6 months ago

Bachelor – Mediedesign NTNU Gjøvik

Min bachelor i mediedesign ved NTNU Gjøvik.

10 Journal of Technical

10 Journal of Technical Writing and Communication Vol. 45 No. 1 2015 the fall class of 1976. Based on what we had discussed, he completed the application and would accept me on the spot for it, provided that I would return the application signed as soon as possible (which meant overnight express mail in the mid-1970s). Then, he said, «By the way, first year doctoral students are not eligible for teaching assistantships.» With the naivete that only 24-year-olds can muster, I accepted the offer. When my wife arrived home later that afternoon, I asked her what she thought about Massachusetts. Her response was that it was fine, based on the one trip she had made there. Then, I said, «What do you think about moving there in the late summer?» The fact that we recently celebrated our 41 st anniversary says everything that anyone would need to know about her patience. In late August, we packed a U-haul truck and drove to Amherst, where we discovered rents that were three times those in northwestern South Carolina, and the fact that thousands of other unemployed graduate students and spouses had descended on the Happy Valley at the same time. Undaunted, I began looking for a job, as I waited for the semester to begin. The nadir of that search was when the house manager at the Lord Jeffrey Inn in Amherst turned me down for a chamberlain’s position because I «lacked sufficient bed-making experience.» I still suspect that somehow he obtained a reference from my mother. Just as I was preparing to apply for a position as assistant donut maker at the local donut shop, for which I was equally unqualified, I suspect, the department chairperson called and requested that I stop by his office the next day. I did. He said that the third-year graduate teaching assistant who was teaching three sections of technical writing quit the program. Then he asked, «Can you teach it?» My unhesitant answer was «Absolutely.» I did not have a clue what technical writing meant, but the word writing suggested to me that I might be better suited for it than donut making. So, I filled out various forms and found myself now with a salary of sorts, instate residency status, and free tuition and fees. The department chair told me that I was to meet the former teaching assistant the next morning at the Student Union and then accompany him to the classes for the week, so I could get a sense of what he was doing. The next morning, I went to the appointed meeting at 7:30 a.m. and found my predecessor. He told me, «I’m too hung over to do this. Here’s the book; the class is yours. It starts in 15 minutes.» He told me the location and left. I glanced down at the book: Technical Reporting by Ulmann and Gould (1972). Fifteen Sides, Charles H. From the Editor’s Desk: Reflections on an Increasingly Long Career minutes later, I walked into the class and confronted bewildered students. I told them that I was their new instructor, and in a moment of naked honesty, I said that as a result of the suddenness of this change, I was unprepared, but that by 336 Journal of Technical Writing and Communication 45(4) the next class I will have a sense of what we will be doing, and then I dismissed class. I repeated this two more times that day. Next, I stopped by the library, found a quiet spot, and read the entire textbook. And found a perfect fit. Everything I had ever done academically made sense in technical writing. I had begun my undergraduate career at Clemson as an architecture major, taking the same introductory courses as the engineers, until after 2 years the architecture faculty had pretty well convinced me that I could not draw. At that point, I switched to English because I was the only person I knew who was acing the freshman and sophomore English courses with virtually no effort. Anyone reviewing my college transcript today would question the masochistic tendencies that would lead to 12 credits in calculus listed as free electives in the English department, but in technical writing, everything came together. A high point came later that semester when I was grading an engineering student’s report on the Bernoulli effect and why a baseball curves when pitched. One sentence read: «As the accompanying equation shows, the baseball will curve down and to the left.» My comment was: «Your equation suggests that the baseball will curve up and to the right.» Major credits with the engineers, as a result. As it turned out, the faculty member responsible for technical writing in the University of Massachusetts English department was John Mitchell; he was on sabbatical the semester I took over all the courses he had developed over the decades there. When he returned, he greeted me with a gruff, «Well, if you didn’t know what you were doing, they wouldn’t have asked you to do it.» He was either giving me much more credit than I deserved or he was poking fun at me. I never developed the ability to tell the difference. But Professor Mitchell, whom I would never have called «Jack,» became one of my most valued mentors as long as he lived, which unfortunately was far too short. Like most of his generation, he had come to technical writing with a solid degree in English (Melville in his case) and World War II experience as a technical writer. And like most of his generation, at least the ones I met early in my career, he seemed to have amassed quite a few colorful stories about himself and a lot of other things that probably would be better left unsaid. My favorite, 11 22 MARLENE ANGELICA SJONSTI-BJØRNSEN BACHELOR MEDIEDESIGN NTNU I GJØVIK

12 Journal of Technical Writing and Communication Vol. 45 No. 1 2015 however, was the fact (if it was true) that as a licensed pilot, he and his wife would rent a small plane during summers and fly loads of lobsters from New England down to Florida. Don Cunningham can vouch for this, I think. My studies at UMass provided an excellent foundation for technical communication as an academic career. In the late 1970s, the English department still committedly held to its 1960s liberal tradition and permitted me to do virtually anything I wanted. The result was that half of my doctoral coursework was one-onone independent studies with well-known faculty in composition, rhetoric, and technical writing: Walker Gibson, Charles Kay Smith, Charles Sides 337 Moran, and John Mitchell. The department even permitted me to take courses outside the department, and I gladly took them up on it by enrolling in a graduate linguistics course with Barbara Hall Partee, a student and protégé of Noam Chomsky. These course experiences led to many opportunities, including publishing my first article on technical writing while still a grad student, my first invitations to speak at cccc, ncte, and stc; and perhaps most importantly, the first and only psycholinguistic dissertation that the English department ever approved (and source of a best article award from stc); wisely, I suppose, the department also decided after I left that there would be an upper limit on independent studies. At the end of 3 years, I had completed three of the required five chapters in my dissertation, co directed by Professors Gibson and Mitchell, as well as exhausted the time the university would pay me as a grad teaching assistant. It was time to apply for an academic job, and the late 1970s were a particularly bad time to do that with an English abd. Fortunately, Clarkson College of Technology, now University. If you have made it this far in my narrative, perhaps you are thinking, «He has been incredibly lucky,» and I think you would be right. Over my 40+ year career teaching technical communication, I have been fortunate to meet and work with amazing people, many of whom agreed to participate in this unusual issue of jtwc. I have also seen much that has changed and much that, regrettably, has not. Pedagogy has evolved from prescription to process, and vast numbers of women now occupy positions as technical communication faculty, edit our journals, and lead our discipline (Sides, 1994). The discipline of technical communication, as does this journal, still seeks out interesting and important contributions that can be made from associated disciplines, enriching our students and our field. But challenges remain, including the ongoing de-valuing of technical Sides, Charles H. From the Editor’s Desk: Reflections on an Increasingly Long Career communication within English departments, the challenge for young scholars to obtain tenure and promotion, and adequate funding for scholarship, without which academic disciplines are hard-pressed to thrive. Charles H. Sides Executive Editor References Chaucer, G. (2013). Troilus and Criseyde. Retrieved from http://www. Fiedler, L. (1971). Come back to the raft again, Huck honey. Collected essays of Leslie Fiedler. New York, NY: Stein and Day. Sides, C. H. (1994). Community consensus and change. In Technical Communication Frontiers: Essays in theory. St. Paul, MN: Association of Teachers of Technical Communication. Smith, C. K. (1974). Styles and structures. New York, NY: Norton. Ulmann, R., & Gould, J. R. (1972). Technical reporting (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Holt, Rinehart and Winston 13 THE JOURNAL OF TECHNICAL WRITING AND COMMUNICATION TIDSSKRIFT 23

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