I spent much of today at "Communication Day" at Eastern Illinois University. Fellow rhetoricians and EIU faculty Suzanne, Darrel, and Angela kindly invited me to be the keynote speaker for this year's event, which featured the theme of communication and poverty. This morning I responded to a fabulous faculty panel on visual representation and marginalized communities. In my talk, I did a mini-history of the FSA's photography project and also speculated about why the FSA photos came up again and again in public conversations about Hurricane Katrina last fall. My argument is that the FSA made available an American visual tradition for talking about poverty and displacement. I ended my talk with the story of Nancy's grandfather Scott Marshall Ramsey, and people seemed quite struck by how his story encourages you to interpret the picture differently.
The audience was primarily undergraduate students, and quite a few, too. One faculty member unexpectedly brought her giant comm theory class over, which meant that a room meant to accommodate about 120 people was overflowing and sweltering with 200 or more. Let's just say the students sitting on the floor in front of the lectern were definitely close enough to see me sweat. Which I did. Profusely.
On the way back up I-57 I stopped at the outlet mall (yes, I am aware of the irony of giving a talk on poverty and then going shopping). I bought three (THREE!) purses, for the low low price of $27. Total, not each. As to why I need three purses, I am not sure. Maybe I am becoming a girl or something. My sisters would like that very much.
I ended my trip with a stop at the Dairy Queen and then I blasted Sugarland in the car on the way home. Two thumbs up for Communication Day!