Back to college… at 50?

Posted on December 5, 2015 by


As I mentioned earlier this fall, back in September I enrolled in a college course to test the waters to see if the time (mostly, if I had the time) was right to take the plunge back into academia. Though I only made my way through one course (finishing up this week), I did find a need to reassess my time management skills. Between working full-time and going back to school, while also being an active parent (and having a “honey-do list”), there’s definitely some juggling going on. Despite my struggles to find that balance, and only after a month and a half into the trial period, I went Mason2ahead and applied for a program. As many who follow me on Facebook and Twitter already know, as of Wednesday I was accepted to the Writing and Rhetoric PhD program at George Mason University.

While some folks might be asking, “why not history?”, there are a number of reasons why I didn’t take that avenue, and at the top of that list, I feel, is field saturation.

Sure, I love history, but… I’m more interested in the ways in which it can be delivered. For anyone who followed this blog (and can remember), as far back as 2008, I expressed various interests in the delivery of history via the Web back then. In short, history remains my content of interest, while “Writing and Rhetoric” is my greater interest, being a means by which the content can be “electrified”. Though I throw out this word, “electrified”, I don’t think many folks understand…

“Sooooo, you want to teach college students how to write history?”

Yes, but… no. I’m interested in how to 1) teach students to write, 2) how to write humanities, 3) how to write humanities in the digital space… effectively.

“So, the ‘digital space’? You mean writing on the Web, using hyperlinks? Like… writing the same stuff on paper, just putting it on the Web with hyperlinks?”

Yes… writing and communicating on the Web… and in other digital venues, but no… not simply a matter of writing for the Web as if writing for print; and as far as hyperlinks go… well, that doesn’t begin to tap into the potential of the digital space.

Here’s the thing, when you hear “Writing and Rhetoric” are you still stuck in what that meant in… oh, say… the mid-latter 20th century, or are you forward-thinking, as to what it means and has potential yet to mean, in the 21st century; most especially when considering the Web (to include social media) and other possibilities? Consider, for example, augmented reality…

I know… there are people out there saying to themselves… “whhhhat?” I’ll get back to that at a later point.

All that said, here’s a catch (at least I think)… what about rhetoric and its part in that more dynamic, 21st century meaning in “writing”?

To be honest, I’m troubled by how history has been given political spin… right and left being equally annoying. To this end, I’ve been looking into the rhetoric of teaching objectivity (which, in itself, is not to be considered neutral, by the way).

Confused yet… or intrigued?

Anyway, I officially launch on this new journey in the next semester. I look forward to immersing myself in the philosophy and the possibilities. I’m also sure some of it will spill over into this blog, in addition to historical content.

So, yes… back to college at 50. It seems incredible to think that I started my journey in academia, 32 years ago this fall. Now, seven universities later… it’s time for that PhD.