Meet our new Classroom Ambassador, Amanda Conner

Amanda Conner joined Carve this spring as the first Classroom Ambassador. Amanda will work on developing Carve curriculum, strengthening Carve’s relationships with educators, and overseeing the Classroom.

Amanda is a Missouri native and received her MA in Creative Writing from Missouri State University in 2015. She is currently pursuing her second master's degree in Writing with an emphasis in Rhetoric and Composition. Her work can be found in Crab Fat Magazine.

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You’ve studied creative writing, including graphic narratives and fiction, as well as rhetoric. For you, how do these considerations and studies interact?

I actually did not see the connection between these genres until I taught my first writing course. In one of my first lectures, I discussed the importance of visual literacy. Specifically, I focused on how it affects our analysis when determining what an author is trying to convey. To illustrate how visual literacy impacts a text’s meaning, I had my students read the first chapter of Marjane Satrapi’s graphic memoir Persepolis titled “The Veil.” In this first chapter, the reader is introduced to Satrapi at ten years old. For this assignment, I had my students decode the images and symbols, including the veil, used by Satrapi to convey identity construction, political influence, and being a witness to the Iran-Iraq war.

After this assignment, I realized that comics was not the only genre that uses elements of craft to engage their readers. Literary fiction requires authors to develop symbols and imagery that evoke emotion from the audience. Also, characterization, plot development, and setting construction are pivotal when portraying themes and motifs.

When it comes to rhetoric and composition, writers, researchers, and instructors use language as way to motivate or influence a specific audience. We use words to convey the power of emotion, credibility, and logic in the art of persuasion. Each of these genres requires readers to decode an author’s purpose, and become one with the words on the page.

You presented at the Conference on College Composition and Communication last month. What can you share about your case study?

My case study was titled, “Setting the Stage: Performance and Identity Construction through Peer Tutoring.” Since this year’s theme at the CCCC was performative rhetoric, my case study illustrated my deconstruction and reconstruction of my identity as a student, while performing as a tutor in an introduction to basic writing course. I performed my case study in four acts, which included a combination of dialogue, narrative, and scholarly reflection.

What initiatives or new developments will you be working on for Carve?

The Carve Community is already overflowing with passionate, talented authors who are dedicated to sharing their craft. Not only am I thrilled to be a part of this community, but I am also looking forward to working with new writers in the Carve Classroom. One of my goals as the Classroom Ambassador is to be a resource for new writers who are entering the world of fiction and publication. I want to be an advocate for their stories to be heard.

Another goal of mine is build the honest fiction curriculum. Carve currently offers comprehensive lesson plans that are centered on a previously published short story. The target audience for the lesson plans are high school students and undergraduate students. Each lesson plan is designed to stimulate critical thinking and promote creative writing instruction in the classroom.

However, to create more lessons, Carve needs instructors who are willing to volunteer their time to develop lesson plans. We need instructors who can look into the depths of our archive, find a story that speaks to their soul, and write a lesson plan that encourages students to write. As the Classroom Ambassador, I am here to develop those relationships and I am looking forward to working with instructors who love teaching fiction as much as I do.

Why do you think good literary citizenship is important to developing literary communities?

As writers, we need to surround ourselves with individuals who strive to make good art. Immersing ourselves within the depths of literature reminds us that the art of storytelling is important. That our stories, whether fiction, poetry, nonfiction, or graphic narrative, are sacred and valuable. We must inspire one another to keep writing, to keep creating, to keep sharing. Without our stories and our community, good art would not exist and the world would be a much more boring place.

For you, what’s essential about bringing creative writing into the classroom?

The best way I can illustrate the importance of creative writing in the classroom is through my own experience as a student. Prior to creative writing, I did not consider my voice valuable. I did not see my story as important.

My first creative writing course in college was the first time I truly felt the power of words. I was blessed to have an instructor who saw my potential peeking through the surface of my fiction. Even though she taught three other classes and had a multitude of students, she took the time to help me shape craft and make my voice heard. Without her kindness, dedication, and passion for fiction and comics, I would have not pursued a master’s degree in creative writing, nor would I be currently pursuing my degree in rhetoric and composition. Rather, I would still be wadding amongst the voiceless, waiting for someone to rescue me from the ever beating waves.