Reflection of the Researcher

Figure 1: “Kindergarden is fun” (Woodleywonderworks, 2008)

Reading and Discussion Reflection 2

One of my favorite college courses at UVa-Wise was Rhetorical Criticism, which I took as a core requirement for my major in Communication Studies. In the course, we studied different theories and applied those theories to analyze public messages. When I read Grace Enriquez’s (2006) article, “The Reader Speaks Out: Adolescent Reflections about Controversial Young Adult Literature,” I couldn’t help but think back to principles of rhetorical criticism.

In Making Sense of Messages: A Critical Apprenticeship in Rhetorical Criticism, Mark Stoner and Sally Perkins (2005) explain that “while critical theorists seek to dismantle the distortions of knowledge that stem from ideology, they also recognize the role that language, media, and other types of visual representations play in the creation of ideology” (p. 240). In other words, people and things are what people believe that they are, but that belief is cultivated through the associations that individuals ascribe to concepts throughout their lives.

Critical theory teaches people to think about what their beliefs promote and what they censor, so the theory has a direct connection to the idea of book censorship. In the specific case of the assertions of Grace Enriquez’s (2006) study, critical theory reveals several important ideas behind the participants responses in the study. The opinions of the students in the study are directly influenced by their social and educational environments. To illustrate, Enriquez (2006) writes that “By middle school, students are quite conscious of what they should and should not do in a school setting…Students readily identify on their own and agreed upon which topics evoke controversy: drug use, profanity, racism, violence, religion, and sexual content” (p. 18). The students learned appropriate behaviors from their local school systems; they came to assess topics and literature based on ideas that were taught to them.

I think it’s extremely interesting and important to realize the internalization of censorship— the idea that while censorship is often viewed as an external and formalized process, it is rooted in human teaching and beliefs, which serves to explain why censorship cases can be complex and emotion-laden. Challenging books is about more than challenging words on a page; it’s a challenge against dimensions of humanity. For that reason, realizing the role that education plays in promoting AND breaking patterns of literary censorship is essential to examining cases of censorship, especially in school systems.

Considering critical theory and the observations of Grace Enriquez (2006) ultimately changed the way I viewed my own research case. When I initially approached the research, I wanted to segment the different aspects of the challenges and had the tendency to view the different sides of the challenge as separate from one another. However, reflecting upon the article led me to realize that the different viewpoints in the literary challenge are fundamentally linked to one another. They are both sides of human expression, and both sides inherently promote and censor ideologies. With this realization, I decided that I wanted to show a more complex view of each of the major viewpoints in the censorship case, and as a result, I decided to divide the section of my website that displays the case into pages that focus on exploring and understanding each perspective of the case, which I believe will lead to a deeper interpretation and more thorough analysis of the context and events in my chosen case.


Enriquez, G. (2006). The reader speaks out: Adolescent reflections about controversial young adult literature. The ALAN Review, 33(2), 16-23. doi:10.21061/alan.v33i2.a.3

Stoner, M., & Perkins, S. (2005). Making sense of messages: A critical apprenticeship in rhetorical criticism. Boston, NY: Houghton Mifflin Company.

Woodleywonderworks. (2008, October 02). Kindergarten is fun. Retrieved February 25, 2019, from


Progress Continues

With the due date of the project contract galloping forward, I wanted to reflect on recent progress that has prepared me to begin outlining a more specific course for my project website. Over the past two weeks, I have made progress in two essential areas: finding primary sources and drafting the my project site.

Appalachian Values

Figure 1: Wikimedia Commons photo of the Blue Ridge Mountains (Thomas, 2008)

From the beginning of the project, I was interested in choosing a censorship case revolving around a piece of Appalachian literature, and I found exactly what I was looking for in a local challenge of Clyde Edgerton’s The Floatplane Notebooks. However, after I selected the case, I had two critical questions: How do I go about defining a broad topic like Appalachian culture or values? and How do I frame that information so that it is immediately relevant to the project? To answer these questions, I had to decide on how to present the information, and I’ve decided that the most effective way to showcase the importance of Appalachian culture for the case is to interview someone who can be considered an expert on the Appalachians and who is fully immersed in Appalachian culture.

I reached out to UVa-Wise communication studies professor, Dr. Amy Clark, who teaches Appalachian literature (a course that I took myself only a few semesters ago) and is the co-director of the Center for Appalachian Studies at the college. Dr. Clark agreed to let me interview her about aspects of Appalachian culture and values. With the interview confirmed, my next step is to sit down and formulate a list of questions based on my research with the written sources that I have. I have given myself a personal due date of this Thursday, February 2st, to have the list created.

Interestingly (and encouragingly), many of the sources I have read have confirmed the importance of contextualizing Appalachian culture in the case, which helps me begin to piece together how I can present the information on my site so that coherently fits with the larger context of the case. For example, in an article from the Roanoke Times, the author interviews educator Marion Goldwasser about the case, and she remarks that “‘The ironic thing is that the book values the very things the people complaining about the book say they value – the family unit, patriotism, religion, love and caring, and tradition in the Southern culture'” (as qtd. by Beth Macy, 1992). Goldwasser’s statement provides an excellent vantage point for explaining why the examination of local values is critical for the project and for illuminating the subtle complexities of my selected case.

Reaching Out

In addition to scheduling an interview with Dr. Clark, I also reached out to the administration of the alumni page I discussed during class on Wednesday. I didn’t expect to receive a reply for a few days (at least), but instead, I received a reply in less than an hour! The alumni’s answer was an enthusiastic yes in agreeance to help me with the project. I was overjoyed, but I also realize that reaching out is just the first step. By the beginning of next week on Monday,  February 25th, I have set a goal to formulate a list of questions or discussion concerning the case and want to continue discussion with the alumni network, so that I can begin to collect some primary interview accounts of the case.

WordPress Wisdom

Figure 2: WordPress Administration Edit Page (Hayfordoleary, 2009)

Lastly, I spent several hours considering and drafting my project website over last week and the weekend. Because I chose to draft my ideas for the site design in a google document during class, I went back and mapped a preliminary design using Coggle last Wednesday. Creating a visual map for the site design gave me a more detailed and more intricate look at how I could group ideas and what resources I could in the execution of those ideas on the site. Furthermore, creating a visual diagram was incredibly beneficial because it allowed me to look at concrete ways to breakup information so that I avoided creating an online narrative through my project site.

After further developing my intentions for the project content, I turned to the site itself. I started with trying to add a single page on my site. Then, I added around three sample pages and then used them to create a menu on the homepage of my site. After building the skeleton, I went through and looked at different appearance themes to gain an understanding of the different visuals and on the options each theme offered. Though I haven’t selected which theme I want to build my project site with, I have narrowed down the field of themes by choosing a set of criteria that I want present in the site. First, I want the page to have a static homepage and picture on that homepage. Second, I would like the page to have additional navigation options on the bottom of the page, rather than in a side bar. Third, I want to be able to control the elements of the text, such as the font and color, with the theme (which I figured out that not all themes allow me to do). While, I expect at least one of these initial preferences to change as I continue working on the site, they do provide me with a more concrete image of how the site will look and what kinds of content work best with the pages.

Also important, spending an evening with the on line tools gave me an idea of my own proficiency in using the several of the applications. Going forward, I am going to spend more time familiarizing myself with WordPress and developing my project site. In addition to learning some tips and tricks, I have set a goal to have selected and activated my site theme by this Friday, February 22nd. I also want to have created at least one page, specifically a draft of the homepage or a personal introduction page by this Friday as well. Lastly, I plan on brainstorming and outlining the project contract through the week and over the weekend, so that I am prepared to draft the contract next week. Selecting some specific site features should provide me with a great foundation for drafting the course contract and really giving a visual direction to my project.


*I have linked references and other relevant pages within the post but have also chosen to list them below in case the links do not work or do not convey adequate source attribution*

Amy D. Clark – Department Chair & Professor of Rhetoric. (n.d.). Retrieved February 18, 2019, from

Coggle – Simple Collaborative Mind Maps. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Macy, B. (1992, December 19). Family plots real life has provided Clyde Edgerton with a generous supply of material for his books. Roanoke Times, The (VA), p. 1. Available from NewsBank:\

Hayfordoleary. (2009, September 29). WordPress administration 2.8.png [Photograph found in English Wikipedia]. Retrieved February 18, 2019, from

Thomas, K. (2008, February 24). Rainy blue ridge-27527.jpg [Photograph taken in North Carolina]. Retrieved February 18, 2019, from

Meeting a Reference Librarian at UVa-Wise

A Reflection on Research and Resources

UVa-Wise Library Books 6th Floor Inside (Turner, 2019)

When I enrolled as a freshman at UVa-Wise in 2016, the college had just opened its brand-new library, a beautiful six floor building that has many different resources on each floor. However, while I learned to spend time using the study spaces and printers from the beginning of my first year, I never took the opportunity to reach out to the librarians in the library and learn about all the different resources available to me as a student collectively. For this reason, I was particularly excited for this exercise because I anticipated that I would discover many resources I didn’t know existed and that I would be able to get answers to questions that I have about research and the library in general.

I met with UVa-Wise reference librarian Shannon Steffey on Wednesday, January 6th during convocation hour at one p.m., and in fifty short minutes, she changed my life and greatly informed my research process—That is no exaggeration either!

As soon as I traveled to her office and knocked on the door, she greeted me warmly and immediately pulled up the chair behind her desk so that I could sit and see her computer screen, which she had readied to teach me everything I needed to know.

First, she showed me the online library portal available to UVa-Wise students, a place where students can access different databases and digital collections. In the portal, Shannon walked me through a database called Access World News. The database was filled with many different periodicals and news media sources, especially local papers that I hadn’t been able to find online or on any other sources. After inputting some keywords from my chosen censorship case, a local challenge of Clyde Edgerton’s The Floatplane Notebooks, the database found several articles (around seven) all related to my topic, which solved one early concern I had about a lack of news material on my case!

Between Aisles of Books in the UVa-Wise Library (Turner, 2019)

Another important resource Shannon explained to me was Wiley Online Library, which has a feature where articles that appear in the ending citations of other articles are sometimes hot linked in the reference list, making finding and exploring sources easier. Generally, the database offers me an additional outlet for research by making scholarly sources that may not be on other databases available for me to study. 

During the last quarter of our meeting, I took the opportunity to ask Shannon questions that I had about different offices and processes in the library. For example, I asked Shannon about the process for interlibrary loans. I had heard about interlibrary loans in several different courses, but I never had a reason or opportunity to look in to how the process worked and how it could help me as a student. Shannon was able to show me how to access all the necessary forms and gave me an understanding of the timeframe of interlibrary loans for different types of materials. The second major resource I took the opportunity to ask about was special collections. Shannon walked me through the process of requesting permission to visit special collections, taught me about different resources in the collections, and showed me who to contact if I needed to access that feature of the library. Beyond those major questions, I also took the time to ask about finding images on databases in the library or in other sources and learned about several different types of technology, such as tablets and laptops, that the library has available for UVa-Wise students.

I left the library and logged in to class at two p.m. brimming with new resources, new project ideas, and a heightened understanding and appreciation of a library that I already loved to spend time in!


Turner, T. (Photographer). (2019, February 11). Between Aisles of Books in the UVa-Wise Library [Personal photograph taken in UVa-Wise].

Turner, T. (Photographer). (2019, February 11). UVa-Wise Library Books 6th Floor Inside [Personal photograph taken in UVa-Wise].

Access World News. (n.d.). Retrieved February 11, 2019, from

Wiley Online Library. (n.d.). Retrieved February 11, 2019, from

*Note on blog post references: In an attempt to challenge and grow my skills in navigating WordPress, I have hot linked the database sources in the blog post. However, in case the links do not work or convey the proper citation, I have also re-listed the linked pages in my reference list.

In Pursuit of Progress

Research Reflection and Progress Report

After two full weeks of class and topic exploration, I have developed a more concrete idea of censorship and of the cases I am interested in studying in the final project. However, in pursuit of this progress, I navigated through many challenges and opportunities last week. As a result, I spent time at the end of the week and over the weekend reflecting on those challenges and creating plans of action to address them.

First, although I never anticipated that I would face feelings of intimidation over taking on a large, semi-independent research project (at least not so early in the course), I battled through those feelings last week. After class on Wednesday evening, my researcher partner informed me that she had accepted another opportunity and would have to drop the course. Immediately, I was left with the difficult question of if, and how, to continue research on the project. To be honest, I spent a lot of hours debating whether I felt I could manage the project independently, especially sense the course is designed for team research.

However, after consulting with my advisor and spending time in reflection, I decided I had to try and I found that I had enough resources and ability to feel confident in completing the project. Going forward, I just have to make sure that I remember that revelation and learn to use my resources effectively.

After strengthening my resolution, I turned to case discovery research with increased excitement and a more determined disposition. Soon, my perseverance resulted in the discovery of case that, for me, ignited a burning curiosity that aligns with the titular focus of the course.

Early on, during an initial class session, my research partner and I discussed our interest in exploring cases of censored Appalachian authors, specifically Lee Smith. Yet, even after a week of extended exploration, I had not found any pronounced censorship cases on Lee Smith’s work.

However, I did find several cases where Appalachian novels had been the subject the controversy.

Figure 1: Book Cover of Edgerton’s “The Floatplane Notebooks” (Workman Publishing, 2012)

Ultimately, I found kindling in a New York Times article with the headline, “How Censorship Efforts by Religious Right Disrupt Education” (Katz, 1992). In the article, Leanne Katz (1992) gives several examples of how conservative, religious groups censor books and other works, including one case where “In Hillsville, Va., a radio evangelist, J. B. Lineberry, demanded that the country’s Teacher of the Year, Marion Goldwasser, be fired for ‘doing the work of the devil’ by teaching Clyde Edgerton’s novel, ‘The Floatplane Notebooks’” (para. 4).

The slim description of the case immediately captured my attention, so I followed-up reading the article by searching key words and phrases on the internet: Book Banned in Hillsville VA, Marion Goldwasser, “The Floatplane Notebooks” Challenged in VA, and a few other variations of the phrases.

At first, my searches did not yield pages of fruitful results (as I had hoped), but after more than an hour of combing through search engines, I found several descriptive and credible resources, which I compiled into a google document. For example, in an article from News & Record, Jim Schlosser (1992) provides a detailed account of the case. Even more intriguing, Marion Goldwasser (1997), the educator involved in the challenge, wrote an account of the case titled, “Censorship: It Happened to Me in Southwest Virginia—It Could Happen to You”.

Next, I continued exploration by viewing sites that provided information relevant to the case, even if not directly related to the case. Most notably, I found the website of the school district that was involved with the case, Carroll County Public Schools (CCPS Technology Department, n.d.). On the site, I found a document that contained a section outlining the process for parents or community members to present complaints to the school administration (CCPS Technology Department, n.d.)

Conducting this preliminary research ultimately gave shape to the path I will have to travel continue progressing on the project. With the challenges of last week past, I have set specific and accomplishable several goals to accomplish by the end of this week.

Figure 2: “University of Virginia’s College at Wise, New Library, Wise, Va” (CannonDesign, n.d.)

First, I have contacted the research librarian at my college and will schedule an interview for later in the week, ideally Tuesday or Wednesday. I anticipate that I will be able to provide a reflection on the meeting in next week’s blog post. In addition, I am also going to visit the special collections unit in my library by Thursday of this week, if only to become formally introduced to the idea of non-digitized archival research. I am particularly hopeful that my research librarian can provide some insight into working in special collections.

Second, I am going to reach out by email to the administration of the school board that was involved with the case later this evening, and at latest, by Tuesday morning.

Third, I am going to locate a copy of Edgerton’s The Floatplane Notebooks and begin reading the novel by Friday of this week. In addition to finding the novel, I am going to continue to compile online research to find more sources that will enrich my understanding of the case and allow me to start identifying specific parties to consider for focus research and interviews.



CCPS Technology Department. (n.d.). Curriculum & Instruction. Retrieved February 3, 2019, from

Workman Publishing. (2012, September 15). [Book Cover of Edgerton’s “The Floatplane Notebooks”]. Retrieved February 4, 2019, from

Goldwasser, M. M. (1997). Censorship: It happened to me in Southwest Virginia–It could happen to you. The English Journal, 86(2), 34-42. doi:10.2307/819671

Katz, L. (1992, December 11). How censorship efforts by religious right disrupt education. Retrieved February 3, 2019, from

Schlosser, J. (1992, June 14). Censors take aim; Targets stand firm\ Book fuels morality debate. Retrieved February 3, 2019, from

CannonDesign (n.d.). University of virginia’s College at Wise, New Library, Wise, Va [Photograph found in Wise, Va]. Retrieved February 4, 2019, from