Brooke Notes 4/3 – Mueller

Brooke Notes 4-3-17

Mueller, Derek. “Emplaced Disciplinary Networks from Middle Altitude.” Cross-border Networks in Writing Studies.

Text Citation

Mueller, Derek. “Emplaced Disciplinary Networks from Middle Altitude.” Cross-border Networks in Writing Studies. By Andre Williams, Louise Wetherbee Phelps, Jennifer Clary-Lemon, and Derek Mueller. Edmonton: Inkshed, 2017. 20-44.


This chapter is a portion of a larger study which collected the survey responses of 91 Canadian Writing studies scholars and began a systematic process of plotting scholarly activity physically (geographically) and figuratively, to map out a varied epistemological landscape.


Essences, Differentiation, Shape-finding, Surveys, Disciplinary Networks, Canadian, American


“Question 10 asked about how participants regarded themselves, as a Canadian scholar, an American one, something in between, or something else. A close plurality of respondents selected Something in between (22; 40%) or Canadian (20; 36.6), with Something else (10; 18.8%) and American (2; 3.6%) receiving fewer selections. This indicates a mixed but balanced quality among the ways the respondents identify as emplaced scholars, and the tension elicited here shows up in other questions, too, which suggests a complex, transnational self-understanding among Canadian writing studies scholars” (Mueller, 27).

“The first three geography-oriented questions confirmed that over 70% of the respondents are from Canada, completed a BA or BS in Canada, an MA or MS in Canada, and live and work in Canada now. However, just 23 (41.8%) of the respondents completed a PhD in Canada; whereas 29 (52.7%) undertook doctoral studies in the United States. In an otherwise Canadian-oriented set of geographical identifiers, doctoral studies are the anomalous class, signaling cross-border activity through which a majority of Canadian writing studies scholars surveyed went to the United States for a PhD and returned to work in Canadian universities” (Mueller, 31).

“At another degree removed, we can begin to understand how the influences of Joy Ritchie, Kate Ronald, and Robert Brooke, professors at Nebraska who Dale Jacobs identified as mentors, are similarly implicated in and constitutive of this disciplinary network. Jacobs isn’t at Waterloo, and yet he is. He isn’t at Old Dominion, but he is. He isn’t at SUNY-Potsdam, Michigan State, Florida State, Wayne State, or Cincinnati, but he is. Digital cartography is useful for seeing the emerging definitional shape of this network—for grasping an image of Dale Jacobs as simultaneously emplaced and distributed” (Mueller, 43).


Regarding the survey results of question 10 of the survey, in which 18.8% of survey respondants identified as “something else” when responding to the question “Do you see yourself primarily as a Canadian scholar, an American one, something in between, or something else?,” it makes me wonder if those who responded that way did so because they might have been an international student scholar of some kind who had taken part in the Canadian writing studies, and yet could not truly consider themselves a “Canadian” or “American” scholar due to their status in the country or the amount of time they had spent in the country up to that point.

I wonder if at one point there could be a small study that branches off of this one that endeavors to pick up this strand and see how international student scholars within Canadian writing studies have intersected with the field and how the field has intersected with their experience and background?

Further Reading:

Clary-Lemon, J. (2009). Shifting tradition: Writing research in Canada. American Review of Canadian Studies, 39(2), 94–111. doi:10.1080/02722010902848128

Fox, W. L. (2009). Aereality: On the world from above. Berkeley: Counterpoint.

Phelps, L. W., & Ackerman, J. M. (2010). Making the case for disciplinarity in rhetoric, composition, and writing studies: The visibility project. College Composition and Communication, 62(1), 180–215.

Soja, E. W. (2011). Postmodern geographies: The reassertion of space in critical social theory (2nd edition). London; New York: Verso.

Reading Question 4/3

“Inquiring into patterned activity at any one scale can tell us something that is not evident at any other scale. Through the deliberate alteration of scale, this opening segment of the project seeks to define Canadian-American writing studies interdependency from perspectives that are yet uncommon; it seeks to introduce a viewshed for graphical, distant, and aerial treatments of disciplinary activity that may contribute to a definition concerned less with fixed essences or contrastive differentiation than noticing time-sensitive patterns and emerging shapes” (Mueller, 23).

As an “indexical aereality,” this text spatializes disciplinary activity and movement across the Canadian-American border through maps (43). This spatialized knowing seems reflective of Sousanis’s wayfinding in its shifting from a static locale to a dynamic motion of relationships that serve as definitional and shape-making. As shapes emerge, so too do contours or borders—borders that overlap other borders possibly. Are there ways of mapping or knowing borders as fluid or the edges as fraying? Some rhetoric scholars see the field as one of borrowing from others, others seem more siloed in their view—does scaling in this way take stock of the silos’ contents and their movement, or show tributaries from other ways of knowing and other fields? Also, rather than mapping only disciplinary activity, could we map disciplinary inactivity? Failures of doing, not doing, and not reaching—an antimap?