We reached out to Cindy Selfe to provide a gateway for memorials to Gail E. Hawisher, her intrepid co-conspirator in so many things, and she provided the following pieces (interjected by additional memorials from Cheryl Ball and Kristin Arola).
Cindy Selfe: I think Gail's spirit is evident in the following pieces by former students (Berry, Buck) and colleagues (Burns, Malley). I find it most instructive that these folks couldn't settle on any one descriptive word for Gail, opting for various combinations of "teacher," "mentor," "scholar," "exemplar," and "friend." She was all of those, and more.
Patrick W. Berry: Exemplar. Not only as a scholar but as a person. Gail taught me that being a member of this field could be fun. She helped so many of us see the good in our work, sometimes even when we couldn't see it ourselves. In this outtake video, Gail and Cindy discuss their vision for Computers and Composition Digital Press. Their laughter and affection are on full display. Also, I've included an image from when Gail and Cindy received the CCCC Exemplar Award, a shot of Gail in the classroom, and a photo of the two of us at the University of Illinois as I neared completion of my dissertation.
Suzanne Blum Malley: Gail's knack for perfectly timed, perfectly toned, perfectly crafted words of support and encouragement, at a time I was unsure that I belonged and could contribute to the larger conversation of our field, were a buoy for me in a storm of doubt. I'm sure that to her it was just a regular old email on a regular old day because she offered this kind support to so many, but wow! My professional collaborations with Alanna Frost and Ames Hawkins are rooted in what we learned from Gail.
Hugh Burns: [M]emories of Gail are her legacy to us…. [A]s collaboration was not something we learned academics understood. We needed to be taught to care and support each other. And there you both were…. My most vivid memory of you and Gail is an origin moment on March 23, 1990, at the Palmer House in Chicago (at the Conference on College Composition and Communication), when you both decided that Computers & Composition needed to present awards. I was sitting comfortably in the lobby waiting for the ducks to wobble through when you and Gail attacked: "We must do this. We must recognize achievement."" That evening the Ellen Nold and Hugh Burns awards became real.
Amber Buck: We [the Computers and Composition Digital Press's Senior Editors] were devastated to learn of the passing of Dr. Gail Hawisher. Mentor, teacher, and friend to us and to so many others in the field, Gail was not only a brilliant scholar but also the most generous of leaders, always recognizing the skills of graduate students and junior scholars around her and inviting them to the table. It is why we're here today. In 2007, Gail E. Hawisher and Cynthia L. Selfe founded Computers and Composition Digital Press (CCDP) as an open-access press that publishes book-length born-digital scholarship, one of the first digital presses in the humanities. CCDP is just one of Gail and Cindy's many successful collaborations. The Press stands as a testament to their foresight in not just imagining but building a place where digital scholarship would be taken seriously by others in the academy…. Gail did a great deal of work to ensure that important aspects of academic publishing continued in this medium: peer-reviewed projects with ISBN numbers, inclusion in WorldCat, and a university press imprint with the University Press of Colorado and Utah State University Press. This ensured that past and future authors can make a case for the importance and the intellectual contribution of their digital scholarship to deans, provosts, tenure and promotion committees, and outside funders. This work was just the kind of thing Gail excelled at: building opportunities and opening doors for those who come after. The field of Computers and Writing has lost one of its founders, but we’ve also lost a friend. Unfailingly generous, supportive, and fun, Gail was a delight to be around and a light for our work. She will be forever missed.
Cheryl E. Ball and Kristin L. Arola: Getting to work with Cindy Selfe at Michigan Tech meant we were lucky to always have Gail E. Hawisher present, either in person during summer institutes or in the ether through stories and citations and mentions. We circled in Gail's orbit as grad students and gleaned so many lessons from the work and play that she and Cindy exuded. We watched and learned so that we could put into practice our own versions of their beautiful friendship, collegial community-building, collaboration, mentoring, and co-authorship while also witnessing the impressive ways they had fun and relaxed, laughing and taking care of themselves. At the same time, we recognized their distinctions—Cindy's all-encompassing welcomeness and Gail's thoughtfulness and reserved grace (with a wry and subtle wit if you said or did anything to cause her to raise an eyebrow). Their differences helped us to recognize ourselves in them even more and strive to carry on their legacies in what we hope has been the most respectful of ways.
It's difficult to think of Gail without thinking of Cindy too, as their partnership from the founding of this field has helped make all of us who we are. When Gail retired from teaching in 2011, the field honored her at the 2011 Computers & Writing conference. That same conference, Kristin and Cheryl announced the formation of the Hawisher–Selfe Caring for the Future award, which—in the spirit of Gail and Cindy's DIY collaborations—was started to honor the groundbreaking work of both these women, whose visible commitment to the field of Computers and Writing through their scholarship, teaching, and service is rivaled only by their commitment to mentor new (and not-so-new) scholars in the profession. Through their words and deeds, Hawisher and Selfe have empowered a generation of scholars to believe in themselves and to continue the hard, and often invisible, work of promoting and sustaining an inclusive, diverse, and equitable environment. This scholarship has sent over a dozen first-time attendees from underrepresented groups to the annual Computers & Writing conference. As many colleagues and students of Gail have said, she was always motivated to lift up the next generation of scholars. It is in that spirit we remind readers that you can contribute in Gail's memory to the HSCF award by donating through Kairos's Patreon or PayPal or Cheryl's Zelle or GooglePay (firstname.lastname@example.org), Venmo (@Cheryl-Ball-1), CashApp ($s2ceball), or Stripe. For all forms, include a note indicating it's for HSCF or Gail Hawisher so we can allot it to the correct use.)
We, of course, leave the last words here for Cindy:
Cynthia Selfe: My heart Is broken and my world shaken at the news that my dear friend, colleague, and collaborator, Gail Hawisher has passed away. Gail was the inspiration, architect, engineer, and coxswain on almost every project I ever undertook as a scholar. Her career made my own, and her creativity, insight, intellectual care, and thoughtfulness was my North Star for as long as we both served in the profession. Gail helped pioneer the specialization of Computers and Writing, as an author of so many respected books and articles, as an editor of Computers and Composition, as a graduate teacher and mentor of some of the brightest and best among us. She led the way in authoring and crafting digital and multimodal scholarship, and in serving as an Exemplar for members of the Conference on College Composition and Communication. Through it all, Gail took the most joy in working with students and sharing her perspectives and considerable expertise with them in generous ways. She always treasured their individual talents and worked to help them find their own voices and places in the profession. Their ongoing work is a testimony to her many successes. She had the memory of an elephant, a wicked sense of humor, a love of travel and exploration, an infallible sense of propriety, and the stature of a giant. She was small but mighty (as Sibylle Gruber and Nancy Guerra Barron noted) in all her dealings. She could be fierce when she was convinced she had to put something right. At those times; she was titanic. She was the very best of friends. I share the sorrow of Gail's husband, Tom, her children Dayle and Lance, her grandchildren, the many graduate and undergraduate students with whom she worked over her long and impressive career. It is hard, indeed, to lose such a teacher, scholar, mother, friend.
Selected Publications by and About Gail E. Hawisher's work in Kairos
We couldn't possibly list all the references to Gail E. Hawisher's work that have appeared in Kairos in this section—there are simply too many. (You can use the Search function on the journal's home page if you're interested in the 240-odd results that appear by searching for Hawisher's name.) Here are a few of the key texts that she has written (collaboratively, of course!, as was her style), mementos to her, and reviews of her collaborative collections.
- Reviews of Computers and the Teaching of Writing in American Higher Education, 1979–1994: A History (Hawisher, LeBlanc, Moran, & Selfe)
- Conference on College Composition and Communication Conference Review, by Peter Goggin (1999)
- Passions, Pedagogies, and 21st Century Technologies (Eds. Gail Hawisher and Cynthia Selfe): A Review, by Lynley Loftin, Shannon Carter, and Chandra Lewis-Qualls (2001)
- The Web, Literacy, and Identity: A Review of Global Literacies and the World-Wide Web (Eds. Gail Hawisher and Cynthia L. Selfe), by Debra Combs (2001)
- Collaborative Configurations: Researching the Literacies of Technology, by Gail E. Hawisher and Cynthia L. Selfe (2002)
- "Feminist Cyborgs Live on the World Wide Web: International and not so International Contexts," by Gail E. Hawisher and Patricia Sullivan, in Eloquent Images: Word and Image in the Age of New Media (Eds. Mary E. Hocks and Michelle R. Kendrick), reviewed by Claire Lutkewitte (2008)
- Messages to Gail, by Cindy Selfe (2012) [a 47-minute tribute video to Gail with tons of interviews created upon her retirement from University of Illinois]
You can watch that 47-minute tribute video here as well (PDF transcript):
Design Credit: This page was designed building on Cindy's html/css design for "Messages to Gail"