Cámara Retórica

A Feminist Filmmaking Methodology
for Rhetoric and Composition

Acknowledgments Banner Image


This video book began as an alphabetic-writing dissertation that I defended at Purdue University in 2013. My tireless chair Patricia Sullivan, to whom this project is dedicated, helped me find ways to go beyond my own filmmaking experience and include other voices as I theorized feminist filmmaking’s value to Rhetoric and Composition. Committee member Peter Fadde allowed me to audit one of his film and video production courses and introduced me to life behind the camera and to some of the techniques I still use today. Committee member Jennifer Bay not only helped me fine tune the role feminism would play here, but was an unflinchingly supportive friend and mentor, who helped me find my way out of various dissertation-writing impasses. Committee member Joe Palmer, who recruited me to Purdue’s doctoral program, helped me figure out the mysteries of graduate school with brilliant humor and countless film references. Committee member Samantha Blackmon helped me develop some of my ideas on race through the Minority Rhetorics course I took with her. I feel fortunate to have had such a stellar committee and I thank them for laying down the foundation for this video book.

I also want to thank the generous, brave, and insightful rhetoricians, who took the time to answer my interview questions so we could have a better understanding of film and video production in Rhetoric and Composition. They are Bahareh Alaei, Sarah Arroyo, Jamie “Skye” Bianco, Geoffrey Carter, Steph Ceraso, Steven D. Krause, bonnie kyburz, Abraham Romney, Don Unger, Robert Leston, and his daughter Alex Leston. I feel immensely lucky to be in the field at the same time as they are and to be able to share their knowledge, humor, and excitement for the creative process with viewers of this video book.

I cannot imagine a program more supportive of scholars working at the intersections of digital and cultural rhetorics than Michigan State University’s Department of Writing, Rhetorics, and American Cultures, where I am fortunate to be a faculty member. My colleagues here have helped me figure out how to take the somewhat scattered yet promising ideas of my dissertation and turn them into a new project that has stayed true to my original intention. Jeff Grabill, Bill Hart-Davidson, Dànielle DeVoss, Malea Powell, Stuart Blythe, Ben Lauren, April Baker-Bell, Liza Potts, and Julie Lindquist have all helped me figure out pieces of the giant, messy structure that is undertaking a project of this magnitude, in particular when there are no other models out there—this is, after all, the first video book in our field. I thank them all for their collective and far-reaching wisdom.

MSU’s College of Arts and Letters, which houses my department, has made this project possible through providing some of the funding I’ve used to cover undergraduate student labor through the College of Arts and Letters Research Award. The Creativity Exploratory has generously loaned me some of the cameras that appear on screen and through which we captured the filmmaking process you see here. College of Arts and Letters faculty Peter Johnston has helped me figure out equipment and logistical questions for this project. I am very lucky to work in a college that is as willing to help faculty carry out their projects as this one.

Although I filmed most of the unattributed footage throughout this video book, Nathaniel Bowler, Lindsey Spitzley, and Jefferey Ivey helped film most of the footage in which I appear. Michelle Mueller shot the behind-the-scenes footage of Vanishing Borders, with additional photography by Josie Keefe. Kristin Bowler, Peter Bowler, Gustavo Cardier, Megan Grabill, Kendall Leon, Jennifer Sano Franchini, Erin VanSloten, and Gina Washington also shot some of the unattributed footage you see in the video book. I thank them all for generously lending their camera work to this project.

I am indebted to the following people for letting me film them camera-in-hand: Shanele Alvarez, Kristin Bowler, Nathaniel Bowler, Seda Bowler-Tunick, Isla Bowler-Tunick, Heather Fallis, Olivia Hacker, William Hidalgo-Bowler, Jefferey Ivey, Shewonda Leger, Priyanka Lobo, Yoelis Rivas, Marcos Rodríguez-Morillo, Jennifer Sano Franchini, Erin Schaefer, Sarah Shaw, Lindsey Spitzley, Than Thein, Fiovdaliza Volenik, Matilda Washington, Gina Washington, and Shane Wynn. I am also thankful for being able to film the following people editing footage: Sydney Beaudreault, Molly Buford, Natalie Gotko, Olivia Hacker, Brandon Hawkins, Peter Johnston, Marla Koenigsknecht, Taylor Neverman, María Pérez Escalá, Anne von Petersdorff, and Sarah Shaw.

Yazmín Lazcano-Pry, Lehua Ledbetter, Shewonda Leger, Paul Kei Matzuda, Sarah Olivas, and Jennifer Sano Franchini generously allowed me to film the conference presentations you see here. I would also like to thank the members and organizers of the 2011, 2014, and 2015 Conference on College Composition and Communication, the 2015 HASTAC Conference, and the 2010 Watson Conference. I use footage I filmed at those events throughout the video book. I also thank NCTE’s Caucuses for their work and for allowing me to film the 2011 business meetings of the American Indian Caucus, the Asian/Asian American Caucus, the Latina/o Caucus, and the Queer Caucus.

Editing the sound for this video book has taken hundreds of hours (I wish this was an exaggeration, but it isn’t). Sarah Shaw has brought her considerable expertise in turning messy sound into something that pleases the ear to this process. Shell Little was a tireless companion in creating the website that houses this piece. From helping me choose between stills to coding away for days on end, she provided the videos with a loving home for you to visit.

The editors and reviewers at Computers and Composition Digital Press have been courageous and creative in their management of this project. Patrick Berry, Gail Hawisher, and Cynthia Selfe have gone above and beyond the call of duty, helping me through the formative stages of the piece and showing kindness, flexibility, and brilliant guidance during every step of the way. My brave and patient reviewers, who should co-write a book on how to deliver insightful and constructive criticism that uplifts a project, have been open to rethinking traditional review processes in order to fit the needs of the project and take into account how time-consuming it is to mediate these chapters. I am a CCDP fangirl for life.

My in-laws Jean and Michael Bowler have for 17 years supported all my artistic endeavors. For the video book they let me turn their home into a film set for days on end. Kristin Bowler, Spencer Tunick, Seda and Isla Bowler-Tunick, and Gina and Matilda Washington let me film them in a variety of occasions for this project, adding their luminous faces and ideas to what you see on screen.

My mom, Antonieta Aagaard de Cardier, has been nurturing my creativity while trying to make sure I keep my feet on the ground from the moment she brought me into the world. It is a complex role to play and she does it with boundless love and a bit of flare. Gracias por todo, Mami. Thank you also to my dad, José Cardier, and my brothers Eduardo and Gustavo Cardier, who dispel my various creative crises with humor and a bit of realism. Gustavo even picked up the camera a few times for this project and shot one of my favorite images.

At some point while completing my MFA in Creative Writing, I decided that my husband, Nathaniel Bowler, and I should teach English in France for a couple years and have one last somewhat irresponsible adventure before becoming proper adults. He not only agreed to this intercontinental move, but he also learned French—from me, no less!—so he could survive in French classrooms crowded with ten-year-olds. That should be enough willingness to learn and experiment for a whole marriage, but a few years after our return from France, I asked him to learn a whole new skill and join me in yet another perilous, yet thrilling adventure when I handed him my first camera and asked him to film. It started as simple home videos and has grown to him being the director of photography for my in-progress documentary about nursing my youngest son. For the video book, Nate did a lot of running to get the camera when the way the light was falling suddenly struck me as poetic or when the boys were doing something I wanted to film and thought he should film me filming it. He also helped me corral the boys for some of the shots where I needed them and the shots were I needed them to stay off frame. Just as important, he listened as I tried to unravel the tangled contents of my mind whenever the magnitude of the project seemed unmanageable (and for a short while there that was a daily occurrence). I literally cannot imagine completing anything of any significance without you, Mr. B. Gracias.

William and Santiago Hidalgo-Bowler have loaned their faces, hands, feet, toys, and spirits to this video book. They have accepted Mami’s camera and long-editing sessions as a natural rhythm of our household and they are, and shall always be, the driving force of my creative projects. Los quiero, bebés.