Jenn Fishman, English professor and co-coordinator of

What is this thing? is really the front door to the UT Writes archive, the University of Tennessee's first-ever collection of campus writing. The archive is modeled after the National Gallery of Writing, which the National Council of Teachers of English established to celebrate the National Day on Writing. Here at UT, Margaret Dean, Katy Chiles, Laurie Knox and I agreed we wanted something more homegrown, and we also wanted to get to use TRACE, the university's new digital repository.

Did all the works come out of the Oct. 20 "UT Writes" day?

The October 20th campus celebration was the kick-off for the archive, which is open to all students, faculty, staff, alumni, and UT fans from now until the end of the semester.

Do billboards count? Church marquees? What about instruction manuals?

Yes! In our view, all forms of writing are welcome submissions. We hope UT writers will contribute everything from music and video compositions to computer code to football scrimmage plays to graduate theses, poetry, and prose.

What was your first really good experience with writing?

Maybe it was writing my name. My full name is longer than "Jenn," and I've been told I convinced my preschool teachers to stop after that second N. I also remember reading and writing a lot with my grandmother when I was young, and I wrote a poem about her that was awarded a prize when I was in the second grade. That's a really good memory.

Do you think texting is taking the form to a new low?

Absolutely not. I think texting—like other discourses, including academic writing—has its place. I also think it's making all of us and especially our students newly aware of our need to use different types and styles of language in savvy ways.

Will this e-mail interview end up on

That's a great idea.

Submit to the archive: