cathy Keaton and her success pursuing a degree as a nontraditional student.

Senior Citizen Pursues Lifelong Goal to Earn Degree

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Happy Birthday, John Keats!

We all know that October 31st is Halloween, but did you know it was also John Keats’s birthday? In English 350, Keats, we celebrated both in style by having cupcakes and reading the decidedly macabre Isabella, or the Pot of Basil.


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English Majors Garruzzo and Rink Present at the Citadel


rinkThose who teach writing often find themselves invoking analogies to try and describe a certain skill. Create a “quote sandwich” we say to students in first-year academic writing. Or perhaps the stakes of a messy quote integration are clarified when we tell them to avoid the classic “hit-and-run.” Why do we do this? And does it work? Is a quote sandwich in fact the proper response to a hit-and-run?

English Majors Anthony Garruzzo and Alaina Rink addressed this topic in their recent presentation at the annual Palmetto State Writing Center Association conference at the Citadel. Their talk–“Analogies: Building a Bridge”–described how using analogies helps clients conceptualize an idea. These “hidden commonalities,” as Garruzzo and Rink called them, guide students as they develop a transition as a crucial bridge between ideas, for example, or revise a thesis by conceiving of it as a tour guide.  As the presenters emphasized, using analogies helps make concrete and imaginable what might otherwise seem too abstract. Its also encourages students to retain the information they have learned from consultants.

garruzzo-rinkWriting Center Directors from Furman, Claflin, and the Citadel all had high praise for CofC’s student presenters. Dr. Bonnie Devet, who directs the Writing Lab here at the College of Charleston, offered high praise as well: “Anthony and Alaina were addressing a  large audience of thirty-two directors and peer consultants from across the state,” she noted. “In spite of the pressure, they were poised and polished in their delivery.”

Anthony and Alaina wanted the audience to take home with them “workable” analogies they could use right away in their consultations. During the group activity when the audience generated their own analogies, the directors and peer consultants derived some fine analogies: Ibid is like saying “ditto”; a subordinate clause is like a clingy boyfriend; paraphrasing quotations is like condensing a phone conversation that you relate to others. Analogies like this stay with us, they stay with our students, and they make us all, one hopes, better writers and better teachers.



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Student Newspaper Honors Conseula Francis and Alison Piepmeier

francisThe College of Charleston’s student run magazine–The Yard–recently published an inspiring piece on the two beloved colleagues we lost this year. Courtney Eker and Justine Hall write in “Our Wonder Women: The legacies of Conseula Francis and Alison Piepmeier” of these two women–of the extraordinary activism, scholarship, and friendship that they inspired on campus, in the broader Charleston community, and beyond. The piece begins:

Fierce. Magnificent. Activist. Inspiring. Badass. Family.

If you could sum up the legacy of two vibrant, passionate and influential women in one word, what would it be?

Alison Piepmeier and Conseula Francis were more than colleagues of the College of Charleston faculty. They were friends — family. They spent weekends and holidays with each other and their children. They published together. With their third counterpart, political science professor Claire Curtis, they formed what Curtis called a “smug writing group.” They made an impact on the College of Charleston campus community through their courses, their involvement, their compassion and their activism for social and racial justice.

You can read the piece in its entirety over at The Yard.

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