I recently wrote about wordriver (and my ambivalence regarding it). This week I’d like to touch on a markedly different publication, Kairos. Kairos is subtitled “A Journal of Rhetoric, Technology, and Pedagogy.” They’ve been around for more than a decade, which means they were publishing about the intersection of computers and rhetoric back in the early days, at least in academia.
Kairos is a useful publication. They’re flexible, as they must be to analyze a topic that is being created as they look at it. I’ve generally found the folks there friendly. (I wrote a few conference reviews for them back in the digital stone age; you’ll find them in the archives.) As people and scholars, they’re committed to good teaching, and to examining the role computers play in good teaching.
More to the point for our purposes, they also give the Kairos Award for Graduate Students and Adjuncts. These awards are given for teaching, but also for service and research. Besides the honor, they carry with them a $500 prize.
They’ve taken over the responsibility for these rewards from Lore, which is largely defunct (and was discussed in this blog). The funding for the award comes from Bedford-St.Martin’s Press. One of Kairos‘ editor, Erin Karper, who’s currently coordinator for the Kairos awards, indicated they grouped graduate students and adjuncts together for the award because neither group is properly recognized for their contributions.
The award also fits with Kairos‘ purposes. Doug Eyman, senior editor at Kairos, indicated traditional tenure evaluations often fail to recognize those working in genuinely new areas (like on computers and rhetoric). (Eyman, who is an Assistant Professor of English at George Mason University, also mention that most members of the Kairos staff when the award was founded were either graduate students or adjuncts. [He was an adjunct.])
You’ll find a list of the past award winners here, and I’ll return to comment on this year’s winner or winners after they’re announced in May.
For now, I’ll just say that I’m glad this award exists, and make a few observations. First, I’m not surprises that innovative scholarship suffers in the tenure evaluation process…but I’m not precisely sure what to do about it. Second, when I looked into the past winners, I found them academically active and successful, which is not something that can be said for all winners of adjunct teaching awards, alas. (I know this is a small sample, but it is still encouraging.) Third, if you look at some of the winners’ websites, you’ll find them clean and well-organized, even snazzy. These are people who know how to use current technology well. And fourth, that means they’re staying in academia because they want to be here. Not a bad tally.