We congratulate LHSP instructor Shelley Manis on being named one of the Summer Fellows. Shelley has been one of LHSP’s instructors for six years. Recent LHSP students may have had a class with Shelley, as she taught LHSP 125.006 “Our TV, Our Selves” in Fall 2018 and LHSP 230.001 Hamilsations: How a Concept Album-Turned Mega-Musical Challenges Everything We Thought We Knew about U.S. History” in Winter 2019.
You can learn more about the Institute for the Humanities and its Summer Fellows program specifically here, as this program is in its second year.
Questions and Answers with Instructor Shelley Manis:
Q: What will you be working on this summer?
A: I'll be working on my first book, weaves together writing studies and performance, bringing theatrical theories and techniques into the writing classroom to enrich invention, development of argument, and collaboration/peer review--an approach not yet fully articulated in the rich literature in either writing/rhetorical studies or theater/performance studies. I want to model treating a writing classroom like a blackbox rehearsal and performance space. Why not move beyond figuring ourselves as performing when we teach, and beyond thinking of writing as metaphorical performance, and into training student writers to invent, draft, revise, and collaborate in an embodied way? My book will build on existing research in writing and performance by arguing for teaching writing AS performance.
Q: What are you most excited about in regard to the chance to be part of this intellectual community? (“Both cohorts will take up residence at the institute during their respective fellowship periods, forming an intellectual community while pursuing original research and participating in regular, cross-disciplinary fellows’ seminars.”)
A: I'm super-excited to be in a community of writers whose only responsibility in that space is to work on our writing. I'm equally excited to hear about the work my colleagues are doing on a daily basis and read work in progress throughout the summer. I tell my students all the time that reading a peer's work is one of the best ways to gain insight into your own, and it's true! Also, because we're all coming from disparate disciplines, I'm looking forward to the kinds of idiosyncratic bits of inspiration that tend to spark in environments where everyone is trained to research and write and think differently.
Q: How has this book project already or how do you think your time as a Summer Fellow will impact your instructing of courses, like your LHSP ones? :)
A: My work at Sweetland is already driven by ongoing research in rhetoric and writing as well as in performance and dramaturgical practice. I believe integrating performance techniques into writing classrooms can help writers embody processes that facilitate “sticky” learning and skills transfer. One way this affected my teaching most recently is in a new project I designed for my Hamilton course. The project was a series of roundtables in which each student, for one class session, assumed the role of one of the authors whose work we'd read for that day and participated in a roundtable with the other "authors," moderated by me. It was a little clunky this time around because it was the first time on its feet, but I could see students find their own authority by creating personas/character studies in order to embody the authority and positions of scholars we’d read for the course. Shout out to my students, who were 100% game to try this, even those who have zero desire to act! I'll be using this summer, in part, to revise that assignment and develop more.