Dolan Receives UMRB Grant for Second Book Project

Congratulations to Dr. Kathryn (“KC”) Dolan, who has just been awarded a University of Missouri Research Board grant. This grant will enable her to work full-time in Fall 2016 on her second book project: Dinner Stories: Food Animals and the Environment in Nineteenth-Century U.S. Literature.

The following is a list of UMRB grant recipients, past and present, from our department:

• Ed Malone, 2016, Technical Communication in World War II: The Birth of a Profession
• Anne Cotterill, 2015, Absolute Zero: Demonic Cold in Early Modern England
• Eric Bryan, 2012, The Christianization of Scandinavia
• Kate Drowne, 2011, The Black Flapper: Jazz Age Stories of Modern Black Women
• David Wright, 2008, Communications in Converging Industries: NAIS
• Ed Malone, 2008, Women Technical Communicators before 1960
• Anne Cotterill, 2006, Elizabeth Isham: A Life in the Margins
• Kathy Northcut, 2005, Drawing Meaning: The Power of Scientific Illustration

Celebrating the Humanities at Missouri S&T

We do have Humanities at Missouri University of Science & Technology.While some may think of the Humanities as an ornament to educating engineers and scientists, the areas in Humanities – English, History, Philosophy, the Arts, Languages – are important areas of research in their own right. Scholars and creators in these areas create knowledge and experiences that benefit society beyond the bounds of the campus.

On March 18, the second event Celebrating Excellence in the Humanities will be held in St Pat’s B in the Havener Center. The event starts at 2:00 and ends about 3:00. The scholars being celebrated are Michael Bruening, History and Political Science, Kate Drowne, English and Technical Communication, Eric Bryan, English and Technical Communication, and Audra Merfeld-Langston, Arts, Languages, and Philosophy.

Each scholar will speak briefly on his or her research, topics as diverse as the Reformation, the flapper in American culture, Old Norse mythology, and responses to globalization in rural France. Publications by other members of each department will be on display.

Members of the public, as well as the campus community, are welcome. See you there!

Jack Morgan in St. Louis

Most Americans have only vague knowledge of our Civil War. That knowledge focuses on the best-known battles, places, and people east of the Mississippi. However, St. Louis, the Ozarks, and Missouri were important in that conflict. Research Professor Jack Morgan‘s recent book, Through Irish and American Wars: The Life and Times of General Thomas W. Sweeney 1820-1892, fills in an significant part of that history. Published by the Irish Academic Press in 2006, this book is essential reading for the history of the American Civil War.

On September 18, Professor Morgan lectured on General Sweeney at the University of Missouri – St. Louis. His lecture, part of the Smurfit-Stone Endowed Professorship in Irish Studies, was titled “General Sweeney in St. Louis and Missouri.” This invited lecture shows the recognition that Professor Morgan’s research is achieving.

I highly recommend Through Irish and American Wars as a well-written and informative history. General Sweeney and his life are presented vividly.

Who Wrote the First Computer User Manual?

To learn who wrote the first user manual for computers, go to Ed Malone’s column in the IEEE/PCS online newsletter.
Dr. Malone has agreed to write a quarterly column for the newsletter of the IEEE Professional Communication Society. As this first column shows, Ed has been doing extensive research in the history of technical communication and is able to present the results effectively.

Where Did Your Steak Come From?

People are becoming more concerned about the origins of their foods, including beef. In his PhD dissertation, David Wright (assistant professor of English and Technical Communication) studied the efforts of the US Department of Agriculture to use RFID devices implanted in cattle to trace them from origin to use. The cattle industry was not receptive to the proposal to implant Radio Frequency Identification devices in their stock.
On Friday, January 18, Dr. Wright was interviewed by Wayne Huebner, host of radio station KMST’s TechnoFiles program. You may listen to the full interview in MP3 format here.

Writing the Self

Many people write diaries, journals, logs, and so on. Most write for their own purposes — keeping records, expressing emotions, exploring ideas, and exploring writing are all done by journal keepers. To read someone else’s journal is to enter in some way into the writer’s experience, especially if the writer did not intend her journals to be read. The diary or journal becomes a kind of mirror for the writer’s self, and, unlike a literal mirror, the diary retains an impression of what it reflects.
On September 7 and 8 of this year, Dr. Anne Cotterill, Associate Professor of English and Technical Communication, attended a conference at Princeton that explored this topic. The conference focused on Elizabeth Isham, a 17th century diarist.
Dr. Cotterill presented a paper on Saturday, September 8, along with a young man named Isaac Stephens, a graduate student in history whose almost-completed dissertation concerns this memoir and this woman and her family. They are the two scholars who’ve been working the longest on Elizabeth Isham and her text. Dr. Cotterill’s paper was taken from a longer piece she’s written on Elizabeth’s memoir, entitled, "Fitting Words at the ‘pitts brinke’: The Achievement of Elizabeth Isham." Dr. Cotterill plans to send the longer article to The Huntingdon Library Quarterly.

Online Scholarship

One consequence of the increasing use of the World Wide Web is the migration of scholarship to online venues. Internet publication has many advantages for scholarly and creative work, especially ease of access for millions of people.
Dr Elizabeth Cummins, Professor Emeritus of English and Technical Communication, is one of the scholars whose work is being published online. Her Judith Merrill: A Primary and Secondary Bibliography has just been published by the Center for the Bibliography of Science Fiction and Fantasy at Texas A&M University.
The site’s Introduction explains the background: the loss of print publishers for scholarly bibliographies and yet the continuing need scholars have for such bibliographies. Sponsored "by the Science Fiction Research Association, The International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts, Extrapolation magazine, and the Science Fiction and Fantasy Research Collection, Cushing Library, Texas A&M University," the Center is a fully qualified scholarly publisher
Earlier in the history of publication on the World Wide Web, many questioned whether such publication really counts as "scholarly," as legitimate publication, or as a kind of vanity publishing. Like other Web publishers, the Center for the Bibliography of Science Fiction and Fantasy qualifies as a full-fledged scholarly publisher. The bibliographies it publishes are reviewed by a qualified editorial board just as they would be for hard copy publishers.
Congratulations to Dr. Cummins on the latest publication of a labor of scholarly love. Judith Merrill is a crucial editor and writer in SF; now scholars around the world have ready access to this outstanding bibliography.

Student & Faculty Research

We at UMR — faculty and students alike — enjoy several research opportunities.
Dr. Ed Malone (Assistant Professor of English and technical communication and Director of technical communication) and Tara Gosnell (graduate student in technical communication) have recently received a grant for a project titled "The Role of Historical Studies in Technical Communication Curricula." The grant comes from the Council of Programs in Technical and Scientific Communication, of which both Prof. Malone and Ms. Gosnell are members.
A research project such as this allows the student to hone research skills and participate as an investigator in the faculty member’s professional research. (The history of technical communication is a main emphasis of Dr. Malone’s research.)
Prof. Malone and Ms. Gosnell have been meeting once a week this summer to write, design, and
test an online survey of technical communication program administrators and faculty. They plan to administer the survey in early September. They plan to present the results of the survey in an article.
In an article that will soon appear in IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication, Prof. Malone notes that at least 200 historical studies have been published in the top five technical communication journals since 1990. These publications indicate an interest in and recognition of the value of historical research in technical communication. The research project will explore how academic programs in technical communication make use of the historical research.
Here are some examples of questions from the survey:

  • In your opinion, should a technical communication program offer, on a
    regular basis, a course devoted entirely to the history of technical
  • Are students in your program expected to apply their knowledge of the
    history of technical communication?
  • If so, how are they expected to apply their knowledge?
  • What is the value of historical studies to students of technical communication?
  • In your opinion, what benefits (if any) does a technical communication
    student derive from studying the history of technical communication?

The results of the survey will enable program administrators and faculty to make better-informed decisions about the role that historical studies should play in their curricula. The findings may also benefit technical communication scholars who are researching the history of technical communication by giving them feedback about the value of their research.

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