Rhetoric/Composition & Disability Studies Comprehensive Exams Reading List

It took me a few months, but here they are. I struggled to pull these lists together, until my friends and colleagues began to share their own exam reading lists with me and it was a massive, massive help. So I promised myself I’d post mine online so that other grad students could benefit from them.

Below are the rationales and reading lists for my Comprehensive Exams in Rhetoric/Composition and Disability Studies. I’m currently in my third year of a PhD program at the University of Connecticut. At UConn, the number of texts we are expected to include in our reading lists is, in my limited experience, significantly higher than it is in other English or Rhet/Comp programs.

If you find something I’ve neglected to include–especially if it combines the two disciplines–feel free to comment or email me!

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Disclosure: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

I’m working in Disability Studies in my current grad program, and one of the loudest themes to emerge from 21st century disabled communities is the importance of VISIBILITY. Disability visibility–narratives of the lived experiences of disabled people–is crucial in combatting the stigma, misconceptions, and marginalization of people with disabilities, mental illness, and chronic illness, for a lot of reasons that I won’t go into here, because I’m writing about particular misconceptions about a specific mental illness.

I want to right these misconceptions not because I love being right (which I do), but because misconceptions lead to misdiagnosis, lack of diagnosis, and in some cases, worsening of symptoms, incarceration, institutionalization, and suicide. Visibility is not just beneficial, it’s essential for the surviving and thriving of disabled people. As I read and learn, the more I have begun to realize that I myself am not living visibly as a person with a disabling mental illness. I haven’t told most people in my life, because of my own internalized ableism–I’m afraid of the resulting stigma, that I won’t be believed, that I’ll be treated differently, a whole bunch of stuff. 

Anyway, I have Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. I will write about my personal experiences with it elsewhere, as it’s a long and interesting story that’s not super relevant here. I was diagnosed in my thirties, but I have had it since childhood. Everyone that knows me well knows that I’ve struggled with debilitating anxiety since I was a child. I have had a lot of really difficult years. When my first psychiatrist diagnosed me, she was surprised I’d made it till my thirties without institutionalization or worse. I was strong, I was lucky, but mostly, I was privileged enough to stay well that long without any professional support. She also warned me that I needed treatment, and I didn’t take that seriously until my forties. 

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Updates

I’ve been busy with grad school, so I have a few updates:

I’ve been hard at work co-coordinating a conference here at UConn, Racism in the Margins, to be held Friday February 19 & 26, 2021, along with Kathleen Tonry, Gabe Morrison, and Kyle Barron. I had the great pleasure of interviewing UConn Writing Center tutors for our video, and it was a profound and humbling experience.

I’ll be participating on a panel at the International Conference for the Fantastic in the Arts (my favorite conference!!!) in March, 2021, “Dark Forests of the Imagination: Fairy Tales and Ecological Thinking,” with Theodora Goss, Brittany Warman, and Sara Cleto.

I participated in the Project Narrative Summer Institute 2020, “Narrative, Medicine, and Disability,” with Jim Phelan and Amy Shuman. This was such an amazing experience, I recommend it to anyone interested in Narrative Theory.

Working from Home Advice from a Very Disorganized and Lazy Person

Several of my students have asked for advice about how to stay on task while working from home, how to cope with the pressure of school during quarantine, how to complete college coursework when most of us are far away from campus and its resources, our peers, and our professors. So I’ve made a list of personal advice. But before I get into it, I want to remind you of one thing:

Go easy on yourself. This is the most important piece of advice here. It’s very hard to do, but crucial. This COVID-19 situation is not normal. Don’t expect yourself to operate at 100% efficiency right now. Some things are not going to get done, and that’s OK. The most important thing—seriously—is your physical and mental health, and that of your loved ones.

amazing balance blur boulder
Photo by Nandhu Kumar on Pexels.com

Believe it—because it’s true. Of course, you may be saying to yourself, “that’s great Ms. Ready, but I still have shit to do—I have profs demanding papers and exams and zoom meetings and I have to clean my house and go to the store for my mom and babysit my little brother and walk the dog.”

Because there is a lot we still have to accomplish here is my list of advice on working from home and staying on task.

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It’s Easy AF to Read More Books by People of Color

It’s Easy AF to Read More Books by People of Color

For the last few years, I’ve set myself a Goodreads challenge. I set the number of books higher each year, pushing myself to do more of my favorite thing—reading. Last year’s felt pretty easy, and at the end of the year, I sat down and did the math to see how many of the (34) books I’d read were by women (24), how many by men (9), and how many by people of color (4!!!). I was stunned by the numbers. I’ve always favored books by women, and I’m OK with that, but I’d never consciously chosen to read books mostly by white people, had I?

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Writing Assignment for Composition Students

I’ve been working as the Lead Designer for a new, peer-reviewed publication through George Mason University. It’s called the English 302 OER Collection, and it’s been an absolute pleasure to work with my colleagues on developing this during 2018.

Our purpose is to create an online compendium of resources for faculty who teach English 302, George Mason’s required third-year writing and research course. I’ve been teaching 302 for two and a half years, and I was happy to contribute a Writing Assignment prompt to the inaugural issue, a Literature Review Assignment.

Check it out, and please check out the other excellent submissions in the first issue! We hope to have the second issue out in January 2019.

Hire me to perfect your academic writing!

I added a page to this site describing my editing services. I’m trying to pick up speed with my side hustle, freelance editing, now during the summer when my teaching paychecks are few and far between.

I love editing–it’s such a pleasure for me to read and perfect other folks’ writing. Over the last few years, I’ve read a couple dozen dissertations and theses, I’ve edited English in translation, I’ve helped folks with citations and references, and I’ve made a lot of weird sentences less weird.

I’ve read papers on transitioning from the military, inspiring ninth graders, GPS apps, ISIS, microalgae, and craft beers. It’s fun!

Anyway, hire me!

ITL

I had the opportunity last week to participate in a conference here at Mason: Innovations in Teaching and Learning. With co-presenter Julianna Miner, we presented to a group of peers on a topic we are both passionate about: helping our students identify and appreciate evidence-based arguments and texts. In other words: avoiding Fake News. Our presentation was titled: “Is it true? Helping Students Assess Information Credibility.”

I became interested in this topic, like so many people, during the debacle of 2016 news. I brought in a lesson plan for my students on Fake News, and to my surprise, it worked perfectly with the curriculum of Advanced Composition.

In our talk at ITL, we discussed the results of a recent study from Stanford, and how we used that to inform our instruction. I focused on giving students a lesson plan based on rhetorical analysis of online texts–a crucial skill we teach in Advanced Comp.

I’m sharing our presentation below. I hope you make use of it, and the data we reference! Our goal was to give our peers some useful tools to put into practice right away in their classrooms.

ReadyMiner2017FakeNewsPresentation