Masters of Text is a podcasting project from Ames Hawkins and Ryan Trauman meant to foster discussion of alternative textual forms of scholarship, and to promote scholarship about alternative modes of textuality. As much as possible, Masters of Text works to focus on fostering textuality and scholarship that combines intelligence, critique, creativity, and beauty. More simply, we’re focused on “critical-creative” approaches to scholarship.
If you'd like to listen to our first episode, I've embedded it below.
In terms of our larger research and creative agendas, this project brings to bear Ames’s practices as a transgenre writer, educator, and art activist. Her recent work makes contributions to the larger conversations regarding multimodal composing, art activism, collaboration, and queer literary nonfiction. And for Trauman, this project is an extension of his work publishing long-form multimodal scholarship, as well as his creative work with StoryCenter, a non-profit digital storytelling organization rooted in social justice and higher education initiatives.
We launched Masters of Text in 2015 to explore different strategies for discussing specific types of alt-alphabetic texts and creative-critical scholarship.
My initial investment was primarily to learn how to produce a podcast with high-quality audio, rhetorically savvy editing. I also wanted to learn to create content that held together as a conceptually cohesive project. Ames focused more on the types of material we would cover and how we might find and grow such a specific audience. But early in our first season, the two of us moved toward a much more collaborative distribution work within the project. As far as production goes, Ames and I both participated in the recording and editing of the audio segments. We also worked together to choose which texts to discuss and which ancillary projects we also wanted to include.
The most prominent through-line was our serialized discussion of three books-not-books. To be honest, Masters of Text was born out of some animated conversations between Ames and me about S. a radically unconventional storytelling project written by Doug Dorst and produced/conceptualized by J.J. Abrams. The following text we examined was Anne Carson's Nox. Our final text was The Unfortunates by B.S. Johnson.
As far as production practices went, we experimented A LOT with our production techniques. We most often used Rode Procaster microphones along with a Zoom H6 portable recorder. We edited each episode using a variety of tools: Adobe Audition, Hindenburg Journalist, Auphonic, and iTunes. We still host the podcast with Libsyn. We recently completed our first season, and we're already hard at work figuring out what we're going to do for our second season.
I produced the trailer above to showcase the podcast for a presentation of faculty publication projects. The audio podcast couldn't show any of the texts or other materials we discuss throughout our two seasons, so I wanted to highlight them visually. I incorporated images of our production equipment because it was such an essential element of what we were exploring with this project.